When musician and sound designer Paolo Principi was asked to record a Fazioli Grand Piano for a new Silent System and Virtual Instrument multisample, his mics of choice came from DPA Microphones. The recording sessions for the project took place over the course of a week in Fazioli’s own concert hall in Sacile, Italy, using a Gran Coda piano made in 2005 and signed and tested by Aldo Ciccolini.

Fazioli Concert Hall‘I wanted to capture the rich and complex sounds of this piano in the most natural way,’ he explains. ‘For this it was important that I used the best solution for each element of the audio path. I chose DPA for the microphones, Vovox for the cables and Apogee for the converter because each of these brands is renowned for delivering very high quality audio without colouring the sound in any way.’

Principi, whose company PSound specialises in sampling and creating virtual instruments, was approached by Fazioli to record its flagship piano – the F278 Gran Coda. To accomplish the task, he chose two matched pairs of DPA 4006 Omnidirectional Microphones (including one pair with nose cones for a perfect omnidirectional response across the whole audio frequency range) and a pair of 4015 Wide Cardioid Microphones. These were supplied by DPA’s Italian distributor M Casale Bauer and used to record binaural, ‘close’ and ‘side’ sounds respectively.

‘I was really delighted by the naturalness, precision and detail that all the DPA microphones delivered. I was also very surprised by the linearity of their frequency response, especially for the off axis sounds – thanks to the incredible nose cones,’ he says.

Principi recorded the piano note-by-note (all 88 keys) and across numerous dynamic levels (12 main levels, plus noises and different articulation levels), so that he could accurately realise its entire range of sounds. He also used a special machine to play each key with the same dynamic level and spent a great deal of time working out the best microphone position for each of the three sounds (binaural, close, side) that he was recording. He then listened to the audio in his own studio until he was sure he was obtaining the real sound of the instrument.

Paolo Principi and Paolo Fazioli‘I knew I was getting a great sound during the recording session, but it was only when I got into my studio that I realised how wonderful the DPA microphones were because they didn’t in any way colour or change the real sound of the piano,’ he says. ‘What I was hearing was exactly what I had recorded.’

Principi adds that, as one of the world’s most famous and prestigious piano brands, he finds Fazioli pianos both technically and musically fascinating: ‘The company has been in existence for nearly 40 years but this project was their first experience with digital sound, so it was important to get it right,’ he explains. ‘Until now they have been using a standard Silent System made by an external company. While this allowed customers to play an acoustic piano and hear a digital sound through headphones, it didn’t give them the original Fazioli sound. Now, thanks to this project, customers buying their very expensive acoustic pianos can hear the original and beautiful Fazioli sound when they play the digital version.’

The same attention to detail applies to the Virtual Instruments multisample that Paolo Principi is releasing later this year through PSound in collaboration with Fazioli. It will be the only official Fazioli digital virtual piano on the market and will be aimed at composers, keyboardists and digital pianists who want the highest quality sound samples.

‘The binaural 3D sound, for the Silent System, simulates the F278 Gran Coda in the Fazioli Concert Hall, which has excellent acoustics and allows for the possibility of changing the reverberation by moving wooden panels on the stage,’ Principi says. ‘The ‘close’ sound, which is incorporated into the Silent System and the Virtual Instrument, replicates the real sound of the piano from a pianist’s point of view. The ‘side’ sound gives the audience’ perspective and is only used for the Virtual Instrument.

‘My greatest satisfaction is that when I play the virtual instrument in my studio, I can close my eyes and feel like I’m back in the Fazioli hall playing the Fazioli F278 signed by Aldo Ciccolini. As a pianist, musician and composer, the musical feeling is the best test.’

Prinicipi has since bought a matched pair of 4006s for his own mic locker, and will be using them for all future PSound Virtual Instrument recordings.

More: www.dpamicrophones.com

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