Greetings Dave! I followed the link to your site and having only listened to your "Road to Boston" and "Ballad," I think you're a fantastic jazz composer and pianist! Most composers seem to reinvent the "compositional wheel" all the time, however, your music carries great soul, driving rhythm, and sounds new and fresh every time one listens to it. Let me know if your CDs are for sale?...
1. Dave, before you spend a cent, my advice is to look into acoustic treatment for your recording room. The single most improvement you can make is treating your room. You have a fantastic piano, but on the picture I saw 2 bare drywalls and a corner. Yikes! This will wreak havoc on the room's EQ response, flutter echo, comb filtering, modes, etc... All the small room acoustic phenomena that will go against making a good sounding recording. I would look into bass traps for the walls and corner, especially. Contact Ethan Winer of Realtraps or Glenn Kuras of GIK Acoustics next time you're on Gearlutz. Or you can do what I did, DIY bass traps for fraction of the cost. Let me know if you're interested on how to make camouflage acoustic panels yourself. All you need is a saw, staple gun, and drill.
2. I would invest in a room calibration software to create a real time analysis of the EQ response of your room. You can use your DPA 4011 mic for calibration purposes. Personally, I use a Behringer DEQ2496 with has an EQ and RTA to plot where my peaks and dips are in my room. The software will do a better job for you. Some rooms can vary as much as + or - 10dB, that's a range of 20dB.
3. After you treat the room, you will effectively increase the damping factor of your acoustic space and you will lose it's reverb. Don't worry, it's not the kind of reverb you want anyway.
4. Once you treat the room and examine its waterfall EQ plots, you may have to experiment with more/less bass traps and/or rearranging them to get the flattest EQ plot of your room. THEN you can apply EQ in your editing software to further tweak the room to flatten the EQ response and save it as a preset for that room.
5. To regain and even get more ambience, you can add reverb now in your editing software, dedicated reverb software like Altiverb 6, or go with hardware reverb like TC electronics 2000, 3000, 4000, or Lexicon PCM96, or Bricasti M7 and send it to your soundcard. No two reverbs sound exactly the same because each one uses a different algorithm. It will be a matter of taste.
As far as preamps go, well, I record 2 channel classical, you record multi-channel jazz. I may be comparing apples and oranges here as far as the character of sound goes. Even though we both play on Steinways, and even if you want to record 2 channel jazz at home, our ideal for the "right" timbre and tone will surely be different. This will impact your preamp choice. If you like the sound of your mics, then use them. However, it's more difficult to attribute a sonic signature to a preamp. The differences are subtle, as it's the mics that color the sound to a greater degree than a preamp. Having said that, there are some who can hear different textures in sound. Subjective appraisals in sound character also differ. For example, if the preamp has a fast transient response, one may interpret this as too forward or harsh; and another may interpret this as clear, transparent.
I don't know what your ideal "sound" is for jazz sound character, so I can't make definitive suggestions for a preamp.
Here are some potential preamp recommendations:
-DAV BG No. 1U: renders accurate timbre/tone to piano, just right amount of "syrup," slightly more laid back timbre.
-Avalon AD2022: more forward timbre, fast transients, better suited for pop, voice.
-Thermionic Culture Earlybird 1.2 - tonally transparent, lush, saturation, majestic color on piano. Rivals with VT-2.
-D.W. Fearn VT-2: lush, saturation, most love it but few say less than spectacular on piano (sounds like proximity effect). I don't own one, ask Didier.
-Presonus ADL600: smooth, slight color, saturation.
-Pendulum MDP-1 - more character
As far as recorders are concerned, we seem to be on the same path. I am also going mic-to-preamp-to-recorder. Keeps it simple, pure, and clean. I also just bought a Tascam DV-RA1000HD, but haven't had the time to record with it yet. I am very curious how the converters sound before and after Jim Williams' mods?... How expensive were Jim's mods?...
I have a NY Steinway B, and it's very full in my 35'x17'x8.5' room. I've been itching for a D more and more now... How do you like the sound of your Steinway D?...
I hope some of these ideas I've stated help. Good Luck and let me know if you have any questions. Best of luck composing!