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Small vs. large diaphragm condenser mikes for recording grand piano at home



 
 
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  #1  
Old August 31st 03, 11:18 AM
Mike Clayton
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Default Small vs. large diaphragm condenser mikes for recording grand piano at home

In article >,
(Kelly) wrote:

> Hi all - I am going to purchase microphones to record my grand piano
> (at my home), and I am considering a matched pair of Oktava stereo
> mikes from the Sound Room (
www.oktava.com). Does anyone have any
> suggestions or reference information to help me decide whether to buy
> small or large diaphragm condenser mikes? Thanks!
>
> Kelly


What type of music? Got a good sounding room and piano? Got good preamps?

(Gawd, I'm starting to sound like Dorsey...)

--
Mike Clayton
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  #2  
Old August 31st 03, 02:20 PM
Ty Ford
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Default Small vs. large diaphragm condenser mikes for recording grand piano at home

In Article >, "Ron Charles"
> wrote:
>The Oktavas from Sound Room are good, but for piano I would suggest (at the
>same price point) either a pair of Beyer M260 ribbon mics, or perhaps a
>couple of used Crown PZM mics, depending on the sound you want.
>RON CHARLES



In the midst of a review of the nickel diaphragm Gefell M 294, 295, 296, I
got a chance to revisit the MC012 (mostly in cardioid, and from Sound Room).
I was reminded that they are boomy on the bottom and have a bit of skritch
on top. For the price, though, that's a pretty good deal.

Regards,

Ty Ford

For Ty Ford V/O demos, audio services and equipment reviews,
click on http://www.jagunet.com/~tford

  #4  
Old August 31st 03, 06:20 PM
James Boyk
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Default Small vs. large diaphragm condenser mikes for recording grandpiano at home

One line of thought will suggest that you get a Steinway "D", condition your room for optimal acoustics, get the world's best mikes and CERTAINLY separate preamps --- and I'm often in this line of thought. But for the moment, why not just go ahead and record, and see how it comes out?


(Do try ribbons, though.)


James Boyk

  #5  
Old August 31st 03, 07:21 PM
David Satz
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Default Small vs. large diaphragm condenser mikes for recording grand piano at home

Kelly wrote:

> Hi all - I am going to purchase microphones to record my grand piano
> (at my home) [ ... ] Does anyone have any suggestions or reference
> information to help me decide whether to buy small or large diaphragm
> condenser mikes? Thanks!


That normally isn't the first or the primary decision. First you have to
have a reasonably clear concept of what kind of sound you're hoping for,
and then you can make a plan for how to get it, if that's possible.

From everything I've read here, Oktava microphones from The Sound Room
might well be a good starting point for trying out some possibilities.
I don't use them myself, but I hear that they're not too expensive and
rather good sounding for the price. That's a good level to start out at.
Once you've used them in a bunch of ways and listened to the results, you
will (I hope) find that your perceptions and judgments about piano
recording will have progressed, such that you may find yourself thinking
about your whole conception of recorded piano sound somewhat differently.

That's experiential learning for you--a notoriously wayward process. But
if you're a musician, you already knew that ...

If your interest is in classical music or in other music that is normally
listened to in "real-world" acoustics rather than artificial/electronic,
you may find that it takes an "obscenely large" (to use Roy Allison's term)
living room with the right balance of materials to give you a satisfying
room sound. This can be quite frustrating since only rather wealthy people
can usually afford a living room that large and that specifically furnished.

There's a reason why the best studios for classical (or natural sounding
acoustic recording generally) are large, rare, and rather costly to rent.
Many good classical recordings are made in concert halls, churches and
other spaces that aren't, in themselves, recording studios for this reason.

But there's no guarantee whatsoever that you can get a beautiful piano
sound in a living room that's anything like most people's living rooms.
The laws of physics don't let you substitute anything else for the
required spatial proportions and volume of enclosed air, unfortunately.

If you want recordings that cleanly document what you're playing, you can
make relatively close, "dry" recordings that are well-balanced and accurate
within the context of documentary sound quality--and there's a fairly wide
variety of microphones which you can use for that purpose.
  #6  
Old September 1st 03, 02:32 PM
LeBaron & Alrich
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Default Small vs. large diaphragm condenser mikes for recording grand piano at home

James Boyk > wrote:

> (Do try ribbons, though.)


Understand that with a Mackie 1202 preamping one will be restricted to
ribbons like the active Royers, because gain enough for others there is
not.

--
hank alrich * secret mountain
audio recording * music production * sound reinforcement
"If laughter is the best medicine let's take a double dose"
  #7  
Old September 2nd 03, 04:52 PM
Scott Dorsey
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Default Small vs. large diaphragm condenser mikes for recording grand piano at home

Kelly > wrote:
>Hi all - I am going to purchase microphones to record my grand piano
>(at my home), and I am considering a matched pair of Oktava stereo
>mikes from the Sound Room (www.oktava.com). Does anyone have any
>suggestions or reference information to help me decide whether to buy
>small or large diaphragm condenser mikes? Thanks!


Get the mikes that you like the sound of, and don't worry if they are
large or small diaphragm condensers, ribbons, or what have you. People
worry too much. Use your ears.
--scott
--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."
  #8  
Old September 3rd 03, 04:45 PM
James Boyk
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Default Small vs. large diaphragm condenser mikes for recording grandpiano at home

LeBaron & Alrich wrote: > Understand that with a Mackie 1202 preamping
one will be restricted to ribbons like the active Royers, because gain
enough for others there is not.


Goodness! If they can't handle say Coles 4038, they can't handle studio
dynamics---and THAT would surprise me. (On the other hand, I've been
surprised many times in my life.)


Part of my point in calling attention to ribbons is that everyone is so
used to hearing condenser recordings that many people in the biz have
"normalized" on that sound as being the sound of music, which it's very
much not. I've seen time after time that professional musicians have
been astonished the first time they're recorded with ribbons---from my
friend the clarinetest to my friend to soprano to the Chicago Symphony
Winds, whom I helped Sheffield record. "Finally," they say, "a sound I
can relate to!"


Taking this a bit further, it's my guess that typical recorded
sound---condenser mikes, s-s preamps, CD-std. digital; sound without
'core'; sound that's thin and rather harsh---has become so very much the
"norm" that even a manufacturer like Steinway is now somewhat shaping
the sound of its pianos to the sound people expect from their
experience, not with pianos, but with recordings of pianos.


James Boyk


  #9  
Old September 4th 03, 07:43 AM
Bob Cain
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Default Small vs. large diaphragm condenser mikes for recording grand pianoat home



Chris Hornbeck wrote:
>
> Would anybody in the group be interested in a mic pre-preamp project?
> Something that could run off phantom power and fit into an XLR
> shell is easy to do; two JFETs and a few resistors.
>
> I'm surprised that there aren't somesuch available commercially.
> Or are there?
>
> But I could easily describe how to do it, for anyone who can solder.


Does the bear **** in the woods? :-)

Go for it. Can you give it 20 dB of variable gain and about
-140 dBu EIN?


Bob
--

"Things should be described as simply as possible, but no
simpler."

A. Einstein
  #10  
Old September 4th 03, 04:08 PM
David Satz
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Default Small vs. large diaphragm condenser mikes for recording grand piano at home

[ topic drift warning lights ON ... ]

Chris Hornbeck wrote:

> Would anybody in the group be interested in a mic pre-preamp project?
> Something that could run off phantom power and fit into an XLR
> shell is easy to do; two JFETs and a few resistors.
>
> I'm surprised that there aren't somesuch available commercially.
> Or are there?


I haven't seen any so far, but Sanken recently announced a product of this
type, model HAD-48, which is to be available in a few weeks at a projected
price around $200 apiece. It's an in-line device about 4" long which runs
off of phantom power (<3 mA per microphone) and offers switchable 20 or 40
dB gain. It can be attached directly to the XLR-3M plug of a ribbon or
other dynamic microphone and has its own XLR-3M output.

I recently got specifications from the U.S. distributor ("plus24", which
may sound like the name for a banking/ATM network but they're nice people)
and I've ordered a pair for testing.

Frankly the specifications were a bit disappointing; on paper it seems
like a product that will inspire someone else to make a version with
somewhat better performance, especially in the areas of input noise
(it's specified only as "noise," but since it's given as -121 dBA I
figure that it must be equivalent input noise) and frequency response
(it's down a dB or two on top and almost 3 dB on the bottom).

Plus the "expected receive side impedance" is specified as 10 kOhms which,
if true, would exclude most real-world mixers and preamps. But I was told
that "it will work with lower loads as well." So we'll see. I'll post a
message here when I've had a chance to measure them and/or try them out.
 




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