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How The Aspen Music Fest Mics Piano Recordings

Capturing classical performances at the Aspen Music Festival put mics to the test.

Aspen, CO (July 30, 2019)—Working on live recordings for broadcast at the Aspen Music Festival’s 2019 summer concert series, recording engineer Johnathan Smith reached for a pair of Sanken CO-100K studio mics for a grand piano performance.

Smith, who received his master’s degree in recording arts from Northern Illinois University (NIU) under the mentorship of Grammy Award-winning recording engineer Dan Nichols, describes how he uses the CO-100K mics on grand piano: “I have them 40 centimeters apart, pointed slightly down towards the center of the piano in the middle of where the lid and the body of the piano are. I get a nice full-bodied sound, and the bass is tight, rich, and full with everything you want to hear. And in the upper registers of the piano the sound is elegant and a joy to listen to.”

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He adds, “I absolutely love the CO-100K microphones. I have used them on just about everything and it always sounds amazing. The purity of sound, the unmatched level of transparency is unrivaled. They are the best omni microphones ever.”

Smith, a second-year audio engineer fellow at Miami’s New World Symphony, has worked with and recorded award-winning artists such as Third Coast Percussion, Spektral Quartet, John Williams, Arie Vardie, Michael Tilson Thomas, Augustin Hadelich and Yuja Wang, among numerous others. Most recently, he has worked alongside Grammy Award-winning recording engineer Hudson Fair on several brass and choral recordings as well as joining the Aspen Music Festival and School as a recording engineer for the 2019 summer.

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“With the New World Symphony, I’ve had the opportunity to use the CO-100Ks as orchestral mains,” he continues. “The clarity and the overall sound is seductive. You listen to it and you just want to keep listening because something draws you deeper and deeper into the music. Then at a certain point, you forget you’re listening through microphones on headphones or a speaker.”

Sanken Chromatic •