AV 101: Choosing The Right Microphone

mics, microphone, events, austin, texas, atx, conference, hotels, Your list of speakers and guests is shaping up nicely. The venue has been picked out and the ink is dry on the contract. For weeks you’ve been running through the possibilities in your head and on paper. You know exactly which person you want to speak in which room of the venue. You have it all mapped out and you’re ready to start testing your plan.

While having the venue secured with perfect rooms for the speakers you’ve selected is a great start, there are still many more logistics that must be processed and accounted for before the big event day. All too often events run into problems with audio or visuals that can make even an A-list speaker seem disappointing.

With all the time and energy you’ve put into getting your speakers on board and getting the venue up and running, it would be a shame to let it go to waste by having audio or other technology failure on event day, wouldn’t it? Let’s start by talking about one of the most overlooked, yet most important pieces of AV technology you’ll use on event day: the microphone.

Believe it or not, there are many different types of microphones that each have their purpose. Choosing the right quality microphone for the appropriate purpose can go a long way to ensuring that your speakers are heard loud and clear and that their message is delivered exactly they way you envisioned. Let’s dive into the types of microphones, their usage, and how to know if they are right for you.

Microphone Basics

Here are the primary microphones used for presentations along with why they may be the right choice for you, including the pros and cons of using them.

Lavalier Microphone

A lavalier microphone is also sometimes known as a lav or lapel microphone. The label moniker suits its purpose nicely; it’s essentially a discrete microphone worn on the lapel of a shirt or jacket and is used to allow the speaker to operate their microphone hands-free during their presentation.

Pros: This is great for presenters who talk with their hands a lot or move a lot while on stage. It can give the speaker a feeling of freedom and like they are having a conversation rather than speaking to a crowd.

Cons: These types of microphones can be lower quality and pick up a lot of ancillary noise. The battery life can also be quite short, so it’s best to do research on high-quality brands before settling on this mic. 

Handheld Wireless Microphone

This type of microphone is one of the most common seen at presentations, assemblies, and concerts. A wireless handheld microphone can be used by the presenter to give them something to do with their hands and to help with jittery nerves.

Pros: The wireless microphone keeps the stage clear and safe of cords. The handheld aspect can give nervous presenters something to do with their hands while still allowing them the freedom to roam the stage if they’d like. Sound quality can be better with this style of mic.

Cons: Having to hold the microphone limits what the presenter can do with their hands. Can also be difficult for inexperienced presenters to figure out how close or far to be to the mic when they talk. Their volume can oscillate if they are moving around a lot.

Headset Microphone

A headset microphone is worn over the ear and provides a stable and consistent position for the microphone. This type of microphone is ideal for those leading fitness classes or teaching classes.

Pros: The constant positioning means that the speaker’s volume level will be steady and they won’t have to fidget with it. The wireless nature makes it easy for presenters to walk around a stage or lead a class while using their hands.

Cons: Only use this microphone if you are willing to spend a little more for quality. High quality headset mics have a long battery life and excellent gain. You will need both when using this mic because of how it’s worn close to the body. 

Countryman Microphone

The countryman microphone is the ideal professional microphone. Not only is it wireless, but it is also discrete. The countryman microphone can be worn close to the face and blends in seamlessly with the presenter.

Pros: The sound quality of a countryman microphone is unparalleled and it provides the ultimate wireless, hands-free experience.

Cons: Cost is the biggest con to using this type of mic. These mics run very much on the high end of the price spectrum and are generally only used by presenters who value showmanship highly.

You can use this information to make an informed decision about the microphones you select for your next event. Work with a professional third party AV service like ATX Event Systems to pin down what’s right for you if you are questioning which one may be best.