Everyone knows that Ben Burtt made the blaster sounds in Star Wars by striking guy wires and recording them with contact mics.
Countless others have done this as well, but I needed to test out some new gear so I figured I'd give it a go.
Gear included my recently acquired Jez Riley French contact mics and my new Sound Devices mixpre that I bought to use as a front end for my PCM D50.
The entire signal path was: doublesided carpet tape --> JRF contact mics --> Hosa MIT-129 impedance transformer --> mixpre mic ins --> mix pre tape out --> PCM D50 line in. These recordings are 100% unedited (including gain changes - this is the level I cut them at)
re: contact mics, Tim Prebble has an excellent post outlining the entire process, but the long and the short of my setup was that the impedance transformers were absolutely required to get all of that low end out of my rig. This is because contact mics are high-z sources and the mixpre is a low-z preamp. In the past I've also had good luck running straight into an H4 with other contact mics, but I suspect that's because the H4 takes hi-z inputs by design. With that said, I've never quite recorded low end like this with contact mics to date, so I was very happy with the result.
Also, I laughed a little when I saw that the BBC went into an anechoic chamber and recorded a few very tiny insects using these exact contact mics and preamps. It's quite the testament to what they're capable of to hear them seamlessly running from centipede feet to the huge guy wire hits I got.
Here's that BBC vid (check out the contact mics visually at 2:00 and then the recording at 3:40):
Now onto my vids. First up are the guy wires. The single most interesting thing that I discovered was that I could resonate one wire by striking the other, probably through some connection that they were making underground. You'll see in the vid that they're not buried right next to each other though, so it's possible that the contact mics are actually just picking up sympathetic vibrations. It's all very cool though, and there is TONS of low end, so crank up the speakers.
Again, this audio is 100% unaltered - not even gain changes.
Next up is the metal fence that was nearby. I did some similar stuff where I was striking the surrounding objects and getting indirect vibrations, which was pretty cool. The distortion sound in one of the channels isn't clipping, its the effect of the sticky tape losing its grip.
And for fun, here's a 96k downloadable soundcloud vers of the guy wires. Enjoy!