Recording A Grand Piano

A grand piano has the frame placed horizontally, with the strings extending away from the keyboard. The sound produced from the grand emanates from the strings, soundboard and hammer system.

Because of the broad range of frequencies produced by the grand piano, flat response microphones are best used for recording as sharp dips or peaks in sensitivity at specific frequencies will become audible as a coloration.

Microphone Type

  • Option one: Two condenser microphones
    • Polar response: Cardioid
    • Example: Shure SM 81, AKG C1000
  • Option two: Two condenser microphones
    • Polar response: Omni directional
    • Example: KSM44

Ideally both microphones should be the same make and manufacture.

Technique

Make sure the lid is partially or fully open to allow the sound to develop. Place a spaced pair of microphones at approximately 50-100 cm above the strings, and 20-30cm from the hammers. One microphone should be positioned above the lower bass strings and the other above the treble strings. Keep the heads parallel and at a distance of at least 1m to help avoid any phase problems.

Top Tips

  • Moving the microphones closer to the hammers will increase attack and produce a sharper sound. Moving them further away will help soften the sound
  • To achieve a brighter sound, move the microphones more towards the treble strings
  • Moving the microphones out as much as 3m can help capture the piano's overall tonal balance and timbre. Be careful with phase issues
  • A coincident pair of microphones can work well mid-way over the piano at approximately 50cm above the strings
  • If using a single microphone, position it more towards the treble strings
  • Practise and experiment as the possibilities are endless with the grand piano