How to Simply Record the Harp at Home Inexpensively

Posted In: Performing

  • Participant
    Jodi Ann Tolman on #193872

    Can anyone tell me what type of microphone would be best to use to record the harp if I’m only using one microphone?

    Large-diaphragm or small-diaphragm?
    Cardioid or omni-directional?

    I want to record harp videos (just in my family room) for youtube using my Canon DSLR, but I’d like a little better audio quality than what my in-camera mic gives. I’m looking at condenser mics and I know I’ll need phantom power which I’ve found for $20 on Amazon, but I’m not sure which type of microphone would give me the best results.

    I’ve read that a small-diaphragm mic is best for acoustic guitars, which seem similar to the sound of a harp, but I’m also wondering if a large-diaphragm mic would be better and capture more of the sound of a harp.

    I’m looking at cardioid mics that only capture the sound directly in front of it in order to eliminate background room noise or an echo-y sound from the room, but I’m also afraid that a cardioid mic might not pick up the sound of all the strings equally if it’s so directional. But I’m afraid an omni-directional mic would pick up too much room sound or echo. Does anyone have experience with this?

    duckspeaks on #193887

    Dear Jodi,

    I use the Zoom H1. Great and v sensitive. I think all their products are good because H1 is the cheapest. Now it is called H2 I think. It is directional. I only have 40 strings and I realise the lowest strings will be hard for a lot of equipment. Luckily the lowerest notes are often too loud so no harm if it attenuates a bit!

    I found directional mic close up,.1 to 2 feet quite good for my liking. One can always experiment with different positions.


    duckspeaks on #193888

    Sorry H2 is a separate product. With a proper hotshoe adapter u can mount it on top of dslrs.

    harpist100 on #193945

    I use a fishman transducer harp pickup PRO-SBT-HAP plugged into a PRO-PLT-301 – FISHMAN Platinum Stage Analog, Universal Instrument Preamp. You plug a second lead into the ‘out’ of the preamp and into your recording equipment (or amp). The transducer stays on the harp and has a clip which holds the Jack. On my LH23 I have the clip just above the pedals but on my LH17 I have it higher. There are advantages to both. If I’m out, the advantage of higher clip is not bending right over! Most important thing is finding the sweet spot before attaching the transducer. Don’t stick it near any braces & keep it an inch or two away from the central string line ‘can’t remember technical term for this. If I could I’d buy the new Pilgrim pedal harp with continuous pickup made in the UK by John Hoare. He asked he to test it out and I was really impressed. You get a complete range covered for recording.

    harpist100 on #193946

    I’ve had a quick look on Amazon and fishman pickup is $89 and preamp $115.

    Jodi Ann Tolman on #193980

    Will the pickup work without the preamp? If I have a jack adapter, can I plug the pickup into my camera’s mic input without using the preamp? Does the pickup require phantom power?

    harpist100 on #193984

    The pickup transducer doesn’t use any power. You can plug the other end of the jack from lead into anything. For recording I’d be tempted to use audacity on the computer if I didn’t have preamp . I’m wondering if you can warm sound up on computer rather than preamp? Before I had my excellent fishman preamp up I used a cheap guitar preamp and a dead cheap transducer to see what worked. I’ll dig out info on this and follow up. ….piezo contact Mic £3.49
    And preamp (pedal) £15
    The cheap piezo contact mic came from China from niceeasyshop and took couple of weeks. No point spending money on fishman to get great sound unless it works in your camera . Good luck

    harpist100 on #193985

    Not able to include shop links . Look on Amazon for Professional Piezo Contact Microphone Pickup w/ Double-Sided Tape for Guitar/Violin/Banjo/Ukulele/Mandolin
    Price: £2.79 + FREE UK delivery
    For very cheap contact mic to see if works with camera.

    Jodi Ann Tolman on #193991

    I’ve been looking at different set ups. I have two routes I’m interesting in taking but I don’t know which would be better…

    1. I could use a pickup with a pre-amp to connect into my camera. That would require:
    -pickup (I’m looking at the K&K Big Twin $61 on Amazon)
    -pre-amp (I’m looking at the K&K Pure Preamp $99 on Amazon)
    -1/4″ male to 1/4″ male TRS cable to go between pickup and preamp, ~$5
    -1/4″ male to 1/8″ (3.5mm) male cable to go between preamp and camera, ~$5
    Total cost: about $170 (Is it possible to get by without the preamp and plug the pickup directly into the camera with the 1/4″ to 1/8″ cable?)


    2. I could use a condenser microphone with phantom power to connect into my camera. That would require:
    -condenser mic (I’m looking at Behringer C-3, $70)
    -phantom power supply (InnoGear 1-channel phantom power, $20)
    -XLR male to XLR female cable to connect mic to phantom power $5
    -XLR female to 1/8″ male cable to connect phantom power to camera, $9
    Total cost: about $105

    Are each of these setups correct? Going with the condenser microphone is cheaper, unless I don’t really need the preamp with the pickup, but can anyone comment on the sound quality between these two options? I don’t know which route to go, although I do realize that going with the pickup would also give me additional ability to amplify if I ever needed to. Advice?

    emilia on #193995

    I am taking a course with Coursera on music production and trying to figure this out as well. The class is helpful (and free, if you don’t care about a certificate) since I have no background at all in this. The materials are presented in short videos, and there are forums for asking questions.
    This is my solution: I got a guitar pickup for the harp, and am looking at the Scarlett Solo Audio Interface. It connects to the computer with a USB cable. I have downloaded Pro Tools first, a free version of Pro Tools. I think this is what I will go with for recording the harp. I can’t tell you how well it works, since I haven’t actually gotten the equipment yet.

    sueblane on #193999


    Depending on what your expectations are, pickups are generally used for amplification in a live performance. Microphones will generally give better results in a recording that a pickup. I’m not saying you couldn’t use a pickup and microphone placement is also an important variable, it might not make a difference in a youtube video, but in general circumstances, you’d get better results from a microphone.

    Jodi Ann Tolman on #194030

    Thanks so much for everyone’s advice and input! After researching yet some more, I think I’ve decided to go with the Blue Yeti Microphone. It is a USB microphone (which I was avoiding at first) but I’ve also learned online that I can connect the Yeti’s headphone output into my camera’s mic input with a simple 3.5mm audio cable to record onto my camera! And if for some reason I don’t like doing it that way, I can record the audio to my computer with the USB and then sync up the audio with my video software. This option also allows me to make just audio recordings (no video) easily if I ever want to.

    This option seems the cheapest and simplest (I don’t need to buy additional microphone cables, phantom power, or preamps). Plus I’ve read tons of really great reviews about the Blue Yeti and how versatile it is. I realize that this option eliminates the amplification abilities that a pickup would give, but I’ve never been in a situation (yet) where I’ve needed to amplify. So I can always get a pickup later if I find I need it.

    The next step for me will be figuring out the best placement for the microphone and which pickup pattern (cardioid, omnidirectional, etc.) will record the harp best. If you have tips on that, I’d love to hear them! 🙂

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #194335

    When buying a microphone for a harp, you need to consider the frequency range of the instrument and the mic, so that they match. Many mics will not pick up the bass, especially condenser mics. Vocal mics will capture a good sound, but not all of it. Directional or cardioid mics are better, I believe, as you do not want to pick up extraneous sounds. Recording the harp is different from any other instrument.

    Olivia on #221072

    Exactly which Blue Yeti microphone did you purchase and what pick-up pattern works best? I’m also interested in making some home harp recordings.

    David Kitamura on #221078

    Coincidentally I was also recently looking into the same thing the last week. USB condenser mics have come along pretty nicely with the number of offerings and options they provide. I was looking into getting the Samson G-Track Pro USB microphone, because it has both a 3.5mm out and also a 1/4″ Line In for recording directly from a pickup. The frequency response only goes as low as 50Hz (Blue Yetis do go down to 20Hz), but since I am not a pedal harpist I am told it is a nonissue in my case.

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