Group: Super Admins
Joined: Dec. 1999
||Posted: Aug. 23 2014, 11:44
Traditionally, the first choice for room ambience would be a stereo pair of omnidirectional condensers. The appeal of those is that they do just pick up everything equally from all round (in theory...the reality is a tiny bit more complex, but it's not necessary to go there now...), as well as having greater bass extension. In your case, though, it actually sounds like none of those attributes are really what you want! Still, if you feel like you want to give that a try, a lot of people seem to find that cheap measurement microphones like the Behringer ECM8000 do a reasonable job.
It sounds like you want to be more selective with what you record, though. That could just be a case of positioning a pair of omnis appropriately - for example, if they're up away from the keyboard, they'll pick up less of the key, pedal and stool noises relative to everything else...but they'll still pick up some of them (ultimately, any mic is likely to a tiny bit, it's just a question of getting things to a level where they're not significant).
The more appropriate option is probably to look to a more directional mic to help you be more selective about what's picked up. If you really just want breathing noises, then you could try a pair of very directional mics pointed towards your head. Directivity-wise, shotgun mics would be a possibility, though they can exhibit odd colourations when used indoors (which probably isn't going to matter, or even be noticeable, in this application), otherwise something with a hypercardioid pattern is probably going to be an easily available and potentially sensible choice (though cardioids are more common, and you might find that their wider pickup pattern is more useful for other applications). I know less about what's available in the US, things like these from Thomann would probably do the trick - http://www.thomann.de/gb/the_tbone_em700_stereoset.htm (those are cardioids, so more directional than omnis, less directional than hypercardioids or shotguns).
I'm going to throw a wildcard into the mix, though - you could put a pair of boundary mics on the keyboard. My concern with those would be picking up mechanical noise from the keyboard, and that it'd actually put them in a position where they'd be close to your squeaky stool...but the advantages would be that they're quite cheaply available (in the UK, the ones Studiospares sell under their own brand are decent value - http://www.studiospares.com/mics-co....0 - not the world's greatest mics by any stretch, but very decent value), they're unobtrusive and they avoid colourations from whatever surface they're placed on (usually you'd have the direct sound then the reflections from the surface - place a boundary mic on that same surface and there are no longer any time-delayed reflections going back into the mic, because it's right on the surface). The other issue is that you have less flexibility with positioning versus mics on stands, but on the other hand, the advantage is that you don't have any stands to trip over!
I'd say generally, recording in stereo is likely to be more appropriate than using a single mic to record mono, simply because the added width will help sit it better into the mix with the stereo piano. I also think having the mics at a bit of a distance is the way forward, putting something right up to your mouth like with a singer would capture too up-front a sound which again wouldn't sit well in the mix.
It's worth looking round for a hire place, it doesn't usually cost a lot to hire some mics (in London, you can hire a pair of Neumann KM183s for about £20 a day - which, if you hire on a Friday, often gets you them for the whole weekend), so you can always try a few things before buying. That said, when you can buy half decent Chinese condenser mics for not much more than that, perhaps the try before you buy option starts to look less attractive (if you were saying you wanted to record an acoustic piano once every six months, I'd definitely say you're best off hiring something really good...for this application, getting hold of a couple cheap condensers to fool around with will probably do the trick).