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Best Microphones for Recording Piano 2024

AKG C414

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AKG Pro Audio C414 XLS Instrument Condenser...
  • Engineered for highest linearity and neutral sound for beautifully detailed...
  • Nine selectable polar patterns for the perfect setting for every...
  • Three attenuation levels (-6/-12/-18dB) for close-up recording or...

The AKG C414 is a legendary condenser mic that has been a staple in recording studios for decades, known for its versatility and quality. It’s a microphone that finds its sweet spot in a variety of recording situations, but it shines particularly when used to capture the nuanced tones of a grand piano.

C414 offers a selection of nine polar patterns, making it incredibly adaptable for finding the perfect sonic capture in any environment, from the intimate setting of a home studio to the expansive acoustics of a concert hall. This flexibility is a boon for sound engineers who need to adjust mic placement and recording patterns based on the unique characteristics of each piano and recording space.

The C414 also boasts impressive SPL handling capabilities, which means it can capture the full dynamic range of a piano, from the faintest pianissimo to the most powerful fortissimo, without distortion. This makes it an excellent choice for recording in settings where the piano’s volume can vary dramatically, such as during a live concert performance. In terms of mic placement, the C414 provides engineers with the flexibility to experiment with different positions to achieve the desired sound. Whether it’s close-miking to capture the direct sound of the hammers striking the strings or a more distant placement to take in the room’s natural reverb, the C414 adapts well to various miking techniques.

In conclusion, the AKG C414 is a high-quality condenser mic that offers sound engineers and recording artists the versatility and performance needed to capture the essence of a baby grand piano. Its range of polar patterns, excellent SPL handling, and transparent sound reproduction make it a top choice for piano recordings in any setting.

This is the Best Microphone for Recording Piano in 2024.

Neumann U87

Neumann U 87 Ai Set Z | Multi Pattern Condenser...
  • Variable large diaphragm microphone
  • Pressure-gradient transducer with double membrane capsule
  • The studio microphone classic

The Neumann U87 Ai Stereo stands out on our top piano recording microphones list. This piano mic is renowned for its adaptability to the extent that, regardless of what you are recording, you cannot have a subpar result under any circumstances. The best thing you can hope for is a fantastic appearance, but the most exceptional thing you can expect from this piano mic is a respectable recording ability. This is the rationale for included this Neumann U87 in the list.

Neumann has survived the lengthy period of evolution and invention in building, even if the fundamental elements largely remain the same. However, out of the entire Neumann product line, the U87 Ai Stereo has proven to be the best piano recording microphone that any musician can utilize at least once. It is not surprising that the U87 is frequently compared to the majority of high-quality microphones on the market.

This U87Ai weighs 500g and is roughly 8 inches long and 2 inches wide. It is a lightweight device. The grille and shaft, nickel or silver-colored, are the most distinctive features. With this piano mic, you also have the option of a 10 dB cushion and a low-recurrence move off. However, if you intend to move off any low frequencies, you should make sure that you don’t need these lowest octaves. It is connected using an XLR connector that is located at the mic’s base.

This is the Best Microphones for Recording Piano in 2024.

Rode NT5-MP

Rode NT5 - Matched Pair,Silver
  • Small-diaphragm Matched Pair Cardioid Condenser Microphones

Rode NT5 piano microphone can pick up frequencies as low as 10Hz, and the low frequencies function better in this frequency range despite having an incredible repetition field from 20Hz to 20000Hz. This microphone solidifies it as a great choice for piano recording. In order to produce the best work possible, record it using two NT5 microphones and surround sound. It does not, however, have a cushion or switches for turning things off, which are not absolutely necessary for recording a piano.

With 143db SPL, you won’t worry about mutilation. You won’t be alarmed by the bass forming due to closeness impact even though the low-recurrence reaction extends to 10Hz. Additionally, the strong affectability makes it possible to record off-pivot piano sounds very well. You get a good balance of delicate sound catching and great loudness prospective with this affectability and SPL. The overall recurrence reaction is excellent, with a high recurrence that is evenly distributed and accurately mimics air and transient developments.

Shure KSM141

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Shure KSM141/SL Dual-Pattern End-Address Condenser...
  • Cardioid or omnidirectional polar pattern, ultra-thin diaphragm,...
  • Switchable pad (25dB, 15dB) for very high input SPL sources
  • Three-position switchable low-frequency filter minimizes background noise...

Shure KSM141 is a versatile and robust small-diaphragm condenser microphone that has garnered attention for its performance in various recording scenarios, including as one of the preferred piano mics for both studio and live settings. Its dual polar patterns, cardioid and omnidirectional, offer flexibility in mic placement, allowing sound engineers and recording artists to capture the rich, complex sounds of a piano with precision.

The KSM141 switchable pads and highpass filters add to its adaptability, making it capable of handling the wide dynamic range of a piano from soft passages to powerful crescendos. Its high SPL handling means that it can capture the fortissimo strikes without distortion, while the attenuation pads help to manage the sound levels when close-miking.

When it comes to stereo sound, using a pair of KSM141s can provide a realistic and dimensional recording of a piano. The microphones can be arranged in various stereo techniques, such as spaced pair or XY configuration, to achieve the desired stereo image and capture the instrument’s spatial characteristics. The option to switch to omnidirectional mode is particularly useful when looking to include more of the room’s natural ambience in the recording.

While the KSM141 may not have the same airy openness as some other small-diaphragm condensers, its darker, drier presentation can be beneficial in overly bright or harsh recording environments. This makes the microphone a good match for pianos situated in spaces with challenging acoustics, as it can help tame the brightness and provide a more balanced sound.

Audio-Technica AT2020

Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio...
  • The price/performance standard in side address studio condenser microphone...
  • Ideal for project/home studio applications; The noise level is 20 dB SPL
  • High SPL handling and wide dynamic range provide unmatched versatility

The Audio-Technica AT2020 is an inexpensive microphone that includes a soft vinyl carrying cover and a simple stand attachment. The AT2020 is a decent microphone with a fixed cardioid polar pattern, especially if you’re searching for a cheap, professional-sounding mic. When used as a vocal mic, it has a mid-range warmth and an outstanding presence peak for more clarity and air. As a result, many singers favor using this microphone.

This mic provides excellent clarity for close-miking vocals and instruments. It may not be particularly effective at reducing noise, but placing it close to the piano when recording it will work nicely. The Audio-Technica AT2020 provides a well-balanced sound when utilized with an acoustic piano. Furthermore, positioning this mic in the right area will allow you to capture acoustic sound with quality. The quality and depth of this microphone will astound you because it lacks the added “honkyness” that other microphones add.

The Audio-Technica AT2020 features excellent off-axis capture and superb rear-axis rejection. This might be a positive, especially if your studio is equipped with computers and other technology. This mic is inexpensive, yet it offers a sophisticated and convincing sound that you will undoubtedly enjoy. This is the Best Microphones for Recording Piano under $100.

Rode M5 Compact

Rode M5 Matched Pair,Black
  • Small-diaphragm Matched Pair Cardioid Condenser Microphones
  • English (Publication Language)

One of the modern microphones from the Rode family of compact amplifiers is the Rode M5, which is one of the best microphones for recording piano. It is well acknowledged that Rode created the M5 as a less expensive version of the NT5. To be really honest, we have to tell you that despite having a design that is somewhat similar to the NT5, it still has a subtle, lovely sound. It is now marketed in coordinated sets, giving you the opportunity to simultaneously record two pianos.

The Rode M5 is a case made of quality dark material with a very constrained Rode construction. Its immensity is what makes its structure stand out the most. It is smaller and shorter than most mics of the same layout, being 10 cm long and 2 cm wide. With these measures, setting up a piano for recording is much easier. The body of this M5 is unchanged and cannot be moved by any cushion switches. Given that recording piano doesn’t require a lot of usage for those at any rate, it is okay. We must let you know that if you get a coordinated pair, you won’t notice a difference in affectability greater than 1dB.

Additionally, this mic piano features a potential close-mike. The majority of players who use this instrument complain that there is some bending when the musician presses on the notes firmly; as a result, it produces a raucous sound that irritates them. Some experts add a rider to the contribution to prevent the sound from being damaged due to this specific issue. In order to ensure that using this Rode M5 won’t cause you any anxiety, This mic has a fantastic 140db SPL to accommodate the musician’s expected volume range. Additionally, this piano microphone has a broad frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz, providing all the frequencies your piano needs.

Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B Dynamic Vocal Microphone
  • ONE MICROPHONE FOR EVERYTHING - Studio Recording, Home Recording,...
  • STUDIO VOCAL RECORDING - The SM7B’s Dynamic Cartridge With Smooth, Flat,...
  • PODCAST & BROADCAST - Found In The Top Podcasting Studios Around The World,...

The Shure SM7B is a renowned microphone for sound recording. This microphone is frequently used in voiceovers, studio recordings, and radio stations. This microphone disproves the notion that only the most expensive microphones should be used for recording. For many, the natural sound of this mic comes as a huge surprise. This mic is a wonderful option for recording vocals and instruments since it has a flat, wide-ranging frequency response. Neither distortion nor boominess are present in this mic. This mic is a favorite of many since it provides a balanced bass. It also features a response setting’s graphic display and excellent mid-range emphasis.

The Shure SM7B is designed to block any interference from other pieces of equipment that create electromagnetic hum and offers improved EMF hum rejection. Additionally, it has built-in shock isolation to stop mechanical noise from being transmitted. It has a pop filter that can take out loud noises.

However, the Shure SM7B’s stand nut enabling simple adjustment makes it possible to record piano sound from a variety of angles. This function is fantastic, especially if you are quickly creating a YouTube video. Its broad frequency range is between 50 and 20000 Hz. The Shure SM7B works flawlessly as a dynamic microphone in hallways and sizable rooms.

MXL 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

MXL 770 Multipurpose Large Diaphragm Condenser...
  • Top Selling multi-purpose condenser microphone
  • Excellent for vocals, pianos, stringed instruments, and percussion
  • Balanced bass response with high end clarity

MXL 770 is a microphone you should consider adding to your list of potential piano recording microphones. This microphone might not have as many features as the microphones indicated above. However, it has 4 Blue LEDs, which makes the microphone attractive to look at. With its much adored patented design, this microphone is a favorite of many. Additionally, it has a controlled low frequency roll-off that muffles unwelcome noise. The piano and other acoustic instruments will complement it beautifully.

This mic will let you have a balanced output recording because of its well-balanced bass response, which offers high end clarity. This is a great option for podcasting and live streaming in addition to recording the piano because it reduces noise collection.

Buying Guide

Condenser or Dynamic?

The distinction between dynamic and condenser microphones is substantial. For instance, a dynamic microphone could have trouble picking up very high frequencies. It might not be able to adequately capture the very high frequencies (transient) of the piano sound when utilized with one. This is true because dynamic microphones aren’t made to record fast-moving sounds.

The dynamic microphone might then inaccurately depict both the percussive clicks and the actual sound of the note. However, there are exceptions to the rule, since you can sometimes discover excellent piano recordings made with dynamic microphones. Everything depends on the piano sound recording’s engineering.

The best microphones for capturing piano sound, on the other hand, are condenser mics because they offer excellent frequency capture and almost complete coverage of the sound frequencies emitted by the piano.

Polar Pattern

The directionality of a microphone describes how it takes up or records background noise. Naturally, certain microphones are made to concurrently capture sounds from multiple directions. However, some just have a few directional pickups.

The majority of the noises you want to capture while capturing piano sound are off-axis sounds. Therefore, while selecting a microphone, be sure that it has good off-axis sound pickup capabilities. Your decision should, however, also account for any apparent volume differences.

Frequency Response

You should select a microphone with a broad frequency range for recording piano. The piano’s sound has a wide variety of frequencies, many of which are extremely high. To capture those incredibly high frequencies, your microphone should have a wide frequency response range.

Proximity Effect

There are other techniques to record piano sound, as was already discussed. One method is to place the microphones within the piano. The piano strings are so close to the microphones that they might pick up some “boomy” sounds. In order to eliminate the proximity effect, close miking is required while using this technique. This is because the proximity effect will function properly if the sounds are already being mixed. You don’t want those booming noises to cause a problem later. Use omnidirectional mics, which are well-suited to handling “boomy” sounds, to avoid these booming noises.

FAQ

What polar pattern is best for recording piano?

The cardioid polar pattern is commonly used for recording piano as it focuses on sound directly in front of the microphone and reduces off-axis sounds. However, other patterns like omnidirectional or figure-8 can also be used depending on the desired sound and room acoustics.

How many microphones do I need to record a piano?

For a stereo recording, two microphones are typically used to capture a realistic and dimensional sound. However, more microphones can be used to highlight specific aspects of the piano or to capture the room’s ambience.

Should I use dynamic or condenser microphones for piano?

Condenser microphones are generally preferred for recording piano due to their wider frequency response and sensitivity to the piano’s dynamic range. Dynamic microphones can be used but may not capture the full detail and nuance of the instrument.

What is the best placement for piano microphones?

Microphone placement depends on the desired sound. Common techniques include placing mics above the strings, near the hammers, or in the room for ambient sound. Experimentation is key to finding the best placement for your specific situation.

Can USB microphones be used for recording piano?

While USB microphones are convenient, they may not offer the same quality as XLR microphones connected to an audio interface. For professional recordings, it’s recommended to use higher-quality microphones with proper preamps.

How do I avoid phase issues when recording piano with multiple microphones?

To avoid phase issues, ensure that microphones are placed carefully with consideration to their distance from the sound source. Using the 3:1 rule, where each microphone is placed three times the distance apart from each other as they are from the piano, can help minimize phase problems.

Can ribbon microphones be used for recording piano?

Ribbon microphones can be used for recording piano and often provide a smooth, natural sound. However, they are typically more delicate and may not handle high SPLs as well as condenser microphones.