Sydney Recording Studio Piano mic Positions
The two main microphones used in our Sydney Recording Studio on the piano were my Neumann M149 Large diaphragm condenser microphones. These are extremely transparent microphones. (Insert image DSC_0112) They are very flexible in terms of the polar patterns and the frequency roll-off that is offered. The piano frame is divided up into four sections, as is viewed in the photo (DSC_0108). The first Sydney Recording Studio M149 was placed so that the diaphragm was focussing on the midpoint along the low piano strings (DSC_0111). It was elevated about one foot off the strings. The roll-off setting was not activated and the polar pattern was kept on cardioid. The Second M149 had the same settings and was placed in the second section of the piano strings. These were the lower mid-strings. This M149 was elevated about a foot above the strings, too, and just back from the hammers. The diaphragm was not facing directly at the hammers, as this would have been too percussive. Instead, I placed the diaphragm at a perpendicular angle to these hammers. As a result this M149 was capturing the back of the strings (DSC_0117). The third and upper-mid quartile of piano strings was recorded with an AKG 414 condenser microphone. Contrary to the positioning of the M149, the AKG 414 was placed with the diaphragm facing directly at the strings. The AKG 414 was elevated about one foot above the strings and midway between the hammers and the back string pegs. The AKG 414 has variable polar and frequencies settings, too. However, I chose to leave these on the cardioid pattern and to pickup the lowest frequencies possible (DSC_0126). In the last section of the piano strings, the high strings, I used a Neumann KM184 small diaphragm condenser microphone. I particularly like these microphones because they are very quiet and focused with a natural roll-off of the low end. This microphone was placed one foot above the far extremity of the Sydney Recording Studio piano strings directly above the hammers (DSC_0140). The final microphone was placed at the back end of the giant concert grand piano at the base of the low strings. For this position I chose to use a Wagner U47w. This is a tube microphone that is an exact replica of a Sydney Recording Studio Neumann U47. It has a beautiful bottom end quality that was perfect for this kind of piano recording (DSC_0122). I placed a unique Australian-made U87 clone under the piano to capture some of the activity that was happening in that area. After consulting Tom Eaton in the USA he suggested we raise the microphone stand off the floor on some rubber to absorb some of the mechanical energy coming from the pedal use. He referred to these as “Thumpies” and his suggestion worked well to quell the bottom end thuds that the pedal was producing. This microphone, of all the microphones used, was the best overall sounding microphone in terms overall balance. It was real surprise considering that it was an unheard of brand and remake of the famous U87 condenser. It was made by a guy called Mark Chierego and he calls them OPR mod microphones (www.openplanrecording.com). I highly recommend them to anyone (DSC_0135). The final microphone that was used was a room microphone. I used a second Sydney Recording Studio AKG 414 condenser microphone placed away from the piano. It was placed high, close the room ceiling, and to the side of the piano (DSC_0131).