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How to Determine Which Kind of Microphone to Use at Your Next Event

The microphone is one of the most overlooked pieces of equipment used in event production. Without the right microphone, your sound quality could ruin an entire live or hybrid event. Whether the amplification is off, the pitch is too high, or the recording is low quality, ensuring you have the right microphone can avoid these potential issues.

Wireless or wired microphones The first step in choosing the right microphone is determining if your event would benefit more from a wired or wireless microphone. If your speaker is moving around on stage frequently or needs to utilize mobility as a part of the conference, wireless is likely the right choice.

However, if your speaker is going to speak for a long time and is more static on stage, a wired microphone will ensure longer battery life and could be more comfortable for the speaker.

Lapel microphones

  • Pros

A lapel microphone is a small microphone that clips onto the speaker's shirt and allows for seamless mobility. This is an excellent option if you want a highly mobile, hidden microphone. Lapel microphones are usually affordable, making them a perfect choice for any size conference. They're discreet enough that you would overlook one on a speaker unless you were close to them. Additionally, they are effective when masking background noise and amplifying the speaker's voice. These are most often used in live event production.

  • Cons

Since they are clipped onto clothing, they are not always the best in regard to sound quality. An issue that often arises with these microphones is sound distortion from the layers of clothing and erratic movements. Lastly, they tend to fall off and easily slip down a lapel.

Over-the-ear microphone

  • Pros

According to Josh Lesser, Co-Owner of Vision Matrix, “These microphones are great placement relative to the speaker’s mouth for outstanding sound quality and the ability to use less gain before feedback for softer speakers.” Another major advantage is their ability to stay in place, even during physical activity, making them ideal for performers, athletes, and presenters who need to move around. They also provide a consistent sound quality, as the distance between the microphone and the mouth remains constant.

  • Cons

However, one disadvantage is their visibility, which can be distracting or unappealing to some audiences. Josh also mentioned, "You have to wear this on near your face, and some people don't like having a headset on. It will always be in your photos, and some people are uncomfortable with this." Additionally, they may cause discomfort or fatigue if worn for an extended period, and they require proper fitting and adjustment to ensure adequate sound pickup. Lastly, they can be more expensive than other types of microphones, which may be a limitation for event organizers with budget constraints.

Handheld wireless microphone

  • Pros

A handheld wireless microphone is also great for mobility, lacking the wired tripping hazard. This classic microphone allows the speaker ample room to move about the stage, classroom, or conference hall, especially if they are working without a podium or other stage prop.

  • Cons

A downside to this model is the lack of hand mobility, as the speaker must commit to holding the microphone for the duration of their time on stage.

Tabletop microphone

  • Pros

A tabletop microphone offers flexibility and simplicity that is great for any meeting. This option is ideal for a forum where the speaker sits at a table or presents on stage at a podium, allowing them to speak freely without limiting hand mobility. If there is more than one speaker, this is also useful as they can have their own microphones or share one. Tabletop microphones are often small and relatively discrete so as to not interfere with the audience's visual field.

  • Cons

However, these microphones can cause clutter, which is never ideal in a live or hybrid event. Tabletop microphones have wires which can interfere with the speakers' space and, if not positioned correctly, may interfere with audio quality.

The microphone is an essential and often overlooked tool for any event production. When choosing the right microphone for your event, look to mobility first. Will your speaker or speakers be moving around a lot? If so, a wireless option may be the right choice. If the speaker will be sedentary but referencing a visual aid, something hands-free might be a more appropriate option. Regardless of the content of your event, there is a perfect microphone choice out there for your live or virtual event.

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