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Mic setup for harp recommendation
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Mic setup for harp recommendation

I'm hoping to get some recommendations on how to build a decent recording setup to record a full size pedal harp (47 string concert harp). I know it's a pretty specific instrument, but it can be similar to a grand piano in terms of mic needs. My budget is about USD$400 or CAD$550 maximum.

We've already got:

-Behringer UMC404HD Audio Interface
-Dusty String P30 pickups (installed in harp)
-Various XLR and 1/4" cables, a couple regular mic stands

I'm assuming that we will use the pickups in the mix, so they take up one channel on the UMC404HD (unbalanced 1/4" instrument input).

That gives 3 channels to work with, with +48v phantom power if necessary.

The recordings will mostly happen at home in a living room, or larger bedroom. Potentially we may record in a church hall or something like this.

I've been looking around and I've seen quite a few different recommendations and my head is spinning with options. Should I get a stereo pair of cardioid SDC mics? What about a dynamic mic? Or LDC mics? Is it worth going for stereo at all?

Things I'm considering:

Pair of Rode NT5
I've heard very good things about these microphones, and a pair of them would top out my budget. Would investing in these be good enough?

Pair of Rode M5
Similar to above, but would give some room in the budget for an additional mic or two.

Pair of ISK Little Gems / Rebranded OEMs (like Lyxpro or Neewer)
These are apparently a good-for-the-price budget mics that would give a lot of options due to the interchangeable capsules. This would leave quite a bit of room in my budget for a higher quality mic elsewhere.

Shure SM57
I see this mic recommended very often as a workhorse and very flexible mic... would it be worth adding into this mix?

Audio Technica 2020
This looks like a good side-address condenser mic that I've seen recommended as enough on its own to do this kind of recording.


Are there others I've missed? What would you do for this, and how would you set it up if you could?

I understand that this not be as good as a professional studio setup. I'm looking for something that's "good enough" and could potentially be used to supplement a future setup also.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 

I recorded a harp a few years ago and I didn't have a lot of mic choices available. I had a RODE NT4 stereo mic that I used for this. Instead of positioning it so the stereo field picked up horizontally, after speaking with the harpist (who had used an NT4 before) we set it up so the spread was vertically and moved it in and out (closer to the strings and further back) until we got the sound.

I know it's tempting to always use a stereo pair to pick up something drastic like the low notes coming out on the left and the high notes coming out on the right, but there is such a difference in what gets picked up from the top and bottom that this ended up being perfect to achieve the balance. We also had to deal with 30 other players (it was a recording of an original ballet), You can experiment with placement more if you are doing a solo performance.

However, keep in mind that if you get in close, you're going to lose something unless you have two mics. I liked the results from the NT4 because I didn't have to deal with any phase issues.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jammiedodger666 View Post
However, keep in mind that if you get in close, you're going to lose something unless you have two mics. I liked the results from the NT4 because I didn't have to deal with any phase issues.
Yes, thankfully this will be solo recording so I've got a lot of freedom in placement and distances - hence me wondering if a combination of mics with some close and some farther away might produce the best results.

I'll take a look at the NT4.

Edit:

The NT4 looks like essentially a pair of NT5s already in XY? It's also a bit pricier... would I be able to achieve the same with the NT5 in a tight XY like that?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Addict
 

I would say it all depends on if your room is lousy, good, or great sounding.

If the room sucks you will want two mics, not stereo necessarily but to capture the whole instrument like one would close mic'ing a piano and then add stereo reverb.

If the room is good enough then you might want to do an actual stereo mic'ed recording from further away.

As the Behringer preamps are standard low/medium gain interface preamps you may benefit from the hotter level offered by some large diaphragm mics especially if you are doing real stereo mic'ing from a bit of a distance.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JLast View Post
I would say it all depends on if your room is lousy, good, or great sounding.

If the room sucks you will want two mics, not stereo necessarily but to capture the whole instrument like one would close mic'ing a piano and then add stereo reverb.

If the room is good enough then you might want to do an actual stereo mic'ed recording from further away.

As the Behringer preamps are standard low/medium gain interface preamps you may benefit from the hotter level offered by some large diaphragm mics especially if you are doing real stereo mic'ing from a bit of a distance.
This is good insight, thank you.

Unfortunately, as this is essentially the first set of "real" microphones I'll be getting, I'm not sure how to tell how quiet the room is. I am able to turn off the HVAC and set up blankets and such along walls, so I do believe it will be reasonably quiet though definitely not as quiet as an actual studio would be.

Maybe a simpler question would be: how would you mic a solo harp in a regular empty church hall with all the acoustics that come with that?

Also, would you be able to recommend an LDC mic?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
Gear Addict
 

I was going to recommend a pair of AKG C214 mics but then I went back and saw your budget is $400 USD total so that's quite a bit over. Many $200 LDC mics may be somewhat harsh on such a delicate sounding instrument. The Rode NT1 is still over but closer to budget, super low noise and good output, the current version being a pretty smooth sounding mic rather than hyped in the high frequencies.

Not large diaphragm but the Rode NT5 puts out close to large diaphragm kind of level and is pretty much right in budget.

Oh, and while background noise is certainly an issue I was actually talking about the sound of the room not noise. Although if you do have noise then putting mics closer would help with that as well.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JLast View Post
I was going to recommend a pair of AKG C214 mics but then I went back and saw your budget is $400 USD total so that's quite a bit over. Many $200 LDC mics may be somewhat harsh on such a delicate sounding instrument. The Rode NT1 is still over but closer to budget, super low noise and good output, the current version being a pretty smooth sounding mic rather than hyped in the high frequencies.

Not large diaphragm but the Rode NT5 puts out close to large diaphragm kind of level and is pretty much right in budget.

Oh, and while background noise is certainly an issue I was actually talking about the sound of the room not noise. Although if you do have noise then putting mics closer would help with that as well.
Thank you. I'm assuming you mean a pair of NT1s also, as one NT1 is within my budget.

So, I'm thinking right now that a pair of NT5 is the way to go.

If I stretch my budget a little bit, I could probably get a pair of M5s and then one NT1.

Would that be a good option, or am I just opening up myself to more complexity for no real gain?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
Gear Addict
 

Yes three mics is adding complexity but it also offers you options and the ability to actually hear the differences between these mics for yourself and to learn.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by threz_ View Post
Yes, thankfully this will be solo recording so I've got a lot of freedom in placement and distances - hence me wondering if a combination of mics with some close and some farther away might produce the best results.

I'll take a look at the NT4.

Edit:

The NT4 looks like essentially a pair of NT5s already in XY? It's also a bit pricier... would I be able to achieve the same with the NT5 in a tight XY like that?
I'm sure that would work fine. Just have to watch your placement.

I use the NT4, because we had three of them were I work.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
Pencil mics: If only the were as cheap as pencils!

The Rode NT5's are not bad; I don't love them, and wouldn't own them, but I've heard decent work done with them. I can't think of anything else at that budget that I like at all.

Adding $100 to the budget ($500 total) gives you a couple of other options:

A pair of Audio Technica AT4041's yields a fast, bright sound. They don't get much love on Gearslutz but, when a colleague bought a pair of them, I was very surprised at how much better they were than the cheaper offerings from the same company. They are serious microphones, and I would not hesitate to use them on a paying gig.

A pair of sE8's can be purchased for the same amount of money. I have no personal experience with these, but you can hear some sound clips on the Sweetwater website. My reaction, after hearing my share of truly awful entry-level Chinese mics is, "Hmm, better than I expected!"

If you're patient, you can sometimes find a used pair of Shure KSM 137's at this price point. They punch way above their weight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by threz_ View Post
Maybe a simpler question would be: how would you mic a solo harp in a regular empty church hall with all the acoustics that come with that?
Not remotely in budget, but since you asked: I would use a spaced pair of DPA 4006 omni's for distant pickup and a different mic placed closer for focus. Depending on what kind of sound I wanted, it might be a Neumann TLM 193 or a Blumlein pair of ribbon mics. (Feel free to ban me from the Low End forum now.)

David
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