Zeppelin Design Labs : The Cortado, as a vocal mic in a tin! · Source: Screenshot from Zeppelin Design Labs YouTube Channel
Although this was released at the end of last year, I’ve only just heard about this fun piece of tech which I had to share. Named after an espresso with steamed milk, this cheap but flexible pickup and contact mic is sure to give you a bit of inspiration. This is an example of technology we’re already aware of, but presented with a beautiful twist extending its common uses outside of the norm.
Piezo pickups are commonly found in acoustic instruments for amplification in live sound scenarios, offering a high level of detail and gain before feedback. The quality of piezo’s can vary hugely, and judging by the impressively low price point of The Cortado I’m not sure what its performance is like. The low price is obviously swayed by the fact you’ve got some DIY work to do with the kit, and perhaps a ‘characterful’ response is actually all part of the joy The Cortado has to offer. The selling point here is the flexibility the kit offers, leaving you limited only by your imagination. The ‘vocal mic in a tin’ as pictured above, is one example how you might use the kit. Instructions for this can be found here, as there isn’t a ready-made option. This is a great concept as yours will sound unique – I wonder if baked beans sound different to chicken soup?!
The Cortado is available as a ready-made contact mic that you can place on virtually any surface that vibrates. However, bought as a DIY kit, The Cortado can be installed as an instrument pickup, contact mic or vocal mic as seen in the video below. The kit comprises of a phantom-powered circuit that balances the signal from it’s piezo transducer, and matches its high output impedance to the low input impedance of typical pre-amps, and a neat little tin for shielding the electronics.
Pricing is slightly confusing. According to Zeppelin Design Labs own web site, the kit is only 25.49 USD, or ready-made as a contact mic for 44.92 USD. However, there is a note explaining sales in the EU are available from woodbrass.com, who only advertise the ready-made option for 69 EUR. Hopefully there is a way to get hold of the kit here, as this is clearly the most interesting option.
Here’s a YouTube video from Zeppelin Design Labs’ own channel explaining the many uses this piezo kit has to offer:
Here’s the full cover of “Summertime” they recorded with nothing but The Cortado: