Contact Mics

I was wondering if these would sound better than my JFR ones being buffered. Although I have a Sound Devices Mix Pre D I use with some dpa mics, maybe a jack to xlr converter would improves things.

I do find that they aren’t very full bodied sounding. I know people who swear by the Barcus Berry preamp combo but would like to get the most out of what I have.

Are these your own devices, they look really interesting?

Just watched the hartman video- i dont know her but it struck me as art performance peice…quite captivating visually with all the tubes. Liked the washers on metal rod. I can imagine trying differnt diameters to get the best effect there. Perhaps the subtly of what she was going for wasnt matched by the live sound on the video. strangely short too.

yes …have a small collection of self build peizo intruments

love spings.


The mic/pre combo @infovore posted is available as the cortado, which seems to sound really great.

The Cold Gold pieces are real inspirational in terms of form – their idea to solder an alligator clip onto the mic yields some incredible results, and their hydrophone is awesome. (a friend has been recording the Hudson River thawing and freezing, and the results are wild).

When I was building contact mics in college, we would get “liquid tape” or “plastidip” and coat the mics so they would be waterproof, and a little more sturdy. The piezo discs are notoriously brittle, so reinforcing them can be helpful, especially if they’re really thin. Some of them are mounted on a thicker brass backing, which is sturdier but still not hard to bend to the breaking point.

My favorite contact transducer EVEERRRR is the Barcus Berry. These things are so incredible. Transparent and very sensitive. Not waterproof, which is a shame, but you can work around that if you want to.

My friend Kaori Suzuki did a recording in the San Francisco Bay of a flagpole in the wind, and it was sticking out of a dock that rose and fell with the water. The chain clicking against the pole made these incredible laser sounds, and the dock scraped and squeaked against the base of the pole. Super beautiful piece.


I have Sondbox from Leaf Audio, plus some contact mic contraptions I’ve built myself, love that stuff! The soundbox actually works well as a preamp and since it is battery powered it seems to add less noise than other preamps I have (though I need to see if changing the PSU on the Field Kit does improve things).

I have the Crank Sturgeon Two Timer stereo contact mic:

I got a stereo 1/8" to dual mono 1/4" adapter and I plug it straight into my Zoom H4n. It sounds amazing! No loss of low end and none of that cheap mid sound. Very low noise too.

I like to put it on cardboard/wooden boxes and fill the boxes with various objects/materials. I’ll pour some salt or rice in there for extra texture. I also just grab stuff from the kitchen I can bang on. Getting a pair of wire brushes was also a great idea. I definitely want to build some cool custom boxes like @Zedkah. (very cool stuff by the way!)

After I record I usually load the files into Ableton via the SD card then then EQ/compress them. Even do some audio quantizing sometimes. Then I send everything out of my Expert Sleepers ES8 through the modular and back into Ableton.

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@Zedkah Inspiring stuff! I’ve built some (much simpler) piezo instruments like this to interact with my field kit. This got me motivated to keep at it :slight_smile: The first two in your last post looks particularly interesting. Do you have any sound demos of them in use?

Tomoko Sauvage is another artist working with liquids and transducers/piezo-elements. I’m lucky enough to see her perform this coming month!


Liking this a lot, thanks for the link…on Bandcamp already :+1:t2:

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@rmro She’s great! There’s another project she’s involved in together with Franscesco Cavaliere called Green Music which I really dig also. Worth checking out.

Not sure it’s been mentioned before but Leafcutter John made these really high class looking piezo mics for a while, check this video he put up on IG:

Any more info on this build? I’ve been intrigued by it for a while, but would love some tips on where to start.

Quick question for the people using Plasti Dip to protect their piezos, do you cover both sides or leave the one side bare? Does it matter?

I’m less inclined toward DIY, so I picked up a Korg CM-200 contact mic meant for tuners. I was curious to see how well it would record a mandolin (answer: poorly, but mount it in an f-hole and it has a nice “wax cylinder” quality to it that could be useful). Not bad for more percussive uses, picking up movement noise and humming fans and triggering Rings, etc.

I was instantly seduced by a barcus berry, when i was told that the piano i was listeng to was recorded with it. The low end on that recording was out of this world, really clear and precise.
Haven‘t bought one yet as i‘m fiddling with the fieldkits piezos-this is fun but not hifi. The barcus berry seemed the perfect tool to record a piano and i’m sure lots of other broadband sounds too. On another note, nice thread!

Plastidip both sides, just dunk it! No problems in my experience.


One of my classmates in grad school had a Barcus Berry and everything she made with it sounded incredible, from soundboards to flagpoles to marina docks. Highly recommended.


Which Barcus Berry are y’all referring to? The Piezo Contact Pickup or something different?

Since nobody seemed to be against it, I went ahead and split this topic.
While transdcers/exciter speakers are somewhat related to contact mics, they are different enough to warrant separate discussions.
You can find the new topic here: Transducers / Exciter Speaker

Let me know if there’s anything that ended up there, which wasn’t supposed to


I’m referring to the Planar Wave system, in this case the 4000. It’s also important to have the associated preamp for impedance-matching reasons.

The pre amp is really the most important part of a contact microphone. Second most important in my experience is how and where the contact microphone is attached. Moving it around will give you very different results. if the mic and vibrating surface isn’t coupled very well it will also result in a more lofi sound.