How to mic upright piano? Are there any differences in the sound quality of the different methods of placing a microphone on your upright piano? What are the best microphones to use for recording an upright piano? When it comes to how to mic an upright piano, there are many ways that we are going to discuss, as it is important to know how to be able to record your upright piano properly.
We are also going to check out some of the best microphones that you can use in recording an upright piano, as the quality of the microphone is a huge factor in the result of the sound quality of your recording.
Three Ways To Mic An Upright Piano
Around The Back Of The Soundboard
The most used way of placing a microphone into an upright piano when you are recording is to place it around the back of the piano’s soundboard. First is to find the spot where the piano’s sound is released so you can have a better idea of where to place your microphone in the setup.
Remember that before you decide to place the microphone, you are already set in with the track that you are going to record, as the location of where the sound is the loudest from the soundboard changes when the key also changes. So, to avoid wasting time, do not play any other piece when you are still finding the best location to place your microphone, or else, the position of the microphone is also going to be changed as well.
Using one microphone for recording this way can be a mono signal; however, you can add a second microphone, and you can either place the two to be equidistant from each other, or you can do a bloom line configuration, which uses two ribbon microphones and one is positioned in an upward direction, while the second ribbon mic is positioned in a downward direction.
The bloom line configuration will make your recording louder, and it has better capture of the piano’s sound than just using one microphone.
Near The Pianist’s Knees
The second way you can record an upright piano is to place the microphone by the player’s knees, where the strings come together to make an X. This microphone setup is perfect when you are playing with instruments that produce more high-end frequencies like acoustic guitars and many more, which you cannot smear on top. If you are looking for the piano to fit in a certain spot for the mix, then this is the best way to go in recording it.
Place The Microphone On Top By The Hammers
The third way to mic an upright piano if you are recording it is to place the microphone on the top. Like placing the microphone on the back of the soundboard, this method is also very typical to see on setups, especially where there is only one microphone that you can use.
However, if you can use a second microphone for recording, you can also place it around the back of the piano’s soundboard, as you can get better piano sound quality if you have those two microphones placed. With the right placement of these microphones, you can get a grand piano sound that you would surely love to listen to, especially if you are using high-quality ribbon microphones.
To get the best quality from recording your upright piano, not only do you have to place the microphone in the perfect position, but also you have to use a high-quality microphone, especially if you are really going for high-quality audio track recording. Microphones can be a huge factor in your recording output, so we will check out the best microphones you can use in recording an upright piano.
Best Microphones For Recording Upright Pianos
When it comes to go-to microphones for recording piano, one that always comes out on top is the Neumann U87. Regarded by many to be one of the best microphones for recording, this large dual-diaphragm condenser microphone has been able to get the job done since it was introduced in the market in 1967, and today it is still considered to be an industry standard for audio engineers.
It is a compact microphone and is very lightweight, as it also comes with durable metal housing. It is also an omnidirectional microphone, so it is really an excellent mic for recording. It comes with a low-frequency cutoff switch to filter out the unwanted frequencies that could muddy up the sound. Lastly, it also comes with an attenuation pad that is able to take sound pressure levels of up to 127 dB.
Beyerdynamic MC 930
Another high-end microphone that comes with our list, the Beyerdynamic MC 930, is a condenser cardioid microphone that is perfect for recording your upright piano. With its frequency response of 40 Hz up to 20 kHz, it is the ideal specification for recording pianos. This microphone can handle a maximum pressure level of up to 125 dB; however, it can go up to 140 dB if you use a pad.
It is known for producing very natural sound, so you do not have to make any huge adjustments to your EQ. This microphone also has a reputation for being versatile, as you can also use it to mic other musical instruments without having to tweak the EQ. Lastly, it also comes with a low-cut filter of 250 Hz to filter out the unwanted frequencies that could muddy up the sound.
AKG C414 XLS
Another classic microphone that could perfectly be used for recording your upright piano, the AKG C414 XLS needs no introduction to all audio engineers. This large-diaphragm condenser microphone is a high-end microphone with an established reputation for being versatile that you can use in recording any instrument; this microphone is an excellent option to be used for recording your upright piano.
This microphone comes with nine different polar patterns that you can use when you are recording, so you can choose your preference when you are using it. It also has 3-way switchable bass filters and three levels of pads that you can use to get the best sound quality from the microphone when you are recording. One nice thing about setting up this microphone is that it comes with a memory lock, so the settings of your microphone the last time you use it will stay, even while you are on the road.
If you are on a tight budget but would love to still have a great microphone to be used for recording your upright piano, then you should go for a Rode NT5. Even with its budget-friendly price point, this cardioid condenser microphone has a frequency response of 20 Hz up to 20 kHz, which is pretty impressive for its small diaphragm. It also has a maximum sound pressure level of 143 dB and a 100-ohm output impedance.
For the price of a single microphone, you already get a pair that can be perfectly used to record your upright piano without having to break the bank.
So, how to mic upright piano? To mic an upright piano, you can either put the microphone at the back of its soundboard, place it near the piano’s strings, or you can place it above the hammer of the piano. Either of these three ways will help you record the best sound quality from your upright piano.