What is Bricolage?

Bricolage is a term for the art known as “assemblage”: artwork made from found or re-purposed objects and materials. In Europe it also has taken on a meaning of DIY; hardware stores– known as “DIY shops” in the UK, a term I’ve always loved– are also frequently referred to with some version of the word bricolage. The core meaning of the root French word is, “fiddle, tinker” and, by extension,

To make creative and resourceful use of whatever materials are at hand (regardless of their original purpose)

I love this as a description of what we do here at Ear Trumpet Labs. We are tinkerers and artists. We are always up for doing custom work. When I started making microphones I was immediately drawn to the possibility of making the housings from all sorts of things. Early microphone designs from the 1930s and 40s strike a balance between beauty and functionality, while most commercially-available modern microphones seem painfully dull. I don’t reproduce old designs, I tinker with hardware, surplus scraps, and everyday objects until I find an assemblage that is both beautiful and functional. Some of our products recall the elegant mic designs of the early broadcast era; others evoke early industrial aesthetics. There are always more exotic designs in our heads and under development.

My approach to the acoustics and electronics of our microphones is bricolage of another sort. There is an enormous wealth of public information available on very high quality mic circuit designs. I pick and choose designs that suit each mic, the capsules used, and the mic’s purpose. I try to apply publicly available designs to found objects with a little ingenuity and a lot of care. 

We are committed to supporting the DIY community. I plan on posting more information here with advice and detailed instructions on how to construct your own mics for other bricoleurs-at-heart. For now, the schematic of our most common microphone circuit is here. This is essentially a variation on the venerable, versatile, and extremely clever transformerless FET Schoeps circuit widely used by commercial manufacturers and home builders alike, as well as for upgrades and mods of lesser commercial mics.