Tips & Techniques

Piano recording workshop at Rimshot Studios

George Shilling & Neil Pickles compare piano recording techniques

March 2017 - We were at Rimshot Studios recording some production videos in our series for the site with musician Nigel Powell, pop producer superstar Gary Stevenson and ace engineer / producer George Shilling. We were joined by several leading recording engineers.

In this short video we focused on recording piano for the track using the studios lovely Bechstein grand piano. To start with, George Shilling used a pair of AKG 414 mics with and additional Neumann U87. This produces a very nice sound and the audio sample is on the video for you to listen to.

Following the close mic's Neil Pickles brought along some very nice mics to try out the mid / side technique. The mic's used were Schoeps cmc5 preamp with mk2 omni cap and a Schoeps m222ac valve preamp with a mk8 fig 8 cap. Neil thought having the 701 valved m222 pre might add a subtle difference to the "s" i.e. Deliberate move from the purer approach of cmc5 pre for both m and s.

Recording piano with various microphones

Neil talks about this in the last section of the video describing the sound produced as more 'mournful' but in actual fact, as you can hear with the audio samples on the feature, it's quite bright and although ambient could work very well when the circumstances for that sound being required arose.

Anyway, it's much better to watch the video and decide which mic technique that you prefer but please note that 5 different engineers will use 5 different techniques, it's not a case of what's right or wrong, more a case of what you prefer. Hopefully this video will encourage you to try and experiment and give some other techniques a try.

Recording session at Rimshot Studios

Special thanks to Nigel Powell for being the piano player for us to record and for being the star of the day involving us on his song writing, Gary Stevenson, George Shilling, Neil Pickles, Mike Thorne and everyone that came along to our workshop at the excellent Rimshot Studios. Do please check out Rimshot if you need to record in a nice room, the home made soup and super warm welcome you get there is amazing as is the gear.