Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Piano Miking Techniques

Piano miking is a complex and sophisticated process.

A piano is one of the most complex instruments to mic successfully. Sound come from several parts of the piano, making it very difficult to get the correct mic setup. Room dimensions and resonance play a large role when deciding how to set up the mics. Because of the complexity involved in miking pianos, many performers choose to play a digital piano with live sampled sounds for recordings.

Close Miking


A technique sometimes used is to mic the individual components of the piano at a short distance. This includes placing a mic inside the piano near the strings, on the damper pedals and on the soundboard inside the piano. This technique produces a poor quality sound due to the overemphasis of the individual components of the piano. However, it is useful for creating samples of the piano for use in software samplers.

Dual Cardioid Miking


Cardioid mics are highly effective in capturing a narrow range of sound. By placing sets of two cardioid mics near the piano, you can record the specific sound of the piano without catching any undesired artifacts. The key is to place the mics a reasonable distance from the piano. Start by placing the mics about 10 to 12 feet away from the front of the piano and approximately in line with the lid of the piano. Adjust the mics as necessary to get the desired sound.

Solo Recording


For solo piano recording the piano sound should be more intimate. To achieve this, place the mic on the right-hand side of the piano facing towards the internal strings. Make sure the mic is placed approximately 10 to 12 feet away from the piano and on a stand 8 feet high with the head of the mic facing in towards the piano. Experiment with different positions to find the best distance away from the piano to place the mic.

Popular Music


For popular music, a dry sound is usually desirable. Too much resonance and reverb on the piano detract from the pop music sound. To achieve a drier sound, experiment with moving the mics closer to the piano and use the dual cardioid technique of piano miking. Experiment with different miking placements to get the best sound. The best sound emerges when all of the unwanted artifacts disappear and you get a crisp and clean piano sound.