Recording Secrets For The Small Studio - Additional Resources

The following audio examples were recorded with pianist Jon Whitten using the seven-foot Yamaha grand piano in the Colin Hill Recital Room at Cambridge’s Hills Road Sixth Form College. The microphones used were Rode NT55 small-diaphragm condenser mics, kindly loaned by UK distributor Source Distribution, which were preamplified via the mic preamps of a Tascam DM3200 digital mixer and recorded digitally without any signal processing. Many thanks to the college’s Director of Music, Jonathan Sanders, for the use of the recital room and its adjoining control room, and also to Dan Jeffries and Tom Adams for their assistance with the sessions.

Multimic Setup 1

This microphone setup used six Rode NT55 microphones with omnidirectional capsules. The piano was recorded by all mics simultaneously.

  • Horizontal Dispersion: These mics were all placed in the same horizontal plane so you can hear how the sound changes as you move the miking position around the piano.
Acoustic grand piano multimic setup 1
(Click image for a higher-resolution version.)
MicClosedHalf OpenOpenOffPolar
Pattern
DistancePosition/Angle
AWAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrowOmni1mBehind player, slightly to the treble side, 1.7m from floor
BWAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrowIn front of the instrument, directly on the line of the hammers, 1.7m from the floor
CWAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrowIn front of the piano, 30 degrees anticlockwise from mic 'B', 1.7m from the floor
DWAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrowIn front of the piano, 60 degrees anticlockwise from mic 'B', 1.7m from the floor
EWAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrowAt the foot of the piano, 90 degrees anticlockwise from mic 'B', 1.7m from the floor
FWAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrowDirectly behind the instrument's lid, 1.7m from floor

Multimic Setup 2

This microphone setup used six Rode NT55 microphones with omnidirectional capsules. The piano was recorded by all mics simultaneously

  • Vertical Dispersion: These mics were all placed in the same vertical plane in front of the piano at an equal miking distance, so you can hear how the sound changes as you adjust the miking angle.
MicPolar
Pattern
DistancePosition/Angle
AWAV/MP3 play_arrowOmni1mIn front of the instrument, directly on the line of the hammers, 85cm from the floor
BWAV/MP3 play_arrowIn front of the instrument, directly on the line of the hammers, 1.15m from the floor
CWAV/MP3 play_arrowIn front of the instrument, directly on the line of the hammers, 1.55m from the floor
DWAV/MP3 play_arrowIn front of the instrument, directly on the line of the hammers, 1.95m from the floor
EWAV/MP3 play_arrowIn front of the instrument, directly on the line of the hammers, 2.35m from the floor
FWAV/MP3 play_arrowIn front of the instrument, directly on the line of the hammers, 2.80m from the floor

Multimic Setup 3

This microphone setup used six Rode NT55 microphones with omnidirectional capsules. The piano was recorded by all mics simultaneously.

  • Distance Tests: Here the six microphones were placed at different distances from the instruments, using the most promising-sounding miking angle from Multimic Setup 2. This demonstrates how changing the miking distance affects the dry/wet ratio and overall tone.
Acoustic grand piano multimic setup 3
(Click image for a higher-resolution version.)
MicPolar
Pattern
DistancePosition/Angle
AWAV/MP3 play_arrowOmni1.40mIn front of the instrument, directly on the line of the hammers, slightly below the line of the open lid
BWAV/MP3 play_arrow1.85m
CWAV/MP3 play_arrow2.20m
DWAV/MP3 play_arrow2.50m
EWAV/MP3 play_arrow2.85m
FWAV/MP3 play_arrow3.25m

Multimic Setup 4

This microphone setup used six Rode NT55 microphones, four with omnidirectional capsules and two with cardioid capsules. The piano was recorded by all mics simultaneously.

  • Spaced Stereo Pairs: For these examples three different spaced stereo pairs were set up at the most promising-sounding microphone position from Multimic Setup 3. Note that the central mic you can see in the picture is a Shure KSM141, so I not included it for the purposes of this comparison.)
Acoustic grand piano multimic setup 4
(Click image for a higher-resolution version.)
MicPolar
Pattern
DistancePosition/Angle
AWAV/MP3 play_arrowOmni pair2.20mSpaced stereo pair (spacing 40cm) in front of the instrument, centred on the line of the hammers, slightly below the line of the open lid
BWAV/MP3 play_arrowSpaced stereo pair (spacing 100cm) in front of the instrument, centred on the line of the hammers, slightly below the line of the open lid
CWAV/MP3 play_arrowCardioid pair

Multimic Setup 5

This microphone setup used six Rode NT55 microphones, four with cardioid capsules and two with omnidirectional capsules. The piano was recorded by all mics simultaneously.

  • Stereo Techniques Comparison: For these examples three different stereo pairs were set up at the most promising-sounding microphone position from Multimic Setup 3: a coincident pair, a near-coincident pair, and a spaced pair.
Acoustic grand piano multimic setup 5
(Click image for a higher-resolution version.)
MicPolar
Pattern
DistancePosition/Angle
AWAV/MP3 play_arrowCardioid pair2.20mXY stereo pair (mutual angle 110 degrees) in front of the instrument, centred on the line of the hammers, slightly below the line of the open lid
BWAV/MP3 play_arrowORTF stereo pair (mutual angle 110 degrees, spacing 17cm) in front of the instrument, centred on the line of the hammers, slightly below the line of the open lid
CWAV/MP3 play_arrowOmni pairSpaced stereo pair (spacing 100cm) in front of the instrument, centred on the line of the hammers, slightly below the line of the open lid

Multimic Setup 6

This microphone setup used six Rode NT55 microphones, four with omnidirectional capsules and two with cardioid capsules. The piano was recorded by all mics simultaneously.

  • Close-miking Outside The Piano: The four omni mics were set up across the front of the piano in close-miking positions just outside the casing, along with a crossed coincident pair of cardioids. In addition, I’ve also mixed the four omni mics to two stereo pairs (with the mic signals panned hard left and right) so you can hear how those sound.
Acoustic grand piano multimic setup 6
(Click image for a higher-resolution version.)
MicPolar
Pattern
DistancePosition/Angle
AWAV/MP3 play_arrowOmni30cm outside case30cm above the edge of the case, close to the foot of the piano
BWAV/MP3 play_arrow30cm above the edge of the case, 30cm from mic 'A', 60cm from mic 'D'
CWAV/MP3 play_arrow30cm above the edge of the case, 30cm from mic 'D', 60cm from mic 'A'
DWAV/MP3 play_arrow30cm above the edge of the case, close to the line of the hammers
A+DWAV/MP3 play_arrowOmni pairSpaced stereo pair (spacing 90cm) 30cm above the edge of the case
B+CWAV/MP3 play_arrowSpaced stereo pair (spacing 30cm) 30cm above the edge of the case
EWAV/MP3 play_arrowCardioid pairXY stereo pair (mutual angle 90 degrees) 30cm above the edge of the case between mics 'B' and 'C'

Multimic Setup 7

This microphone setup used six Rode NT55 microphones with omnidirectional capsules. The piano was recorded by all mics simultaneously.

  • Centre-line Sweep Inside The Piano: Here the six mics are set up to demonstrate how the sound inside the piano changes as you move your mic from just behind the music stand towards the foot of the instrument.
Acoustic grand piano multimic setup 7
(Click image for a higher-resolution version.)
MicPolar
Pattern
DistancePosition/Angle
AWAV/MP3 play_arrowOmni30cm above strings20cm behind music stand on the instrument's centre line, pointing downwards towards the strings
BWAV/MP3 play_arrow45cm behind music stand on the instrument's centre line, pointing downwards towards the strings
CWAV/MP3 play_arrow70cm behind music stand on the instrument's centre line, pointing downwards towards the strings
DWAV/MP3 play_arrow95cm behind music stand on the instrument's centre line, pointing downwards towards the strings
EWAV/MP3 play_arrow120cm behind music stand on the instrument's centre line, pointing downwards towards the strings
FWAV/MP3 play_arrow20cm from the foot of the piano on the instrument's centre line, pointing downwards towards the strings

Multimic Setup 8

This microphone setup used six Rode NT55 microphones, four with omnidirectional capsules and two with cardioid capsules. The piano was recorded by all mics simultaneously for five different recording passes:

  1. with the piano lid open and the mics 15cm from the strings;
  2. with the piano lid open and the mics 30cm from the strings (as shown in the photo below);
  3. with the piano lid off and the mics 30cm from the strings;
  4. with the piano lid off and the mics 60cm from the strings;
  5. and with the piano lid open, the mics 30cm from the strings, and the omni mic capsules swapped for cardioid capsules.
  • Spaced Stereo Miking Inside The Piano: Here the six mics are set up in three different professionally-used setups, two spaced omni pairs and a near-coincident pair of cardioids. Note how the sound of each changes with different miking heights and lid configurations.
Acoustic grand piano multimic setup 8
(Click image for a higher-resolution version.)
MicLid OpenLid OffPolar PatternDistancePosition/Angle
AWAV/MP3 play_arrowOmni pair15cm above stringsSpaced stereo pair (spacing 40cm, mutual angle 45 degrees) 20cm behind music stand, pointing downwards towards strings
WAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrow30cm above strings
WAV/MP3 play_arrow60cm above strings
WAV/MP3 play_arrowCardioid pair30cm above strings
BWAV/MP3 play_arrowOmni pair15cm above stringsSpaced stereo pair (spacing 80cm), one mic over the high-register strings, one mic over the low-register strings, both mics pointing downwards
WAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrow30cm above strings
WAV/MP3 play_arrow60cm above strings
WAV/MP3 play_arrowCardioid pair30cm above strings
CWAV/MP3 play_arrow15cm above stringsNear-coincident stereo pair (spacing 25cm) over the centre of the piano, with the mics angled towards the upper and lower strings respectively
WAV/MP3 play_arrowWAV/MP3 play_arrow30cm above strings
WAV/MP3 play_arrow60cm above strings

Multimic Setup 9

This microphone setup used six Rode NT55 microphones with cardioid capsules. The piano was recorded by all mics simultaneously.

  • Coincident Stereo Miking Inside The Piano: For these files, three pairs of cardioid mics were set up in different professionally-used setups. Note how the sound differs from the spaced microphone configurations in Multimic Setup 8. (The two additional mics visible in the picture are an AKG C 414B-XLS and a Shure KSM141, so I’ve not included those in these comparisons.)
Acoustic grand piano multimic setup 9
(Click image for a higher-resolution version.)
MicPolar PatternDistancePosition/Angle
AWAV/MP3 play_arrowCardioid pair30cm above stringsXY stereo pair (mutual angle 90 degrees) 20cm behind music stand, pointing downwards towards the strings
BWAV/MP3 play_arrowXY stereo pair (mutual angle 90 degrees) over the centre of the piano where the strings cross over, pointing downwards towards the strings
CWAV/MP3 play_arrowXY stereo pair (mutual angle 90 degrees) over the sound-holes in the curve of the piano, pointing downwards toward the centre of the piano

Further Reading