A microphone for anyone who likes outstanding build-quality, interesting sounds, and a DIY ethic, the Copperphone is handmade by Mark Pirro (The Polyphonic Spree, Tripping Daisy). It's really cool looking; it looks like a cross between a pipe bomb and the water cannon on the front of an old fireboat. Made of polished copper pipe, the resonant chamber behind the phone element is as important as the element itself. The resonant peaks inherent to a short length of pipe translate well to Billie Holiday-esque frequency response. The mic has limited bandwidth for sure, but the end result is surprisingly pleasing. The presence this mic can lend to a multiple mic setup is amazing.

I used this mic all over a record alongside a U 47 FET to capture upright bass, and the growl we got out of it was insane. On nylon-string guitar, the Copperphone sounds like it's from another era. Not the lame "alternative" lo-fi type of sound, but truly from another era in recording, where you actually tried to get the best sound possible with limited-bandwidth equipment, rather than by filtering the crap out of something recorded with a 4033 to make it sound "old." Dean from Atomic Recording in Brooklyn borrowed one of my Copperphones, and he really dug the midrange honk this mic added to a clean, indie-rock guitar overdub. (Dean has done a ton of cool rock records, and I wanted someone who's not a complete freak like me to check out the Copperphone.)

We live in a world where big chains sell homogenized, semi-cool stuff as the new "solution" to the problems that they made up so they could sell you more of the same. The Placid Audio Copperphone transcends all that. It can stand on its own or it can complement other mics in a multi-mic setup to give your productions a fingerprint so often missing in the flavorless world of corporate recording. Contact Placid Audio. Great product by a cool person. You need to hear this mic. ($250 direct; www.placidaudio.com)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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