Audio has been my new obsession for at least the last three years. I did this shoot out with a grand piano to see how different mics sounded with different techniques and distances. It's a simple test, but it paints a good picture of how small changes can make for a totally different sound recording.
First I tested a pair of AKG C451B small diaphragm cardioid condensers. These are my "fancy" mics, so I used them in an A/B technique, which is right inside the piano, 8-inches away from the piano wires, and just over 24-inches away from each other. One mic is positioned close to the hammers over the treble clef strings, the other centered halfway up the bass clef strings. I was initially worried about there being a lack of "attack" on the low notes, but I was absolutely satisfied with how this sounded. This is great for pop, rock, country, blues, etc. Basically anything but classical.
The C451 mics are really flattering for high pitched frequencies. They are the industry standard for recording hi-hat cymbals, for example. They articulate sounds over 5kHz. The low end on these mics slowly sinks below the 150kHz mark, which is totally fine most of the time. In fact, they have low pass filters to cut out the mud below 75Hz or 150Hz. These are great mics for any instrument focused on the notes C2, and especially above C3, with extra clarity on the high notes above C8. If the extreme low notes of the piano are frequently being utilized, I'd say these might not be the right tool for the job, but since most of these piano performances didn't stray very often below C3, they work well!
The next setup was an X/Y technique using a pair of Line Audio CM4 small diaphragm cardioid condensers. The X/Y technique is when the two mics capsules are right on top of each other, pointing out at a 90° angle. This had less phase issues (basically none) than the A/B method (no phase "problems" but it's a little less than perfect). These were positioned outside of the piano, not that far away. But the sound is very different.
The CM4 mics are same type of mics as the C451B, but with a much flatter response. They capture all the low, middle, and high end frequencies very neutrally. There is "truth" to them, but they don't boost or pass anything you might want boosted or passed.
Finally, just to get an idea what kind of room this was all recorded in, there is a single Røde NT1 large diaphragm cardioid condenser positioned pretty far away. You're hearing mostly reflections of the sound with this mic. This by itself would be "bad" but blended in with the others, like an effect, it is "good."
Hi, i'm John(ny). I'm a middle-aged(?) husband and dad. I have a video/photo business that fills in all the gaps.