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Capturing Perfect Harmonica Recordings | Media

These audio files accompany Recording The Harmonica in SOS May 2013.

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In the first audio example (file 1) harmonica player Steve Lockwood demonstrates the range of sounds you can achieve with different mic setups.

In the following examples (audio files 2-4), Steve uses three different condenser mics: the Neumann TLM103 and AKG C214, both large-diaphragm, cardioid condenser mics, and the AKG C1000S, a small-diaphragm, cardioid, back-electret condenser. All three were positioned 6-8 inches away from the harmonica.

In the next two examples (audio files 5 and 6), Steve uses two different dynamic mics, the Shure SM58 and SM57. In each case, he demonstrates the difference in sound between playing 3-4 inches in front of the mic and cupping inside the hands directly in front of the harmonica. Notice the treble cut, bass boost and lowering of the mid-range peak when each mic is cupped.

In examples 7 and 8, Steve uses the Hohner Blues Blaster, a 'bullet' mic that has a crystal transducer with a characteristically honky, lo-fi sound. In the first example, the mic is plugged straight into the mixer. In the second, it's plugged into a Fender Blues Jr 1x12 valve guitar combo miked up using a Shure Beta 57A dynamic mic.

In the final example, Steve demonstrates the Harmonica Honker finger mic, a miniature electret condenser (similar to a lavalier mic) mounted to a ring worn on the finger. This mic's battery pack features a knob to add distortion and 'honk' to the sound.