On my hunt for a melodic percussion instrument I recently purchased a Klangauge. It’s a steel slit drum sounding similar to a handpan or it’s closely related Hapi drum. While researching the instrument I came across poorly recorded videos of the instrument which don’t really give a good image of it’s clear sound. In the following paragraphs I will detail my poor mono recording setup using some allround hardware.

Next to my Macbook pro, I use Adobe Audition for recording (and this article assumes that) but you could use Audacity on your favourite¬†Operating System if budget is tight. Just make sure you can process the audio stream. Since this article doesn’t factor in isolation or noise cancellation while recording you will need to do heavy post processing. The following equipment will be used:

  • Shure PG-57 Dynamic Instrument microphone (retailing as low as 50 euros)
  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 or 2i4 (around 130 euros)
  • Microphone stand (Generic brand or matching Shure around 15 to 20 euros)

Since the Shure microphone usually comes with an XLR cable you won’t need extra’s. Assuming you have a headphone suitable for monitoring this brings the total cost to around 200 euros, 270 if you insist on stereo recording. Mind you this is an generic allround setup, so you can use this for instruments of similar size.

Microphone setup
I’m assuming that you can figure out connecting the devices. Position your microphone at a slight angle above the Klangauge at about 40 centimeters above the sound hole but just slightly to the edge of it. It might be wise to adjust the input level to about 70-75% so it picks up the input but won’t overdrive (indicated in green/red while the input is active). If you are recording a stereo track with a second input position the second microphone slightly to the left or right of the first and slightly further away from the sound hole.

On your Mac open up the system preferences panel and navigate to Sound. If you switch your input setting to the Focusrite then Audition will properly autoconfigure itself. If for whatever reason it didn’t, simply go into audition’s preferences and go to Audio hardware where you can properly select your device in and outputs.

We use the Multitrack session view for the recording. If you desire a metronome while playing add it by going to the Multitrack menu and select Metronome followed by Enable Metronome.
On track one press the top most input bar, select either Mono or Stereo depending on your setup, and select the proper input channel. This basically is all you have to do while recording. Press the record button, or it’s shift+space shortcut (space to end the recording).

On track one switch to the effects rack, here you can add realtime effects, but I usually add them after recording to save processing power. On the first rack entry add the effect Adaptive Noise Reduction, and start with the Light Noise Reduction preset. We need to brighten up the recording a bit, so on effect slot 2 add the Parametric Equalizer and raise the upper frequencies.
If you want to clean things up sample half a minute of silence and use that for noise removal in the individual waveforms.

I hope these simple steps will improve recordings a bit for home amateurs.

Content written by Martijn de Boer. All content here may be quoted, linked to or summarized when linking to the original materials.