Initial Contact microphone experimentations

After completing my cables last week (which has enabled me to connect my contact microphones to the portable recorder), I spent some time last weekend in the garage and house experimenting with recording some sounds.

The results were better than I expected, although I don’t think I managed to record any sounds that I might use in my sound design project. The experimentation with the technique was very useful and a good learning experience all the same. The contact mics are extremely sensitive so required attaching firmly to the object you are recording. I used electrical tape for this which worked well and peeled off surfaces cleanly (don’t want to get into trouble for making a mess!). The cables also had to be taped down so they didn’t create a sound which is easily picked up if they brush against any surfaces.

Some of the sound experiments included:

  • Baby gate
  • Bike spokes
  • Pick Axe
  • Brushes
  • Fermenting wine
  • Garage door
  • Boiler
  • Pipes
Garage Door

A pair of contact microphones attached to the garage door. Moving them around to different positions on the door drastically changed the sound.

It required a lot of experimentation to get some interesting results. Some objects that I thought might be interesting did not work, others worked really well. It depends on how well you attach the contact mics, where you position them and something to generate the sound. The best results came from metal objects, although the bubbles and fizz of fermenting wine in a demijohn sounds great.

Ive included my two favourites below. The first is the sound of a bike wheel being spun with the spokes being struck by a piece of wood and my fingers. The second is a pick axe being dragged across the concrete floor. Minimal work was done in post through Logic. The sounds were trimmed, EQ and compression was added along with reverb.

Bike Spokes

Bike Spokes

Contact microphones attached to the front wheel of the bike. The spokes then struck the piece of wood to generate a sound.

Pick Axe

Pick Axe

Contact microphones attached to a pick axe

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