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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:37 am 
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Location: Edinburgh, UK
jlr43 wrote:
Andrew,

I had a listen to your sound samples. Overall, impressive sound, reverb, piano -- and, of course playing :P The only thing is, as some others noted, the overall amplification. I had to turn my volume up on both my computer and speakers to hear it adequately. The quality, though, sounds quite professional to my ears. Good luck with your project!

Joe


Thanks: I'll be paying close attention to the amplification level as a few recordings I've made in the past have veered on the quiet side. I didn't have any involvement with the setting up of the original recording from which these specific samples are taken (though it did involve my equipment) and didn't want to edit the samples before uploading them.

88man wrote:
For a large condensor mic, the AKG C414B is excellent in capturing the tone and timbre of any instrument. They are slightly on the bright side of neutral, but in a complimentary way if the room is large. When miked in a large hall, the high frequency content can get lost (compared to a living room due to the lack of nearby reflections). I think that they will excel in capturing just the right amount of "air" in the performance and give you a good balance in sound across all registers. You should definitely audition the C414 B. As long as the tone is neutral, most of these mics in this class react well to EQing if you need to tweak later on. Heck if you lived close by, I'd let you borrow my mic collection.


:) Ok, I will definitely check out the C414 B. The hall is not huge - it holds in the region of 250 when full.

techneut wrote:
Excellent sound indeed. Somehow the last sample sounded a little less 'open' to me than the previous, but it could be my imagination.


The last sample is from the same piece as the third; indeed it's less than two minutes later, so the characteristics should be the same. It's possible I may have used the una corda at some point in it.


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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:09 am 
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Nice sound ! I do not think that you should reduce the dynamics by means of normalization. Just check commercial recordings of classical piano : you will find such large dynamics. The NT5 is a bit lean on the low end not because it is a small diaphragm but because it is cardioid. You would get the same with Neumann, Schoeps or DPA cardioid condenser microphones except if the microphones are close to the soundboard for involving the proximity effect (low end reinforcement at short distance from the source exhibited by pressure gradient microphones), which is not suitable for classical piano.

There are pedal noises (around 2'30" for instance). If you do not want to get them, you should be more cautious when putting off pedal and/or finding quieter placement for the microphones. The sound misses reverberation with respect to current standard for such recording. Here attached the result from a quick processing: bass boosting and reverberation adding. The piano is too wide. I would reduce the spacing between the microphones.


Last edited by Didier on Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:20 pm 
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Location: Springfield, Missouri, USA
New recommendation. Just record your stuff and send to Didier for post-processing. 8) I'm sure you can work out a deal.

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"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:05 pm 
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Andrew, I forgot to mention that when you're tuning the piano before the event, have the technician grease and lubricate the pedal to eliminate the noise. Tell him before hand, and he'll locate the source of the problem and do the necessary tightening, lubrication, etc. I had a similar issue with a "clunk" every time I used the soft pedal. I told my technician and it was a rather quick fix. If your mics are high as I described they might be out of the path of the pedals. Make an audio check of this as pedal noise is the last thing you want to worry about before all your hard preparation.

George

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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 1:18 am 
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Location: Edinburgh, UK
Didier wrote:
Nice sound ! I do not think that you should reduce the dynamics by means of normalization. Just check commercial recordings of classical piano : you will find such large dynamics. The NT5 is a bit lean on the low end not because it is a small diaphragm but because it is cardioid. You would get the same with Neumann, Schoeps or DPA cardioid condenser microphones except if the microphones are close to the soundboard for involving the proximity effect (low end reinforcement at short distance from the source exhibited by pressure gradient microphones), which is not suitable for classical piano.

There are pedal noises (around 2'30" for instance). If you do not want to get them, you should be more cautious when putting off pedal and/or finding quieter placement for the microphones. The sound misses reverberation with respect to current standard for such recording. Here attached the result from a quick processing: bass boosting and reverberation adding. The piano is too wide. I would reduce the spacing between the microphones.


Yes, I'm not keen on reducing dynamic range at all. If anything I think my dynamic range should ideally be bigger. The result after your processing is rather nice. I've got a photo of the mic positions somewhere, but it's not on this pc and may be on an old hard drive; I'll see if I can find it for my reference, and I'll experiment with the mics being closer together during setting up for the recording.

88man wrote:
Andrew, I forgot to mention that when you're tuning the piano before the event, have the technician grease and lubricate the pedal to eliminate the noise. Tell him before hand, and he'll locate the source of the problem and do the necessary tightening, lubrication, etc. I had a similar issue with a "clunk" every time I used the soft pedal. I told my technician and it was a rather quick fix. If your mics are high as I described they might be out of the path of the pedals. Make an audio check of this as pedal noise is the last thing you want to worry about before all your hard preparation.


If everything goes to plan I'm actually going to be playing publicly on the same piano a few days before the recording session and I think the same tuner is doing the tuning for both events, so I should get some sort of advance warning of potential problems. I once played at a concert where the pedal was making noises and there was a loose screw somewhere in it, so having it looked at is definitely on my mental checklist.


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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:08 pm 
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Posts: 97
Location: Toronto
It is quite daunting to lay out cash .... 1) for 2 days at a particular venue; 2) for a good instrument; 3) for good mics; 4) for good USE of the equipment (mic levels, placement, et. al.)

Starting with the MOST IMPORTANT variable 5) ability at the instrument ... answer... no worries!!!

The other variables? Well, based on what little I have learned over the last 3 weeks of torture...renting ALL manner of microphones: Schoeps, Coles, AKG (various), Rodes (your nt5), etc., etc., etc... they are NOT all that different in terms of the end result..... (sue me) (Granted, ribbon mics are a different kettle... but small diaphram condensers? Well, mass production in China has made this game zero sum.)

Much more important is 1. the musical "material" 2. the type of mics employed on site (small card, medium card, small omni, medium omni, long ribbon, short ribbon, etc., etc., ) 3. the PLACEMENT of said mics. 4. the MIXING of the auditory results from each individual mic post performance/recording.

ALSO 1/ Slow, less dense piano music is a MUCH, MUCH easier starting point to the end of making a good to "state of the art" cd ready result. Just SO much easier to solve accoustically; 2. Microphone choice: A mid-high end (medium sized condensor) mic like the AKG 414 is made to be flexible (omni, card, etc ) but is NOT easy to use. The small diaphram condensor mics, your Rodes, will do the trick (make a pro. cd) much more easily. Typically, what the pro engineers (like Didier) will do is surround the piano with 4 or more mics, and MIX the result afterwards, to get the RIGHT balance between precise, closer-to-instrument tone and the venue ambience, which is equally critical to a getting a sensational CD sound.

Fortunately, the bar is (in my humble view) very low for solo classical piano recordings. Until you've heard, for example, little known CDs like Bunin's Bach compilation recorded in the early 90s, by who-knows?, you don't know how spectacular a well-recorded piano can sound. Such glories are few and far between. Even Barenboim, with his phenomenal abilities at the piano, his dedication to the art of the great recording, etc.., etc., has not (sue me) released a spectacular technical recording. They tend to be just "very, very good" and, naturally, just awe-inspiring pianism.

It's almost a lucky strike proposition, and I wish you much luck in it. You've got the chops. So you just want, in the end, for THAT to shine through, notwithstanding the vagaries of "recording the instrument." Getting over that hurdle.... that's going to take you a LONG way!!

JG


Last edited by johnlewisgrant on Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:53 am 
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Thanks for your comments. I'm quite pleased to see that the general opinion of posters has been that the Rode NT5s are adequate for the purposes: I'm quite pleased with their sound and it is my intention that they are the fall-back tried and tested option should there be problems with other mics. Set-up is the one part I'm really not looking forward to! There is a comparatively low amount of "slow, less dense" material on the recording repertoire list, so I am expecting that I may have to do a fair bit of trial and error. I think I may also have to consider that what is a good sound for one type of piece may not be so suitable for another.


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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:59 pm 
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musical-md wrote:
New recommendation. Just record your stuff and send to Didier for post-processing. 8) I'm sure you can work out a deal.


:lol: Just saw this. That's funny - I needed a laugh... :)

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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: Update
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:36 am 
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Hi everyone, thought I should give an update on how this has been going. I would put it in the general forum, but as it started here, I suppose it's more likely to be seen by those who were kind enough to give me advice first time round.

Anyway, I spent two days this week recording takes. 10am to 6pm both days on a very nice Steinway Model D; first day the first 2+ hours were spent on setting up before any actual recording took place. I've listened properly to a fair bit of it now: there are things which could be better, but I have my limitations and will have to live with them. Some things did go satisfyingly well. In an ideal world, I would have liked at least another half-day for further tidying of takes (as I've heard a few oddities which I'm not completely sure I've cleaned up), but venue hire etc was not cheap and I'd decided a three day booking was an expensive luxury.

It's amazing how many problems there can be in the process! Ambient noise was an absolute nightmare. The first two piano stools creaked liberally at any over-enthusiastic body movement. I ended up on a cheap plastic chair with a cushion on it to get me to the right height. During takes, someone dropped something large and metallic outside the building; despite the building being well set back from the road, there was the odd bit of traffic noise. Before recording even started, I (or to be more precise, my engineer) had to locate the source of an incessant buzzing, eventually tracked down to an induction loop for hearing aids.

Despite these hazards, it was ultimately a lot of fun and not quite as stressful as I was expecting. For most of the pieces I did one or two full takes, then ran through again them stopping whenever I did something I didn't like and retaking it until it was ok (four problem passages, of which one occurs in the video clip below, were retaken innumerable times). I have approximately 7 hours of takes (from what will ultimately be around an hour of music) to go through, collate, and rate for usability. I really hope I don't have problems with incompatible tempi of different takes. I'm intending to start full editing next week. My engineer has Protools and there are a lot of things to be considered, like the mix of the different mics (ultimately we used a pair close over the treble and bass strings, a stereo mic higher up and further back and two room mics).

I've included two samples and any thoughts on the sound would be great. They are completely unedited: no tweaking of mic levels and no cut/paste of alternate takes. They most assuredly will end up being edited, as there are things I don't like in both of them. I had a camera running during the last hour or so of takes, so one of the samples I also have in video form - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXGM8Bp4wsI (not that youtube does the sound any favours).


Attachments:
sample for video.mp3 [3.01 MiB]
Downloaded 141 times
liebestod sample.mp3 [1.83 MiB]
Downloaded 133 times
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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 5:51 pm 
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Andrew, I think your efforts are going to result in a really excellent product. Your playing is excellent, demonstrating beautiful musicianship and capable technique, and the recording quality is really excellent, and this despite the lack of engineering and post-production etc. You should be proud. Your transcriptions seem very idiomatic and successful. The liebestod left me wanting more ... much more! Bravo!

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"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:43 pm 
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Thanks - I've still not got through critiquing all the takes (an arduous and not particularly pleasant task) and working out which are usable. I would be happy with a lot of them in a live context, but this is different. I imagine I'll feel more positive once I have a few tracks edited into coherent wholes: it is quite amazing just how easy it is for left hand ostinato-type accompaniment to slip into marginal unevenness in p passages, supposedly vocal turns to become muddy, or for chords to be accidentally voiced unevenly. Listening hypercritically has actually been very educational regarding defects in my playing, to say nothing of humbling.

I'm really pleased with what you said about the sound: my initial impressions were that it had good dynamic range - I want it to go fully from pp to volcanic ff whilst not compromising on tone - but after so much time listening I'm no longer a neutral observer of what sonic characteristics I'm perceiving and it's good to have a third party opinion. I do think over the full samples I've examined that the treble may be a little shrill, but, even within the first hour of recording, I felt that about the piano itself - so that isn't necessarily a poor reflection on the recording quality. In any case, it's probably possible to manipulate it somewhat in the mixing process.


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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:27 pm 
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I listened to Isolde's Liebestod. The piano sounds too far to me, just my own taste. I guess that we are listening mainly to the stereo mic ? Not bad but it sounds very old school with respect to the current "high-definition" piano recordings made nowadays. I would try to get the stereo mic (which shall be the main mic in the configuration that you described) closer. Because of the kind of stereo recording performed by such a mic, the stereo image of the piano is narrower than with two separate mics: it is not necessarily a drawback but it is a reason for getting the mic rather close.

Do you know this recording of the same piece done at Horowitz home a few days before he died ? Just two mics (Schoeps MK2).


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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:46 pm 
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As far as I know, all the mics are roughly equally balanced. I'll mention your comments to my engineer. The recording's done now, so no physical rearrangement of the mic configuration can be performed, but I assume there is certainly still scope for manipulation of the sound.

I have very mixed feelings about Horowitz's recording of Isolde's Liebestod. On one hand, it is manifestly obvious from even the first 15 seconds that it is a truly great pianist playing, but it's tragicomically inaccurate (the part with the octaves, approximately halfway through, is especially horrendous if my memory serves me). I regret that Bolet didn't (to my knowledge) record it; I think he would have produced something quite splendid.


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