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Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of gear do I need to use my contact microphone?

If you have a basic, passive contact mic, just plug it directly into an amplifier. It doesn't mattter if it's the cheapest guitar amp you can find, your home stereo amplifier or an incredible tube amp. Always begin with your volume knob at the lowest level to start as contact mics can be very, very loud. Tap a little on the head or scrape it against a bookcase... You'll get a very detailed and multifaceted sound.

A passive contact microphone has very high impedance, so if using an amplifier only, your contact mic may sound a bit tinny. The way to fix this is with a preamp. A preamp will even out the impedance and usually provide a small volume boost, giving you a more natural sound and less emphasis on the higher frequencies. Get a preamp designed for a high impedance input and you should be very pleased with the difference. If you don't want to buy a preamp then get a buffered contact microphone, its customized preamp is already installed in the head of the mic where it will introduce the least amount of noise and provide the best possible signal.

Although an amp is recommended, most passive mics will also work well with many MiniDisc players, computers and digital recorders. Just remember that the little piezo is the only thing providing the power in the case of no amplifier, so sensitivity is reduced.

If you have a buffered contact microphone or hydrophone, you'll need to provide 48V phantom power to your mic in order for it to operate. We recommend using a battery powered phantom power box if possible, and are planning to offer these for sale in the near future. Your buffered mic then needs to go into an amp just like the passive one.

Which side of the mic faces the instrument or sound source?

Always face the brass side of the mic towards the instrument. The other side will transmit almost as well, but the brass is the part the piezoelectric material is bonded to. The piezoelectric hydrophones can be used out of water by pressing their circular flat faces to your surface.

How do I attach my contact microphone or film tab mic?

Attaching a contact microphone is the real art of using a contact microphone. Since everything with a vibration is a candidate for amplificaton, you'll have to find different ways of attaching your mic for the best possible signal. The thing to remember is that you want the mic to become one with the instrument. It has to be really stuck down tight or wedged in solidly. If it has room to wiggle it probably will, and the wiggling will usually be clearly audible. If you have attached it to an instrument you will be handling, like a trumpet, be assured that you will hear those handling noises also. The contact mic does not discriminate, it will amplify any vibration at all. This is what gives it a lot of its charm.

There is no right or wrong way to attach a contact mic but there are a few methods we recommend. The best method in our opinion for preserving the mic in good condition without sacrificing sound, is to cover the head of your mic with a slip of thin paper or thin plastic, and then taping it down tight with something like duct tape. This prevents any adhesive residue from getting on your microphone and still has superb sound transfer. It will of course get adhesive residue on the instrument so keep that in mind. It's also recommended to wrap a little piece of paper around the cable near the head end and tape that down tightly too. This will prevent strain on the head and help cut down on the microphonic tendencies of the cable. The paper trick is essential for film tab mics which can easily be damaged by repeatedly being taped down without protection.

Other ways of securing contact microphones are: sticking them down with a bit of poster tack (this will usually be hard to remove from the mics), wrapping them on with rubber bands or wrapping them to an object with some stretchy gauze, sticking them permanently with silicone or epoxy, wedging them into the object tightly or using a metal or wooden clip to hold them down.

What kind of gear do I need to use my hydrophone?

A basic passive piezoelectric hydrophone requires an amplifier to work well. It will also usually work in a reduced capacity when used with most small recording devices such as a MiniDisc recorder. The buffered hydrophone includes a preamp in the head which requires 48V phantom power to operate. You'll probably still need to run your signal through an amplification stage for good results.

The condenser hydrophones require a minimum of 2V plug-in-power to operate. This is often provided by MiniDisc recorders and digital recorders. No further amplification is needed, which makes these hydrophones a good choice for field recording.

How do I use my hydrophone?

Just toss it into the water and press record. Rinse in clear water after use and allow your hydrophone to dry completely before storing. Do not submerge the plug in water.

If you find you're having problems with the cable becoming too microphonic, you can try a couple of things. You can tie a float to an elastic band and tie this to the cable near the head, this will help absorb some of the vibrations. You can also tie an elastic band with both ends a few inches apart near the head, allowing the cable in between to go a bit slack. The elastic will tighten and this will act as a small shock absorber.

How do I use my electronic stethoscope?

The electronic stethoscope contains an internal preamp, but must also be used with an amplifier to work well. It requires no power other than the internal 9V battery. The button head should be attached with the grey rubber button touching the surface you want to record. It can be taped down with surgical tape or wrapped on with stretchy gauze. It has no off switch and will turn off automatically when the output plug is removed.

How do I use my wireless transmitter?

We carry two frequencies of wireless transmitter, so you can use a maximum of two at a time in the same location. Just plug your mic into the transmitter and plug the receiver into an amplifier. The transmitter will work up to 100 feet in ideal conditions, ie: no walls or buildings. They come with a condenser lapel mic but can also be used with any of our mono condenser or passive contact mic products.

How do I use my binaural mics?

The binaural mics must be used with minimum 2V plug-in-power.

Can I get a different plug on my microphone/hydrophone?

Absolutely. Send an email if you're not sure whether it's possible or not, or just add a note when paying with paypal, specifying which plug you'd like on which microphone. There's no extra charge for different plugs unless you'd like something specific we have to order in. Less adaptors mean a cleaner signal so it's worth it to get the plug you want. Custom plugs may take extra time depending on availability. We'll let you know if there's going to be a delay.

What is plug in power?

Plug in power is a small voltage provided by many small recording devices through the mic input. Somewhat similar to phantom power, however instead of 48V it ranges from around 2 - 10V. If you're not sure if your recorder provides plug in power, check the manual or do a google search on your device.

How long does shipping take?

Orders are normally shipped within 1-3 days and a confirmation email is always sent upon shipment. Normal airmail shipping takes about a week to ten days in most cases (less for Canada) but can take up to 45 days in very rare instances. On occasion a high volume of orders can cause delays of a few extra days. If you need your order urgently please email us as soon as possible so we can get your order to you in a timely manner.

Do you offer quicker shipping rates?

Yes. If you need your order urgently please email us the details and we will send you a shipping quote. In most cases it's not a problem to get rush orders out within 24 hours.

Is there a tracking number for my order?

With normal shipping, no. If you'd like a tracking number you'll need to request an upgraded shipping service. Please email for details.

Is there insurance on my order?

Yes. We want every customer to be happy with their order and if something's broken or it doesn't arrive, we'll resend the order or refund your payment.

It's been over 45 days and my order still hasn't arrived, what do I do?

Please email us right away. We will file a claim with Canada Post and send you either a replacement or a refund.

Do you ship to (wherever in the world you are)?

Yes! We ship everywhere.

Do you accept credit cards?

We do accept them via Paypal, and we do accept cheques, money orders and Western Union payments. Please email if you have any questions or need more information.

Do you take custom orders?

Yes! Please email us with your inquiries.

I broke my microphone/hydrophone, what do I do?

Please email us with the details. We'll give you our return address and in many cases you can mail your mic back for a free repair job. Some microphones will incur charges for head replacements, but we'll let you know what your mic needs and you can make that decision before any repairs are made. Shipping charges are the customer's responsibility.

How quickly do you respond to emails?

We always try to respond right away if possible but you may have to wait a few days for a response. If your email is urgent please indicate so in the subject line of your message so we know it needs speedy attention.

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