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Acoustic Recording Techniques

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eric b
Oct 12, 2009 7:27 PM GMT

I'm interested in different microphone setups for recording harp acoustically. I'm looking to get more of a warm, traditional room sound...Dynamic?Condenser?...two mics verses one...mic placement, etc...Have at it.


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Oct 12, 2009 10:17 PM GMT
HarpMan Freeman Replied:

I like the Audix Fireball V. In my opinion it has that warm mellow tone with greatclarity. It's very resistant to feedback and you don't need very much gain.

For what it's worth...

Shawn Freeman

Oct 13, 2009 2:41 PM GMT
eric b Replied:

I'mtalking about "sans"(without) amp,and a good bit of air between the harp and microphone(s). I'm just curious to hear different opinions about the way people go about getting a nice fat room sound.I've had pretty good luck so far,but I figured this might turn into a good thread...more of a question for an engineer I suppose.

Oct 15, 2009 6:41 PM GMT
Tuck M Replied:

You'd want a mic that would be accurate in what it picks up. In other words, NOT a bullet mic. A condenser or good dynamic. Perhaps play directly into a dynamic with a condenser above and behind you to pick up the room. If you put them on separate tracks,you could mix them to your liking.

Oct 15, 2009 6:47 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

What Tuck is talking about is often what's known as the ambient miking technique. It's considered real caveman these days, but it makes everything sound bigger and fatter, and this was the way many recordings were done back in the 1950's.

In an amplified situation, there were three mikes, one on the amp (adapt it in this case to the instrument), one on a boom stand in the middle of the room, and another on a boom stand way in back of the room.

Oct 15, 2009 8:30 PM GMT
blogward Replied:

Cavemen? Ah yes, that reminds me of going to watch our first album being cut - yes, physically having the bass EQ tweaked to the RIAA curve so the groove wouldn't break, as the tracks were etched into the master disc by a man in a white coat - back in 19harumphty tumph.

In terms of ambient sound, you could experiment with different partition surfaces to give your room reflections - a wood floor, a glass panel, a padded screen. You don't want it completely dead. Also you could experiment using a pair of mics positioned the same distance apart as a pair of human ears.

Oct 15, 2009 8:38 PM GMT
eric b Replied:

yup, ambient miking is what I'm talking about. I love being able to adjust the tone with the faders. I have a sm57,a cheapMXL "pencil" condenser,and a decent MXL large diaphram condenser that has a switch for three different polarity patterns(I'm thinking the "omni" pattern to start with). I was thinking the sm57 as the closest mic(about 3' away),and using the better condenser as a room mike 6'-8' away. I love that technique because it does sound bigger/warmer/mo'better. I'm sure engineers don't like it because it's much harder to mix...almost premixed.But,I just love the sound of a few instruments bleeding into each others mics.

Oct 15, 2009 9:27 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

Engineers hate it because of the bleed through. When the T-Birds recorded "What's The Word," that's the way it was recorded. Much of the early 50's Chicago blues recordings were done this way. When I did a session with the former Boston area band, Two Bones & A Pick, that's the way we recorded it, and when they tried to do a stereo mix, it sounded terrible, but left as a mono mix, wow!!!!! For reverb, the studio had an adjustable height ceiling and so they'd empty out allthe gear in the room and adjust the ceiling height for the best sounding natural reverb that worked.

Oct 15, 2009 11:13 PM GMT
Chris C Replied:

I do remember somthing about some distance ration when using multiple room mics on the same subject. The distance of the mics from each other is supposed to be important.

Oct 16, 2009 7:46 PM GMT
Barbeque Bob M Replied:

I did a recording session where my harp was being overdubbed and the room was a large room. It was large enough to use my real '59 Bassman there to record with it and the engineer was just gonna put one mike on it, and I taught him how to do the ambient miking technique and he was amazed at how much bigger the sound was without any effects being used at all from both myself as well as from the board.

Oct 16, 2009 9:55 PM GMT
Chris C Replied:

I think it is on the Rock'n'Roll Doco 'Dancing in the Streets' that Brian Eno talks about this sort of mic setup with David Bowie on Heroes. Except he used gates and increasingly booming echo on the outer Mics. So they only activated when Bowie really belted out. Its a great effect. It would be fun to experiement with thisand Harp. It would be fantastic for something whith a huge dynamic range like Irish Whistle.

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