Touchy Feely

At the time of writing we are currently preparing for our first gig since lockdown restrictions started to ease. This is all very exciting and also coincides with what may be one of our last microphone posts. With that in mind heres something that you won’t have seen before, the AKG C411.

Strictly speaking this isn’t a mic but a “vibration pickup” that attaches directly to the body of an instrument. The vibrations are picked up by a condenser transducer inside the capsule. The C411 has a frequency response range of 10Hz – 18kHz and has a figure of eight response patten. Careful thought does have to go into where on the instrument the pickup is placed. It’s very light (18g) and should be attached on or near the bridge of stringed instruments or body of pianos.

The importance of having that direct connection to the instrument means you virtually eliminate room noise. This has been useful when trying to amplify a grand piano in an echoey hall with a full jazz band. Using traditional microphones only lead to increased noise but the contact mic was able to filter that out. The tone tends to be a little unusual compared to a standard condenser but this can be addressed with EQ.

All in all, this is not an item that is used very often. However, it has been extremely useful in solving particular issues that would otherwise lead to a bad sound. At the end of the day the most important thing is delivering high quality sound regardless of the various limitations that a live engineer comes across.

AKG C411
C411 pictured with a 5 pence piece to demonstrate scale