Since Record Production started in 1999 we have been asking some of the best recording engineers to show us their proven recording techniques. This page covers piano recording and some have very simple tips using cheap microphones going all the way up to some very expensive microphones but we think you'll find that it's more a case of where you put the microphone..
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.
We try out the Austrian Audio Oc818 microphones at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire's studios with a piano - in the video presented by engineer Russ Cottier, Kevan tries out the Austrian Audio and Audio Technica 4051's. *Go to 7:47 for the audio samples* Kevan starts the video off showing Russ his mic techniques to get a great piano sound - working with headphones to get the microphone position right this approach will work with any mic setup, from humble Sure SM57 to very expensive Neuman's.
At the end of the video you can hear Kevan's blend of the mics and then the Austrian Audio mics on their own followed by the Audio Technica's with a return to the blend. In the video we ended up not using the AKG 414's as Kevan didn't get the sound that suited the track that he was planning to record with. Special thanks to pianist Stan Newman, everyone at Birmingham Conservatoire, Matthew O'Malley, Simon Hall and Giraffe Audio for lending us the microphones to play with.
Hopefully this piano recording video shows some interesting mic placement possibilities and one used a pair of pretty cheap Sure SM57's placed in the sound holes.
In the video each mic placement alternative has a sample of what was played so that you can compare each and we hope that it inspires you. Each of the recordings are good and would suit different tracks/arrangements so hope that this is a handy starting point for your experimentation.
Special thanks to Clint Murphy and Mike Exeter for setting this up and to Mike Thorne for once again giving us access to his lovely room and equipment at Rimshot Studios and thank you to Michael Bunce from the University of East London for playing the piano for us.
Clint Murphy's unique series continues here on RecordProduction.com with a journey to Belgium's ICP Studios - Clint compares three piano mic alternatives selecting some very classy mics from ICP's excellent mic collection. The microphones that Clint tried out were the Neumann CMV 583, The B&K 4006 and the Microtech Gefell UMT 70 S.
Clint shot this video and edited it himself so a big thanks to him for taking the effort to share the results - visit his site at clintmurphyproductions.com
Early 2020 a group of recording engineers met up at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire to discuss and demonstrate piano recording techniques. Here, in this first video from the day, engineer Mike Thorne talks with Russell Cottier about their piano recording methods. Special thanks to Birmingham Conservatoire for giving us access to their lovely pianos to work with and to Matthew O'Malley and Simon Hall for making it possible, not forgetting our pianist for the day, Stan, who will feature in a later video so that you can here the mic setup that is on camera here.
This is a short 'out-take' from the footage we recorded with the legendary Sylvia Massy at Edge Studios. In this short extract, Sylvia shows Russ Cottier a method for using piano to create interesting reverb when recording drums.