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Ischell Contact Microphone

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Eric Hochberg, Dec 31, 2015.


  1. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Fischer Ischell sent me this pickup to audition and it will make the rounds of a few Talkbass contributors who have agreed to check it out over the next month or two. Fischer asked that the pickup be returned after 5 auditions to insure it is still working as intended.

    I'll leave a few impressions now, and some in a couple more days as I have more experience working with the pickup. Might be worth mentioning that I have no experience using other body mounted pickups such as the Schertler Dyn-B and Ehrlund, but a couple of the testers do, so it will be interesting to hear their thoughts.

    It does take a little time to find the optimal location on the top of the bass. When working with it at home on my "A" bass, position #1 as in the brochure, under the treble bridge foot, seemed to be the best, although I didn't take the time to change positions more than 5 or 6 times, so it's possible there is a better position somewhere on the top.

    In this position, I got a pretty even pizz sound across strings, although the E was a bit weaker in volume. The sound has a different character to the sound of the bridge type pickups I've always used, and I would have to say, it is less electronic, "pickup-y" sounding, and more faithful to the acoustic character of the instrument. The arco response is excellent, without the harshness of most piezo bridge pickups I've used. Very natural sounding. I kind of summed up this first session with it thinking that "I could use this pickup".

    I'll stop here until I've worked with it some more in a gigging situation.

    EDIT...And I used it all night on New Years Eve. My "B" bass liked it best in position #1, too. My comments above still apply. Playing with grand piano, tenor sax and vocalist, the sound of the bass melted into the mix with less edge and clarity than bridge pickups, kind of like playing without amplification. When soloing, I really noticed the acoustic sound I was getting compared to other pickups. I feel I got the best response on the G and D strings. The volume of the E and A strings seems to be a little lower, but I'm not sure it actually is as I'm used to the brighter punch that bridge pickups create. Arco was natural sounding and excellent. I'll use it once again on Saturday and post my final impressions before I send it on.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2016
  2. vanderbrook

    vanderbrook Some days, I miss frets...

    Aug 21, 2001
    Denver, CO, USA
    That's an attractive price for a contact mic. Thanks for sharing your impressions.
     
  3. rickwolff likes this.
  4. rickwolff

    rickwolff CGJ (Certified Gear Junkie) Supporting Member

    Last edited: Jan 3, 2016
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  5. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    And, finally, I used the Ischell tonight, same situation as Thursday, and got very good results. I won't have a chance to try it with a louder band with drums before I send it on, and I'm not sure if it will put out the volume necessary in that situation as I already had to bring my amp volume setting up relatively high, but in a small group, it has done very well for me. I'm liking this pickup a lot.
     
    Treyzer likes this.
  6. Good review Eric. Looking forward to checking it out. Is it relatively easy to set up? I'm sort of challenged in the tech department.
     
  7. It's less than 1/3rd the price (in Aussie dollars) of the Ehrlund EAP. Very interested.

    My biggest question is feedback resistance - how does it compare with other pickups like the Underwood & EAP for feedback?
     
  8. Well, price relation to the Ehrlund might vary on your location.
    Jonas Lohse in Germany has the Ehrlund for 290€, with preamp 435€.
    The iSchell is 329€, made in France. Not so much cheaper, I think. But these are current prices in Europe.

    The much cheaper contact mic that is just a little bit under the Ehrlund is the Japanese MSP, still available for US$99. At least a good solution if you cannot afford the Ehrlund. Just keep the magnets at least a handspan away from any magnetic storage media like harddisks, laptops and bank or credit cards.
    You might want to invest into a high impedance preamp like the HPFpre for a bit better sound even if the company states this is not needed.
     
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  9. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Yes, it isn't hard to set up. Takes a little time to experiment with the best position for it on the top, but I ended up with Ischell's recommended position.
     
  10. rickwolff

    rickwolff CGJ (Certified Gear Junkie) Supporting Member

    THE SOUND, and judging by this soundclip it doesn't sound uneven to me (soundclip from post #3 above):
     
  11. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    I think my description was a little more nuanced than that. I like the character of the basic sound of this pickup. There very well may be more tweaks possible on my basses to get it just right.
     
  12. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    I wonder how it sounds mounted somewhere else other than the surface of the table. I think i read the lit that it works mounted on the TP?

    Seems promising and workable. For me, the ideal would be that it's transparent and doesn't require any tweaking on the EQ (esp after using the DPA).

    Eric, did you have to mess with the dials?
     
  13. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Based on this earlier recording, to my ears the Ishell's timbre, sits right in between the Microphone and the Full Circle, which sounds just like I'd expect it to, based on my experiences performing with the Ehrlund. I think that comparing these three pickups, based on a single recording is perhaps a little premature. When it's my turn with the pickup, I'd like to record it live, into an amp, at a real concert.

    Ric
     
  14. rickwolff

    rickwolff CGJ (Certified Gear Junkie) Supporting Member

    Thanks Ric, I can't wait to get your impressions and hear the recording. I'm hoping this means we have another (relatively) affordable tool in our quest for the 'best available' live amplified sound. And yes, I guess that means I have given up on my hope of 'MBOL' on the gig.
     
  15. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Absolutely. Of course, every preamp/amp/speaker will bring something to the table. I used a very pedestrian amp, Workingman's 12, on my live gigs. Maybe I'll give it a try with my EA Doubler and MAS 45. If I do, I'll report.
     
    rickwolff and drurb like this.
  16. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    In the past, the best gear I've used has been where there's no messing with EQ. EA Amps, DPA 4099, EDB-2, I use them all flat and my recording engineer friends espouse that's how good gear should perform: no fussing.

    That said, if that's recorded through a Workingman's - I'm impressed.
     
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  17. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    I didn't record anything. That's from another thread.
     
  18. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Interesting, even with the Ehrlund EAP, DPA 4099B and the Headway EDB-1/2, to get the sound I prefer, I had to bost the Low Midrange, cut the Upper Midrange, bost the Presence, and cut the Treble. So, at least In my case I don't set things perfectly flat. The Grace Designs Felix, is more in line with the "good gear doesn't need much tweaking, but even given it's remarkable timbre, I must admit that none of it's tone shaping controls are sitting in their center detents.

    Ric
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2016
    hdiddy likes this.
  19. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    As I've posted many times before, there really is no virtue in being able to set the tone-controls flat. In fact, I assert that, most of the time, that will not produce the best amplified sound. It's true that the best approach is to start with equipment that has as flat a response as possible-- a neutral palette, if you will. That's quite easy to do with amplifiers. Some pre-amps are "voiced," a practice that I abhor. I avoid voiced electronics. No transducer we use, except for a high-quality mic, will have a functionally flat response. No cabinet we use will have a functionally flat response. Again, I agree that it's best to strive for gear that is as flat as possible at the outset.

    Now, consider what happens in real life with even the optimal choice of gear. The distance that a mic sits from the bass will affect the overall response. Some mics will be subject to the "proximity effect," based on their design and the distance from the source. Then there are the substantial and often unpredictable interactions between the cabinet and the room. They will always be there and the adjustment required in one room will differ from that required in another. No recording engineer worth his/her salt would not recognize these facts. Now, it's true that there are often tone-control settings that will work across many rooms with only a small amount of tweaking.

    Recording without live amplification is another matter. No cabinet, no room interactions. Still, I'd argue that maintaining tone controls in their "flat" position will almost always produce poor results. In fact, recording engineers typically employ some form of spectral shaping.
     
  20. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Just to emphasize the point, that the "response is flat" practically means "minimal tweaking". You dial it in like you're seasoning food. It shouldn't take a lot of effort.

    Good gear should take some small tweaking to make it sound right again.