Despite the growth of technology in music composition and performance, professional clarinetists maintain that air microphones are superior to piezoelectric pickups. Pickups offer increased mobility, isolation, and reduced feedback, but air microphones are used simply for the perceived sound quality. In this study a ported barrel pickup and a contact transducer pickup placed at various intervals on the clarinet were sampled and compared to a reference recording to determine how the sound differed for each method. In addition, the history of wind instrument pickups, the acoustics of the clarinet, and the basics of piezoelectricity were discussed to help examine the results. The pickups were examined in three ways: overall level in decibels, frequency cutoff, and overtone displacement. Through these results it was determined that the most accurate methods of clarinet pickup are the ported barrel pickup, contact transducers closer to the vibration of the reed such as the ligature or barrel surface, or a transducer placed at the end of the bell. These findings were consistent with the discussions regarding history, clarinet acoustics, and piezoelectricity. This study also produced a reference for the sounds associated with different pickup methods, as well as possible improvements for clarinet pickup design.
- Analysis of current electric pickup technology utilized in clarinet performance and investigation into potential improvements
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by Patrick William Englert