When the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra (KSO) needed a sound engineer for a special event featuring Paul Schaffer (bandleader and sidekick on the long-running Letterman Show), they turned to Emmy-winning production manager and sound engineer Paul Bevan, whose resumé includes a long list of high-profile musicians, orchestras, and other prestigious events around the world. Bevan was already a consultant to KSO and no stranger to high-profile projects.

Paul BevanPart of KSO’s 2018-19 Zhang Financial Pops! series, the programme was the kickoff for Schaffer’s orchestral project with his 9ft grand piano would be the centrepiece, with the KSO and R&B legend Valerie Simpson key elements of the show. Bevan faced a particular challenge: for aesthetic and sound leakage reasons, the piano’s lid would be down.

‘We all know the challenges involved in getting a natural sound from a miked grand piano when the lid is down,’ Bevan says. ‘These include avoiding an unnatural “boxy” sound and having the microphones too close to the strings and having ‘hotspots’, where some notes are much louder than others.’

Following a recommendation from a colleague, Bevan requested the SCX25APS piano miking system from Audix. The system is designed for pianos and includes two SCX25A large diaphragm studio condenser microphones that produce a highly transparent and accurate sound. They also feature a low profile and phase coherent reproduction.

‘I was looking for a simple but elegant solution that could be used on its own,’ he says. ‘I particularly wanted to avoid placing multiple different systems in the piano, as I have found in the past that this just leads to phasing problems between the different systems, leading to an unnatural sound.’

Bevan used the two DFlex mounting clips included in the SCX25APS kit to attach the mics directly to the piano rail, one over the bass strings and one over the treble strings. ‘The microphones sounded stellar – totally natural in the house mix, in monitors (both in-ears and wedges), and also in the live recording that was later re-mixed for a promotional video for future concerts,’ he reports. ‘Everyone involved in the project, including musicians, Shaffer’s management and orchestra management, was very happy that the piano, which was the featured instrument. It sounded so clear and natural with a closed lid.

‘I would not hesitate to recommend this system for any application that involves amplifying grand pianos, for the most natural sound while achieving plenty of gain.’

More: www.audixusa.com

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