How Are You Using Your Cortado Balanced Contact Mic?

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  • #6178 Reply
    Lloyd Sikes

    The Tap Dance Mic project morphed quite a bit (seemed inevitable) but turned out pretty cool. The Cortado electronics are inside the case, along with a pair of LM386 amp circuits. More info in the support section of the forum.

    #3801 Reply

    I am trying to make a pocket size mic, preamp, amp, and speaker combo, that can be placed on a reasonably resonant wooden floor that will pick up and amplify tap dancing. As is so often said in life, it is easy to make one that works, but it is difficult to make one that works well.
    A piezo disc into a 2N5457 JFET as a high impedance preamp, and an LM386 chip as an amplifier, output to the little speaker, kinda works. (Instructions are in various places on the internet.) At least it makes sounds like someone doing something with their shoes on the floor, but a tap dance amplifier, it is definitely not. Same thing when it is setting on the sounding board of a piano: like you are playing thru some weird effects.
    So I ordered the Cortado mic and preamp kit today and am excited about soldering it up and seeing how it works. For the money, it will have to be better than what I’ve put together so far. It seems like properly coupling the contact mic to the floor will take a lot more trial and error to get a decent sound. I am looking forward to learning!

    #3584 Reply

    “I’m a sound designer and do a lot of sound fx recording with lots of different mics, including contact mics and hydrophones. I was on a video game shoot last week and one of the guys had one of your contact mics that he had built; of course mic junkie that I am, I had to have one but with no time before my next job decided to get the pre-built version. I’m also intrigued with the reference to hydrophones in the piezo explanation paragraph.”

    — John F, Santa Monica, CA

    #3463 Reply

    I do electro-acoustic music, and I want to use it for a lot of different application.
    My first test will be a test for a circus creation. I want to try to amplify a wood floor which will vibrate under Cyr wheel’s movement.
    the second test will be the string of a funambulist.

    –Fabien, Montreuil France

    #2073 Reply

    “I work for the local ABC affiliate. I found you all while researching ways to record environmental sounds to create an effects library. I also have a personal interest in making a version of this into a hydrophone. I purchased this unit to experiment. If we find a use for this application we may order a second one and work it into our production gear. It seems like a good product from an engineering stand point as well.” — Raymond, WATE-TV, Knoxville Tennessee

    #2036 Reply

    “We ordered 4 of your Cortado MKII microphones for some noise research we are doing at one of our airport radar sites [in Prague].

    “We are impressed with your product specifications and the field sound samples available on your website. Our plan is to attach them to various points on the motorized antenna gearbox to characterize the mechanical noise generated by the assembly.”
    — Dan, Saab Sensis,
    Saab Sensis engineers use a mass of Cortados to test radar installation

    #1768 Reply

    I got one provided by my coach from, and this one really works for voiceover improvisation.

    #1563 Reply

    This letter arrived from Cody in downstate Illinois. Check out his amazing video of floppy drives singing the theme from Doom!

    “I learned about you guys from researching piezo preamps. I’ve been trying to find a good solution for recording with them on a budget and haven’t had much success. The overall sound was always terrible, and they were always unusable recordings. The pickups are always cheap but it’s all about the preamp, and I’ve had no success with home built ones and the $15 to $20 ones are always terribly made or offer tons of things I don’t need, or are just lacking what I actually need. Then there are others that are hundreds of dollars which I just don’t need at all.

    “After doing some research into building a piezo preamp myself I found an article which hosts schematics created by Alex Rice for making a fantastic one designed to fit into an XLR shell. The publisher of the article referred to you guys saying the Cortado has a very similar preamp if you are interested in an already assembled version. Once I saw the price I was sold.

    “I could probably buy all of the components myself to build the one made by Alex Rice for less but I would also need a phantom supply. Once I saw you guys also had one of those I figured I’d rather support you guys than try to make one myself and no doubt run into even more problems. Biggest problem with my current piezo setup has been hum and noise or just not working in general.

    “I mostly am just tired of messing around and not getting any usable results. I’ve tried making other preamps but kept running into similar issues with noise and hum regardless of what I do. Could just be the way I’m recording them as its far from what you would call professional (hooking right into a line input on a computer, heresy I know).

    “I’m intending to use these for a hobby I started back in March. With some electronics and programming and musical prowess I have managed to make old computer floppy drives play music. They do this by making the motors vibrate at the right frequencies to generate each pitch. They sound awesome, and I’ve been using a Tascam recorder to capture them but I know there’s more detail I’m missing out on. Plus I don’t have anything close to a sound studio for low noise recording, and my house is generally noisy.

    “My hope is to use the Cortado to not only capture these things and have great, usable audio to use in tandem with the Tascam when mixing, but also establish an accurate real time monitoring solution. I’ve been having to make any music changes and then record them before I can even hear how it might sound, which as you can imagine eats up a ton of time.

    “If you wanna see what I’m talking about I have a few videos of them in action. It’s pretty cool stuff.

    “Thanks for asking and if you read this, thanks for reading! If you have any suggestions on how I can improve this without breaking the bank I’m open to suggestions.”

    #1490 Reply

    “One is going on the piano, one on the harp, one is going onto a piece of aluminum foil in the mouth of a bass clarinet, two go on the thunder plate and one on the gong.” — Nick Tipp, Soniferous Inc, Altadena, CA

    #1372 Reply

    “I am a sound designer looking into doing more field recording and I really wanted a contact mic for my work. I did a lot of research and decided I wanted one with an amp and found the cortado in that search! It seemed like the best option especially for the price 😀 ”
    — Zach W, Oregon

    #1321 Reply
    Glen v A

    “I have completed the kit and am using it glued to the end of a slinky. On the other end is a piezo that I send sound into.
    A lo-fi spring reverb so to speak :-)”

    — Einar, Oslo, Norway”

    #1073 Reply
    Glen v A

    Shaggyfreak sent us this sample from his Tin Can Mic.
    Shaggyfreak Tin Can Mic Test

    • This reply was modified 8 years, 3 months ago by Glen v A.
    #1044 Reply
    Glen v A

    “I do some lo-fi recording at home and I have an acoustic bass that the pickup quit working. I will primarily use this mic for that bass, both live and when recording. Of course, now I can mic just about anything! So I think this will open quite a few doors while recording.”
    -Cj, Richmaond, Mississippi

    #971 Reply
    Glen v A

    “I just wanna use it on a cactus, dry ice, sheet metal, balloons, plank of wood, maybe throw it in an altoids tin with some rocks and maybe attach some springs to the tin, you have any other cool ideas?”
    -T.L., Las Vegas, Nevada

    #945 Reply
    Glen v A

    “I have an old plate reverb, but the original amplifier is long gone. So I’ve been looking for a phantom-powered high impedance buffer circuit to drive a reasonable length of cable without too much noise. I came across your kit at, and it’s exactly what I was imagining–except that you guys have already done all the hard work.”
    Patrick, Fair Oaks CA

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