The Blue Yeti

It doesn’t live in the wild, and it’s not covered with fur (although I’m sure my cats will have something to say about that as time goes by). The Blue Yeti  is a honkin’ big microphone that is now taking up the middle of my living room floor. I’m still getting used to it, and learning how to record on my tablet. There is a lot to learn, but you can really hear the difference. This beast is sensitive.

So far, so good. I have a few samples up on the Music page so far.

Let’s hope that the Strand can get some time together to make a Christmas CD this year, ok? 🙂

….  Yeti - Microsoft Clipart
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Recording, maybe getting better?

It’s amazing  the difference that you can get from throwing away the book. Everything I’ve been reading about sound recording (not much, admittedly) says that you need to set your recording levels as high as possible without introducing clipping. But with the harp –  my harp, at least – that makes everything should like it’s in a cave.

This sample is recorded on my laptop using Audacity with

  • Two pickups – one is a Barcus Berry, made to Alfredo Roland Ortiz’s specs
  • The other is my cheapie clip-on that I use with my tuner (!)
  • The input of the Barcus Berry was EQ’d with a Fish and Chips pedal to reduce the low frequencies (200 hz and below)
  • All fed into a digital interface
  • Input levels set L-O-W
Post processing was minimal – I boosted the level all around and used the envelope tool to reduce one big boom in the left hand (at 35 seconds, can you hear it?)

Not my best playing (you can hear I was distracted by my cat at about 2:30 into it), but a good experiment with sound production. So am I approaching demo quality, with a minimal equipment investment?

I’ve heard of people who produce commercial CD’s on their iPads. What is your setup?

Recording Frustrations

I have been reading more and more about recording harps, trying to get a better sound for my clips. The more I read, the better I get at listening — which is a good thing. But the better my listening gets, the more critical I become.

There are two good things about recording. First of all, you really get to hear how  you sound in a different way than when you are simply playing. By listening to my recordings, I’m learning that simpler really is better! The second best thing about recording is that you can really hear progress when you are working on new techniques. Now that I am through with making my sample recordings for IHTP, I have redone a few from the beginning of the program, and I am so pleased to hear the difference in how I play and sound. I always tell my students to keep their best paper from every class to go back and see their progress, but it is so rare that I take my own advice.

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I started recording for the IHTP by simply sticking my phone in front of the harp, and I’ve been slowly moving up; the operative word here is S-L-O-W-L-Y. Currently, I am using two pickups, to get a little richer sound. My harp has one pickup, and the second one is the little clip on pickup I use with my tuner, believe it or not!

I run both of these into a cheapie audio interface, into my latptop, where I record using Audacity. So far, I haven’t done a lot of work with those raw files. I remove the noise, and fade in and out, and sometimes do a little compressing.

Until about a month ago, I thought I was the cat’s pajamas, but now I’m at a road block, and trying to figure out how to move forward. There’s a big ol’ resonance right around A5. You’ve probably heard it if you have tried out my recordings – just be glad I didn’t put the worst ones on the site. I’ve tried a high pass filter and EQ’ing the low A out, but have only managed to make it sound more and more processed, without managing to remove the ring.

Now it’s time to listen to the voice of experience. Steven Vardy, is not only the husband of the amazing Canadian harpist Allison Vardy, he  is also her amazing sound guy – and says this:

The harp will have a dominant resonant frequency where the whole instrument will resonate in the presence of the same frequency. Celtic harps are natural microphones. Rooms also have resonant frequencies and will amplify those resonances when present as well. If the resonance of the room and the harp match then you may have problems. 

When amplified, a harp may put a frequency (say 400 Hz) thru the sound system out in to the room, which resonates at an even more amplified/ louder 400hz, which makes the harp resonates more strongly as well, which puts an even stronger 400hz from the harp back into the sound system and around and around the signal goes until the system becomes unstable and you have feedback. … EQ if you can.

I’ll keep you all posted about how it goes.

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