Jim Sweeney • April 21, 2019
If you’ve been live streaming services or other church events, you realize the importance of audio quality.
Few things can ruin a broadcast more thoroughly than bad sound. We’ve written before about ways to improve audio without getting into equipment, but this post deals with the types of microphones your church should use during services.
Though the mic built into the video camera is the easiest to use, it will produce the worst audio because it’s too far from the sound source and often picks up surrounding noise.
The most common types of mics for speakers are headset, gooseneck, lavalier (or lapel), and shotgun. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. This post will dive into all four.
Headset mics typically hook over a speaker’s ear and tend to be the most popular with pastors. The distance between the mic and the speaker’s mouth remains constant, so these mics produce consistent sound quality and don’t pick up environmental noise.
Note that they typically require a wireless bodypack (a set of wireless radios) to transmit the speaker’s audio to a mixer or other capture device.
If pastors don’t want to wear a microphone over their heads, gooseneck (or lectern) microphones are another great option.
The good? They have long stems so they can get close to the speaker’s mouth.
The less good? Since they’re almost always positioned on a podium, these mics will limit the mobility of speakers who prefer to pace or move around the stage.
Lavalier mics are clipped onto a speaker’s lapel or shirt. They’re tiny, unobtrusive and good all-purpose mics. These mics are similar to headset microphones in that they are usually wireless and require a bodypack system to transmit audio.
However, lavalier microphones can pick up the rustle of clothing, and since the pickup element is small, these mics don’t capture the same sound quality as a shotgun mic (see below). If you choose a lavalier mic, ensure that it’s omnidirectional so that you don’t lose the speaker’s voice if the mic is placed incorrectly. If possible, use a windscreen (typically included) with these microphones to prevent any rubbing sounds.
These mics are so named because they’re long and skinny and meant to be pointed in the direction of the source of the sound. They are often mounted to a camera or stand, making them useful if you’re within close proximity of your speaker.
Despite their length and look, shotgun mics cannot pick up sounds from farther distances. They’re unidirectional, meaning that they’re good at picking up sound from what they’re pointed at while largely screening out other sources. That’s fine so long as neither the intended source nor the mic moves. If the mic doesn't follow a pastor who moves on stage, the sound will be lost. So, these mics require a separate operator.
Whichever type of mic(s) you choose, it pays to buy the highest quality you can afford. A cheap microphone will hurt your broadcasts and the aggravation will quickly outweigh the savings. You’ll make the best decision for your church if you consider the speaker’s distance from the mic, the acoustics in the room, and sources of environmental noise.
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