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Keyboards and microphone placement for recordings...

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Posted on July 4, 2021 at 09:07:47
SE
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A few comments and questions...I have my own preferences, and here they are:

1. Modern Piano -- I prefer up-close miking to pick up the physicality of the instrument and better project it into my listening room.

2. Fortepiano -- Same thing.

3. Harpsichords -- I cannot stand up-close miking, it champions the metallic string source and makes a mess of things for the home listener. Set-back miking allows the instrument to "breath" and open up at lower volumes.

Are your experiences/preferences the same? What other factors might there be?

 

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As far as the modern piano is concerned. . ., posted on July 4, 2021 at 10:04:09
Chris from Lafayette
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. . . I prefer up-close microphoning too - but I also want some of the original hall sound to register. That's why I love MCh recordings even of solo instruments! And by adjusting the level on the "surround" speakers, I can "dial in" the amount of hall sound to what I want. (Or at least I have more control over it.) Since my new pre/pro now supports them, I can hardly wait to dip my toe into Dolby Atmos, dts:X and the like! My back wall can "open out" by means of the surround speakers - I'm looking forward to "opening up" my ceiling with ceiling speakers!) Maybe I'll find that my 13 x 19 room doesn't have such restricted dimensions after all!

Speaking of YES (a couple of threads below), here's a two-channel recording I find pretty ideal in its proportion of direct to reflected piano sound:

 

Actually, just thinking about it further, that might be a good topic for discussion, posted on July 4, 2021 at 10:08:03
Chris from Lafayette
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What recordings do you (and other inmates here) feel have a particularly fine proportion of direct and reflected sound?

 

RE: Keyboards and microphone placement for recordings..., posted on July 4, 2021 at 10:08:53
pbarach
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I don't do any recording, but the piano recordings I like best tend to include at least some (real or simulated) room tone.

Some of my favorites for piano sound are Nojima's Liszt and Ravel discs for Reference Recordings, the first of Sudbin's two discs of Scarlatti (BIS), and Levit's recording for Sony of Rzewski's "The People United."

With harpsichord, I don't want to hear as much of the metallic plucking sound as you get with a close-up recording, but I don't want the instrument to be swamped by room resonance. Robert Hill's terrific live performance of the Goldberg Variations on Music & Arts is for me ideal.

 

Just recently, the Poulenc Concerto for Two Pianos with Eden and Tamir. Remarkable. One can even hear the , posted on July 4, 2021 at 10:54:23
jdaniel@jps.net
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themes getting tossed back and forth.

 

Performance Recordings, posted on July 4, 2021 at 11:45:01
Analog Scott
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The name of the label is almost ironic. It is James Boyk's personal label for recordings of him on solo piano. IMO Boyk was one of the best recording engineers for acoustic music and piano in particular that we have ever seen(heard). I can't think of any recordings off the top of my head that *sound* better than his for solo piano. The irony is that I am not a fan of his playing.

 

That reminds me of the Mapleshade label..., posted on July 4, 2021 at 11:51:22
SE
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...some hair-raising fidelity of mostly less than interesting works.

 

Gardiner ORR Symphonie Fantastique..., posted on July 4, 2021 at 12:14:24
SE
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old venue, wicked acoustics -- a very unique recording.

 

That's the trouble for me too - not a fan of his playing [nt] ;-), posted on July 4, 2021 at 14:25:07
Chris from Lafayette
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That reminds me though. . . , posted on July 4, 2021 at 14:39:25
Chris from Lafayette
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. . . there's a recording of the Liszt Sonata and the Chopin Sonata No. 3 on the Mapleshade label - and, as you say, it's recorded extremely well. The pianist, Alan Gampel, was someone I accompanied in a couple of local concerto competitions some years ago - I think he plays very well on this recording (using a Faz), but then, I might be biased! ;-)



One thing that was amusing when I accompanied him (in the Tchaikovsky Concerto) was that, at that time (mid-80's?) he hadn't heard of Martha Argerich. (BTW, on the link below, you have to scroll down to get to the English.)

 

To Me, Some EXTREMELY Close Miking . . ., posted on July 4, 2021 at 14:43:08
goldenthal
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makes even modern lush pianos sound clangy, though that may in some cases be down to other aspects of the engineering.

Jeremy

 

Another vote for Reference Recordings , posted on July 4, 2021 at 15:04:56
oldvinyl
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Nojima's Ravel and Liszt albums are great performances and recordings. Sounds like being close to the piano in a recital hall. Easy to discern the various voices, layers and textures in the Ravel Miroirs.

Reference also has a good set of Rameau harpsichord performed by Albert Fuller. Similar perspective as the Nojima albums. Nice mix of harpsichord and hall ambience.

Another nice harpsichord recording is the Couperin livres performed by Kenneth Gilbert on Harmonia Mundi.

I like the Chopin and Liszt recordings by Ashkenazy on Decca/London. They have incredible dynamics and get the brass and sparkle of the piano. Must be close miked, not much hall ambience.
Enjoy the music.

 

RE a good topic -- and Just as I Was About to Ask . . ., posted on July 4, 2021 at 15:34:19
goldenthal
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whether others, like me, discern a recent regrettable trend toward "soupy" recording, as exemplified by, to name but one, Paul Lewis playing Schubert?

Jeremy

 

Not quite recording but relevant to Miking, posted on July 5, 2021 at 12:13:07
John N
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It struck me that I have never heard a guitar concerto live. The recordings of guitar concertos that come to mind are pretty closely miked - what is ideal for a live performance of a guitar concerto?

 

For two channel, hi-res chamber music you won't find anything better..., posted on July 5, 2021 at 17:33:46
krisjan
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...than Eudora records. Some of Gonzalo Noque's recent solo piano recordings sound so right and natural. The recent Chopin/Lizst from Josep Colom is fantastic in performance and sound.

 

I just got the Eudora "Encounters" album a couple of months ago, posted on July 6, 2021 at 00:30:33
Chris from Lafayette
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This was a viola/piano recital album (in DSD256 MCh rather than stereo - but with almost nothing in the surround channels!). I had an email exchange with the owner of the company (Gonzalo) about his philosophy of recording: he doesn't believe much in the surround and center channels of MCh recordings. So even if you get the MCh incarnations of his albums, there's very little difference between those and the stereo incarnations! ;-)

Still, it did sound very good, and the performances were good too. (BTW, the violist is in the BPO.)


 

One oldish piano CD that's long stood out for me in terms of "concert hall realism", posted on July 6, 2021 at 01:06:29
Russell
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is the early digital (c. 1983) recording of "Pictures at an Exhibition" with Jacques Rouvier on Denon. In terms of sound quality alone, it's quite the opposite of most piano recordings in that it places you at some distance from the instrument, as if you were listening from, say, halfway back in a nice concert hall. It's really uncanny how it sounds like there's a real piano out there between your speakers (as opposed to the 10-foot-wide, up-close sound of most piano recordings). And yet it isn't overly reverberant or barn-like. Oh, and the performance ain't half bad, either!

Russell

 

I have that one too..., posted on July 6, 2021 at 06:32:30
krisjan
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...as well as many of their other releases. I saw and enjoyed your review. :-) Too bad about the multichannel sound. The stereo incarnations are fabulous.

 

Very interesting - Rouvier was an excellent pianist himself. . . , posted on July 6, 2021 at 12:16:49
Chris from Lafayette
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. . . and IIRC also had a couple of students who did well. I had a couple of his Denon Debussy albums. And I love all the Denon recordings of Irina Mejoueva, but I don't recall the microphones sounding far away. Also, there's Wolf Lady Helene Grimaud's Rachmaninoff recital on Denon (made when she was 15) - her high-water mark as an artist! It's been all downhill from there for her ever since! ;-)

In general, I think Denon got a very good sound on their own piano recordings. (I think they also licensed some which weren't as good IMHO.)

 

Actually, since installing my Primare i35 amp for the surround channels. . . , posted on July 6, 2021 at 12:21:04
Chris from Lafayette
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. . . I can bring the level up pretty well now on this recording. Maybe if I'd had this amp when I wrote the review, I might not even have mentioned the level on the surround channels! ;-)

 

RE: Very interesting - Rouvier was an excellent pianist himself. . . , posted on July 6, 2021 at 17:14:12
Russell
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Yep, Rouvier's Debussy recordings on Denon are worthy, too, but the sound quality, while good, doesn't have anywhere near the realism of the Mussorgsky.

Russell

 

RE: Not quite recording but relevant to Miking, posted on July 7, 2021 at 02:23:58
rkw
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I have attended a live guitar concerto performance, under as ideal conditions as one could hope for. It was the Rodrigo Fantasia para un gentilhombre, performed in the Green Room of the San Francisco War Memorial. The room is about 60ft x 30ft. It was a small orchestra, about a dozen musicians and the guitar was unamplified. I sat in front, no more than 10ft from the soloist.

Despite the ideal conditions, whenever the orchestra came in with even a soft tutti, it would overwhelm the sound of the guitar. I think a microphone would need to be extremely close, or a pickup directly on the guitar.



 

RE: Not quite recording but relevant to Miking, posted on July 7, 2021 at 07:52:59
oldmkvi
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When I've played in the Orch for Aranjuez and another Spanish Guitar Concerto,
the Guitar was Amplified.
You just can't hear it otherwise.
The Balance , even tho they are small Orchs, is difficult.

 

Balance Is Key, posted on July 7, 2021 at 20:38:53
Ferrous Oxide
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I hate the kind of mike placement that became the vogue in the 1980's with the appearance of digital recording technology. That horribly distant piano in an empty room sound - I can't stand that. Just can't stand that.

OTOH, sticking mikes inside the piano, as is done for rock recordings, is totally unnatural. When was the last time you had your head shoe horned into a piano? I'm betting never.

So, I'd say close, but not unnatural. Definitely not distant.

 

RE: Not quite recording but relevant to Miking, posted on July 11, 2021 at 02:19:04
rkw
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A couple of videos with Milo

 

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