Last weekend I had the pleasure of recording an amazing conert pianist. This lady is a stroke doctor during the day and a pianist on the side. She’s so serious about piano that she flies to New York and even to Paris to take lessons.
The hall is a great smaller venue which seats about 200 very comfortably. There isn’t a bad seat in the house and the atmosphere is great.
It’s quite simple, a Steinway in the middle of the stage.
There are may different ways to record a gig like this. If you want more of the “live” sound you could to an XY stereo mic configuration in front of the piano or even in front of the stage to get more of the ambience and the audience. I chose a more close micing approach because we were more concerned with the quality of the piano sound than the audience.
I used two Audio Technica 4050 large diaphragm condenser mics for a stereo image. I placed one over the low end strings and one over the high end. The concept is they’d share the center range and the left and right would be low and high tones respectively. I didn’t worry about a perfect 90 degree angle XY because they were far enough apart and so close to the source.
Since the recording was only two channels I was able to bring a nice small setup. I used an M-Audio USB Duo as my preamp. The Duo just hooks into the USB on my 17″ Apple Powerbook. My recording software of choice is Cubase SX.
My Cubase capture settings were 32 bit recording at 44,100 sampling rate.
The small silver device to the right of my rig picture is a minidisc recorder. Whenever I do gigs like this where it’s live and you only get one shot at the recording, I run a 2nd capture device. If the laptop crashes or there’s a problem with the capture, I have a backup on the minidisc. The MD would certainly not be as high quality, but I’d have something.
The performer was awesome and my rig captured her perfectly. I didn’t even get a sound check but my guess on her levels was perfect. I didn’t even adjust my input gain at all. The very peak of her volume level was 1 or 2 dB below peak.