Harp Recording Challenges

My experience recording the harp is as a solo instrument and not as part of an Orchestra.  The harp is a very dynamic instrument which possesses both very quiet and loud passages.  When I’m speaking about “passages,” this means that it can be extremely quiet and exceptionally loud all in the same song.  These dynamics are not something you want to deaden or smooth over with a compressor or automation.  The objective is to preserve the intricacies of this orchestral instrument.

When recording the harp, a quiet environment is crucial and this can be a challenge.  The challenges include:  Lever changes, String buzz, and even the players breath. The delicacy that the soft passages produce are very susceptible to the slightest  sound; this includes a shift of the players clothing, or a squeak of the bench.  For all these reasons, recording the harp requires attention to detail.

A very important aspect of recording a harp, is mic placement.  If you mic too close, you lose the glory of the overtones and nuances.  If you mic too far away, you will add unwanted room noise.  In the last 4 years, I’ve had the fortune to record many songs which are predominately harp.  It is something that can improve your ability as a recording engineer because there is NO faking it. The proper microphones eliminate the need for EQ; the EQ is of less importance with a great instrument and if you’ve mic’d up correctly.

For any questions regarding proper mic placement or anything I’ve written in this article, use the contact form on the contact page.

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