Milford, NH – For the past eight years pianist Kemuel Roig has been touring with world-renowned jazz trumpeter and Grammy award winner Dr. Arturo Sandoval. At the NAMM Show this past January, Roig discovered the Earthworks PM40T PianoMic, and the microphone has since become a critical piece of gear that they use at every stop on their tour around the world.
Miking a piano often poses a challenge in live settings. For Roig, sharing the stage with drums and bass meant leakage, and their existing piano microphones were also picking up those instruments. It was at NAMM that Roig saw the Earthworks PM40T PianoMic firsthand in a Yamaha C7 grand piano with the lid closed.
“When I put on the headphones and heard this PianoMic, I said, ‘Whoa!’ The sound was absolutely amazing. This was an eye opening experience for me. I wanted to see these mics, so I opened the lid of the piano since I couldn’t believe what I was hearing in the headphones. Usually when the piano’s lid is closed the sound the microphones pick up is horrible, as the piano sounds muffled. Even though the piano lid was closed, it sounded like it was completely open. I then tried playing with the piano lid at half-stick, and then with the lid fully open. The sound was incredible.”
Roig also notes the PM40T’s ability to capture every note evenly. “When playing a full chromatic scale from the lowest to the highest notes, every note was reproduced at exactly the same level. When using other microphones, usually the notes get louder as they get closer to the microphone and softer as the notes are further away. I would always have to tell the sound engineer to make these notes or frequencies softer, or other notes louder in an effort to get the same level out of every note. With the Earthworks PianoMic this is not an issue. All I have to do is put it inside the piano and play with no need to EQ it.”
After using the PianoMic for one show, Roig knew he had found his new piano microphone. “After the concert, Arturo looked and said I needed to bring that PianoMic for every performance. For the very first time I was able to play with the piano lid closed, without sacrificing the quality of my piano sound, and the sounds from the bass and drums were not being picked up inside of the piano. This allowed the sound engineer to receive crystal clear sound of the piano in the house. The Earthworks PianoMic sounded incredible even with the piano lid closed.”
In the past, Roig notes that they had to spend a lot of time making adjustments for acoustic feedback of certain piano notes that sounded louder than others with the previous microphones used. “We always had to do a significant amount of EQ on the piano microphones. But with the Earthworks PianoMic we hardly ever have to do any EQ on the piano. Every place I perform there are always different makes of pianos. But no matter what the piano is, I just get there, put the PianoMic inside, and we are ready to go.”
Roig recalls the first concert that he used the PianoMic on: “I told the sound engineer that I would like to use my piano microphone. The conventional microphones that were in the piano had the gain set very high. So, I placed the PianoMic bar inside the piano and connected the cables, and the piano started to feedback, so they had to reduce the gain. Then the piano sounded really amazing and was still loud in the house. The sound engineer came to me and said that this piano sound is unbelievable. After the concert he came to me and said, ‘Man I need to buy this piano microphone!’.”
Beyond the closed lid miking and minimal EQ needed with the PianoMic, Roig also notes the flexibility of the PM40T as a favorite feature. “You can move the microphones and put them in different places inside the piano, so the microphones do not only have to be in one place. You can actually move the goosenecks or move the bar a little forward or a little behind the dampers. This allows you to experiment to see what works best for the kind of music you are playing.”
Having found a solution for piano miking in live settings that addresses and solves the problems many musicians and sound engineers face, Roig is spreading the word about the PianoMic. “I recommend the Earthworks PianoMic to others nearly every day. Every time we play, some sound engineer or musician ask me about the Earthworks PianoMic.”
Roig offers his final thoughts on the PM40T PianoMic: “This is the first time I have found a microphone that can be used with the piano lid closed, and it sounds amazing. You can hear the strings ringing and get a really good sound quality from the piano.”