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#916771 - 08/30/04 11:29 PM [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6195

Piano World Member's Recording Compilation Project

Volume 1

The idea originated from this thread .

The Piano World Member's Recording Compilation Project (PW-MRCP) aims to create a compilation of recordings by Piano World members. The deliverable of this project will be a set of professionally pressed CD's containing recordings submitted by Piano World members.

(Please see Project Plan Outline for an overview of the Project.)

Recording Techniques and Resources

This thread is set up for members to discuss recording techniques to record themselves or find professional recording services, discuss such things as MP3 compression, AIFF, WAV, etc. Basically exchange technical knowledge and share expeirences so members can make good recordings to participate in the Project.

Current thinking is that we can accept submissions in the form of MP3 files, AIFF files, WAV files, or Audio CD. Final compilation will probably standardize on MP3 (we'll try to shoot for 240 kpbs VBR where we can, if the user-submitted material has high enough audio quality to benefit from the high bit rate). ID3 tags will be used to make the volume of recordings consistent.

Why MP3 instead of Audio CD? Because two Beethoven sonatas from two members will easily fill one Audio CD! Making multi-CD sets will cost more $$$. We will go with a compressed format such as MP3 so that we can accommodate more submissions without crimping members' styles while still keeping the cost down. ;\)

Thoughts and comments welcome.
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

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#916772 - 08/31/04 02:19 AM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources
EHpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/27/03
Posts: 1703
Loc: NY-Madrid-Newfoundland (rhymes...
For all you professional pianists and conservatory students out there, I would like to use this space to give a little advice. Set aside money to buy yourselves decent recording equipment. You might think like I used to "I don't know anything about making recordings", but you learn with your ears once you have the equipment and it has done more for my career than any practicing ever did ;\)

If you have no other pressing needs in your life at the moment, you could do something such as create a birthday/Xmas fund where people donate money into a fund instead of gifts which will go toward attaining good equipment.

I finally was able to purchase:

-A computer (which clearly all of you already have)
- Two Neumann mics ***
- A Blue Tube Preamp ***
-A professional DAT recorder(now you can get a hard disk, mini disc or even CD recorder or record directly onto your computer)
-A Lynx One Sound card for my computer
- Wavelab editing program (a simpler and cheaper version of ProTools)

The stuff all fits in one 12-space rack hard case. I can travel with it (though a little heavy and obviously must be checked) and best of all I can record anywhere anytime.

I realize it might seem like a lot of money at once --it did to me as well before I got the equipment-- but if you are a serious musician it is money very well spent. You can essentially create your own professional CD's in your own time, and in the end it will more than make up its cost when you take into consideration the huge expense of studio time, recording engineers and studio editing every time one wants to make a recording.

Just a thought... \:\)

Schnabel's advie to Horowitz: "When a piece gets difficult, make faces."

#916773 - 08/31/04 03:09 AM Re: [PW-MRCP] Recording Techniques and MP3/AIFF/WAV Resources
EHpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/27/03
Posts: 1703
Loc: NY-Madrid-Newfoundland (rhymes...
Regarding making a good recording, TRUST YOUR EARS. One thing I have learned is that the best place to place a mic may not necessarily be in front of the piano. This is what would seem logical but in reality it's not a concert, and it depends completely on the piano and the room. Some recording engineers REMOVE the lid of the piano and place the mics high above it. If your piano is too brassy on the low end you will need to place it nearer to the outside upper end, if it is too shrill perhaps at the lower end near the tail. If it is too loud try it behind the piano with the lid in the way. The point is, to get good sound in a recording you should spend hours testing different places until you find the one that suits your environment best. Laura and I ended up spending an entire day preping the mics in the hall before we made our second recording (not out yet), something we didn't do for our first and the sound difference is quite noticeable. We are very happy with what we ended up with.

Ideally you will want someone to sit at the piano, doesn't have to know how to play, can be simply doodle and bang while you walk around the room, listen closely to the sound, the reverberation, the fullness of the instrument and the balance of the different ranges. If you find a spot you like put the mics in exactly that spot, a few inches in variation can change the resonance. Record a few seconds and listen back, see if you like it.

Once the spot is chosen, test the level. Have someone play as loud as they possibly can with pedal and set the recorder so it doesn't distort, the bring it down a couple of notches from there... if playing anything beyond the Classical Period I find my levels are always louder during performance than during testing. I think it has something to do with the continuance of resonance and harmonics with pedal when things are in tune with eachother. I'm just talking out my arse here.. \:D

Record again and listen. If you like what you hear record away!

I recommend you record the piece all the way through once, regardless of mistakes. I find recording a harrowing experience because you are aware that EVERYTHING is being recorded and have the urge to stop the moment something goes wrong. You must fight that urge. I find it necessary to get over that first hump of doing the whole thing. Ironically I never like it when playing it but it is usually the take I use most. After one full play through you can 1)try and do the whole thing a second time or, 2)if it is a very long piece, break it down into major sections where there are good places to stop. Record one section several times. Continue to the next section and record this several times.

A good idea to keep a notebook with the start times of takes, and what they contain.

Many computers now come with very basic editing tools installed such as Nero Wave Editor and other such things. If you don't want to spend the money buying Wavelab I'm sure there mut be some inexpensive ones out there. You load your recording into the computer and edit the bits you like most.

In editing programs a wave will appear on the screen which looks like two almost identical mirrored mountaintops. The best places to edit are clearly the silences or rests where there is no leftover resonance. but due to the nature of our music these are few and far between. When there is sound playing, the easiest place to edit is at the point where a quite or staccatto note will give way to a suddenly sharply louder note. In most editing programs I have used you put your cursor near that spot before the wave becomes big and magnify the wave vertically and horizontally so that the image becomes two single lines one for each of the right and left channels (for stereo). Place the cursor at the moment you see the calm wave start to get squiggly with sound and start moving backwards from this point. You need to find a place where BOTH waves are at or near the 0 crossing point. When you find a place mark it, and keep looking for more. Find the same spot where you want to splice in the selection you like and do the same. Then select the one you like and copy, select the one you don't like and paste. If done incorrectly you will hear a "click" at the edit point when you play it back. Test and try the different points you marked (first good with first bad, first good with second bad, first good with third bad; second good with first bad, second with second, etc.) until you get a noise-free edit.

Don't forget to save the master when you have made an edit you like (yes I have learned the hard way).

Don't know how many will use this very long post but at least for me having known this when I started out would have saved me literally days of work and from big mistakes. hope it's useful.

Schnabel's advie to Horowitz: "When a piece gets difficult, make faces."


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