Barcus Berry Planar Wave Contact Mic Review – part 1

Ok so after some prompting, this is just going to be some initial feedback on how I’m finding the Barcus Berry contact mic & preamp to use, as I havent used it enough yet to come to any definitive conclusions, such is my workload with the imminent temp mix…

In terms of sound quality; the preamp is excellent – very low noise, even under high gain situations and the fact it runs off phantom power is just brilliant!! No more worrying about how fresh the 9 volt batteries are… Compared with my Trance Audio preamp (admittedly now an old/non-stock preamp) I would say the Barcus Berry is noticeably quieter in the bg noise stakes..

I found the actual piezeo contact mic unit a little fiddly to use, but I am getting used to it… At first I thought it made contact with the vibrating object the same way my Trance Audio one did, but compare the two units in this photo, Trance Audio on left & Barcus Berry on right:

With the Trance Audio contact mic element, I apply double sided sticky tape directly to the element & stick it to the object, whereas with the Barcus Berry the sticky tape is applied to the two brass bridge pieces which surround the element & these then transmit vibrations to the suspended contact mic element. Is there a difference in tone between the two elements? I imagine there is, but without having two identical preamps its hard to ascertain…. Heres a few recordings I did with dual contact mics, Barucs Berry is left, Trance Audio right:

download sword scrapes mp3
download oven rattles mp3
download bowed cymbal mp3

Its hard to judge & compare the sounds as the placement on each object was not identical eg sometimes I would have one contact mic at each end of an object… but my conclusion so far: the Barcus Berry is really high quality & I suspect I will order another of their Planar Wave preamps & use it with the Trance Audio contact mic element… I’ll post some more sounds in part 2 in a few weeks, when I get time to try them both on some acoustic instruments eg Gheng zu, zither, piano etc…

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