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So you’ve just written a ballad or your newest hip-hop production, but you’re in dire need of a real piano. I’ve been there. There’s not a lot of reliable information on the best microphones for recording piano and that’s exactly why I’ve created this article.
The purpose of this article is to break down the very best microphones for recording piano. I have put together this list below from experience over the last 20 years of my life creating music.
In 2016, my band recorded our second major-label album inside the famous Dreamland Recording Studios in Upstate New York. Since we use a lot of synthesizers and digital pianos, we really wanted to capture a real piano.
We were fortunate enough to have access to incredible microphones as well as an amazing Steinway Grand piano.
The microphones used for the recording of the piano and the placement of them was extremely important in capturing a beautiful sound.
I was able to learn and take advice from two incredible producers, Alex Aldi, and Albert Difiore. This helped immensely as the knowledge between the two of these talented producers in truly spectacular.
We tried out a few different microphones for recording the piano before we reached our final setup.
Before I get into the reviews, as always, I like to provide my reader’s with my experience.
Note: A good set of mics and an audio interface are what you’re going to need if you want to shoot your own piano covers.
Below is a video of my band recording our second major label record, which took 30 days in an incredible studio. You can see our microphone setup, which consisted of two U87s and a Steinway Grand.
Note: When recording the piano, you will want to usually use two of these microphones. Some come in packages whereas others you need to just purchase two of them. The reason for using two is so that you can record in stereo and move the mics in order to make it so as lively as possible.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at my favorite mics for recording the piano.
Best Microphones For Recording Piano
Note: For most musical instruments, I link to Sweetwater. This company is head and shoulders above Amazon as they have great customer support with real musicians who are knowledgable. They also offer the best financing options and deals for music equipment.
Below, are options ranging from budget to top-quality. I hope you enjoy this list!
Rode M5 – Budget
This pair of Rode M5’s is extremely popular as they are versatile condenser mics that can be used for recording pianos, drums, acoustic guitars, and also for playing live.
These are the entry-level mics that I would recommend on a piano. They’re not crazy expensive, yet they will deliver a sound that is crispy and lively.
You will notice a significant amount of less harshness in the high-end with these mics in comparison to a super cheap set.
The M5 will provide you with durability and quality for an affordable price.
Rode NT55 – A Step-Up From M-5
The Rode NT55 series is a step-up from the Rode M5 series. They come in a 2 pack and they are will deliver a little bit more of a professional sound than the NT55.
Note: Having betters microphones for recording piano doesn’t mean that you’re always going to have the best recording. You will still need a nice room, a nice piano, and a good sound engineer or experience.
These microphones require 48V phantom power in order to work.
The build-quality is overall really good. You will feel comfortable touring or using these in a studio setting. You can tell by holding these in your hands that they will built pretty well.
While you can record with just one of the microphones, I highly recommend purchasing the two pack that is linked above and using them both.
Below is a video of a comparison between the NT55 and the M5. To me, the NT55 is truly a small step-up.
Neumann KM 184 – Pro
Those of you with experience when it comes to audio, will have most likely had experience with Neumann. Neumann makes very expensive microphones that sound great on basically everything, including pianos.
The KM 184’s are the industry standard and they have been used on countless records. While you are paying a hefty price, you are also getting some of the highest quality mics that sound great with pianos.
These microphones will be able to capture the dynamics and brightness of your pianos in every way that you would hope.
Neumann U87 Overall Best Mics For Piano
The Nuemann U87 is the best microphone for recording pianos. I have had the experience using two of these with a Steinway and I have to say, I was blown away by how beautiful it turned out.
This is for high-end studios and serious producers who afford them. To record stereo, you will need 2 of them. This means it’s going to be extremely expensive, but also some of the highest quality you can get.
Below is a video of a song that I recorded the piano on with two U87s. I really believe it turned out to sound beautiful.
I’ve listed 5 different mics that all have their use for recording the piano. I hope you found this helpful and that you were able to pick out the best possible option for your need.