Basics Of Recording: Keys & Piano
Updated: Feb 19, 2020
When it comes to recording, keys are dead easy! Piano is a slightly trickier game, but some careful thought will yield amazing results!
In reality electric keys are incredibly simple to record. They will have a stereo out on the back from which you can use a pair of instrument cables plugged into a stereo DI box (or a pair of mono DI's!). From that, a pair of XLR cables into your preamp and you're good to go (I told you it was simple!). If you have a pair 'guitar ins' instrument inputs on your audio interface, then you don't need the XLRs, just a pair of instrument cables straight from keys to DI.
Piano is a much more nuanced affair. In many ways, it's as varied as drums in approach!
For piano we want detail in the sound, so condensers are the name of the game here. Large Diaphragm Condensers such as Aston Origins and Small Diaphragm Condensers such as Blue Mics Hummingbird will both do the job well.
Depending on the amount of inputs you have, and the importance of the piano in the song, mono or stereo recording will be appropriate. Both will yield good results.
With an upright piano there's two spaces to consider. Remove the top lid and front panel, aim a spaced pair of microphones and you will have a brighter sound with more attack. Alternatively, micing the back of the piano next to the soundboard will get a darker sound.
Grand piano's are a different game! The lid being open or not will dramatically affect the sound, so play around with that to see what you think. A pair of microphones over the strings will capture a good all around sound
Finally, if you have the inputs and microphones, and are recording in a nice space, then ambient microphones can be a great addition. Simply walk around the room whilst the piano is being played, if you find somewhere that sounds really nice, put your microphone there! It will hear what you hear
Much shorter blog this week (at least, compared to drums!) Next time I'll be discussing recording strings (be it double bass, cello, violin's and violas) for added ambiance to your music!
What are your thoughts? Is there anything I missed you consider essential? Comment below to let me know!