Mic for Piano?

tkbslc

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My daughter is becoming quite the advanced pianist and I would like to record her playing (at home, mainly) with better audio quality. Can anyone recommend a reasonably compact and affordable mic setup that I could use with a G85? Could also be standalone and combine in post, if that improves quality enough.

And in case it is relevant, I've never really done more than point and shoot style video with simple edits before.
 

ac12

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Careful. GOOD mics are EXPENSIVE. Like dropping into a black hole.
But you should be able to find a decent affordable one.

You want the mic off-camera:
- So that you can position the mic for the best sound, independent of the location of the camera.
- On a sound/vibration isolating stand, to reduce sound/vibrations from the floor. If you are lucky, you can get away with a standard mic stand.

Beyond that, the audio guys have to give their expertise.
 

ooheadsoo

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My daughter is becoming quite the advanced pianist and I would like to record her playing (at home, mainly) with better audio quality. Can anyone recommend a reasonably compact and affordable mic setup that I could use with a G85? Could also be standalone and combine in post, if that improves quality enough.

And in case it is relevant, I've never really done more than point and shoot style video with simple edits before.
Before you do more research, I think you should first get some idea of what kind of sound you want. Close mic'd so it sounds like you're right in front of the piano, or do you want ambient so you can hear the reverb of the room? If you have a fairly small room, it may be largely moot. Then you may want to think about if you want a specialist mic for only that purpose or something you can use for general purpose recordings like the on camera rodes. Then if you get a standalone mic, what about the mixing board, mic preamps, phantom power or not...what a rabbit hole.

Basically, you have to think about if you want to get serious about it or not.

Oh, I'm with ac12 re: off camera mic(s) if you intend to move the camera around. You don't want the stereo image or timbre shifting.
 
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Holoholo55

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Hoo boy, that's a tough one. I'm no audio guy, but it's quite a complex and involved setup if you want the best piano sound. I figure you want a simple setup that just doesn't sound too bad. On-camera mikes like the Rode may work OK, but you'd probably get better results with an off-camera setup. Depends on what kind of piano you have, the room it's in, location of reflective surfaces, etc. Lots of variables. Mono vs stereo. Multi vs single. There may be some books on microphone techniques in your neighborhood library. That might be a good start just to get an idea of the various setups.

Basic Recording Techniques: Capturing the Perfect Piano Sound
 

masayoshi

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Well, I did tons of piano/violin recordings.
And I still have most of audio gears. In this video, you don't see microphones, but I have stereo pair of Sennheiser MKH8020 in ORTF config and RME UFX as preamp/audio interface.
Since you are in the same city, I can offer quick tour/hands-on starters free. Send me PM if you are interested.
 

Holoholo55

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Well, I did tons of piano/violin recordings.
And I still have most of audio gears. In this video, you don't see microphones, but I have stereo pair of Sennheiser MKH8020 in ORTF config and RME UFX as preamp/audio interface.
Since you are in the same city, I can offer quick tour/hands-on starters free. Send me PM if you are interested.
Nice recording and sound! And, you did a great job of "hiding" the mics. Very nice.
 

Hypilein

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Basically what most others said. You should definitely go for off camera mics. What mics exactly will depend on your budget, but you should probably invest in a pair, so keep that in mind.

I've never had my own mics for recording (only borrowed from the university), but there are basically two possible setups.

Either you mic up really close to the strings. This will give a very crisp sound and is the setup that is used most in popular music.

The other way is to mic up from further away. This is usually only worth it if the room is sounding good. I prefer the first setup and also find it easier to execute, but in the world of classical music the second is also often done.

If you want to go all out you can get 4 microphones and do both at the same time, then mix in post, but unless you can borrow/rent the microphones this will probably be over the top.
 

magIBIS

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For a start I would recommend the Zoom H2N. It punches over it's price with the inbuilt mics (4!) and preamps. You can first use the automatic concert setting, later experiment with different mic settings and manual tuning. Just don't touch the surface while recording. The tiny rubber feet isolate it standing better than a screw in stand, so probably it will be enough to put it on a table - again experiment where you get best feeling of close but ambient. You will be able to use it for much more later on
 

masayoshi

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Nice recording and sound! And, you did a great job of "hiding" the mics. Very nice.
Thank you!

I'm all right using Zoom and Tascam recorders, but if you have a little more budget, I would get a pair of small diaphragm cardioids, and a mic stand. I will get some 'budget' list of gears later (I have to pull out some old documents).
 

junkyardsparkle

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Since you are in the same city, I can offer quick tour/hands-on starters free. Send me PM if you are interested.
That's a very generous offer, and far more valuable than spending money on any kind of on-camera microphone. Especially in non-ideal acoustic environments, what you do with the mics is going to trump how much you spend on them every time. There are some ridiculously good cheap electret capsules out there these days. :D
 

ScottinPollock

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Back in the day I used two (modified transformerless) AKG 414s to mic both Kawai and Bosendorfer grands. They were plugged into a custom made passive console to Levinson preamps and output directly to either a Neumann VMS 80 (also modified transformerless) lathe or later on a Sony PCM-1600 A/D (in fact we were one of the first on the west coast to get one of those). Here is a little snippet from the 9 ft Kawai with Earl Hines behind the keyboard.

For cheap... today I might go with AudioTechnica mics (something like the 2020's), and a small Alesis or Behringer USB preamp/mixer output to a laptop. I think that will give you the most bang for the buck.
 
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relic

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My 2 cents' worth: If you use the camera for sound recording, check to make sure that it does not compress the sound (or if you can disable sound compression). I don't know what cameras do as far as audio compression is concerned, but compression would, in my view, render recording music useless. I think it would be better having a separate audio recording setup with mics and use the camera just for the video.
 
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One of the online courses I started, but haven’t finished, recommends remote recording of the music... and video recording with your camera. Import both into separate tracks of your video editing app, sync the sound to the recording, and mute the sound from your video track.

I’ll see if I can find the link to the course... can’t remember of it was through creativelive.com or Udemy.com...

Having said that, and while there are lots of goods ideas coming out, it sounds like Masaaki is your best resource so far though.
 

cdmicha

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What kind of piano is it? I'd go with the paired stereo condenser route in general, and prices on those can range from $60-$thousands. You'd also need a decent recoding device or at least an xlr interface for your camera capable of phantom power... it can get expensive fast.
 

kevinparis

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A lot depends on your expectations/ ambitions with the visual aspect and who will see it

Recording the audio to a device thats not the camera opens up so many opportunities to shoot different angles and make for a more interesting video

I had a situation last year where the grandson of my 'father in law' was coming over to show his progress in learning the violin.

I had 20 minutes to corral what equipment I had to see if I could make a video

I had a Rode VideoMic , a recently acquired Tascam DR-10, an E-PL6 on a tripod with the 17mm and me with an em1 mk 2 with the 12-100

the mike and recorder were put on a small tripod on the floor near the performance, and everything was set to record

Having one fixed camera and a mobile one allowed more flexibility in the edit process... and you can often 'cheat' and use shots out of sequence

I doubt the young lad will ever play Carnegie Hall (though his big sister recently did in a choir competition :)

and I am making no claims that my camerawork is oscar worthy

As I said it was set up without planning in 20 minutes.. Think we recorded for 20 mins, chose one tune and spent maybe a couple of hours editing


K
 

masayoshi

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Between Zoom H4n pro and Tascam 60DmkII (both of them are around $200), I prefer Tascam 60DmkII for the following reasons.
Tascam is powered by 4xAA batteries, vs. Zoom by 2xAA batteries. This makes difference (recording time) when you have phantom power to use condenser mics.
Tascam can be mounted on tripod, and camera can be on top of the recorder. This allows easy connection from the recorder (line out) to mic input in the camera.
Either one can drive external microphones, but get a good quality XLR (balanced impedance) cables. If you're in SLC, Performance Audio (Performance Audio | Sound Audio Equipment & Recording Equipment) is the place to go to get quality cables.

As to the budget microphones, check Line Audio CM3 (cardioid, Small diaphragm condenser)
Line Audio - Swedish Made High Quality Audio Products - Available at NoHype Audio
The sound of CM3 is amazingly good for the price (~$300/pair).
It is highly rated even among professional recordists.
CM3 - really THAT good? - Gearslutz
This is probably the cheapest while maintaining professional quality sound.

The key for piano recording (or actually any audio recording) is the location (venue), and placement of the mics. If the piano is in the living room, and placed against the wall, you may not have a good position to record good sound. As @ooheadsoo mentioned, it is really up to your goal, in terms of the sound quality you want to get. I tried so many times, with lots of post processing e.g. EQ, reverb, etc to make my living room sound like a hall/church, but you can't get real things. I gave up.

This is the same artist as the video above, but recorded at the church nearby, where I found they have very good acoustic (reverb). Usually I didn't need to do any post processing, as long as the mic gain was appropriately set up. You can hear the natural hall reverb. The sound in the video in post #6 is very dry, and I think I added digital reverb in the post.
 

tkbslc

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Wow, I did not expect to get such a great response to this! Thank you for your time.

I think maybe I was not clear that I am just looking for some better audio for personal recording. I am likely the only one that will listen to these just to appreciate my daughter's talent as she progresses. The multi-mic and mixer setups are way beyond what I want to get into, but maybe something to think about in the future if she does progress into actual higher end performances. (She is only in 7th grade right now).

I do think something like the Zoom H2n that was suggested above is a good option as she could easily set it up to record herself if she wanted. That's more in line with what I was thinking of, especially with the advice given above to get the mic off camera.
 

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