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Microphone suggestion for playing the Harp

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Linda O'Connell
Microphone suggestion for playing the Harp
on Feb 26, 2009 at 12:15:22 am

I got a call from someone today who wants me to film her playing the harp. She is going to use the dvd to apply to music colleges.

My question is this: What is the best microphone to do this? Should I use a lapel microphone and put it on her? On the harp itself or use a boom?

I really haven't done anything like this before, so any advise would be appreciated.

Thank you in advance.



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Ty Ford
Re: Microphone suggestion for playing the Harp
on Feb 26, 2009 at 3:47:43 am

Hello Linda and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

You'll want to find a very quiet space because harps aren't very loud.
The mic with the biggest diaphragm will probably win because it will be more sensitive.
After making sure the harpist tunes the harp, have her play the piece.
Stick a finger in one ear and move around your harp using your open ear to find a good spot to place the mic.

Do not be swayed by the player that the best place is around back near the hole. That may or may not be the best place. You have to decide.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Jordan Wolf
Re: Microphone suggestion for playing the Harp
on Feb 26, 2009 at 6:33:49 am

If you have a boundary microphone, you could place it on the sounding board. The harps that I have come into contact with have all had built-in piezo crystal strips that I could take a feed from and blend the two signals to taste.

Maybe you could encourage her to look into getting them installed?

Other than that, I would go with 2 mics - one large diaphragm condenser (A/T 4050 or AKG Perception series. maybe) to pick up the full-bodiedness of the harp and a small diaphragm condenser (Shure SM81-type) to get the finger-plucking and "intimacy" of the instrument. Use Ty's technique to find the best placements and listen to them together to make sure they blend well. If you need to move the mics, always move them ONE AT A TIME and in VERY SMALL INCREMENTS.

Take your time, experiment, and have a blast! :-)

Wolf
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Brian Reynolds
Re: Microphone suggestion for playing the Harp
on Feb 26, 2009 at 7:23:41 am

While I agree on good mic placement, remember that if the product is a DVD it is also visual and most times is a compromise between great pictures and great sound.
And most likley it will end up being played on a small screen in an office some where with small speakers. Pitty!




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Ty Ford
Re: Microphone suggestion for playing the Harp
on Feb 26, 2009 at 10:39:25 am

Brian,

Not sure exactly what you're getting at. If It's that mics should be invisible. I'm not necessarily a fan of hiding the mic. On the other hand I don't want the shot dirtied by a cluster of mic stands. Last time I miced a Celtic harp, I used one Neumann TLM 103 and it worked fine.

I used the same mic on this cut http://www.vimeo.com/2179144

If you have the right mic and know where to put it, that's really all you need. For another example of that click on the "watch me play guitar" link in my sig line. The mic is on the couch arm. You can barely see it. Sounds pretty good to me.

Regards,

Ty

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Linda O'Connell
Re: Microphone suggestion for playing the Harp
on Feb 26, 2009 at 2:05:36 pm

Hi Brian,
I am not concerned about hiding the mic. I am more concerned about the quality of the audio. I should have made that clear.





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Steven Beers
Re: Microphone suggestion for playing the Harp
on Mar 1, 2009 at 4:43:13 am

I have been recording orchestras for almost 5 years now. If you want a great harp sound, stick a large diaphragm condenser about a foot to a foot and a half away from the sound board, about waist high for the player. You would be amazed at the clarity you can get. I love Neumann's, and TLM series are always good. If you need something cheaper, I've heard a AKG 414 or a AT 4033 do great things too. Obviously every harp is different, and each situation unique, but that it where I would start. Try moving the mic around and find the sweet spot. The soundboard puts out the bulk of the energy, so keep it pointed at that, but other than that, it's all about experimenting. Enjoy.



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