7 things to know about Mikrophonie

4 HP | 25mm deep | 20mA
Designed 2014
Modular Grid | Videos
Github | Schematic

Available from Thonk

  1. Mikrophonie is a microphone preamp with a piezo contact mic built into the panel. It is an easy way to bring environmental noise and feedback into a modular system, inspired by the early days of electroacoustic music in Paris and Cologne, and by the contact microphone and phonograph cartridge experiments of John Cage, Gordon Mumma, Robert Ashley and Nicholas Collins.
  2. It also works very well as a way to trigger Mutable Instruments Rings and Elements, and as a generally weird tactile CV source.
  3. Mikrophonie is one of the most popular eurorack DIY projects. It's a very simple and satisfying build, perfect for a first project. The Instagram #mikrophonie tag is a great source of ideas and inspiration and confidence-boosting successful builds.
  4. The panel is PCB with patches of raw fibreglass and raised gold-plated traces. Rubbing it with a finger or a plectrum creates quite a wide range of sounds. The back of the panel is plated and grounded for shielding.
  5. The mic will also pick up all the physical sounds in your modular - patching, cables rustling, switches, fingers on knobs - without picking up airborne sounds like the sounds your modular is making. At very high sound levels will pick up vibrations from the speaker output and start to feedback.
  6. Patch Ideas:
    • Gently tap the piezo element to produce a strong trigger, that will open a low pass gate or trigger a Maths envelope.
    • Use the outputs as voltage sources, rather than audio sources; FM an oscillator with the output. Works well with low frequency signals like pinged springs.
    • Use channels 1 or 4 in a Maths as an envelope follower, with configurable rise and fall.
    • The circuit is DC coupled so that very low frequency modulations (i.e a bouncing spring, a flexing piece of wood) might be like an LFO source. However Peizo elements only produce a signal while their stress is changing. Pressing and holding the panel will not produce a sustained high signal.
    • You can also use the mic input as a massively highgain bright op-amp distortion/fuzz/boost for other modular signals.
    • Switches + patching + touching patch cables = fun.
  7. This is a fairly simple build, but if you have any issues, the best way to get help is to check the GitHub Issue List, and remember to check closed issues as well as open ones.

DivKid's quick introduction


Leafcutter John's Mikrophonie workout


Build video from Synth DIY Guy


Hydrophone demo


Scanner at the Mikrophonie


Clear, detailed build video from New Electronic Frontier