6 Best Piano Microphones – Capture The True Sound of Your Piano

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Last updatedLast updated: October 08, 2022
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Going for the best piano microphone is always difficult because you need your instrument to sound as natural as possible.

A piano is a complicated musical instrument with many overtones, harmonics, and nuances. Even the room where you place it can alter the way it sounds.

But the idea, of course, is to get that natural sound. And for that, you will have to go for the best microphone to record piano because it is not that easy with this particular instrument.

You have to consider whether you want to go for a condenser mic or a dynamic one. Plus, you must look for the correct polar pattern, sensitivity, frequency, and transient response.

So, to make things easier for you, we have developed this guide to discuss all these features in detail and reviewed the best piano mics you can use to capture the best sound from your instrument.

1.

Beyerdynamic MC 930Editor’s Choice

Features
  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz-20kHz
  • Max SPL: 125dB (140dB w/Pad)
  • Output Impedance: 180 ohms
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 71dB
  • Self Noise: 16dB
  • Low Cut Filter: 250Hz (-6dB/octave)
  • Pads: -15dB
  • Connector: XLR
  • Weight: .25 lbs.

Other features: Small-diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Mic Pair with Bass Roll-off, Pad, Shockmounts, Windscreens, and Carrying Case

The Beyerdynamic MC 930 is a condenser cardioid mic with everything you need to make it your piano microphone. Its frequency response ranges between 40 Hz and 20 kHz, and the maximum sound pressure level that it can handle is 125 dB. But you can increase that to 140 dB if you use it with a pad. The mic has an output impedance of 180 ohms, and its signal-to-noise ratio is 71 dB with a noise of 16 dB. With a low-cut filter of 250 Hz, you can connect it using an XLR connector. It only weighs around 0.25 lbs.

You must capture the right sound with a mic from your piano. This microphone excels on loud piano sounds as it can handle high sound pressure levels. And the best thing is you can use this overhead mic and other acoustic instruments. This mic has a durable construction; you can see it will stand the test of time just by holding it in your hand.

You don’t even have to use EQ to make any adjustments. This mic can reproduce natural sounds, making it an ideal option for various users. For example, you can use it to record your piano sounds or acoustic instruments like drums or guitar. These piano mics are a pretty good option for recording vocals. You can use them for stereo or recording percussion and Mixpre-based field recording. You will get a pretty nice upfront tone. The sound might feel a bit warm, but it will have plenty of detail, even for your orchestras.

What makes this mic so unique is its versatility. We have noticed this mic works very well in every scenario. Irrespective of your recording purpose, this mic will do the job for you. We will highly recommend these microphones if you record a lot of acoustics.

Still, you need to be a bit more careful when using this mic as your piano microphone. This mic has a very wide pattern, so it won’t work well if you are recording vocals with your piano or any other instrument. If you playback your recording, you will notice the vocals tend to blend into the piano tunes and won’t sound too well. The sounds will feel muddy in the low mids, with some noticeable drops around 100 Hz. And This is where you will have to work with your EQ to get better results.

Moreover, you can use those switchable pads and bass-roll filters to make them sound even better. The pickup patterns of this mic can reject any outside sounds.

What stands out?

  • Comes with a pad to handle maximum sound pressure levels better.
  • Wide frequency response rate.
  • Higher output impedance.
  • Lightweight design.

What cons did we manage to find?

  • Not for recording vocals.

2.

Neumann KM 184Best for low self-noise and high SNR

Features
  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Mono/Stereo: Stereo Pair
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Max SPL: 138dB
  • Output Impedance: 50 ohms
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 81dB (A-weighted)
  • Self Noise: 13dB (A-weighted)
  • Color: Matte Black
  • Connector: XLR
  • Weight: .18 lbs.

Other features: Stereo Pair Series 180 Small-diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Microphones in Wooden Box

The Neumann KM 184 is a condenser cardioid mic with a stereo pair. Its frequency response ranges from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, and the sound pressure level tops at 138 dB. With an output impedance of 50 ohms and signal to noise ratio of 81 dB, this mic is a good choice for recording your piano tunes with great detail.

If you are looking for a microphone for specialized applications like recording cymbals, brass instruments, or percussion, this is the best option. It can also handle high sound pressure levels from the piano at ease thanks to its max SPL of 138 dB and very low background noise. Its signal-to-noise ratio is 81 dB, so it can handle those soft sounds pretty well.

These piano mics are a standard fixture in any mic collection because it’s essential for other small diaphragm mics that look to achieve the same. It will bring out the natural shimmer and presence of all sounds. Therefore, this mic is an excellent option for home recording studios. You won’t find a reason to touch your EQ if you are in a decent room.

The feature that makes it unique will provide an airy feel even if you have dead space. If you have a pair of great room mics to go with it, this mic will outshine anything that is there on the market. So, if you can get your hands on a couple of these, we highly recommend you go for it, and you won’t regret it.

You will notice that this mic comes in a cardboard box. So, you won’t get any bags with it. This is because we concluded that Neumann thought this mic would go into a studio locker, and a bag is unnecessary. But, Neumann is a quality brand, and nothing about them is cheap, so a bag or a carrying case would have only increased the cost. Hence, you are getting this mic at a relatively decent price, especially if you look at its quality and performance.

What are its best features?

  • Low self-noise and high SNR.
  • High maximum sound pressure level for handling low sounds.
  • Wide-ranging frequency response.
  • Lightweight construction.

What could be improved?

  • Comes in a cardboard box, so there is no carrying case or bag.

3.

Shure KSM141Best value for money

Features
  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Mono/Stereo: Stereo Pair
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Omni
  • Diaphragm Size: 70″ (18mm)
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Max SPL: 134dB (159dB w/20dB Pad)
  • Output Impedance: 150 ohms
  • Self Noise: 14dB (A weighted)
  • Low Cut Filter: 80Hz (-18dB/octave), 115 Hz (-6dB/octave)
  • Pads: -15dB, -25dB
  • Color: Silver
  • Connector: XLR
  • Weight: .34 lbs.

Other features: Small-diaphragm Dual-pattern Instrument Microphones with Cardioid/Omnidirectional Patterns, Gold-layered Mylar Diaphragm, Transformerless Preamplifier, Pad, High Pass Filter, Stereo Microphone Adapter, Stand Adapter, Windscreen, and Carrying Case

Want to go for premium quality performance in your studio or on stage? Consider buying the Shure KSM 141. This small diaphragm condenser mic comes with a gold layered mylar diaphragm for an excellent transient response. It features a transformerless preamp to ensure better audio reproduction that is super-transparent. It comes with a 3-point high pass filter and 3-position pad so it can handle various sounds from your piano.

This mic has a superior construction quality that ensures durability and high-quality sound. Its super thin (2.5 micrometers) diaphragm has a 24 karat gold layer to guarantee a better transient response. We loved its almost zero crossover distortion, low intermodulation, and harmonic distortion. Consequently, you will always get that clarity in your recordings no matter what types of tunes you are playing on your piano.

These piano mics have two different polar patterns. You can toggle between their consistent cardioid pattern and true omnidirectional polar pattern to tackle different applications. That is why it is a great option for studio and live performances. Apart from that, this mic comes with an inbuilt subsonic filter that can deal with low-frequency rumbles below 17 Hz due to mechanical vibration.

What makes it unique is its two different polar patterns that enable you to use this mic in various applications both on stage and in the studio. To handle mechanical vibrations and a 3-point pad that can deal with high-SPL sources, it comes with a subsonic filter. It has a high-pass filter with proximity effects and can reduce stand vibration.

The sound clarity of this mic might be low, especially if you compare it with the likes of KM 184 by Neumann. However, a built pad makes it ideal for multiple applications. You will notice a slight metallic sheen on the result, but you can deal with that if you have a quality preamp.

So, if you want the best results possible, we would highly recommend using a quality preamp with this mic, and you will be blown away by the results that it can produce. The sound quality on itself of this mic is slightly metallic, but for the price, it certainly does the job. However, with a good preamp on hand, this mic is a good option for studio and live applications.

What are its best features?

  • Comes with an output impedance of 150 ohms.
  • Dual polar patterns.
  • Highly versatile for both studio and live applications.
  • Wide range frequency response.

What could be improved?

  • Has a metallic sheen on the final results (use a good quality preamp with it).

4.

Studio Projects C-4Best for multiple polar patterns and max SPL

Features
  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Mono/Stereo: Stereo Pair
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Hypercardioid, Omni
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz-20kHz
  • Max SPL: 150dB
  • Output Impedance: 200 ohms
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 78dB
  • Self Noise: 16dB (A weighted)
  • Low Cut Filter: 75Hz, 150Hz (-6dB/octave)
  • Pads: -10dB, -20dB
  • Color: Black
  • Connector: XLR
  • Weight: .2 lbs.

Other features: Small-diaphragm Stereo Pair Condenser Microphones with Interchangeable Cardioid/Omni Capsules

With Studio Projects C-4, you are getting two condenser mics for one. And you will get Omni, hyper-cardioid, and cardioid capsules here. This mic is a great option for various instruments such as horns, flutes, percussion, and piano. Its frequency response ranged from 40 Hz to 20 kHz with a max SPL of 150 dB. This mic comes with an SNR of 78 dB and self-noise of 16 dB with an output impedance of 200 ohms.

These piano mics come with interchangeable capsules, so you can use them for various applications. Omni patterns are preferred for ambiance for internet miking and overhead use, while cardioid and hypercardioid are great for studio and live performances. So, for versatility, we will give this mic 10/10 because we have found that there are not many options available for this price and this versatility.

This mic is a true allrounder because it works in almost all scenarios. You can use it on-stage, you can use it in a location or the open air, and you can use it in your studio for home recording. These mics have durable construction and come with a foam windscreen, mic clips, and a stereo bar.

Of course, these mics are way ahead of their competitors by offering three different polar patterns. This feature is unavailable in almost any other option in this price range. And to go with that, you are getting 2 mics for one. So, you can enhance your audio recording output straight out of the box.

Moreover, its output impedance is 200 ohms with a low self-noise. So, you won’t have to compromise on sound quality either. If you can pair these mics with a good quality preamp, you will notice you have a lethal combo available to get the best recording results.

We say that you need a good quality preamp with these piano mics because it has a slight metallic sheen on the output. The mic itself can deal with low and high-res sounds, but due to low SNR, you might notice a bit of distortion that you can fend away with a quality preamp.

Why is it special?

  • Three different polar patterns.
  • High output impedance.
  • Decent SPL and self-noise.
  • Two pads, -10 dB and -20 dB are included.

What are the flaws?

  • Need quality preamp for the best results.

5.

Audix SCX25A-PSBest for output impedance

Features
  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Mono/Stereo: Stereo Pair
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Diaphragm Size: 98″ (25mm)
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Max SPL: 135dB
  • Output Impedance: 200 ohms
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 80dB
  • Self Noise: 14dB (A-weighted)
  • Color: Black
  • Connector: XLR
  • Weight: 5 lbs. (Per Mic)

Other features: Piano Microphone Kit with 2 SCX25 Condenser Microphones, 2 D-flex Mounts, 2 20′ XLR Cables, and Aluminum Flight Case

Audix SCX25A-PS are top-notch mics that come with a large diaphragm. As they come with a large diaphragm, you already have almost everything for most applications. They sound so natural and balanced for those high and low res sounds you can produce using your piano. You won’t have to go into labor to look for the right position to place your piano mics.

We loved that his mic can capture that well-balanced and single-dimensional sound in all your recordings. And that is not just limited to your studio. This mic can deliver smiler quality results when you are on the stage. We were blown away by their capability to reproduce every nuance and detail of each tune.

What makes them so unique is their ability to capture all the details when working with piano and a range of other sources such as vocals, drum overheads, choirs, orchestras, and so much more. You can use them on almost any acoustic instrument too. It’s all because they come with a large diaphragm, so they can deal with any sound and reproduce it just as it is supposed to be. These piano mics have a wide frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz and 200 output impedance.

We have observed that these mics have low self-noise of just 14 dB, making them clear in whatever they reproduce. There isn’t much distortion you have to deal with no matter what sound source you are using them with. They come with a high signal-to-noise ratio of up to 80 dB, so you can connect them with any source, and there won’t be much distortion regardless of the lows and highs.

But you need to keep in mind that you might have to make a few adjustments with these clips as they won’t hold the rails inside the piano properly. You can use self-adhesive foam for a better grip on the clips. Apart from that, you won’t have to do much to set these mics up and get them going for your recording applications.

What makes it stand out?

  • Condenser cardioid mic with stereo pair.
  • Large-diaphragm size.
  • High output impedance with better SNR and low self-noise.
  • Complete mic kit specifically for your piano.

Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?

  • Clips need reinforcement during installation.

6.

Rode NT5Best for small diaphragm

Features
  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Mono/Stereo: Stereo Pair
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Diaphragm Size: 5″ (12.5mm)
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Max SPL: 143dB
  • Output Impedance: 100 ohms
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 78dB (A weighted)
  • Self Noise: 16dB (A weighted)
  • Color: Silver
  • Connector: XLR
  • Power Source: 12-48V phantom power
  • Dimensions: 5″ x 0.79″
  • Weight: 22 lbs.

Other features: Small-diaphragm Matched Pair Cardioid Condenser Microphones

Rode has garnered a lot of popularity in recent years due to its studio quality mics available at reasonable prices, making them accessible to everyone. Similar is the case with these condenser mics with small diaphragms. These piano mics are great for regarding a range of different instruments, including your piano. But these mikes are great for flutes, guitars, drums, saxophones, violins, and other instruments. These cardioid condenser mics have a frequency range of 20 Hz and 20 kHz with a max SPL of 143 dB and output impedance of 100 ohms.

It’s a stereo pair that comes at the price of a single condenser, so you will immediately get your money’s worth. Although apart from the front hat, you will also get windshields and clips along with the carrying case, you will be hard pressed to find a better deal than this, which is precisely why we have included these piano mics in our list. They have their capsules gold-sputtered and offer low-noise transformerless circuitry to ensure you always get natural sound no matter your source.

We have noticed that these mics come with pretty good overall sensitivity, better than most options on the market. And they work pretty well with most other sound sources, not just your pianos. The balanced reproduction of the sound of these mics is pretty amazing, given that these piano mics feature small diaphragms. It performs well when picking up those low frequencies.

Some of you might think these mics should have come with a ⅜ or ⅝ adapter, but it isn’t that big of a deal. They are at their best when you use them for the XY pattern on your piano or any other source, and you won’t need to correct your EQ either. Their sound is excellent, and you won’t have to deal with much background noise either.

We have noticed that these microphones tend to exaggerate high frequencies a bit at times. This is especially the case if you are in a small studio room. But we still think that this happens due to the conditions and it’s not the fault of these microphones directly. Some users have complained about these mics being overly bright on overheads. So, you must keep that in mind before going for these mics. You can tackle this issue by placing these mics slightly away from the source of the sound that comes in too hot, especially on high frequencies.

Why are we impressed?

  • Pretty good deal for the price.
  • Bright sound even for low frequencies.
  • High sound pressure level.
  • Wide frequency response range.

What negatives must you be aware of?

  • Signal to noise ratio could be better.
  • A bit too bright for some high frequencies at times.

Things to Consider

As we have mentioned earlier, buying the best piano microphone can be a bit of a tough gig, especially if you don’t know what to look for. Therefore, when buying, you must consider your precise requirements.
When you know what you are looking to achieve with your piano mics, you will have a better chance of finding the best option for your exact use case. This section will look at these aspects to identify what makes a piano mic the best.

When buying, you have to consider certain piano mic features to ensure you get the best value for your money. Paying a higher price is not always a guarantee of getting the best product.

You need to go for a mic that suits your needs and your budget too. So, here are some important features to consider when buying the best piano microphone.

Condenser vs. Dynamic


Both condenser and dynamic mics have their place in recording sounds. Both convert sound waves into voltage and send them to your preamp.

Dynamic mics differ because they use electromagnetism to convert sound waves into voltage. They have a diaphragm in them that vibrates and creates electricity. It is increased with the help of a transformer and sent to the output, which results in sound.

These mics use a voice coil, a magnet, and a diaphragm to pick up sound waves and convert them into electrical signals. They usually come in super or cardioid polar patterns and are great for performances featuring loud sound sources. They are ideal for vocals and work well for brass instruments, guitar amps, drums, and keyboards.

Pros

  • Great for loud sounds and live instruments.
  • They are durable.
  • These mics are cheap.
  • No need for a power source.

Cons

  • Not very sensitive to high-frequency or quiet sounds.

Condenser mics, on the other hand, operate as a battery. Here sound waves vibrate the diaphragm with a magnetic plate that is right behind the diaphragm. With the voltage, the boost is sent right through a phantom power supply for amplification and goes to the output.

These mics have a diaphragm that is electrically charged and vibrates. With the vibrations, an electrical signal proportional to sound is generated. They come in any polar pattern that you can change and are suitable for achieving a more natural tone. Therefore, these mics are better suited for bass drums, acoustic guitars, vocals, and piano. And that is why the reviews we have listed above, from Beyerdynamic MC 930 to Rode NT5, are all on condenser mics.

Pros

  • Great for more complex and quieter sounds with wide frequency ranges.
  • These mics are accurate.
  • They are sensitive.

Cons

  • Slightly expensive.
  • These mics are more delicate.
  • They also don’t deal with very loud sounds that well.

Polar Pattern

The polar pattern of a microphone is the overall sensitivity of how well the mic tends to receive a sound in relation to the direction of the sound from where it originates or the angle. In other words, a mic’s polar pattern is its ability to capture sounds coming from various directions.

These patterns are directional presets in these mics, including omnidirectional, super-cardioid, and cardioid, among the most common. These mics have a proximity effect, and if you move your mic closer to the source, the bass response increases, and you will get a warmer sound.

Cardioid

A cardioid mic is most sensitive in its front and least at its back, just like the Beyerdynamic MC 930, Neumann KM 184, Audix SCX25A-PS, or Rode NT5.

It comes in handy if you want to isolate any unwanted ambient sound from the back and sides and focus entirely on the source. It’s the best choice for loud stages and is most susceptible to live feedback.

Omnidirectional

This mic can capture sounds from any direction because it has equal sensitivity from every angle, just like Shure KSM 141 or Studio Projects C-4. You don’t have to position this mic in any particular direction. It can capture live feedback as well as ambient sound. But you cannot aim it away from any unwanted sources as it will cause undesired feedback.

Supercardioid

These mics are the super version of cardioids as they focus heavily on the source, even more than cardioids, just like Studio Projects C-4. It means they have even more rejection of ambient or surround sound.

But these mics can pick up some sound from the back. However, when using these mics, you must place your monitor speakers correctly to avoid direct feedback.

piano recordingFrequency Response

Frequency response means the range of sound that a mic can reproduce and how the output varies within that range. It is an essential factor in finding out the correct sound signature of a mic. It is represented in a graph which is called the response curve.

Ideally, a mic should have a response curve that is a smooth line. Too many peaks and troughs mean the mic doesn’t sound natural. There are two most common types of response curves.

Flat Frequency Response

It is sensitive to all frequency ranges, and you will get a nearly flat line in most cases. A flat response mic, like most of the ones we have reviewed above, from Beyerdynamic MC 930 to Rode NT5, can reproduce sound accurately with little or no variation. So, it comes in handy when recording instruments or other sound effects. But it won’t work very well on vocals.

Shaped Frequency Response

It is more sensitive to some frequency ranges as compared to others. You will see troughs and peaks in this frequency response graph. These mics are not very sensitive to low frequencies. So, any onstage rumble or noise won’t affect this mic. This mic has a boost in the upper range (from 3000 Hz to 6000 Hz) known as presence rise and gives more clarity to your voices and instruments.

Transient Response

It refers to a mic’s diaphragm response to different sound wave transients. When you hit a drum, there will be a fast peak in the amplitude of a sound called a transient. So, it’s how fast/slow a mic responds to a transient.

Higher transient response means the mic is susceptible to Beyerdynamic MC 930 and Neumann KM 184 and vice versa. This is important, especially if you are recording instruments such as a piano because you must be precise with those response rates during different tunes.

Sensitivity

It’s a measurement of a mic’s efficiency in terms of its performance as a transducer. It tells you how well a mic can convert acoustic energy into electrical energy.

So, when sensitivity is high, a mic’s transient response will be high, too, and this is mostly with large diaphragms, as in the case of Audix SCX25A-PS. Sensitivity is more directed toward the output voltage or audio signal strength that a mic can produce in relation to the sound pressure level.

FAQ

Yes, you can achieve that with just a single microphone. But you will need a decent condenser cardioid or super-cardioid mic for that and have to put it on one side of a grand piano or right under the lid. The best way to find the best sound is to use your ears before you start working on your project.

You can record your piano with a microphone if you place the mic just outside your musical instrument. You can find that sweet spot by walking into the room as the pianist plays. And to prevent an over room sound, place the mic closer to the piano and use a cardioid or super-cardioid mic.

Our Verdict

The best piano microphone today on the market and our Editor’s Choice is the Beyerdynamic MC 930. It is a complete package for you suitable for recording your instrument with the best possible results, thanks to its premium quality components and superior construction.

The first runner-up in our list of best microphones for home recording is the Neumann KM 184, which is more versatile and allows you to capture vocals and instruments. This mic comes with an excellent signal-to-noise ratio as well as self-noise.

Our second runner-up is Shure KSM 141, and it comes with a wide range of features that you can access for a pretty decent price. It handles different sound pressure levels pretty well and comes in Omni and cardioid polar patterns. So, it’s highly versatile, too, which makes it a good option to be the best piano microphone that money can buy.

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