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Author Topic: How to mic a harp?  (Read 16958 times)

Jonathan Johnson

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How to mic a harp?
« on: December 14, 2011, 12:10:24 am »

I've been tasked with providing sound at a memorial service this weekend. One of the performances will include a harpist (a regular harp, not a harmonica). I've never mic'd a harp before, so I need help!

Here are the mics I have at my immediate disposal:
  • 4 @ Shure SM58 (the classic dynamic cardioid vocal)
  • 2 @ Samson CO2 (condenser cardioid)
  • 1 @ Audio-Technica AT857QMa (gooseneck condenser cardiod; has low-freq. rolloff switch)
  • 1 @ Studio Projects B1 (inexpensive "studio" large-diaphragm condenser cardioid)
  • 1 @ Audio-Technica BP892 (headworn submini condenser omni)

Are any of these microphones suitable for the project? What is the recommended way of mic'ing the harp? (Pictures?) Any special considerations for processing?

If there is another microphone that would work better, I'm not opposed to expanding my set within about $200* (providing I can get it by Friday). I think I can borrow an SM57 easily.

EDIT: This will be in an auditorium with seating for about 300. There may be a audio/video feed to another room for overflow seating.

*P.S. -- that budget is flexible if you really give me a good, convincing argument.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2011, 09:28:08 pm by Jonathan Johnson »
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Earl F Young

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Re: How to mic a harp?
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2011, 01:11:04 am »

more important than how at this time might be to call said harpist A.S.A.P. and see if there is a pickup already installed... then supplement, if necessary. Not all pickups are great/ but most _are_ usable...

I've been tasked with providing sound at a memorial service this weekend. One of the performances will include a harpist (a regular harp, not a harmonica). I've never mic'd a harp before, so I need help!

Here are the mics I have at my immediate disposal:
  • Shure SM58 (the classic dynamic cardioid vocal)
  • Samson CO2 (condenser cardioid)
  • Audio-Technica AT857QMa (gooseneck condenser cardiod; has low-freq. rolloff switch)
  • Studio Projects B1 (inexpensive "studio" large-diaphragm condenser cardioid)

Are any of these microphones suitable for the project? What is the recommended way of mic'ing the harp? (Pictures?) Any special considerations for processing?

If there is another microphone that would work better, I'm not opposed to expanding my set within about $200* (providing I can get it by Friday). I think I can borrow an SM57 easily.

EDIT: This will be in an auditorium with seating for about 300. There may be a audio/video feed to another room for overflow seating.

*P.S. -- that budget is flexible if you really give me a good, convincing argument.
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: How to mic a harp?
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2011, 01:16:53 am »

more important than how at this time might be to call said harpist A.S.A.P. and see if there is a pickup already installed... then supplement, if necessary. Not all pickups are great/ but most _are_ usable...
Excellent suggestion. I will pursue this.

In the meantime, I've edited my post with quantities of mics available. If different mics are advisable, I'd still like to know what can be done with what I have, in case I'm unable to get something different.
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NickStone

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Re: How to mic a harp?
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2011, 01:46:49 am »

The one time so far that Ive had a harp the lady had a pickup and a small Roland amp. Took my signal from that and all was good.
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Roland Clarke

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Re: How to mic a harp?
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2011, 03:53:42 am »

If it's a classical player, there is probably little chance they have a "bug" installed.  The ATM's should be fine for this type of application.  Most of the sound comes from the soundboard that runs from the foot to over the players shoulder.  If using one mic I would place the mic about 2ft away from here aiming slightly upwards towards the upper reaches of the soundboard (i.e. the higher strings) using two mic's I would split, somewhat as you could for a close miced grand piano, however, try not to get too close.  All should be good as long as you are careful where you mount your speakers and don't use too much level.

Harps are not loud instruments, but I am taking a guess this is more about sound reinforcement rather than out and out volume.
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Ryan Grandusky

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Re: How to mic a harp?
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2011, 10:30:43 am »

I've been tasked with providing sound at a memorial service this weekend. One of the performances will include a harpist (a regular harp, not a harmonica). I've never mic'd a harp before, so I need help!

Here are the mics I have at my immediate disposal:
  • 4 @ Shure SM58 (the classic dynamic cardioid vocal)
  • 2 @ Samson CO2 (condenser cardioid)
  • 1 @ Audio-Technica AT857QMa (gooseneck condenser cardiod; has low-freq. rolloff switch)
  • 1 @ Studio Projects B1 (inexpensive "studio" large-diaphragm condenser cardioid)

Are any of these microphones suitable for the project? What is the recommended way of mic'ing the harp? (Pictures?) Any special considerations for processing?

If there is another microphone that would work better, I'm not opposed to expanding my set within about $200* (providing I can get it by Friday). I think I can borrow an SM57 easily.

EDIT: This will be in an auditorium with seating for about 300. There may be a audio/video feed to another room for overflow seating.

*P.S. -- that budget is flexible if you really give me a good, convincing argument.

Check out this info on Crown's Knowledge Base:
http://www.crownaudio.com/kb/entry/260/
http://www.crownaudio.com/kb/entry/260/
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Ryan "Squirrel" Grandusky
Independent Sound Provider in Central Texas.
Speakers: EV XLD281, QRX153, QRX323, QRX115, ZX1, SB122, XSUBS, Yorkville LS2100P, JTR Growler, EAW SM200, Macpherson M12P, Yamaha A12M.
Consoles: Yamaha M7CL-48, Soundcraft Si Exp 3, Si Compact 24, Behringer X32, Mackie DL1608

Mac Kerr

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Re: How to mic a harp?
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2011, 11:58:03 am »

I've been tasked with providing sound at a memorial service this weekend. One of the performances will include a harpist (a regular harp, not a harmonica). I've never mic'd a harp before, so I need help!

Posted 4 days ago in these forums:

http://forums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/topic,135086.msg1265205.html#msg1265205

Mac
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: How to mic a harp?
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2011, 09:35:09 pm »

This would be a good excuse to get a PZM. I do have a wireless pack with an Audio Technica AT892 (submini, omni, condenser) that could possibly be used.
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Tim Perry

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Re: How to mic a harp?
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2011, 10:11:21 pm »

This would be a good excuse to get a PZM. I do have a wireless pack with an Audio Technica AT892 (submini, omni, condenser) that could possibly be used.

This shows a couple of ways to do it. It isn't that hard as long as you are not competing with anything, a rock band for example.
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Roland Clarke

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Re: How to mic a harp?
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2011, 03:38:26 am »

I wouldn't use a PZM on this occasion, true, I'm not a fan of PZM anyway, just not going to be in the right position sitting on the floor.  Pointing towards the upper soundboard about 2-3ft away, 1/3rd up with always work unless you need real volume, then a contact, bug, or lavlier is going to be needed.
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Mac Kerr

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Re: How to mic a harp?
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2011, 11:50:54 am »

I wouldn't use a PZM on this occasion, true, I'm not a fan of PZM anyway, just not going to be in the right position sitting on the floor.  Pointing towards the upper soundboard about 2-3ft away, 1/3rd up with always work unless you need real volume, then a contact, bug, or lavlier is going to be needed.

My experience says otherwise. The PZM on the floor, directly under the foot of the instrument, worked as well as a lav inside the sound hole, and far better than mics outside the instrument pointed at the strings. Unless all you have to deal with is harps and strings, I find the underneath or inside method far more successful.

Mac
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: How to mic a harp?
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2011, 01:26:16 pm »

At about $329 (online) for a Crown PCC-160, buying a PZM is a bit of a hard pill to swallow right now.

(Topic swerve) I think that I probably would have some use for it... occasionally I have to mic a drama stage (well, as dramatic as a group of teenagers doing 5 minute skits gets) and I've never achieved any stellar success. I've done a "poor man's PZM" with a couple of hanging-style mini choir mics taped to a board sitting at the edge of the stage, but still couldn't get the GBF I wanted. Maybe a true PZM would work better there. Of course, removing the carpet from the stage might help, too, but I don't have a say in that matter.

Chances are I'd only use a PZM once or twice a year (I don't do many gigs as it is; this is just a hobby that I charge for) unless I find new and exciting applications for it.
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: How to mic a harp?
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2011, 08:03:41 pm »

more important than how at this time might be to call said harpist A.S.A.P. and see if there is a pickup already installed... then supplement, if necessary. Not all pickups are great/ but most _are_ usable...

I haven't been able to contact the harpist, but my contact indicated that the harpist requested a microphone. So I'm assuming there is no pickup.
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Tim Padrick

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Re: How to mic a harp?
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2011, 03:10:21 pm »

The designer of the PCC160: http://www.bartlettmics.com/index.html
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brian maddox

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Re: How to mic a harp?
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2011, 06:29:10 pm »

At about $329 (online) for a Crown PCC-160, buying a PZM is a bit of a hard pill to swallow right now.

(Topic swerve) I think that I probably would have some use for it... occasionally I have to mic a drama stage (well, as dramatic as a group of teenagers doing 5 minute skits gets) and I've never achieved any stellar success. I've done a "poor man's PZM" with a couple of hanging-style mini choir mics taped to a board sitting at the edge of the stage, but still couldn't get the GBF I wanted. Maybe a true PZM would work better there. Of course, removing the carpet from the stage might help, too, but I don't have a say in that matter.

Chances are I'd only use a PZM once or twice a year (I don't do many gigs as it is; this is just a hobby that I charge for) unless I find new and exciting applications for it.

since you swerved...  :)

keep your eyes open for PCC-170's on ebay.  they're usually used for conference rooms so since they aren't sexy they tend to go used really cheap.  i got 7 in a package deal last year for less than 100 bucks.  they behave very similar to a PCC-160 once you get all the little dip switches set right.  the also make good talkback mics...  :)

in other news...

best trick for harp i've used was a countryman LAV clipped into the sound hole that's at about waist level when the harpist is seated.  there's usually a metal bar that goes across that hole that's situated perfectly to clip to.  excellent gain before feedback.  you can run the wire up inside the soundboard and out from underneath and the harpist will hardly know it's there...
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: How to mic a harp?
« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2011, 11:43:31 pm »

I ended up using a single Samson CO2 (condenser cardioid) positioned about 8" from the sound board, about 1/3 way from the bottom, pointed toward the middle of the sound board (example 1 in the figure on this page).

It seemed to work OK, which is good, since I had absolutely no time to experiment.

"What's a sound check?" It's situations like this that remind me of the old joke about the pilot walking down the center aisle to the restroom with a book under his arm titled, "How to Fly in Ten Easy Lessons."
« Last Edit: December 17, 2011, 11:58:27 pm by Jonathan Johnson »
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Jeff Bankston

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Re: How to mic a harp?
« Reply #16 on: December 18, 2011, 03:30:59 am »

i'v ben told the shure 545 is an awesome harp mic
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: How to mic a harp?
« Reply #16 on: December 18, 2011, 03:30:59 am »


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