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Sound Advice

Miking Techniques For Recording Grand Piano by George Semkiw

Not long ago, I was recording a live grand piano, situated right next to a drummer and a bass amp, so there was a lot of sound interference. We wanted to get a good mic sound on the piano, so I used an old technique I used to use at Amber Sound. I took two omni-directional mics, and clipped them onto the stick that would usually hold the lid up when the piano was open. You get the mics clipped on, fold the stick down, close the lid, and you get a great piano sound with minimal leakage.

You need to use omni-directional mics with this technique, though; if you use cardioid mics, it’s going to sound muffled, because, like a pair of flashlights pointed in two areas within the piano, you’re only going to get clear sound from two focal points. I went through the experiment a long time ago with the cardioid mics, and it sounded like crap. You get good separation, but the sound is just awful.

Somebody else suggested the switch to omni mics, which made a lot of sense, and when I put those in – beautiful. Even with the drummer right next to the piano, you get very little leakage – not enough to worry about, anyways.

George Semkiw is a veteran Canadian engineer/producer, and built Amber Sound in 1979 after working with several big-name studios. His career spans four decades and every conceivable genre of music.

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