The update on the song I am working on. The grand piano recording.

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

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I am a self-released and self-produced artist who is sharing her creative process and tips in making music with you! If you enjoy my blog, subscribe to be notified first when it gets released!

Today I would like to share my thoughts and experiences on recording the grand piano. Also, I must mention it is very different from recording an upright piano. However, if you are interested in getting to know their differences in the recordings, I will post another blog about it.

Recording grand piano

Before you start recording the grand piano, remember that first of all, it is a massive instrument. Secondly, it has a big dynamic range, so ideally reflect its beauty you might need more than one microphone.

Hence to record the grand piano, you will need a studio with a grand piano in it and preferably soundproof walls. Moreover, you'll need an interface. You can use either studio's or your own, depending on how many microphones you will be using. Moving on to the microphones, most of the time when I am recording any kind of piano - upright or a grand, I use Sennheiser DM421. I would grab two of them and place one above bass strings, one above the high strings. I usually prefer crossing them: placing microphones in the form of X without them or their stands touching. That will make sure that both microphones hear sound source similarly and receive it at the same time. I record them as mono.

If you feel like two microphones do not record the sound the way you want it, place another one or two mics further from the piano to capture the space and later just mix everything however you like.

The good thing to know, if you are recording the same source with two mics capturing lows and highs, they should not be too far away from each other and they should be in the same or a very similar distance from the sound source, because if they record from the different distance from the sound, one of them can receive the sound earlier than other. So if you decide to record it in stereo, when you will play your recording back, you'll hear that one microphone cancels another which is called phase cancellation and as Max McAllister describes it, "Phase cancellation is an acoustic phenomenon in which two or more “out of phase” sound waves result in weakened or lost frequencies. When two identical frequencies are cycling 180° opposite each other, complete phase cancellation occurs." So to avoid it, either record the instrument in mono's, as I do or use the rule 3:1 about which you can read here.

crossed DM421 microphones - X shape

Editing and Mixing piano

I always start editing with finding the right take. However, if there was no right takes, I find a few parts that I like and from them, I construct another 'perfectly sounding' track. Also, to fix the wrong timing in an audio using Flex Time. It allows fixing the time without changing the pitch. Here is a video I found which explains how it works. Later, I add EQ. I always make sure it enhances and the highs, and the lows, and the result sounds full-bodied. The grand piano without reverb is not - grand. It is the main tool in exposing the piano's magical and mystical sound. In the end, when I like each of the mono audios, I pan them all the way to the sides. The mic which recorded lows will be panned to the left and the mic which recorded highs will be panned to the right. I do it to imitate the piano, how you would actually hear it in reality, listening to it. And finally, use everything else, all the plugins and the effects according to your needs, approach and taste.

My progress: grand piano recording

Here is a video below, where you can hear how track sounded when the piano was midi and how it sounds now with recorded piano in it. I only used EQ and a bit of reverb for the latest version. Which version do you like more? To me, the grand piano brings liveliness into the mix. Moreover, I enjoy all the wide range it has, all the lows and highs.

That's all I wanted to cover today. Next time, I'll share some information about my upcoming single after which this song will be released next! The date for the soonest release will be announced in a few days. If you have any questions or ideas for upcoming blogs, please DM or email me. And if you like my content, please subscribe for more!