In-Ear Microphones

Mike Harman ([email protected])
June 2001

I succeeded in making a pair of small condenser mics that can be pushed into the opening of the ear canal for recording what best approximates your normal hearing.

I used 2 Radio Shack condenser mic capsules ($1.99 each) and made use of the cord from a broken cheapie headphone set. I carefully trimmed off the attached solid lead wires from the capsules, then carefully soldered the soft, flexible headphone cords to the capsules so that the wires would easily bend back towards the front of the capsules. Then I trimmed black plastic electrical tape to wrap around the perimeter of the capsules holding the wires against the sides.

These capsules, at about 1/4" diameter, fit snugly into the opening of my ears and are nearly invisible when looking in a mirror. They work just great with the powered mic input of my Sony MZ-R37 minidisk recorder. With my Grado SR60 headphones I'm audibly reliving the past.

We asked Mike about whether wearing these affected ones hearing, to which he answered: They do muffle hearing somewhat, as you would expect. Like having small amount of cotton in the ear. So you will have the disadvantage of not hearing the best sound "live" while wearing these. But the mics themselves do capture excellent sound.

We further asked whether there was any problem with mechanical/frictional noises from having the mics mounted against your skin, to which Mike replied: I haven't noticed any unless I actually touch them or move the wires around. I haven't used them for any length of time, but while visiting at UCLA I recorded a djembe and another African stringed instrument as part of a marshall arts performance. The sound was pretty much flawless.

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