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  #1  
Old 08-25-2011, 08:30 AM
dan2004 dan2004 is offline
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Default Mixing issues for Grand Piano

Hi all,

I am basically new to recording. I recently completed a Grove3 training series tutorial DVD on Pro Tools 8.0. So, I basically know my way around Pro Tools. I am now working on a DVD Tutorial from Lynda.com entitled Mixing and Mastering…..

My signal chain is as follows:
Earthwork PM 40 mic system on the piano à GML Preamp with the ADAT card à Lynx Aurora AD converter à Digidesign 003 Rack à Dell 8100 (i7)

My piano is a Mason & Hamlin Grand. This is a very powerful piano and has a very strong presence. The issue I have is when it comes to mixing the tracks. The most powerful (and very beautiful) aspect of the piano’s tone is the bass end. I am trying to learn how I can produce a recording that will capture that part of the piano’s sound but not be so “boomy” in the mix. So far, all I have done is added some reverb inserts and some EQ inserts. But it seems that when I adjust the controls I do not hear much difference in the sound unless I exaggerate the settings, but then that is how it sounds: way to much Reverb or way to much EQ, or vice versa , not enough.

I have my tracks set up like so:

Mic one (bass end) : This signal travels to two Mono tracks in ProTools. The first track is panned entirely to the left and the 2nd track is panned to about 10:00.

Mic two (treble end): This signal also travels to two mono tracks within ProTools. The first is panned entirely to the right and the second is panned to about 2:00.

The reason for my panning set up is because it gives a wide breadth of sound to the recording on playback. All four tracks travel to a Reverb Aux, EQ Aux and then to the Master Fader.

My main question is how may I capture the strong beautiful bass end of the piano but have it sound good in the mix. How can I remove the “boomyness” (if that is a word…..)

Thanks for any help
Dan
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Old 08-25-2011, 11:21 AM
stickboymusic stickboymusic is offline
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Default Re: Mixing issues for Grand Piano

assuming you are not at all happy with the sound you are getting then maybe its more down to mic or mic placement.... experiment moving the bass mic away a little to get rid of some boominess....trail and error if you dont know what youre doing...but use your ears

id address this before trying to fix it with eq..... unless of course its too late!?
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Old 08-25-2011, 03:59 PM
albee1952 albee1952 is offline
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Default Re: Mixing issues for Grand Piano

Quote:
Originally Posted by stickboymusic View Post
assuming you are not at all happy with the sound you are getting then maybe its more down to mic or mic placement.... experiment moving the bass mic away a little to get rid of some boominess....trail and error if you dont know what youre doing...but use your ears

id address this before trying to fix it with eq..... unless of course its too late!?
I agree with this, and would start with just 2 mono tracks(keep it simple until you NEED to get complicated). Start by listening to each track by itself and assess the quality, and what's missing(hopefully to be filled in by the other track). Also, when playing back, be aware that your monitoring may be the weak link here and simply not be reproducing the recording accurately. Piano is a tough enough instrument to get recorded, but you may be listening to "not so great" speakers, and/or a "not so great" listening room(remember that monitoring is a combination of good speakers, in a good room; one that has been acoustically treated for accurate response). Most small "home" studios have smaller control rooms, and low end is the toughest range to get accuracy(I have seen response swings on + and - 13-14db between 70 and 170 Hz).
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Old 08-25-2011, 09:09 PM
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Default Re: Mixing issues for Grand Piano

Also be aware of any phasing issues with your two mic setup.
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Old 08-26-2011, 01:32 PM
dan2004 dan2004 is offline
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Default Re: Mixing issues for Grand Piano

Thank you folks for your suggestions.

I think probably I will start from scratch and record two tracks only. And, spend a great deal of time in positioning the mics. There must be a perfect set up for just micing my particular piano with no other instrument in the room.

Just a note: the Earthworks PM40 Piano mic system has two mics mounted on a telescoping rod and they are placed about 3 inches above the strings and about 3 inches behind the dampers, so I am not working with conventional mic set ups. The main problem is the clarity of the bass end. Also, I have tried several different set ups but have been unsuccessful in getting separation of the bass and treble ends of the piano. If I could just eliminate the muddyness of the low end I would be happy with that for now....

For monitors I have two M-Audio BX51a's but when I listen to playback I use a pair of Sennheiser HD650 Headphones.

Any suggestions that you or anyone else may have I would really, really appreciate it. I've waited many years to get some really good equipment and cannot help but feel a bit discouraged wondering if I got the right stuff.

Hope to hear more from you or anyone else...

Thanks!
Dan
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Old 08-26-2011, 02:54 PM
Dism Dism is offline
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Default Re: Mixing issues for Grand Piano

Have you tried any other mics, than the PM40?

I realize that you probably spent a lot of money on it, and that it is designed quite specifically for grand pianos in mind... Not all mics are perfect for what they are intended for, and sometimes experimenting with different mics will lead to the results you are looking for.

Plus, with a system like the PM40, you are limited to how it fixes to the piano. For a live situation, this is truly ideal because it reduces a lot of the "clunkyness" of having boom stands. At the same time, it might not be ideal for recording, particularly in the room you are recording in.

If I were you, I would experiment with different mics, like 414s, or TLMs, on booms at different distances.
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Old 08-26-2011, 06:21 PM
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Default Re: Mixing issues for Grand Piano

This is a grand piano, yes? Have you experimented with lid closed, slightly open, fully open and off (if that's even possible).

In what acoustic space does the piano reside, and where in that space? Is it in a corner?

Have you tried adding a room mic to supplement the Earthworks system?

Have you (counterintuitively) rolled off low end on either or both of the Earthworks?

Bob
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Old 08-27-2011, 04:38 AM
stickboymusic stickboymusic is offline
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Default Re: Mixing issues for Grand Piano

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob L View Post

Have you (counterintuitively) rolled off low end on either or both of the Earthworks?

Bob
This is the other thing i was going to suggest.... if you are happy with the piano sound but its just a muddy bass that is bothering you then before starting from scratch you may as well try some basic EQ.... try a high pass filter on the bass mic... keep cutting until the sound is more pleasing to your ear.... maybe start at 60Hz and then try 70 - 80 - 90 - you will find as you start to get too high you will be cutting much more than just the bass but its worth a go as its something you can try in just a few minutes before restarting the whole process - good luck
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Old 08-27-2011, 06:08 AM
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Default Re: Mixing issues for Grand Piano

+1 on playing with the lid, can make a huge difference.
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Old 08-29-2011, 01:35 PM
dan2004 dan2004 is offline
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Smile Re: Mixing issues for Grand Piano

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I will study each. Regarding trying other mics, I must use what I have as my budget is completely spent.

But! Over the weekend I tried a few things with very good results. I created a new session with just two tracks, one for mic 1 (bass end) and the other for mic two (treble end). I then positioned the two mics to be about one inch from the strings and about one inch behind the dampers. The recording was unbelieveably better. No reverb, No Eq.

I then tried the same positioning but this time I put the foam part of an ear bud over each of the tiny mics and the sound quality was subtly a bit better.

I also experimented with the panning knobs for each track and was able to obtain the fullness and some of the separation that I tried to accomplish when I had two tracks for each mic. This also helped.

So, now I believe I have a very good base to start from. I have many other ideas for mic positioning and will eventually try them. Ultimately, if I could produce just the sound that comes naturally from the piano with no added coloration (reverb eq...etc) then that would be perfect.

I was in the midst of working on this particular setup when my wife had a full blown Gallbladder attack last night, so now I am writing this from the waiting area of the day surgery center of the hospital. Once things return to normal I will continue to work on my issue and will keep you all updated.

Thanks! for everyone's input. It means a great deal to me that there are people on this forum that want to share their good individual knolwledge. It is so incredibly helpful. It enabled me to reach this new level in my novice beginning.

Thanks again,
Dan
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