Having the right microphone for an event or meeting can go a long way to allowing the audience to hear a presenter. If you are planning to hold a live event, record or broadcast a meeting then selecting the proper microphone for the situation is critical. Just as important as the microphone is its placement on the presenter. You can have the best microphone in the world but if it is not in the optimal position it will not pick up the presenter’s voice. In this article, I will explain the basic types of microphones and talk about mic placement to get the best sounding results. I will also talk about speaker placement and equalization to avoid any feedback issues.
Basic Types of Microphones
All of these microphones can plug into a sound system or be used in conjunction with a recording setup.
Lavalier microphones are commonly used for most meetings. They are easy to use and can clip on to a tie, dress jacket or shirt. Lavalier mics are primarily Omnidirectional, meaning that they will pick up a voice even if you turn your head from side to side. The placement of the lav mic is very important. The best placement is near the sternum of the chest. Avoid putting the mic too close to mouth or neck. It can cause popping or distortion. Placing the mic too far down the chest will result in the presenter not being heard. Feedback issues can occur when you try to increase the volume to compensate. One rule of thumb when talking into a lavalier mic is to talk in a speaking voice. Talk like you are presenting to a group of people. Don’t speak in a soft voice and expect the microphone to adequately project your voice.
Head Set Microphones
Headset microphones are excellent for trade show booths, loud halls, plays, singers and presenters that prefer wearing it to a lavalier mic. Headset mics are a great way to deal with audio feedback issues because it places the mic right next to the mouth of the presenter. It is useful if you are presenting in a noisy area where outside noises can be picked up. These mics are generally directional and pickup noises right in front of them.
Handheld microphones are great for singers, panel discussions and question and answer sessions. Handheld mics are easy to pass along. You can place a handheld mic in the audience or have someone run the mic to each person with a question. Singers prefer handheld mics because they provide directional control of their voices. They also work nicely for a panel discussion, just place a handheld mic on each person’s chair on the stage. They can pick up the mic or pass it along to the next presenter. Again mic placement is key to getting the best results. The presenter should talk directly into the mic about 2 to 3 inches away from the mouth.
This video explains a handheld microphone.
Avoiding Feedback Issues
Another consideration is the placement of your speakers. Often times presenters walk in front of a speaker and hear a loud squeal. This is called feedback. It can cause a disruption in the meeting and be very embarrassing for the presenter. The correct speaker placement can help avoid many of these issues. When placing your speakers you should always try and keep them in front and to the side of the presenter. If it all possible, avoid placing the speakers behind the presenter as this is a common cause of feedback. In some cases not having enough speakers for the size of the room will also result in feedback problems. It is caused by trying to raise the volume to compensate for the lack of speakers.
This video explains how to set up a sounds system.
If a presenter is very soft-spoken or a mic is not placed in the correct position you may feel the need to increase the volume of the mic. This can also create feedback issues. Depending on the gain structure of the mic and sound system, the volume can only be increased to a certain level before you will have feedback problems. Your best option is to reposition the presenter’s mic or reevaluate your speaker placement. Depending on the size of the room increasing the number of speakers can give you better coverage.
Most sound systems will come with a mixing or soundboard. A soundboard can help in avoiding feedback issues. They can also help to make the voice of the presenter sound richer, fuller and more intelligible. Most soundboards are equipped with a parametric equalizer or general equalizer. Both of these equalizers can be used to adjust high, mid and low range sounds. This can be useful to shape a presenter’s voice. In most cases, you may want to take or add some low end, mid-range or high end to the voice, depending on the voice type.
This video explains some ways to eliminate feedback.
Feature image courtesy of foto76 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
As you can see, selecting the right microphone for a meeting or live event can go a long way to ensuring that it goes well. Just try and follow some of these simple tips and you will have the confidence to produce a great sounding event.