Hours 57 – 58: Contact Mic Metal Impacts

Hello! I’m back again with a really, really cool one this time. I’ve been working on some recordings recently of metal impacts, and today I decided to try testing a theory I’ve had knocking around for a little while. I decided to experiment with using a contact mic to capture metal resonances in large metal objects – and the results are surprisingly. I was expecting it to be interesting, but I didn’t quite realise how great it would sound.


I used my humble little setup of my contact mic, going into the tascam dr-05 and monitoring with a pair of KRK’s. I have learned from previous experience that it isn’t enough to just tape a contact mic down, it needs a conductor to receive vibrations from a surface – in this instance, I decided to use some blu-tack, and it worked a treat. I have often found that just taping a contact mic to a surface makes for a cool recording, but it doesn’t have the body I’m looking for – I’ve furthermore adopted a technique of holding the mic down with my thumb as it records – this is a surefire way to ensure lots of lovely bass in the recordings, and I can’t say i’ve ever heard about people doing this before.


I started with a HUGE metal column that we have outside our university. I half-heartedly stuck the mic on, and was absolutely amazed to hear what it captured. It picked up this amazing ‘zapping’ sound, much like the contact mic recordings of metal wires made by Ben Burtt and others to create the classic lazer gun sound. I found that smaller taps actually made for a better zapping sound that heavy hits, and I was also amazed to find that the column amplified a lot of sounds of the surroundings through it’s body. I think this sound is created because soundwaves travel to the top and bottom of the resonant body almost instantaneously – and then return to meet back in the middle. I *think* that’s how it works. I might be wrong. It sounds cool though!

I moved on to a few more interesting metal objects in the area, and decided to experiment with a large metal storage container. It had an extremely resonant body, and after playing around a little, I found that holding the mic down with my thumb made for the best sound.


I’m really amazed by the sound, it’s huge and has a ton of low end. It’s almost like the resonances created are like a huge metallic reverb. There’s also some nice subtle jangles as the metal settles, which I think adds a lot of cool depth ontop of the roaring, rumbling impact. There may be some slight clipping on the recordings below, please ignore that – it’s raw from the recorder.

I next moved onto a big recycling bin that caught my eye. I opened the lid, and found it was a bin intended to store used fluorescent lights (the big long office style ones. I then dropped the lid and noticed it made an epic rumbling impact that resonated throughout the bin’s metal body. Again, I pressed the mic down with my thumb, and found the sound it captured was rich, huge and very interesting.


As with the metal storage container, the impacts almost sound like they are in a huge reverberant space. They are pretty beefy, with a nice lot of low end and a lot of body to the sound. The lid dropping makes a specifically nice transient, and it also provides some cool shuddering and shaking after the impact, as the vibrations diffuse. This again is raw, so please excuse any clipping.

And that’s it for now! thanks for having a read. I’ll be back again very soon with more cool recordings.



Hours 57 – 58: Contact Mic Metal Impacts

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