Brubeck Works on New Projects At Unity Gain

May 20, 2010 6:03 PM, By Matt Gallagher

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Under the piano lid, Iannucci placed an Audio-Technica AT4033 (left) next to an Electro-Voice PL-20 as part of a mic configuration in a 3-foot triangle.

Under the piano lid, Iannucci placed an Audio-Technica AT4033 (left) next to an Electro-Voice PL-20 as part of a mic configuration in a 3-foot triangle.

Could you expand on how you miked his piano and what worked?
Each piano is unique. The Bechstein is kind of in between a Boesendorfer and a Steinway: It has the fullness, grandness and softness of a Boesendorfer, but it’s also kind of clear and cut strong like a Steinway would be.

Basically, it was an eight-mic procedure: three of them close up with the strings, two of them in [an] X/Y [configuration positioned] thre feet out, another mic that was nine feet away from the curve of the box, and then two more mics that were directly above the keyboard.

A stereo pair of Neumann KM 85i small-diaphragm mics in an X/Y configuration

A stereo pair of Neumann KM 85i small-diaphragm mics in an X/Y configuration

I used three mics in the interior, under the hood. I put the lid up [in the] second position about eight to 12 inches away [on] the upper-string area. I used a C 414. In the low-string area, I used an Electro-Voice PL-20—again, about 12 inches up. In between the C 414 and the PL-20, I measured three feet, so I basically used a 3:1 procedure. Then it was an AT4033 condenser at the center of them both, and my objective was to check phase between all three, but I didn’t want to exclude the [middle] strings because the box is pretty big—the piano box is 7-foot-2, so I wanted to capture enough area. I angled the patterns a bit in cardioid so they wouldn’t [face] directly toward the hammers as I didn’t want to get excessive hammer noise. With Dave, the diversity [in his dynamic range] is quite intense. I chose to route the C 414 and the PL-20 through a Manley SLAM! and I started with a vocal setting, which [involved] a medium release of about one second and a pretty decent attack time. Both of those [mics] were treated similarly, but they weren’t stereo-locked; they were actually [processed individually]. The AT4033 was not treated; I used the preamps on my European [Soundtracs] console. Where the piano curves, at about three feet, I used a stereo pair of Neumann KM 85i small-diaphragm mics in X/Y. I measured a triangulation between the C 414 and the KM 85i at about three feet, as well as the KM 85i to the PL-20. So, imagine a 3-foot triangle to maintain phase with the AT4033 in the middle.

I positioned the piano in the room so that when the lid was opened it spilled into a corner section of the studio room that I custom-built, which has a “rockscape.” That design would excite the piano in that area of the room when he played loudly. I placed the new Neumann [BCM] 705 [dynamic mic] in that rock corner nine feet from the piano opening so, again, that would maintain the phase integrity. The last two mics I used were approximately six feet over the keyboard and in direct line with the lip of the piano. Imagine looking at the piano from the side—that ridge at which the strings start; go up exactly six feet and I did an X/Y [pattern] with two AKG C 451 EBs.

The mics over the keyboard allowed me to regulate the amount of finger noise hitting the keys, as well as ambience vertically—from the high strings, especially. The rock-wall mic allowed me to really capture some natural reverb. I used no artificial reverb whatsoever. The X/Y [pattern] also added to that in-between direct sound and room sound. The rock-wall miking procedure played a major role. Of course, the three direct mics allowed me a lot more control of some of the real pianissimo passages that required real delicate recording.






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