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How to choose the right microphones for a church?

Higher quality mics are likely to sound better with minimal EQ, have higher gain before feedback, be more consistent from unit to unit, and remain reliable for years of use.

Here, some key considerations as you choose.

Headsets and lavalier microphones are essential audio tools for church tech teams. These high-quality, miniature microphones have made voice reinforcement unobtrusive, as well as much more consistent—allowing great freedom of movement while being comfortable and nearly invisible to the congregation.

The choice of a particular style of mic, and whether the pickup pattern is omni or directional, depends on the requirements of the user, and becomes a compromise between gain-before-feedback, frequency response and overall audio quality, and intelligibility. Combined with a wireless transmitter, a headset or lavalier microphone further extends the freedom of movement. 

Lavalier or headset?

The first choice is between a lavalier or a headset microphone. The headset uses a boom to position the microphone element close to the mouth, which does mean hooking the supporting frame onto your ears and having the mic visible on your face. However, modern headsets offer either dual- or single-ear supports and are quite lightweight, stable, and unobtrusive. The greatest benefit is that the microphone is adjacent to where the voice originates, so it will offer fairly high gain-before-feedback, consistent level since it moves with your head, and wider, more natural frequency response.

Lavaliers are placed on the chest or collar (or occasionally in the hairline), so your face is unencumbered. However, being located much farther away from the source of your voice than a headset or handheld, their pickup misses the direct output of the mouth, where the higher overtones of the voice emanate. To compensate for this less-than-ideal placement, lavalier microphones dedicated to voice reinforcement are designed with a shaped frequency response that includes a high-frequency boost and sometimes a mid-range dip to alleviate the effects of chest resonance—and in live situations they rarely sound as good as a headset.

Lower gain-before-feedback is also a common problem, and lavaliers don’t move with your head so levels can change as the presenter looks around. Overall, the best results for live spoken word reinforcement come from headset microphones, especially when higher gain is needed. If you only require a moderate amount of reinforcement and the presenter is not moving in front of the loudspeakers, a lavalier can be successful.