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Microphone for wire strung Irish harp (clairseach)?
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 
Microphone for wire strung Irish harp (clairseach)?

Hi all, I'm looking for a high quality stereo pair of mics to self record a solo wire strung Irish harp. Quite a different tone compared to a nylon/gut harp, with a great amount of resonance.

So ideally i'm looking for a microphone that accurately captures the distinct clicks and ticks of the fingernails against the wire strings, as well as capturing the resonance without being muddy or overloaded when placed somewhat close to the harp.

Examples of the wire strung harp:
https://youtu.be/EbMCQG9WCsk
https://youtu.be/bRJfMlOq9zg

A pair for around or under $1000 US price range would be ideal. Also welcome to hearing any stereo micing technique recommendations.

Thanks!
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
If I just had to pick something with no opportunity to test or shoot out, I'd probably go with Shure KSM32's. New, they're a little more than you want to spend but there are usually lots of used ones around.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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jnorman's Avatar
I have used AB pair of km183s for years on harps of all kinds.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
B88
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Shure KSM 141's would be in your budget and might be a little better than the KSM32 which is itself not a bad choice.

The KSM 141 is switchable between omni and cardioid. If you prefer a cardioid the less expensive KSM 137 is the same microphone without the omni ability.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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David Rick's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I've used AKG 414's, DPA 4006's, and AEA R44 ribbons, depending on what I was trying to achieve. I haven't yet used TLM 193's, but I would certainly consider doing so.

Conventional stereo mic arrays are not always warranted, unless one is placing an auxilliary pair for room tone. Sometimes it's sufficient to aim one mic at the strings and another at the sound board.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #6
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Rick ➑️
I've used AKG 414's, DPA 4006's, and AEA R44 ribbons, depending on what I was trying to achieve. I haven't yet used TLM 193's, but I would certainly consider doing so.

Conventional stereo mic arrays are not always warranted, unless one is placing an auxilliary pair for room tone. Sometimes it's sufficient to aim one mic at the strings and another at the sound board.
With harps, it’s mainly the guitar-top-like soundboard. Think of any harp as a guitar, but with perpendicular strings.
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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James Lehmann's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dixing_mesk ➑️
I'm looking for a high quality stereo pair of mics... for around or under $1000 US... to self record a solo wire strung Irish harp...

I'm looking for a microphone that accurately captures the distinct clicks and ticks of the fingernails against the wire strings, as well as capturing the resonance without being muddy or overloaded when placed somewhat close to the harp.
If was recording you the first mics I would reach for based on your description, and limited to $1,000 for the pair, would be a pair of Line Audio CM4s.

These amazing little mics accurately capture exactly what's in front of them - nothing added, nothing taken away. You will for sure hear the sound of your instrument faithfully and naturally, and can then concentrate on finding the optimum position/array that you like without compromising or worrying about the 'sound' of the mics changing anything.

I don't have a pair of KSM141s but these are by all accounts superbly neutral as well, with the bonus of switchable omni pattern.

A Beyerdynamic pair of M160s could be had for that sort of money and these are simply fantastic mics on all sorts of things, especially anything that might need the edges 'rounded off' in classic ribbon style - perhaps even a 160/130 combo for M/S. But don't even think about passive ribbons if you don't have a decent preamp.

My pal has a pair of Oktava MK-012 on his upright piano and I'm always impressed by those for the money. You could easily get a whole set of mics and capsules for half your budget, which in addition to all sorts of cardioid/omni variations would also give you the option of Fig8 & M/S which might work rather well in this application.

One last point - as you are self-recording you may find it easier to manhandle a stand with a couple of lightweight SDCs on a fixed stereo bar, than deal with larger/heavier mics on separate stands. Obviously fidelity is the most important factor, but perhaps portability and manoeuvrability is worth taking into account, depending on your circumstances.

What does the rest of your recording chain look like? With $1,000 to spend and mics as good as the CM4s available for +/-$100 perhaps you can spread your upgrade budget over a few pieces of gear?

Also worth specifying if you are prepared to buy used mics - it makes a huge difference to the budget window of what people can/should be recommending.

Last edited by James Lehmann; 1 week ago at 04:50 PM..
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #8
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Thank you all for the suggestions. So far I'm leaning towards an sdc pair.

I'm planning to release an album and so am after a professional (stereo) sound, but at least for personal listening I'd probably be happy with a single high quality omni sdc in mono and recording in a good space. The ksm141 is high on my list.

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Lehmann ➑️
What does the rest of your recording chain look like? With $1,000 to spend and mics as good as the CM4s available for +/-$100 perhaps you can spread your upgrade budget over a few pieces of gear? Also worth specifying if you are prepared to buy used mics - it makes a huge difference to the budget window of what people can/should be recommending.
I'm using a Sound Devices mix pre 3.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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🎧 10 years
You could look at a matched pair of Beyer MC930 cardiods, a very sweet sounding microphone, I think it's something of a classic.

Another recommendation would be a pair of sE VR1 or VR2 ribbon mics, the extended high end would be useful, therein lie details of transients too.

These would be within your budget.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #10
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
as with any other instrument, there's a pretty complex interplay between the artist, instrument, room/acoustics, recording technique (mic technique/setup, mic characteristic, mic position), processing, mixing chops, desired soundfield etc.

i've had good luck with putting a single directional mic* relatively close to the resonant body plus a pair of ambient mics but then, my approach relies to a fair bit on processing...

___


* if not my beloved schoeps sdc's or neuheiser mdc's (which are above budget), i'm often using dynamic mics such as the beyer m-201, sennheiser md-441 or an old calrec sdc (which is a bit similar to the km-84) - or then a m/s system from schoeps or sanken at a bit larger distance if the room sounds fine (these are very expensive mics) or beyer ribbons m-160/m-130 relatively close if the room is less than stellar (these are affordable and highly recommended).

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 1 week ago at 03:35 PM.. Reason: * added
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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🎧 10 years
...."microphone that accurately captures the distinct clicks and ticks of the fingernails against the wire strings"......many mics of the small diaphragm condensor variety will emphasise exactly that, when used close-in to the instrument.

That sort of detail is initially endearing, interesting, arresting....then 10 minutes later gets tiring, artificial, exaggerated ...and remains that way for the remainder of the recording ! Be careful what you wish for...initial components of what you might describe as engaging sound don't necessarily hold the same appeal over the long haul of listening...and become literally a turn-off.

Fortunately the more traditional ribbon mics can ameliorate and compensate for exactly this characteristic...so consider them alongside the usual condensor suspects already listed in the postings above this one...and most of the trad ribbons take eq very well, if necessary. A stereo pair of ribbons in Blumlein array will capture both instrument character and room/hall ambience very well in equal measure.

Either the No-Hype or Samar ribbon mic offerings are worthy of your investigation

Is the clairseach played by the Taoiseach ?
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #12
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➑️

Either the No-Hype or Samar ribbon mic offerings are worthy of your investigation
I was going to suggest the Samar AL959, which is two AL95's optimally placed for Blumlein or MS. It's more expensive than two separate AL95's but might be worth it for the convenience. I have one and have been using it on 12-string guitar, where it has provided the best reproduction of the sound I hear from that instrument of any of the many mics I've tried over the years (I play my 12-string fingerpicked). However, I think you'd get a more complete capture of harmonics and overtones from the more expensive Samar models, based on testing reported here by Earcatcher and others.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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🎧 10 years
I think the Samar takes him beyond his budget of $1000
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #14
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Poulton ➑️
I think the Samar takes him beyond his budget of $1000
True, but only by $300. Alternatively you could use two AL95s in Blumlein or MS for less than $1,000.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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David Rick's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I think the OP should be a bit careful concerning certain microphones with "extended" top ends. Some SDC's have a less-well-damped resonance peak that can be problematic on instruments with a sharp initial attack. If you've ever recorded guitar and found the pick noise simply overwhealming, you'll understand what I mean. Hammered dulcimer is even more prone to this issue, and the sound I heard in one of the wire-strung harp examples posted above reminded me that a wire harp played with nails has much in common with that instrument. This is a problem that manifests when using very close mic placements, not farther away. A conventional stereo pair placed out in the room shouldn't have issues. Condenser mics that don't exhibit the issue include the Beyer SDC's, the Neumann TLM 193 & 170 and U89, and the various C37 derivatives that have recently become available. The traditional way of getting more natural-sounding attacks is to use ribbon mics. But beware those unusual ribbon models that sport extended HF response. This feature is achieved by adding an extra resonant element in front of the ribbon. The resulting Helmholtz resonance peak does extend the composite frequency response, but at the cost of eliminated all that is truly lovely about traditional ribbon transient response.

David

Last edited by David Rick; 1 week ago at 06:11 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #16
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🎧 5 years
I'd seriously consider RE15/16.

Can place as close or as far as needed without proximity messing with the bottom. Nice, smooth/'ribbon-like' top.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #17
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Rick ➑️
I think the OP should be a bit careful concerning certain microphones with "extended" top ends. Some SDC's have a less-well-damped resonance peak that can be problematic on instruments with a sharp initial attack. If you've ever recorded guitar and found the pick noise simply overwhelming, you'll understand what I mean. Hammered dulcimer is even more prone to this issue, and the sound I heard in one of the wire-strung harp examples posted above reminded me that a wire harp played with nails has much in common with that instrument.
Yes. Audio TMI, sorta. That's why I suggested the KSM32 -- they tend to under-hear scrapey stuff. That, and they'd be good to have around, post-harp.
Old 5 days ago
  #18
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
I actually think a pair of these would be GREAT for recording steel string harps. I use them on Dulcimers all the time. AT4021 More info here https://www.audio-technica.com/en-us...address/at4021 FWIW AND the price is right in the ballpark.
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