Contact Mic Recommendations

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Contact Mic Recommendations

Post by Will_m »

I'm looking to get a new contact mic, mainly for recording sound design type stuff and using on my cello (again more sound design). I keep seeing the AKG C411 and a few of the Schertler mics like the Basik Pro.

Does anyone have any experience with these or any other options I should look at?
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Re: Contact Mic Recommendations

Post by shufflebeat »

Funny you should mention this, I've just hunted out my c411 for the first time in about 3yrs to hook into a pickup-less guitar for tonight.

If memory serves - they're great on fingerpicking, not so great (but still good) on strumming, from that I take - good on detail, don't overload.

A bit hard and bass-light on fiddle but better than a bad pickup, great for mid-range, respond well to EQ.

Probably more to say after the gig.
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Re: Contact Mic Recommendations

Post by Bob Bickerton »

AKG C411 has been my go to contact mic.

Not as good as a decent external microphone on sources that generate capturable sound propagation but for exploring hidden vibrations they’re great.

Sources where I’ve used them (for sound design) include electric heaters, pots, thumb piano (missing a sound board), logs of wood. There’s a traditional instrument here called a ku which is essentially a bow (as in bow and arrow). It has no soundboard and is played held between the teeth (so you can hear the vibrations transmitted through your jaw bone) pop a C411 on it and you have an amazing stringed instrument ready for amplification.

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Re: Contact Mic Recommendations

Post by shufflebeat »

Unfortunately the person who was to play guitar decided just to sing so the c411 didn't see action. Next time.

I also have a Schertler dyn-G which I bought for messing about on an old archtop but it proved less useful than a decent saddle piezo and processing (aside - I've recently had very impressive results with piezo and IRs on that guitar).

...which begs a question - could a piezo style bug achieve good results in a project such as yours if it was processed with an IR to match a given mic? This has been happening very successfully with guitars fitted with K&K piezo discs and pedals like the Mooer Radar or convolution reverb VSTs.
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Re: Contact Mic Recommendations

Post by Will_m »

shufflebeat wrote: Sun Nov 28, 2021 2:11 am Unfortunately the person who was to play guitar decided just to sing so the c411 didn't see action. Next time.

I also have a Schertler dyn-G which I bought for messing about on an old archtop but it proved less useful than a decent saddle piezo and processing (aside - I've recently had very impressive results with piezo and IRs on that guitar).

...which begs a question - could a piezo style bug achieve good results in a project such as yours if it was processed with an IR to match a given mic? This has been happening very successfully with guitars fitted with K&K piezo discs and pedals like the Mooer Radar or convolution reverb VSTs.

Thanks! That's good to know, I think I'm more likely to be using it on quieter sound sources, just trying to capture some interesting perspectives for sound design mangling.

I'll definitely look into the piezo style a bit more as well, I have used a few very cheap ones in the past. I made a weird sound design instrument with one permanently attached to it a little while back. It actually worked quite well but was fairly noisy.

Bob Bickerton wrote: Sat Nov 27, 2021 7:26 pm AKG C411 has been my go to contact mic.

Not as good as a decent external microphone on sources that generate capturable sound propagation but for exploring hidden vibrations they’re great.

Sources where I’ve used them (for sound design) include electric heaters, pots, thumb piano (missing a sound board), logs of wood. There’s a traditional instrument here called a ku which is essentially a bow (as in bow and arrow). It has no soundboard and is played held between the teeth (so you can hear the vibrations transmitted through your jaw bone) pop a C411 on it and you have an amazing stringed instrument ready for amplification.

Bob

Thanks Bob! Sounds like just the kind of things I'd be using it on. I've been using friction mallets quite a bit lately and wanted to try the contact mic on things like a radiator, water tank etc.
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Re: Contact Mic Recommendations

Post by shufflebeat »

Will, I just realised you're in Manchester, so am I. If you want to borrow one and try it out feel free to PM me.
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Re: Contact Mic Recommendations

Post by blinddrew »

Used a c411 on a cello quite a bit for live work, what we found was (unsurprisingly) that careful positioning was key. Give yourself time to play around with it a bit before any serious use.
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Re: Contact Mic Recommendations

Post by Tomás Mulcahy »

I love piezo contact mics. A cheap and very useful tool in the recording toolbox. It's amazing how things sound without room reflections. The AKG is a condenser, I must find out how it sounds.

I'm using cheap ones I bought a while back on Amazon in a pack of 7. I only got them because they have a fairly decent housing, a socket and some cheap clamps. The main criteria is that the wires into the piezo are secure. Some of them have some kind of cheap black glue that breaks after a year of (admittedly heavy) use as drum triggers. Better ones have them visibly soldered, no glue covering.

shufflebeat wrote: Sat Nov 27, 2021 5:51 pmA bit hard and bass-light on fiddle but better than a bad pickup, great for mid-range, respond well to EQ.

I think there are two common reasons why bass is lacking with contact mics.

If you press on the contact mic so it's pushed against the body, does the bass improve? Clamping it harder often helps, but it's not alway practical especially if the mic is meant to be discrete!

This doesn't apply to the AKG but the other common reason is using a DI or pre-amp that does not have a high enough input impedance. It needs to be really high for a piezo. More than 1M Ohm IIRC? The Behringer V-Tone Acoustic ADI21 fits the bill. Although I'm using a very ancient Barcus Berry Super Booster. It's 5M Ohms. I need a few more of them! :)

blinddrew wrote: Sun Nov 28, 2021 4:31 pm ...careful positioning was key. Give yourself time to play around with it a bit before any serious use.

I find this also. I have a beautiful Hugh Treacy Kalimba, and there's only one spot where it sounds great- and it's quite awkward to get the clamp on there while keeping the instrument playable.
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Re: Contact Mic Recommendations

Post by Will_m »

shufflebeat wrote: Sun Nov 28, 2021 3:21 pm Will, I just realised you're in Manchester, so am I. If you want to borrow one and try it out feel free to PM me.

Thanks for the kind offer, I'm actually down south for a bit at the moment but just found out a buddy of mine down here has a few options to try out.

blinddrew wrote: Sun Nov 28, 2021 4:31 pm Used a c411 on a cello quite a bit for live work, what we found was (unsurprisingly) that careful positioning was key. Give yourself time to play around with it a bit before any serious use.

Thanks, I'll definitely be having a good play around with positioning when I get one, going for a more unusual vibe as I have my other mics for recording regular cello.

Tomás Mulcahy wrote: Sun Nov 28, 2021 6:47 pm I love piezo contact mics. A cheap and very useful tool in the recording toolbox. It's amazing how things sound without room reflections. The AKG is a condenser, I must find out how it sounds.

I'm using cheap ones I bought a while back on Amazon in a pack of 7. I only got them because they have a fairly decent housing, a socket and some cheap clamps. The main criteria is that the wires into the piezo are secure. Some of them have some kind of cheap black glue that breaks after a year of (admittedly heavy) use as drum triggers. Better ones have them visibly soldered, no glue covering.


I've had a few that I think might have been quite similar, good for experimenting but I'm now looking for something a bit more substantial.
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Re: Contact Mic Recommendations

Post by The Korff »

For a natural sound on acoustic instruments, the Ehrlund EHR one is excellent, but for sound design you should consider this: https://www.soundonsound.com/news/zeppe ... tado-mkiii

There's a review of it by Mike Senior coming up in the January issue of SOS (on sale just before Christmas).

Cheers!
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Re: Contact Mic Recommendations

Post by Will_m »

The Korff wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 12:17 pm For a natural sound on acoustic instruments, the Ehrlund EHR one is excellent, but for sound design you should consider this: https://www.soundonsound.com/news/zeppe ... tado-mkiii

There's a review of it by Mike Senior coming up in the January issue of SOS (on sale just before Christmas).

Cheers!

Thanks! The Cortado looks great, the extended frequency range and waterproofing would definitely open up some more sound design possibilities.
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Re: Contact Mic Recommendations

Post by shufflebeat »

I noticed some talk about this and am looking forward to seeing how it compares toither piezo systems.

It does, unfortunately, remind me of my early busking days with various Scailler Oyster type stick-ons.
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