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Topic: How to mix a piano correctly?

  1. #1

    How to mix a piano correctly?


    As simple as the question seems, it actually can be nerve racking. Unfortunately, I only have Gigapiano to work with at the moment, but I know there has to be a great way to mix it well with an orchestral piece. I don\'t like that \"up on the speaker sound\", but it sounds too muddy when some reverb is applied, and the sustain keys are on. I\'m wanting that sound where you can almost hear the piano in a certain place of the concert hall. It\'s rich, heard well, but slices into mix just right not drowning anything else.

    I have this example to try to see if anyone could get this out of their libary. If I need to get another library like the Steinway B, then so be it. I just wanted to see if anyone can really crank a lot of Gigapiano.

    This was a live recording from Spirited Away.


  2. #2

    Re: How to mix a piano correctly?


    All I can say is wow! That orchestra is really wonderful! The piano sits well when the orchestral accompaniment is playing, but on its own, it does seem to sound a bit muddy. Nevertheless, I\'ve never made Gigapiano sound the way you did.

    Interesting composition indeed!


  3. #3

    Re: How to mix a piano correctly?

    And for your music, I just gave you five stars!


  4. #4

    Re: How to mix a piano correctly?

    Pulling some low-mids out of the piano can reduce the muddy sound. Frankly, I think it sounds nice \"as-is\", though it sounds nothing like the Gigapiano I ceremoniously threw away last year. Whatever was done to it worked!

  5. #5

    Re: How to mix a piano correctly?

    I always post the same thing it seems, but predelay is your friend when you want to use a lot of reverb without muddying everything up. Stick a delay plug-in on the piano\'s reverb send, and try about 45 - 50 milliseconds.

    An alternative would be to use hard-panned stereo delays set to maybe 45 and 30 ms, and send a lot of the piano to them - maybe 50%. Then send the whole thing - wet and dry - to the reverb, but use less of it. The delays create walls. But you have to watch mono-compatibiity when you\'re using that trick.

    I prefer the first, though. And eq is also a good idea, although nothing struck me as being really wrong with the sound that warrants eq.

    One unsolicited musical suggestion: consider adding some articulation to the repeated 8th notes in the melody. For openers, I\'d probably play the first one (and subsequent ones on strong beats) longer with more of an accent, and the others shorter. Nice piece, though.

  6. #6

    Re: How to mix a piano correctly?

    WHOA WHOA WHOA.....did you guys think I made that song I posted? Noooooo. That was a live recording from the movie Spirited Away (Best Animated Picture...Oscars 2002). I was using a composition that displayed beautiful mixing with the piano, and wanted to see if anyone had an example of something they made that emulated close to that sound. I DID NOT make that song, Joe Hisaishi did, who\'s bigtime in the industry of Japan. Sorry for misleading you, I thought I had made it clear enough to say it WAS NOT mine. Can anyone get a sampled piano sounding like that, with that concert ambience, with the right placement? Thanks.

    Jared [img]images/icons/tongue.gif[/img]

    *Wow....I\'m embarassed*

    If you want to hear something fully orchestrated that I did a long time ago, with nasty reverb (was done on an SBLive card at the time), then you can listen to this and rejudge me. It\'s quite the downfall from that last piece, I know.


  7. #7
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: How to mix a piano correctly?

    Hi Jared,

    My suggestion would be to throw away the left channel signal and use only the right channel as a mono feed into a room sim/reverb algorithm.

    The reason you need mono vs. stereo has to do with that \"piano mounted on the wall between the speakers\" phenomenon. This is how many people record pianos, and it is a useful sound. However, it is not an orchestral placement in the \"realism\" sense. For that, imagine you\'re sitting in the 13th row. Hold up your imaginary thumb, and realize that the image of the piano between your monitors needs to be about the size of your thumbnail to properly \"fit\" in the orchestral soundstage.

    Any time you find that an instrument either wants to be too soft, or if turned up to completely take over the mix, try mono and some artificial reflection. That will almost always help. The irony is that by narrowing most of your source signals, you actually end up with deeper stereo separation, because you can make everything the right \"size\" before hitting the reverb. This, in turn, excites the reverb in a way that doesn\'t just turn the signal to pure mush.

    Good luck.


  8. #8

    Re: How to mix a piano correctly?

    Thanks a lot Bruce. I will try that for awhile and see if that helps.


  9. #9

    Re: How to mix a piano correctly?

    Hisaishi is a piano player and loves to play the instrument so it\'s no surprise he uses it so much in his scores.. You\'ll almost always hear it in the first few bars in his main themes.

    Anyway, he usually records it seperately or at minimum with a seperate mic setup along with the orchestra. This is why the piano in that Spirited Away clip sounds fairly upfront and dominant and clean.

    With sampled piano you would have to be very careful and conservative with artificial reverb, specially with reverb trails. Unlike its much older cousin, the Harp, you won\'t be able to get away with too much muddiness. If the gigasample you\'re using has release samples, use them! Makes a big difference in realism.

    There\'s one scenario where you would want heavy (but controlled) reverb on the piano and that\'s when you\'re trying to use it almost like a chromatic percussion instrument. The big keys have this amazing, rumbling, powerful low-end when used correctly in staccato fashion or the like. The top-end is also useful combined with other instruments in the kitchen.

  10. #10

    Re: How to mix a piano correctly?


    Are there specific lower-mid frequencies you tend to cut to reduce muddiness?

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