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Author Topic: Half cardioid on piano  (Read 1185 times)

Robert Lunceford

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Half cardioid on piano
« on: May 01, 2019, 07:32:27 pm »

I bought a Beyerdynamic TGD71c last summer and it has been my go to kick drum mic. It really is exceptional.  They also recommend it for micing a piano. Does anyone have experience using a half cardioid mic on piano and placement?
Shure SM91 is also a half cardioid with the same form factor as the TGD71.
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Keith Broughton

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Re: Half cardioid on piano
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2019, 07:50:35 pm »

I have taped it to the underside of the lid on a closed or 1/4 stick piano.
Worked pretty well but you need to experiment with the location.
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Peter Kowalczyk

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Re: Half cardioid on piano
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2019, 12:40:57 pm »

We used to tape a pair of Crown PCC-160s under the lid of a piano and pan them slightly, with good results.  I recall we'd typically place them above the hammers, but I'm not sure this was a carefully optimized position. 

Some people will scream bloody murder if you try to tape anything to their shiny grand piano, so it's probably a good idea to discuss it with the owner first.

Seems to me the biggest benefit to this approach is to gain isolation on an otherwise loud stage.  An open lid and more distant mic'ing is likely to produce a more balanced sound.
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Dan Mortensen

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Re: Half cardioid on piano
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2019, 02:46:37 pm »

When I need to get some isolation from a noisy band, and when the player is willing to play with a fully closed lid, and when the owner won't scream at me for the tape (as Peter said), I use two SM-91's (the Beta 91's are a bit heavier and need a regular mic cable which is also heavier than the SM-91's wires).

One is placed facing the player, slightly below the middle note on the piano and away from the player just past the hammers by a bit.

The other is placed roughly near the higher end of the low strings, perpendicular to the low strings facing away from the highs and towards the lower strings.

Once I got the spots it hasn't seemed like I've had to monkey around with them once they're in place, which would be a pain since you have to pretty securely tape both mics and cables to the lid. Gravity is not your friend in this situation and it's embarrassing to say the least if something falls down at any time.

With two mics you can somewhat season to taste.
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Robert Lunceford

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Re: Half cardioid on piano
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2019, 07:39:14 pm »

The attached photo is from the BeyerDynamic website. The webpage suggests use on a piano but the owners manual doesn't cover this application.
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Robert Lunceford

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Re: Half cardioid on piano
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2019, 07:40:34 pm »

I have seen similar techniques using more conventional microphones.
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Jean-Pierre Coetzee

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Re: Half cardioid on piano
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2019, 03:03:57 am »

General micing for a grand would be some sort of stereo pair placed where it makes the most sense and a SM57 in one of the sound holes. That's what your picture is showing, just micing there will probably not be the best sounding.
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Ed Hall

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Re: Half cardioid on piano
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2019, 09:56:22 am »

Has anyone tried the Helpinstill? A local church I help at is thinking about this.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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Kevin Maxwell

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Re: Half cardioid on piano
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2019, 10:26:30 am »

This is my piano micing cut and paste that I wrote a while ago with some recent editing.

Piano micing is so dependent on a lot of factors. Do you have the isolation or are other things too loud near the piano? Are you dealing with monitors?

If all you were doing was trying to get a piano by itself to be louder. I have found that with the lid on long stick (opened all the way) a mic placed on a stand about midway between the lip of the lid and the edge of the piano and about 1 of 2 feet out from it can sound the most natural. I did an outdoor event where Steinway donated a very nice piano to be used and there was a Steinway rep there and I asked him how he liked the sound of it thru the system and he said it sounded great.

But that isnít your situation; I just wanted to mention that so you see there are a lot of choices depending on the situation. 

I will mention the problem with taping to the inside of a piano lid, if it isnít left on for longer then the show or event, it isnít usually a tape residue problem. As long as you are using quality Gaffers tape, I would never use duct tape. And if you have any experience with gaffers tape you should know that there is a pressure element to the tape sticking. Just remember how hard it is to remove tape from a floor where the tape has been stepped on a lot. If you tape a mic to the lid be sure to press the tape on as hard as you can. When taping a plate type of mic I would always double up some smaller pieces of tape resulting in about 1 inch squares (basically making it double sided) and put 5 of them on the back of the mic, one on each corner and 1 in the middle. And then press the mic into place and then put a couple of strips of tape to the sides on the mic to secure it even more. And of course be sure to secure the mic cable. I have never tried the double sided little white tape squares. I have been tempted to but that stuff might pull of the finish on the piano lid. I am aware of that stuff being used to hold hard wired phones to the walls and then when they went to take them off at the end of the event it ripped the wall apart.

There is the possibility of the tape removing the finish on a piano. I saw it happen one time on a piece of furniture in a church that had the same finish as the piano. I used to use a Crown PZM taped to the lid of pianos a lot and after that experience I made sure to always get permission first. I may be wrong but I think the newer the piano the more fragile the finish may be. After some years to cure I think the finish is stronger.

If you donít have a lot of other sounds that are too loud near the piano I would try using the shortest stick possible maybe even something else to prop the lid up just so it is open about 4 inches. And then place a mic just so the head of it is barely into the piano (aimed between the strings and the lid) about midway from front to back. This will be near the third hole. The way a piano sounds has a lot to do with the reflections off of the lid. This will sound more natural.

If things are too loud around the piano you will most likely need to pickup the sound with the lid closed and your mic or pickup inside the piano. A quick and dirty way is to just get a piece of foam and lay the mic on the foam with the head of the mic aiming for the sound hole towards the keys. Which hole will depend on the piano. I have never jammed a mic in the hole I have always been afraid it will slip and fall and touch the bottom of the piano.

I also have some very short stands that fit inside of a piano and I have put a mic on one of them and aimed it towards the strings. I did that in one churches piano with a Neumann KM184 and it worked great for them. See attached picture if it works. I tried the same placement once with a Shure SM141 on another piano and it sounds really good with the first piano player but it didnít sound very good at all with the second player. So be careful what seems to work for one style of playing my not work at all for another style.

PZM story Ė I miced a piano with a PZM taped to the lid (with it closed or just on the short stick) and it sounded really good but there was a buzz when the piano was played. We had run out of time and I just quickly put a mic on a piece of foam inside the piano. After the show the promoter told me there was someone there that he knew to be extremely fussy about sound and he said it sounded better then the artists records. After the show I had time to look at the piano much closer. It turned out that there were pencils and debris on the soundboard. So the PZM picked up the vibrations of the junk in the piano that the other mic didnít. After that anytime I am micing a piano I look all around to see if there is anything in there that shouldnít be.         

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Kevin Maxwell

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Re: Half cardioid on piano
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2019, 10:35:07 am »

The attached photo is from the BeyerDynamic website. The webpage suggests use on a piano but the owners manual doesn't cover this application.

I would be sure to have piece of foam or something under that mic to keep it from rattling around.
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Re: Half cardioid on piano
¬ę Reply #9 on: May 04, 2019, 10:35:07 am ¬Ľ


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