3 min read

D8 Skills #33 & D9 | Recording 'Life on Mars' (Piano)

D8 Skills #33 & D9 | Recording 'Life on Mars' (Piano)

I had agreed to meet up with 2 others and record 'Life on Mars' that I'd play on the piano at 9:00 today. I arrived early and worked on some things for college until I could go into the studio, and the others arrived at 9:15 and 9:45. The first thing I did when I went in was move the piano out from the wall and steal all the bass traps from the drum booth and put them in the corners where the piano was being recorded:

We then set up two Rode NT2-A's; one over the treble (which will be panned right), and the other over the bass (which will be panned left). I will pan them this way because most people have played a piano and know that the bass is on the left and treble on the right. This is not the case with a drum kit.

The treble mic is over the badge of the piano, and the two mics are at the same height from the strings.

As you can see above, I set the polar pattern to cardioid, didn't engage a low-cut, and left the pad off. We were thinking about setting them to omni, however, we decided against it because we were using room mics along with these so we'd get the natural sound with them. These can be tight and clean.

We also set up a pair of sE4400a's using the ORTF technique further back from the piano. This was to get a natural, stereo sound that we can blend together with the clean sounding NT2-A's which are very close to the strings.

As an experiment, we sat a Yoga CT-07a inside the piano. I set the switches on the bottom to '0' and 'flat' using a pen:

We then set up the Pro Tools session will all the tracks set to the right inputs and outputs, turned on phantom power for the channels that needed it (all of them), and began setting gain. I went to the piano and hammered the loudest part of the song over and over until the others got gain right on the desk, and then into Pro Tools.

Once this was done, we recorded a take so that I could come and listen to how it sounded. It sounded good to me so I went back to the piano and we did more takes.

After a few takes, we got the one that we're going to use, however, I did 3 more after that just in case I could bring out a better one.

I made the best take yellow so that we could easily find which one it was later on.

Equipment List:

  • Rode NT2-A x2
  • Yoga CT-07a
  • sE4400a x2
  • Headphone Extender Cable
  • XLR Cables
  • Boom Stands