Producing Grand Piano
The grand piano is the most acoustically complex instrument to record, with its great dynamic range and wide musical range. From classical, jazz to pop music it lends itself very well to recording. There are numerous miking and processing techniques you may utilize depending on the desired effect you are looking for. Grand pianos vary in size from 7'-9'6" with the larger pianos sounding bigger due to the size of the resonating sound board. Achieving the precise tonal characteristics can be challenging yet will prove to be very satisfying when achieved.
One thing to acknowledge is that the same grand piano with the same miking set-up will most likely ...view middle of the document...
Pop piano is a situation where the piano plays a contributing role in the production by defining the chord changes. It needs to be able to be heard amongst various other instruments yet not overpowering or attracting too much focus especially if the artist is not known as a piano player. Close miking is the preferred way to go which allows for clarity and isolation.
I first ask the player where in the range on the piano they will be playing. A well disciplined player will play between 3-4 octaves, shying away from playing too many bass octaves with the left hand; respecting the bass player, avoid getting in the way of the lead vocals both harmonically and rhythmically and using the sustain pedal only when needed. Too much sustain pedal makes the piano sound too reverberant and muddy. For mics I prefer pencil condensers for there ability to pick up an accurate mid-range and high-end. Because the diaphragms are small in mass, they tend to react faster than large Diaphragm condensers and therefore pick up higher frequencies more efficiently. I don't really need a lot of low end from the piano for with a good arrangement a bass player will cover the fundamentals of the chord changes. If the player is playing a lot around or slightly below middle "C" and not to dynamically I'll use large diaphragm condensers to capture the low end.
I'll position the 2 mics approx 8"-12" above the strings and approx 12'-18" apart. Try to position them over the same harmonic points of the strings and slightly angle them between 35 - 45 Â°. If the mics are positioned on axis (0*), some of the notes will sound brighter than other notes due to the cardiod pick-up patterns of the mics. I'll also watch that the mics are not too far apart to avoid getting "the hole in the middle" sound. If the mics are too close to the strings the balance of the different notes both musically and sonically will be affected and I'll not get much of an even resonance from the soundboard. I'll try to leave the lid open but if isolation is required I'll slightly lower the mic position and lower the lid to the half way position and use some type of blanketing to prevent leakage.
With EQ, pop piano requires harmonic clarity. The music of the piano needs to come through clearly. I might add a little mid range 3khz-5khz and/or a little top end 10khz shelving (Wide "Q"). For some situations I'll just use a top end shelving curve and lower the activating frequency point anywhere down to 3khz. You need to remember that if you boost the mids and the highs you will get more clarity but eventually start to separate the brightness from the music of the piano. When we listen to a grand piano we tend to prefer to hear the left hand or low part in the left speaker and the right hand high part in the right speaker. When EQ is required it must be done to both tracks equally. As to not create individual sonic characteristics between the low end (left hand) and the...