Types of Microphones

In the years that I’ve been preaching, I’ve come across various types of microphones used on stage. I’ve found that there are four main types which you will encounter. I’ll outline them here and point out the advantages and disadvantages of each one. Do note, however, that the choice of which type of microphone to use is not always within your control. Oftentimes, it depends on what a church has available. Here are the four types:

(1) Hand-held Microphone

This is the most common type of microphone for public speaking. They’re relatively cheap (although there are expensive varieties) and quite durable. In my experience, hand-held microphones that use a cable (or wire) seem to be the least susceptible to technical issues. You can always rely on a good hand-held mic.

There are obvious limitations with using hand-held microphones. You won’t be able to make use of both hands for gesturing. If you’re using a wired hand-held mic, your movement on stage is also limited. You can only move as far as the length of the cable. And although I haven’t witnessed it yet, it seems possible to trip on the cable if you’re clumsy.

(2) Lapel Microphone

This is a tiny microphone that is clipped to the shirt or coat in the upper chest area. They come wired to a transmitter that you can place on your belt or in your pocket. They’re relatively expensive because they use more complex technology and they’re quite susceptible to technical issues.

Lapel microphones are great for those who need lots of flexibility on stage. You have the free use of both hands for gesturing. You can move about the stage with ease. Additionally, lapels are the most concealed type of microphone. The only portion that is visible to the audience is the tiny receiver on your shirt.

The one big issue with lapel microphones is that your voice tends to be unevenly amplified. This happens when you turn your head in different directions. Since the microphone is steady in place, a loss of volume occurs whenever you move your mouth away from the receiver.

(3) Headset Microphone

This microphone is worn on the head with a receiver protruding towards the mouth. (I like to call these “Britney mics” since Britney Spears popularized them while singing on stage.) They’re wired to a transmitter that you can place on your belt or in your pocket. Like the lapel variety, they’re relatively expensive and quite susceptible to technical issues.

Headsets give the same amount of flexibility on stage as lapel microphones. Both your hands are free for gesturing and movement on stage is unrestricted. The advantage of headsets over lapels is that your voice is evenly amplified. Since the microphone is worn on your head, it doesn’t matter if you turn in various directions. The receiver will always stay close to your mouth.

However, there are a few annoyances of using headsets. Firstly, they’re a little more tedious to put on. Several adjustments need to be made to ensure that the microphone fits well on a speaker’s head. Secondly, they’re the most visually distracting. It’s clear to anybody that you’re wearing a headset. Lastly, it’s a lot less comfortable than using a lapel microphone. However, it is slightly more comfortable than holding a microphone in your hand.

(4) Lectern Microphone

Occasionally, a microphone will be attached to a lectern or pulpit. This may be a hand-held microphone placed on a mic stand or a specially designed microphone for the lectern. The one advantage of lectern mics over hand-held ones is that you have free use of both hands for gesturing. However, the freedom to use both arms comes at a cost. Movement on stage is severely restricted because you can no longer walk away from the lectern or pulpit without complete loss of volume.

Join the discussion: Which type of microphone do you prefer while preaching?

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See other preaching ideas here: Thoughts on Preaching

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