How To Mic a Harp: Everything You Need To Know
The harp is a unique recording instrument.
Just like the piano, it can be challenging to use this instrument to record. The sound field of the harp is complex and because of that, even at a distance of two to three meters away, it can pick sounds.
You must consider this when you are using this recording instrument.
The harp stereo distribution is vertical and it is not horizontal. When using this device, it is necessary to pick the stereo related aspects of its sound at the instrument.
Microphone positioning is very important and much depends on the type of harps.
Some harps such as the Celtic and pedal harps can be recorded without a reflected point and shoot the position of the microphone.
If the mic is in a non reflected position, the sound system can be enhanced by equalization, compression as well as reverb. A better and agreeable sound can be achieved through this method.
This is always the case with the various kinds of music styles. There are also instances where good sound can be produced from the harp without resorting to the electronic configurations.
There are different basic applications for pickups during recordings. Three of them are described here and they include the harp solo recording, stage sound as well as the orchestra.
3 Steps To Mic A Harp
1. Harp Solo Recording
Learn how to achieve a natural sound while recording the harp.
When recordings are carried out, it is important to stress that you cannot separate the harp from the room form.
The best mic to use in this situation is the omnidirectional microphones. The quality of sound coming out of the system is great.
It is similar to the piano and full-scale instruments; the best result would always be there and it can be achieved through A-B stereo step up.
Furthermore, it can be done without having a baffle disc lying between the mics.
It is important to state that the studio environment is very critical in the mic and harp mix. It is not easy to get that condition that is perfect for the recording instrument and the music you want to produce.
The best tonal balance can be achieved when there is a studio environment that is devoid of the big room.
The harp can operate very well when it has enough room to produce its sounds. If you want to get the best mix, then the first thing to pay attention to is getting the best location.
When you have a better location, look for the sweet spot for positioning the harp in the room. You can arrange it until you get what you want.
Some experts would always advise that the best way to get what you want is to place it at the extreme positions. You can also close in on the various amiable places in the room.
The performance is always better when you have the harp anywhere around the center of the room and the corner of the room. It should not be too close.
The microphone, on the other hand, has to be located at the center of that room. The position does not have to be too low. This is the best way to prevent floor reflection.
Furthermore, the high ceiling which has broken lines also offers diffraction.
When you mic a harp, you must always follow the basic placement rule.
It has to be far from the instrument and the farness from that instrument depends on the size of the instrument.
If the instrument is big it should be farther away than when the instrument is small. This means that you must pay attention to the size of the harp.
If for instance the pedal harp size is put at 6ft, then you can consider a distance of 6.5ft as the least distance you can give. This makes it possible for the various components to mix very well and form a complete harp sound while the sound moves between the mic and instrument.
Moreover, experiment with the mic, you can move it close to the instrument or further away until you get a perfect position that offers the best you want.
While you are moving the mix closer to the harp, you must consider two important issues that could backfire.
The first is that there could be too much noise emanating from the pedal and the player's fingers.
Secondly, pick just one component of the sound coming from the harp and omitting the others.
2. Harp Spot Microphone
When an orchestra or ensemble is selected by the main stereo pair, the various sections are backed up using spot microphones.
The more isolation the harp is from another sound source the more directional should the mic be.
In the harp, for instance, microphones like this one and other spot mics should be close very close to the instrument.
The starting point has to be from the harp’s pillar while the mic should point down the soundboard.
To get the best sound, it is recommended that the mic should not be close to the harp. Enough space has to be provided.
This kind of placement is desired because it is going to bring out the best frequency from the harp without a boomy sound. It is required that you try different positioning until you can get what you want.
3. Stage Sound
When the harp is on the stage, you can mic it to achieve the desired result. The harp can be amplified to get the best sound. The result to achieve here depends on the type of microphone.
Mic could be placed very close to the soundboard. In such cases, the sound that comes from the system would beat too much of the neighboring strings. The mic could also serve as the boundary layer mic.
Too much noise could be picked under this situation especially the unwanted sound.
If the harp is in the smaller room, one of the things to deal with the boomy sound. This is because there is a tendency to compete with a larger orchestra.
This is worsened by the fact that it often resonates with the lower strings.
To deal with the situation the sound holes located within the harp can be stuffed with soft items such as foams. This tames the peaks. This is one of the ways of dealing with the situation.
Harp is sensitive to microphone positioning.
However, there are ways of dealing with the problem of harp sound like the disharmonic ringing as well as pedal action noise.
Make sure to have your harp tuned perfectly which you can learn how to tune a harp here.
There are ways of bringing out the best and the information above will be of help.