About K&K's Pickup & Microphone Technology
The sources of signals serving to amplify an instrument can be divided into several categories of sound transmission according to the technology it uses to produce electrical voltage.
At K&K, we use:
- the sound of the air reflected by the instrument via condenser microphones
- the vibration of the bridge or of the body of the instrument via piezo-ceramic pickups
Condenser microphones have better transmission abilities than dynamic ones. They have a membrane made of metalized plastic or gold-leaf, building a condensation together with an electrode.
The vibrations of the membrane caused by the sound change the distance between these electrodes and thus the capacity, which is tranformed to voltage.
Condenser microphones always need a preamp with batteries or power supply.
We offer some microphones as "solo" models without the preamp which is needed for their power supply, they are meant to accomodate customers who already have the same kind of microphone with a preamp box.
Certain crystals (seignette salt) and certain ceramics possess the ability to produce an electrical charge when mechanically deformed at their surface. As piezo-electrical (or piezo-ceramic) pickups transform only body sound waves into voltage they are very insensitive in regard to feedback in comparison with microphones.
Piezo elements can also be found in ultrasound equipment, alarm systems for broken glass as well as (reversed) in loudspeakers.
Installation and attachment of pickups
Our research department has done exhaustive testing in the last 20 years and found that:
- The less matter you put between a piezo-ceramic pickup and the instrument's top, the better the sound transmission will be.
- Using putty or beeswax or other components will negatively influence the quality of the sound transmission.
- If you do not want to use our double-side adhesive film, you can attach the pickup disc with duct tape OVER the pickup, and firmly pressed around the edges.
With our specialized pickups, there are detailed instructions about the optimum position, please follow these!
With the universally applicable pickups, such as Hot Spot, Twin Spot, Big Shot and Big Twin, which are often used with ethnic instruments, please check the instrument pages for instructions. Often we can only give pointers in the right direction, the rest is up to trial and error with your specific instrument, trying out different positions using the duct tape method.
CAUTION! As the word "ceramic" indicates, the pickups can be damaged. The ceramic material should neither be bent or forced out of shape. They will break like any ceramics and the warranty will be voided.
Make sure to use good quality instrument cables, mono type. If Stereo cables are required with your specific pickup, we supply the cable with the product. Please know that the stereo products will not work with mono cables.
With piezo-ceramic pickups, you will need to use the high-impedance (high-ohmic) input in your amplifier. The ideal level is about 1 Mega Ohm, if the value is less, this will result in less volume and a certain loss of high frequencies/brilliance.
You can easily achieve the proper resistance using our preamps. If you use a preamp by another manufacturer, it should also be configured for the required high impedance or specified for piezo pickups.
You will need a Preamp if:
- You don't have an amplifier with proper high impedance input
- You plug directly into a PA
- You want to use a variety of amplifiers
- You want control and not have to walk to the amp or mixer
Dieter's Sound Bites
Piezo pickups/microphones: How do piezos work? Here I try to provide, in layman’s terms, how a piezo pickup works and the major difference between microphones and pickups. Right-click to download: Piezo Podcast
Technical specifications of piezo transducers: Have you ever wondered why none of the serious transducer manufacturers provide spec sheets? Right-click to download: Tech Specs Podcast