Microphone for recording jaw / jew's harp?

Ingo B

New member
Hi all,

This one may be a bit unusual concerning the instrument and hence interesting to you. I'm a jaw harp (also know as jew's harp) player, and I wanted to start recording some of my playing. If you have no idea what kind of sound we are talking about, here are a few examples to listen to (not from me):
Wolf Janscha (typical Munnharpe melodic sound)
Aron Szilagyi (rhythmic support)
Kanal Parmupill (techno sounds)
Neubachtaler Maultrommelmusi (Austrian/German folklore)
Kulichkina Maria (Sibirian folklore, bass and nice overtones from 2:45)
Rais Khan (mix of Rajasthani folklore and modern)
Ma Guo Guo (Chinese folklore, this one is played on the lips not teeth)
Baikal Jew's Harp Orchestra (group improvisation)

I have zero experience and equipment at the moment, other than a quite powerful laptop. This will be a "YouTube" type of thing, i.e., if this is going anywhere public at all then as soundtrack to a video I might upload. There's no intention here to produce a record, much less to do live concerts. Given the setting, it would be nice if the microphone would be decent at recording a spoken voice as well. For example, if I do an instructional video on the jaw harp, I would want to both talk and play. Likely place of recording is a fairly quiet and large bedroom, "untreated".

My total sound budget will be definitely below US$500 for the entire setup, and great if cheaper. Aside of the microphone that would cover some sort of stand, and if it's not a USB microphone then something like the Presonus Studio 24c audio interface (which conveniently includes Presonus Studio One Artist, which is probably about as much software as I need?). Shock mount and pop filter seem to be recommended, and some microphones seem to need a preamplifier. Anyway, I need to buy everything to get the sound from the instrument to the video in one go, I have nothing right now.

I've assumed this is a job for a singing microphone, roughly. So I've looked at things like the Blue Yeti Pro Studio, Rode NT1(-A), Shure (Beta) 58, Audio-Technica 2020/4040, Shure SM 7B, ... but also things like the Beyerdynamic M160. And the honest truth is, I have no clue. I am listening to recordings on the Thomann site and think the AT 2020 sounds better than the Rode NT1 on a woman singing. But then I look at the frequency response and see it's boosted in high frequencies and wonder if that's going to be terrible for the jaw harp. Maybe the "flat" sound is what I need if I want to have nice overtones?

So I was hoping more experienced ears could give a listen to the sort of sound I want to record (see above), keeping in mind that it should be decent for a talking voice as well, and give me an idea what likely works here and what not - and perhaps even point to a few microphones that would do well in the mentioned price range.

Thanks a lot!

gecko zzed

Grumpy Mod
Your assortment of videos should give you some clues. If you look you will see that there is a wide variety of microphones used. Some that you can see, and some that are implied (e.g. the last clip of someone filming a group). Any reasonable contemporay mike will do the trick.

Ingo B

New member
Well, OK, I guess that's true. But in the same sense then any reasonable contremporary mike will do the trick for any instrument and any human voice, at least in a "home recording" environment. Yet, people seem to obssess about their choice and ..., come here to discuss it? Maybe I'm not asking the right kind of question.

The first video is a sort of an advertisment video for a record produced by a professional musician, maybe even how they actually recorded it. So if the variety of videos is not as helpful as I hoped it would be, then maybe I can narrow it down to asking what he may be using (concretely, or what type of setup)?

gecko zzed

Grumpy Mod
The set up you propose is not going to cramp your style. The Presonus Studio 24c looks like it will satisfy your needs very well. Shockmount and pop filter are good investments. Some microphones come with one, the other, or both.

With microphones, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My current personal favourite is the black Rode NT1, which is a noise-free, versatile and smooth-sounding mike. Others will chime in with their favourites. The one in the first clip looks like a Neumann TL102 or TL103. They are respectively roughly three and four times the price of the NT1.

Many people lile Presonus Studio One. Most contemporary DAWs do a fine job, though in slightly different ways. Some will suit you, others won't. I started off with Logic, but couldn't bring myself to like it. I switched to Reaper, and it work instantly for me.

You will need some form of monitoring; good headphones or good speakers. Either could cost you a fair bit.


If only for a moment.....
Well, OK, I guess that's true. But in the same sense then any reasonable contremporary mike will do the trick for any instrument and any human voice, at least in a "home recording" environment. Yet, people seem to obssess about their choice and ..., come here to discuss it?
And therein lies the number one problem with recording forums. As humans we seem to have this major problem in that so often, we're not content to suggest that our way and our choice is merely a way or choice, but that it is the way or choice and by extension all others are crap. Even when this isn't overtly stated, it is so often implied.
Any mic can record any source.
However, some do "better" jobs on some sources than others, some are designed for particular sources and preference is king !
But they all work. And from time to time one may find that they like the way a particular mic records a particular source. Yet someone else might hate that mic. It is dependent on your taste, experience and whether you are recording for other people or just yourself. You can even use a headphone as a mic. It isn't to be recommended but once in a blue moon, it can give a trashy sound if that's what you require for that instrument at that time.
I try not to get into gear arguments. I simply note the variety of tools and methods and apply as I see fit and then from time to time share what I did. No one else has my ears.

Ingo B

New member
Thanks gecko, that helps. I have been looking at the NT1 as mentioned, and there are good deals available with it. The Reaper software has a 60 day trial period, and a good price for individual use - I will certainly give that a try. I haven't given monitoring headphones much thought, to be honest, but I will have a look.

Ingo B

New member
Just as feedback, I decided on a Lewitt LCT 440 Pure in the end. I didn't go for the Rode NT1 for three reasons: 1. The greeat deal I had for it wasn't so great after all. It was a Brexit mirage... Thomann UK actually delivers from Germany, and post-Brexit show their prices online without VAT (sales tax). So basically customs adds 20% (+ handling fee) on top. 2. The NT1 remained in my price range through a package that had a SMR shock absorber / pop shield (great!) but also a single channel audio interface. That I didn't like much. Not that I need more than a single channel right now, but I might well in the future. 3. As mentioned I might use this for YoutTube or the like. The Lewitt to my eyes looks sleek, and in particular is way more compact, If I would film with the Rode NT1, in particular with the massive SMR, it would be more of a juggle to find a setip that shows my face well (for a jaw harp, all the action is around the mouth), has good audio and does not make the mircrophone pominent.

Anyway, we will see what I think about the mcrophone when I actually use it. For what's it worth, I considered a SDC (SE Electronics SE8) as well. I'm not sure why I didn't go for that, to be honest.

Rest of the setup is a Presonus 24C and Sennheiser HD25 blue (blue ones are cheaper...). Together with cables, stand etc. I went a bit over budget, but not too badly.