As a confident and passionate piano player, you’ll likely be inclined at some point to share your work with others. While performing live is a wonderful experience, it’s not always possible when friends and family live far away.
Plus, if you want to share your music on a broad scale, you’ll need to distribute it as a recording. That way, countless people can access it in an instant - and you won’t have to lift a finger.
Recording your music on the piano is the best way to share it with the world. The recording process can seem overwhelming for beginners, but it’s totally possible (even on a tight budget).
But, you can’t even start to record without a great set of microphones. The recording process hinges on your microphones - they’ll ultimately determine the quality of your recording. Finding the best piano mic for your needs and placing it in the ideal position for your recording can make the difference between an adequate recording and an outstanding recording.
Here, we’ll answer these frequently asked questions:
What microphone is the best for recording piano?
How do you mic a grand piano?
Where do you mic a piano?
With the proper piano recording equipment, microphone placement, and recording environment, you can achieve a great-quality recording with minimal resources.
Looking for even more info on how to record acoustic piano music? Once you’ve finished this article, head over to our guide on self-recording piano music.
3 Best Piano Microphones
Purchasing piano recording equipment can be intimidating. It’s wise to invest in a good quality microphone to ensure that you get a clear, accurate recording, but you want to make sure that you’re spending your money wisely. Thankfully, there are many excellent piano microphones available today, many of which can fit within a limited budget.
If you’re seeking an upright piano microphone for recording, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve researched the best piano mics on the market; below, you’ll find our top three based on sound quality, efficient design, and affordability.
MXL Mics 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone
The MXL Mics 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone is a multi-purpose condenser microphone at a great price point. Its patented design makes it a top choice for amplifying and recording the piano, as well as vocals, string instruments, and percussion instruments.
- This mic features a balanced bass response with high end clarity for a precise sound.
- This mic has a low-frequency roll-off to minimize the rumble sound that often occurs in microphones at a low frequency.
- A low noise FET preamp with an output transformerless creates a balanced sound.
- High frequencies are generally stronger than low frequencies with this mic.
- It may lack in durability when compared to higher-end models.
Rode NT5-MP Compact Cardioid Condenser Microphones
This matched pair of compact cardioid condenser microphones from Rode is a high-end option that produces excellent results for recording acoustic piano. This set is designed for recording acoustic instruments, drum overheads, live performances, and cymbals. While this set of Rhode microphones comes at an expensive price, it doesn’t skimp on quality, especially when compared to other wireless piano microphones.
- These mics are finished in satin nickel for exceptional durability and a sleek look.
- With a close cardioid polar pattern, these mics capture excellent detail for indoor recordings.
- These mics have low noise and a full frequency response to provide full lows and highs.
- The price tag may be too high for budget-conscious shoppers.
- This Rhode model of mic is bright and may show lower performance at lower frequencies.
LyxPro SDPC-2 Stereo Pair of Pencil Condenser Stick Microphones
This pair of condenser pencil microphones from LyxPro come at an affordable price considering their high-quality. With a professional-grade design, these microphones are ideal for recording acoustic instruments, woodwind instruments, and overheads. We love that this set of microphones comes complete with three capsules (omni, cardioid, and super cardioid), two windscreens, an aluminum carrying case, and two smooth-tilt microphone clips.
- With a frequency response of 30Hz to 18Hz and a sensitivity of -38dB ± 3dB, these microphones deliver outstanding accuracy.
- These microphones pick up remarkable nuance in virtually any setting.
- Recording options are expanded with the interchangeable omni, cardioid, and super cardioid capsules.
- These mics are quieter than other options on the market.
- Background noise may be picked up and more audible when you use these mics.
Our Top Choice
Our top choice of microphone to add to your piano recording equipment is the LyxPro SDPC-2 Stereo condenser stick microphone set.
An exceptional achievement, LyxPro has created a set of microphones that deliver the nuance and accuracy of the best, biggest brands in the field, but at a competitive price. It’s a major plus that these microphones come in a set, since you’ll need two piano mics to create an accurate recording.
So, what microphone is the best for recording piano? When we compare value, accuracy, and efficient design, the SDPC-2 condenser mic set from LyxPro is the clear winner.
The microphones that you use to record the piano are crucial. But, so is the piano itself. Check out our buying guide for upright pianos to learn about the top brands and features to look for.
How to Mic a Piano
Now that you know our top choices of piano mics, it’s time to cover the steps for properly micing a piano. From the placement of your microphones to prepping your recording space, knowing how to mic a piano correctly will give you the best chance for an excellent recording.
Note that when you’re micing a piano for recording, you’ll do best with two separate microphones. This will create a precise and detailed recording.
Step 1: Microphone Placement:
Where do you mic a piano? This question comes up frequently among musicians who are new to the recording process. In truth, there are countless techniques for wireless piano microphone placement to record the acoustic piano. But, we’ll discuss two main ones here: X/Y placement and placement using the “3 to 1” rule.
- X/Y Placement
X/Y microphone placement is one of the most common options for recording piano. For this positioning, you’ll use two condenser microphones to create a 90 degree angle. The grilles of the microphones will be facing away from each other, with the bases of the microphones close together or touching.
- 3 to 1 rule
If the X/Y microphone placement doesn’t achieve your desired sound, try separating the microphones by following the 3 to 1 rule. This rule states that the mic that’s further away from the sound source should be 3 times the distance from the other mic and the sound source. For example, if the closer microphone is 6 inches away from the piano, the further microphone should be 18 inches away from the piano. This rule enables you to place the mics in different positions without getting out of phase.
Step 2: Connect Your Mics to an Audio Interface and Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
The simplest way to record acoustic piano while minimizing the amount of expensive piano recording equipment that you need to purchase is to use an audio interface and DAW, or digital audio workstation.
An audio interface is a form of hardware used in audio recording and production. The interface counteracts the sonic limitations of your computer, enabling it to capture the sounds of your piano. The inputs and outputs that your computer can accommodate will be widely expanded with the use of an audio interface. Plus, the use of an interface will make for a more accurate recording.
DAW, or digital audio workstation, is a type of software that provides editing features through a digital medium. When you use DAW, you can edit and add effects to your recording from your computer. DAW options are available for both MAC and Windows; examples include GarageBand, Audacity, Sound Forge, and WaveLab. You’ll have many choices when it comes to DAW software, and there are even free options available.
Step 3: Prepare the Room to Record
Preparing the space that you’re set to record in is key in achieving a top-caliber recording. Small background sounds like the squeaking of a piano bench or the whirring of a fan can be surprisingly audible when you record. So, after you’ve ensured that you piano is in tune, check the area for unwanted creaks, squeaks, or rattles. Have as few people as possible in the room and make sure that they’ll stay silent throughout the duration of the recording. Also, shut any windows and doors to cut out sound from outside and other rooms.
Other Tips to Keep in Mind When Working With Piano Mics:
- Don’t skip out on tuning your piano. Even minor changes in pitch will seem amplified in a recording and could easily be recognized by your listeners. If you’re going to the effort to properly mic a piano, you might as well go to the effort to tune the piano, too.
- Need help tuning your acoustic piano to record? Check out our comprehensive guide for tuning acoustic pianos.
- Don’t rush the process of positioning your microphones. Take the time that you need to find a position that creates your desired sound. Experiment with various options and test out the sound of the piano with each placement.
- Record with a buddy or two. While it’s not necessarily ideal to have a crowd in the recording room with you, a few friends with musical know-how can make the recording process far more manageable and efficient. Plus, your helpers may contribute ideas and insight that you wouldn’t otherwise have.
As far as piano recording equipment goes, microphones are the top priority. Everything from the microphone brand you choose to the microphone placement will make an impact on your recording.
Here, we’ve covered the essentials of piano mics. Now, you know the best microphones for recording piano available today, how to position a microphone for recording piano, and how to prepare a room for recording. With this information under your belt, you’re set to find the perfect piano mic for your needs and achieve a great quality piano recording.