ARTICLE: Coil Pickups - a Budget Friendly Tool for Sound Designers?

Electromagnetic coil pickups provide users with the ability to capture the sound of electronic signals in everyday items. This can provide some quite unusual and fascinating results for Sound Designers.

Complex Simplicity

Coil pickups are magnetic transducers, that convert mechanical energy into electric signals. The user simply has to connect the pickup to an electronic device which they want to record. The resulting audio can then be transferred to a recording device via a standard jack cable.

As well as this technology being extremely accessible, it also rejects outside noise, provides unheard sounds, and can be especially interesting when the user changes the signal live (i.e with a phone). Opening apps, making selections and locking the phone all create interesting modulations. Take a listen to the following recordings we made:

Budget Friendly

The great news for any cash strapped Soundies out there, is that this tool doesn't cost an arm and a leg to get your hands on. In regards to a price vs usage factor, we have to say that coil pickups are exceptionally valuable. JrF microphones offer these for as little as £15, which easily puts them into the 'must have' category.

They can be attached to items you already own, and used in the field on less conventional electronic devices. We recently recorded a failing lightbulb, then processed the signal to create an electronic Sci-Fi bullet for a challenging moment in a film.

Further experiments can lead to live performance, using the electronic signals as wavetable oscillators and creating bizarre abstract soundscapes.

We hope that you have considered getting hold of an Electric Coil Pickup, after hearing how this budget friendly tool can revolutionise your Sound Design. Let us know what you think below.

If you enjoyed this article please check out our ultimate guide to audio post- production:


Audio Post Production Studio in Manchester.

The Old Courthouse

Chapel Street


SK16 4DT

+44 (0)161 6376 520

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