Wednesday 24 June 2009

Mic madness part 02 - Thunderwonderverb

After getting wet with the hydrophone we turned our attention to contact mics and a little bit of DIY. As they say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing so let me introduce to you..... the Thunderwonderverb.

Pretty hi-tech huh? Basically what we did was take an old speaker (from a home keyboard originally I think) and wire it to a 1/4" jack. This was then clamped and pointed down the sound hole of a spring drum (sometimes called a thunder tube) whose small drum head was miked up with a contact mic.

A spring drum is quite a basic percussion instrument - just a tube with a thin diaphragm/drum head at one end to which a metal spring is attached. As you shake, or tap the tube the spring vibrates, in turn vibrating the drum head making a thunder-like noise.

The blue cable you can see is attached to the 1/4" output of the contact mic that is masking taped to the body of the spring drum to stop it getting in the way.

Okay, we sent a variety of sounds through to the small speaker, which in turn vibrated the drum head and spring which was picked up by the contact mic. This signal was mixed with the original sound and hey presto a strange spring reverb effect.

We wished we had a bigger speaker, as this one was very toppy but the whole thing worked well enough for adding an unusual, cheap-sounding, low-fi, tight reverb effect to whatever we blasted through it. In the end it sounded better on drums so we fed a series of our vintage (and not so vintage) drum boxes through it.

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