Piano recording setup

May 28th, 2017

This is the current setup I have for recording my piano. No special preamps or anything, just using a simple 2-channel focusrite saffire interface and 2 mics: an AKG 414 and a Neumann U-87 clone that I build myself.

So far, I’ve experimented with 3 different mic placements:

  1. Over the piano, with the mics placed close to the hammers.
  2. Behind the piano, with the mics placed about 4-6 inches from the soundboard.
  3. In front of and below the piano, with the mics placed about 6 inches on either side of the pedals (see photo).

What seems to work best so far is #3. Additionally, since the bass strings go from upper left to lower right, and the treble strings do the opposite, what I have found works really well is to mic the bass strings from the right side and pan to about 9 o’clock, and mic the treble strings from the left side, panned to about 3 o’clock. Sounds counter-intuitive, but it has resulted in the best sound with the best sense of “space” so far. The recordings from day 3 and 4 are using this setup and I like it the most so far.

I’m going to experiment soon with using my Cascade Fat Head ribbon mics as the pair, and perhaps add the U-87 as a mono overhead as well. The ribbon mics have a very warm sound which I love on drums and guitar cabs, and are particularly good in a mid-side configuration. In fact, I think I will try the M/S setup as well. Stay tuned…

Rather than try to bring my whole recording setup from the studio in this room for the piano, I’m just using my 2 channel Saffire interface into the laptop. Simple, but sounds great.

Sometimes, while I’m playing piano, Levon likes to come in and take a big smelly dump and then leaves. I’m trying not to take it personally. I guess he’s “showing his work” too…