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Micing a harp Condenser Microphones
Old 15th September 2012
  #1
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Odey's Avatar
 

Micing a harp

Ok.. so I'm likely going to have to mic up a harp player at my house in the next few weeks as I am replacing the VST harp part in a song that I wrote.

I have a decent sized (With instruments messily spread around! writing room with some treatment. Mic's I have:

Dave Pearlman TM1, Shure SM57 and Royer ribbon 121. Preamp will be a chandler TG2. I also have a neve portico preamp.

I'm assuming i'll just mic it somewhere in the middle using my ear to hear where it sounds nice. But any tips would be greatly appreciated.
Old 16th September 2012
  #2
Deleted 651cf92
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Old 16th September 2012
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Well before you get bombarded with "ideas" of how to do it.....

Ive recorded them many many times - and toured the world with a concert harp in a live sit (with a band).

One mic under the harp at the bottom (it has a hole) - this is where the bottom end of the harp comes out - just like an acoustic guitar.
I'd try your 57 or pearlman there because its very bassy.
Put the Royer right in the center of where it will be played, maybe 2 foot back from the strings - the Royer 121 will sound great on the strings.
If the part is within a few octaves - center it in the middle of these octaves.
You can put a third mic down near the lower strings if you are playing over many octaves.
Unless the part has some specific low notes that are imperative to the music - I would avoid the 3rd mic for phase issues.
Less is more
Old 16th September 2012
  #4
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Greg Curtis's Avatar
 

Keep in mind that a harp has a soundboard, and it works sorta like a piano's. You may want to find a spot that gives you the best balance of pluck and body by moving away from the strings a bit an pointing the mic at the soundboard, which is cradled in the player's lap.




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Old 16th September 2012
  #5
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Larry Villella's Avatar
How they do it at Lincoln Center

Simple Stereo Close A/B with SD Cardioids.
Attached Thumbnails
Micing a harp-3-zigma-harp.jpg  
Old 16th September 2012
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Villella View Post
Simple Stereo X/Y with SD Cardioids.
That's not XY, that's close AB bordering on ORTF sideways. And BTW, the advice from "The Tasmanian" was spot-on.
Old 16th September 2012
  #7
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Larry Villella's Avatar
I stand corrected.

Anyway, the picture credit is from our pal
Jeff "Jedi" Jones - Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Old 16th September 2012
  #8
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unit7's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Villella View Post
Simple Stereo Close A/B with SD Cardioids.
My wife plays the harp, and that's more or less how we use to mic it. If there's noone else playing in the same room we usually put mics a little further away (can't see for sure on that pic, but they look pretty close..), perhaps like 50-60 cm from strings, and we use to like a little more ORTF, and perhaps mics pointing just a little more down towards to the soundboard.
Old 17th September 2012
  #9
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Sofa King's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Odey View Post
Ok.. so I'm likely going to have to mic up a harp player at my house in the next few weeks as I am replacing the VST harp part in a song that I wrote.

I have a decent sized (With instruments messily spread around! writing room with some treatment. Mic's I have:

Dave Pearlman TM1, Shure SM57 and Royer ribbon 121. Preamp will be a chandler TG2. I also have a neve portico preamp.

I'm assuming i'll just mic it somewhere in the middle using my ear to hear where it sounds nice. But any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Ive only recorded one 4 or 5 times.
I always treat it like a piano, and have had pretty good results.

best,
Sean
Old 17th September 2012
  #10
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i have recorded a number of CDs for a local flute and pedal harp duo, and have tried many many variations of mic technique. my current approach is an AB pair of spaced omnis about 4 feet out, and spread wide enough to get a good image spread. ORTF pair of cards can work okay, but need to be a bit further out. if you mic too close, you will get too much "plinky" noise and also increase the amount of pedal noise from the instrument. trying to use one mic for high end and another for low end works about as badly on harp as it does on piano - it simply does not sound realistic, and it is almost impossible to make it blend with any other instrument. ribbons and condensers in combo can work quite well (i've used royer r121s with SDC cards and omnis to pretty good effect). do not use bright mics. cmc64s, cmc62s, km131s, km140s, dpa 4011s or 4006s with near-field grids all work pretty well.
Old 17th September 2012
  #11
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mahler007's Avatar
 

The most appropriate way to mic the harp is best determined by the overall production aesthetic of your song.

If you want a spacious, stereo harp, use a stereo pair. If it's a busy mix, you may want to go mono. In the latter case, I've had great luck using a LDC (AT4050) about 2.5 feet out, angled so that the capsule is parallel with, and aimed at the center of, the soundboard.

The low-mid register of the harp tends to be very muddy, and the highest strings super crisp with little sustain. You may want to adjust the position of the mic to emphasize/deemphasize either of these things depending upon the arrangement.

Cheers,
Andrew
Old 17th September 2012
  #12
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Kingtone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthurelletson View Post
I have no expiriance recording a harp but...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthurelletson View Post
I have not used either a tm1 or a r121 but just judging by the looks of the Perlman...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthurelletson View Post
Although I am probably completely wrong
I'm sorry if this sounds offensive and rude, but what exactly did you add to this discussion? No 'experiance' and a guess based on the 'look' of a microphone??
Really??!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Tasmanian View Post
...
One mic under the harp at the bottom (it has a hole) - this is where the bottom end of the harp comes out - just like an acoustic guitar.
I'd try your 57 or pearlman there because its very bassy.
Put the Royer right in the center of where it will be played, maybe 2 foot back from the strings - the Royer 121 will sound great on the strings.
If the part is within a few octaves - center it in the middle of these octaves.
You can put a third mic down near the lower strings if you are playing over many octaves.
Unless the part has some specific low notes that are imperative to the music - I would avoid the 3rd mic for phase issues.
Less is more
This!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman View Post
i have recorded a number of CDs for a local flute and pedal harp duo, and have tried many many variations of mic technique. my current approach is an AB pair of spaced omnis about 4 feet out, and spread wide enough to get a good image spread. ORTF pair of cards can work okay, but need to be a bit further out. if you mic too close, you will get too much "plinky" noise and also increase the amount of pedal noise from the instrument. trying to use one mic for high end and another for low end works about as badly on harp as it does on piano - it simply does not sound realistic, and it is almost impossible to make it blend with any other instrument. ribbons and condensers in combo can work quite well (i've used royer r121s with SDC cards and omnis to pretty good effect). do not use bright mics. cmc64s, cmc62s, km131s, km140s, dpa 4011s or 4006s with near-field grids all work pretty well.
And... This!

Like a piano (and most sources), if the harp sounds bad in your room you are going to have a hard time making it sound good once recorded. It always helps to walk around the harp as well and see if there are magic spots that sound GREAT to your ears in the room.

(and yes, like the more helpful answers above, I DO have experience in this )
Old 17th September 2012
  #13
Deleted 651cf92
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kingtone View Post
I'm sorry if this sounds offensive and rude, but what exactly did you add to this discussion? No 'experiance' and a guess based on the 'look' of a microphone??
Really??!!!



This!



And... This!

Like a piano (and most sources), if the harp sounds bad in your room you are going to have a hard time making it sound good once recorded. It always helps to walk around the harp as well and see if there are magic spots that sound GREAT to your ears in the room.

(and yes, like the more helpful answers above, I DO have experience in this )
My apologies. I was coming home on the bus after a gig, I was drunk and was flicking through gearslutz on my phone.

I feel only slightly less embarrassed than whenever I have called an ex looking for late night sex.

Post deleted.
Old 17th September 2012
  #14
Deleted 651cf92
Guest
Although, as I said I have no expireance, but that is probably what I would do if I was presented with that situation.

I find the interesting threads in the high end section becoming fewer and fewer, so I apologise for drunken out bursts and I will now keep my head down and learn something.
Old 16th February 2014
  #15
wen
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Tasmanian View Post
Well before you get bombarded with "ideas" of how to do it.....

Ive recorded them many many times - and toured the world with a concert harp in a live sit (with a band).

One mic under the harp at the bottom (it has a hole) - this is where the bottom end of the harp comes out - just like an acoustic guitar.
I'd try your 57 or pearlman there because its very bassy.
Put the Royer right in the center of where it will be played, maybe 2 foot back from the strings - the Royer 121 will sound great on the strings.
If the part is within a few octaves - center it in the middle of these octaves.
You can put a third mic down near the lower strings if you are playing over many octaves.
Unless the part has some specific low notes that are imperative to the music - I would avoid the 3rd mic for phase issues.
Less is more
I am a harpist and I am very curious about this. What do you mean a mic "at the bottom - it has a hole"? Do you mean within the pedal chamber, or in the lower part of the sound chamber of the harp? If you mean you place a harp amongst the pedals, however do you get it to stay there when the harp is tilted back for playing? Perhaps you are referring to a Celtic harp, which has no pedals.

I can't imagine that either location would work on a pedal harp because you'd get all kinds of pedal noise and body noise just from holding/playing the harp.

My understanding is that the sound comes from the sounding board of the harp, not from within the 'sound chamber', or out the "bottom". Yes there is sound in there but it sounds muddy and muted compared to what people are used to hearing - hearing the harp played from a distance of 5 feet or more.
Old 30th July 2018
  #16
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Test recording of small harp for interest - 2 pairs of mics used

I'm currently micing a harp for a recording which is designed to be listened to quietly. I wanted a close sound but not with an ear-splitting treble or string noise. There's a bit of extreme bass thump to remove but I quite like the sound (for my purposes - see above!) and if you want a listen to my current test mix it's at http://www.danceofdelight.com/audio/...1-3-mbcomp.mp3

I think it sounds OK but does need the bass thump tamed. Just wondered if anyone has any other opinions on the sound and if you like it or would suggest changes!

I hardly dare say it's recorded on a zoom h4n in 4-channel mode. My normal equipment is not available at the moment. The recording is a mix of the zoom's 90 degree crossed pair at the base of the harp (great on its own for video as the mics are pretty much not visible on shot) and a pair of Artur Fisher's Bumblebee RM6 1.2u ribbon mics at the top of the harp, capturing most of the range of the strings - these latter via triton fetheads. Ideally it would be nice to use a single pair but sometimes it's nice to capture more of a balance of the different parts of the instrument, and in this case I didn't want to go too far away from the harp as it's a bit of a lively room.

The harp is a Ravenna 34 lever harp.
Old 19th August 2018
  #17
Gear Nut
I have no expiriance recording a harp but What i would-be do is put/gluw 3 piëzo-elektro elements spread out on the wood And mix iT with a 3 Microphone like the phote. Photo is taken From instagram.
Attached Thumbnails
Micing a harp-db82599e-3c2d-4286-91cb-18f7a55ff97e.jpg  

Last edited by QueenSisi; 19th August 2018 at 08:43 PM..
Old 20th August 2018
  #18
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by QueenSisi View Post
I have no expiriance recording a harp but What i would-be do is put/gluw 3 piëzo-elektro elements spread out on the wood And mix iT with a 3 Microphone like the phote.
Don't be silly. And especially don't glue anything. As for the photo, if the harp is part of a group and you don't need stereo, an LDC pretty much where the U47 is in the photo is fine, although I might start with to a tad further back -- harps can be thumpy. If you feel like you need stereo, be aware that mics spread along the same plane as the strings will give you very noticeable movement in the stereo field on glissandi and arpeggios and such, the very things that harps often do. Mics spread up and down won't do that.
Old 20th August 2018
  #19
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thismercifulfate's Avatar
I get hired as an assistant engineer for a very globally successful group that have a lot of harp in their music and the head engineer simply uses a coles or other ribbon mic 6-8 inches off the sound board. It sounds very balanced and easily finds its place in bioth super spare and dense arrangements.
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