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Thread: What equipment should I buy - recording piano + vocal

  1. #1
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    What equipment should I buy - recording piano + vocal

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    My kid is:
    a) playing Yamaha P115 + singing
    b) playing non-digital piano + singing
    c) playing piano without singing
    d) singing without playing piano

    What equipment is needed to be able to record all these situations at home (so not at professional but absolute beginners level)?
    Probably microphone, anything else?!
    How recording is done actually, which system is doing recording (can it be computer or it should be any other equipment)?

    P.S. I understand nothing about this, I am really noob. We do not have microphone yet.

  2. #2
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    That's a lot of scenarios.

    So, yes, you will need at least a microphone to record the vocals and acoustic piano. A single microphone (or digital recorder) is difficult to use to capture both a piano and vocal, but for "absolute beginner" level, sure, it can be done. It could also work for the Yamaha if recording the sound from the built-in speakers is all you want to do.

    If you or your sonchild want to record the keyboard directly from the audio (aux) outputs that will require using an "audio interface" that is capable of accepting both the keyboard output and a microphone, or a more "pro-sumer" type of digital recorder capable of accepting that input.

    Do you have a computer capable of doing the audio capture or mixing? What's your technical interest in learning how to do all of this?
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by renathy View Post
    My kid is:
    a) playing Yamaha P115 + singing
    b) playing non-digital piano + singing
    c) playing piano without singing
    d) singing without playing piano

    What equipment is needed to be able to record all these situations at home (so not at professional but absolute beginners level)?
    Probably microphone, anything else?!

    Hi there,
    It's very easy to go wrong!


    The Yamaha P115 has left and right auxiliary outs, so I'd probably use those.
    There's a few reasons...Recording a line out is like recording what you hear through the headphones. It's consistent, sounds good already,
    and isn't subject to the sound of your room or any background noise there might be.
    Conversely recording a piano with microphones could go wrong or not sound good for numerous reasons.

    With the line outputs there's also the benefit of being able to pop on headphones so the piano doesn't actually make any sound in the room.
    That means, when you're recording, the vocal microphone won't be 'hearing' any piano, so the vocal is isolated.

    With multitrack recording each individual input gets its own track in the software, so isolation is usually desirable.

    Recording the way I describe there, you'd be able to listen to the vocal completely isolated, and the piano completely isolated
    which means it's very clean and easy to make adjustments or do some processing later.
    Even if it's as simple as using an eq to make the vocal a little brighter, being an isolated recording will still make that much easier and nicer.

    Recording a piano and vocalist with microphones would result in bleed between the sources/microphones, so you'll never get that degree of isolation,
    and then editing/adjusting is made more difficult.

    Quote Originally Posted by renathy View Post
    How recording is done actually, which system is doing recording (can it be computer or it should be any other equipment)?

    P.S. I understand nothing about this, I am really noob. We do not have microphone yet.
    With a modest audio interface you can record directly to more or less any computer.
    Free/cheap software like Reaper will do the job just fine.
    With multitrack recording, each input is recorded down on its own track, so in your set up you might have
    Piano Left -----------
    Piano Right ---------
    Vocals --------

    I'd look for a modest USB audio interface (or thunderbolt, or whatever your preference) with two line inputs and two microphone preamplifiers - Four inputs total.
    (You don't generally get 3-input devices with 2x line and 1x mic...).

    If you'd definitely prefer to be equipped to record the acoustic piano too please let us know because the requirements will be different.
    Last edited by Steenamaroo; 3 Weeks Ago at 06:51.
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    Worst case - as said by everyone, a modest interface that can handles mics and line inputs. Recording the piano in mono and the vocal is the compromise. A 4 input audio interface just puts the price up. Mics wise, a cheap pair of condensers could do the trick, but again - this means recording the real piano in mono.

    The biggest issue for you is your skill level. Recording the electric piano with it cabled is simple, and sticking a dynamic cheap 'ice cream cone' shaped live mic into channel 3 lets you do a pretty decent recording. Move to the real piano and your task got much, much harder. Where you put microphones is critical to the success, and you also then get issues with spill - the piano will leak into the vocal track and the vocals into the piano, making editing much more difficult. You'll also need software for the computer which can be free/cheap too expensive. You might want decent monitors so you can hear the quality. You might be recording in a horrible sounding room, or with a horrible sounding piano. All these things can be cured with skill and experience - which may be a problem.

    If however, it's just for fun a couple of dynamic mics and a two channel interface will work fine. We'd probably NOT do it this way, but if the quality threshold is low - it will produce workable results.

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    One other option would be to get a standalone recorder, which is especially nice for portability. It depends on your situation. If you just want to record your son's practices, you can pick up a recorder for about $200, with internal stereo mics. You can then add external mics later on. The Zoom H4n, H6 and Tascam DR40X will let you do a quick recording, and you have the option of adding external microphones if needed. They are really nice if you need to do onsite recordings at a recital or the like. Something like the H4N would allow you to record the P115 from the aux outs, and use the internal mic for vocals.

    You can get smaller units with only 2 channels and no external mic option for less. Audio is saved to SD cards in WAV or MP3 format. The files can then be dropped into a computer for mixing, editing or burning to CD, etc.

    I wouldn't go that way if I was doing something for commercial release, but for reviewing a song or catching an idea, they are great. They can do basic overdubbing and multitrack recording. I once did a demo for a friend of the song Blackbird entirely on the H4N. Just me, doing one acoustic guitar and 3 vocals, all done in about 30 minutes, then moved to the computer to mix down.

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