Simple Recording Setup for a Grand Piano at a Home Studio
I have been recording from my home studio for two years. When I first started, I spent a lot of time doing research, trying to figure out how this whole “home recording setup” thing works. I had a very simple goal — to make recordings of my own piano playing with at least “semi-professional” sound quality. If you are also a musician interested in recording an acoustic instrument (especially a grand piano), you may be interested in this simple introduction to my recording setup.
Below are the basic equipment and connections needed for a basic home recording setup when recording an acoustic instrument —
Condenser microphone(s) — Cable — Interface — USB or Firewire cable — computer (digital audio workstation, or DAW)
And these are the equipment I use to record my Steinway L grand piano —
Rode NT 5 (pair) —————- M-Audio Fast Track Ultra —————— Macbook Pro
The first step of my connection is a set of condenser microphones. Condenser microphones are more sensitive than dynamic microphones and are more suitable for recording a grand piano. They are connected to the interface via XLR cables. (click images to enlarge)
I use a pair of Rode NT5 mics to make stereo recordings. Standard mic setup for grand pianos is to have one mic positioned above the higher register strings, and another above the lower register. I have considered adding another microphone to pick up the sound in the room, but since I have a small studio, I decided there was no need to add a “room mic”.
Here is an image of my interface. This is where the audio signals from the mic is converted into digital signals. The microphones are plugged into channel 1 and 2, and I adjust the recording level using the gain pots of the corresponding channels.
To ensure the microphone input level (mic gain), I test the sound level from my piano by playing the loudest chords I will be recording before the session starts. If the lights turn red, that means the recording input level is too high and may cause sound distortion in the recording. I adjust the input level down to make sure the lights stay green at the loudest sound.
This is probably not a very good habit, but instead of a good set of monitors, I actually use a headphone to monitor my sound input. It has worked for me so far, but in the future I definitely need to get some good monitors.