Chicago outfit Zeppelin Design Labs make a wide range of audio equipment, including guitar amps, synths, and effects pedals — many of them sold either as complete products or in kit form. Their latest offering is the Cortado MkIII, a contact microphone with in-line preamp.
The 'bug' part of the Cortado MkIII is based around a piezo element, and is built into a round metal shell that ZDL describe as “nearly indestructible”. Indeed, Zeppelin's fun introductory video (see below) shows it being merrily driven over by a car, and even working underwater.
The preamp, meanwhile, is a phantom-powered affair (24-48 Volts), and features a DIP switch array for engaging either a bass boost, or a -10dB pad. Combined, the mic and preamp offer a bandwidth from 23Hz to 40kHz. About the extended high end, ZDL say it is "of particular significance to sound designers, who often wish to capture frequencies above the audible range which become audible when samples are transposed down a few octaves."
Mounting putty is included for traditional instrument mounting, but Zeppelin Design Labs also offer an optional accessory pack for $25, which includes a sprung clamp, a screw-on strap, extra putty and some double-sided tape. Extra piezo elements can also be bought separately (for the princely sum of $1), and ZDL say that you can wire multiple transducers in series with the preamp.
The Cortado MkIII contact mic and preamp costs $159, and we'll be bringing you a review in due course.