Easy Piano Miking with PZMs by Bruce Bartlett

Need an easy, good-sounding way to mike a grand piano? Consider using some Crown PZMs (Pressure Zone Microphones.) For nearly two decades, they have been a popular miking choice for the piano.

Reproducing the natural sound of a piano can be difficult with conventional mics. That’s because sound waves from the strings strike the underside of the lid, then bounce back into the microphone after a short delay. This causes "phase interference" which can color the sound. PZMs don’t have this problem because they mount directly on the lid - preventing phase interference.

For a mono pickup, tape a single PZM to the underside of the raised lid. No mic stand is needed. Place the mic about 8 inches horizontally from the hammers, in the middle. Put the lid on the long stick for best sound. If isolation or feedback are problems, use the short stick, or close the lid.

In the closed position, sound might get "boomy" due to reflective acoustics. You can reduce this "tubby" sound by cutting around 250 Hz with your mixer’s equalization.

For stereo pickup, tape two PZM’s under the lid. Place the treble mic about 8 inches horizontally from the treble hammers, and the bass mic about 2 to 3 feet horizontally from the bass hammers, near the tail. Why is this placement used? Suppose both mics are 8 inches from the hammers. When the lid’s raised, the treble mic will be farther from the hammers than the bass mic. So the bass mic should be moved away from the hammers until both mics end up about the same distance from the hammers.

For piano miking I suggest the Crown model PZM-6D. It’s small, lightweight, and has a thin cable; so it’s easy to tape in place. The PZM-6D has a switchable frequency response: flat or rising at high frequencies. This gives you a choice between natural or bright sound.

Bruce Bartlett

Microphone Engineer, Crown International

bbartlett@crownintl.com.