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Home recording help?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hey Head-Fi. A friend of mine is an excellent pianist and aspiring guitar learner, but here's the deal: she's always showing me recordings she took with iPhone. She is a phenomenal concert level pianist as far as I know. (she is too shy to actually play concerts, but just loves to play)


Anyways, I'm thinking for Christmas I would get her some method of recording. I figure a decent mic for a Piano and some sort of interface with her Macbook Pro. She also has a decent keyboard but I'm unsure of if it has a MIDI interface or not... She's not a techie at all but I could definitely help her with setup. I'd hope something simple-ish exists for this. 


I just have no idea what forum online or anywhere to look for. Any help is appreciated I know Head-Fi is very knowledgeable :D Tried googling but it's all kind of over my head at the moment. I think a Diaphragm mic would be best but I don't know what's reasonable to plug it into or anything. Total recording newbie. Enlighten me!


TLDR: I'm looking for an entry level price/performance ATHM50 of microphones/interface-thingies for piano with a Macbook pro. Someone lay out the whole thing for me.

post #2 of 13
Thread Starter 

Solitary bump of sadness.

post #3 of 13

If the keyboard is electronic, a MIDI cable would be ideal for connecting to a computer since it keeps everything digital. Although keeping everything digital is probably not the goal - at some point you're probably going to want to make an analog recording, but that's more easily done when the digital data is already on the computer. In that case it might be a better idea to skip the MIDI cable and just get a microphone to record straight from the piano, especially if the piano is a high-quality one (i.e., a Steinway Grand or something similar).


Appropriate software (i.e., a sequencer if you use MIDI, or just a general audio-editing app if you record via analog) is needed too but I'm not familiar with the Mac platform (I use Windows) so I can't recommend anything.


You only really need a microphone and generally the most affordable types are dynamic and condenser. J&R and B&H sell a wide variety of microphones and other audio recording gear. I don't recommend trying to go extra-cheap and buy something from an unknown brand. Instead buy something from a known audio brand like Audio-Technica, AKG, Sennheiser, or Shure (yes they all make audio recording hardware too).


I don't know anything about this particular microphone model but it seems like a good basic option with direct USB connectivity:


I don't really know anything further about analog audio recording so I can't answer any further questions. The extent of my knowledge is solely digital music production (on Windows). :o 

Edited by Asr - 11/26/13 at 12:18am
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

I should mention I have more info, she has a Grand Piano in a different location, the family restaurant, and a Yamaha DGX-630.


All that the keyboard needs is a USB cable I think. I just got the model name a few minutes ago.


I looked at things such as the Zoom H2n as well for the Grand Piano, some sample quality tests online seemed excellent.

post #5 of 13

If you intend on recording the acoustic grand piano (which I recommend), and want to do it justice, then forget about the Zoom H2n. That might work for most general uses but if you want to capture the true dynamic range of a grand piano you need a better setup & microphone than that.


I recommend searching "recording a piano" to make sure you know what you're up against.

post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 

I read that second link earlier and it just confused the hell out of me. That first link is helpful because it's in English to me. I'd watched some videos about mic placement already but I also found some places saying that a single unit like the H2n (something nicer but similar) can be put in a correct location and be a good way to record practice and for beginning recording. It's in her restaurant and she'd have to put away and setup every time with her Macbook to record if she had two condenser mic's right? (she can be there after hours it's her family restaurant).


If I were to get two microphones to capture the Dynamic range of the Piano which do you think would be best for that? seemed good for the price, but it isn't usb so I'd have to add something in line right?

Edited by Mdraluck23 - 11/26/13 at 12:54am
post #7 of 13

I don't have any experience with recording pianos so I can't offer any further advice. I recommend looking at the recording hardware that B&H sells though, as they're more organized than Amazon when it comes to audio-specific hardware:


I'd imagine you probably have budgetary limitations too and Audio-Technica tends to make the most acceptable-quality affordable models, and you probably shouldn't stray too far from the average cost of one of Audio-Technica's lower-end microphones.


If you get a non-USB microphone, you just need the appropriate cable adapters to connect to the computer's "audio line input" jack. You might also need a mic pre-amp to boost the signal, but I'm not sure on that part.

Edited by Asr - 11/26/13 at 1:20am
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

I found that mic on B&H with good reviews there, just cheaper on Amazon :P That's a matched pair for the Behringer's too so I can stereo it.


Do you think I could just use a cable like this? Or better quality wise to invest in something like this?

post #9 of 13

For a non-USB microphone, that Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is probably what I'd personally use to record a piano. If you're going to go to the trouble of double-miking a piano, it doesn't make much sense to cheap out by connecting straight to a computer's low-quality audio input. It's the same thing as getting an external DAC for your headphone system, except recording works in reverse (analog-to-digital).

Edited by Asr - 11/26/13 at 1:42am
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

That's what I thought too... Last thing I think is just a Mic Stand, or two of them. I'm actually gonna run this by her somehow. Looking at all the setup it would involve, I think the casual portable recorder might simply get more use... :/ Not as much fun for me though.

post #11 of 13

I'd be inclined to say that this is really all you need for a decent quality USB mic, just add a stand:


That way you'd get good-quality sound in mono! Stereo's not totally necessary.

post #12 of 13

I dunno anything about mics and recording but I know that the BLUE YETI is a very popular usb microphone, atleast in nonprofessional world. 

It can do stereo, cardioid, omi and bidirection. Also has a zero latency headphone jack.



CNET, Comparative review (talks about AT2020) 

post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

What I have for now... I'm thinking cheap is the way to go because I'm not even 100% sure she will us it. This setup seems simple enough and the behringer mics are a matched pair and include a stereo mount. I might end up doing something similar but spending a bit more on mics and pre but I'm just kind of thinking for right now, with Black Friday/Cyber Monday coming up.

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