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A Brief Guide to Microphone Selection and Use for Places of Worship - Specific Applications

Pulpit/Lectern | Choir | Clip-on (Lavalier) | Handheld Vocal | Headworn | Table or Altar | Group or Area

Now that you understand some basic concepts about microphone designs and features, let’s discuss how to select and use them in specific circumstances common to places of worship. As it is simply not possible to anticipate all the variables that can affect any one microphone application, actual results will vary. See your Audio-Technica sound specialist for more detailed information and complete technical specifications on all Audio-Technica products. Also, additional easy-to-understand general information about how various types of microphones operate, and how to select and use them, is available in the Audio-Technica booklet, A Brief Guide to Microphones, available from Audio-Technica.




Audio-Technica offers a selection of gooseneck-style condenser microphones that are ideal for pulpit or lectern miking (Fig. 5). Each offers exceptional feedback rejection and very natural sound quality. Their low-reflectance black finish and slim profile make them nearly invisible to the congregation.

While sharing similar sonic characteristics, the different models provide choices in mounting method (Fig. 6), mic height and directionality. Adapter-mount models attach to the threads on all standard microphone stands, shock mounts and mounting flanges. Some can be powered by either an internal AA penlight battery or phantom power. Quick-mount models plug directly into a surface mount XLRtype (professional 3-pin) connector mounted on the pulpit, or a special shock mount designed for this purpose. Quick-mount models receive their power from a phantom power supply.

Where cables cannot be run unobtrusively, or a pulpit or lectern must be moved often, the adapter-mount models can be used with an A-T body-pack wireless system transmitter to create a “wireless” lectern.




Audio-Technica pioneered miniature hanging microphones, which offer the long reach and smooth, wide-range response required for professional-quality choir miking. Their small size and light weight allow them to hang inconspicuously above the choir by their own cable, without unsightly guylines. A supplied wire hanger adapter allows the microphone to be aimed with precision. Models come with either an in-line power module or a ceiling plate power module that easily flush-mounts in the ceiling or wall.* The entire assembly, including microphone housing, hanger and miniature cable, is available in black or white, allowing it to blend visually with dark or light settings.

A cardioid microphone’s 120° acceptance angle provides well-balanced overhead pickup. The microphone should be located forward of the front-most source, above the rear-most source and “aimed” between them (Fig. 7). Increasing the height of the mic above the sources will tend to equalize sound levels between them, but may also increase background/ reverberant sound pickup. Whenever possible, the distance from the mic to the rear-most pickup should be no more than twice the distance to the front source, to maintain front-to-rear balance (Fig. 7). Width of pickup is approximately three times the distance to the closest performer. If additional mics are needed for wide sources, they should not be closer together laterally than three times their distance to the front source (Fig. 8).

* The power modules contain internal electronics needed by the microphones in order to operate, yet because of their miniature design, are too small to hold. These power modules should not be confused with the phantom power supplies mentioned earlier.




For clip-on (or “lavalier”) microphone applications, most users prefer the convenience and full freedom of movement offered by an Audio-Technica body pack professional wireless system. A miniature microphone connects by a short cable to a small transmitter worn on the belt or elsewhere, and a special receiver picks up the signal and feeds it to the mixer. A separate receiver/transmitter pair is needed for each microphone used. body-pack systems offer a choice of omnidirectional or cardioid microphones. While omnis work well for most clip-on applications, the cardioid may be chosen to lower the risk of feedback or to reduce the pickup of reverberation. The excellent sound quality of A-T wireless systems allows wired and wireless versions of the same microphones to be used simultaneously with no audible difference in response.

Attach the clip-on microphone about 6" below the user’s chin (Fig. 9). The furnished clip allows easy attachment to most clothing. However, an available “tie-tac” mount may be better suited for some situations. In either case, anticipate movements that may cause the microphone to rub against or be covered by clothing, and position the microphone to avoid it. A belt clip is included with many clip-on microphones, which reduces cable noise and prevents pulling on a wired microphone when the user is moving.




Audio-Technica offers a wide variety of wired and wireless handheld microphones to fit your specific needs.Used close-up as intended, the best handheld microphones provide the depth and clarity of studio-quality response, with low sensitivity to handling noise. For wireless applications, our handheld transmitters deliver total freedom of movement without the noise and “dropouts” sometimes associated with wireless systems. The exceptional audio performance and the mobility offered by their advanced RF circuitry make them ideal for both music and speech, and for interview-style applications. Our wireless mic systems may be used in combination with “hard-wired” microphones with no change in natural sound quality.

Sing or speak across rather than directly into any handheld microphone to reduce, if not eliminate, popping caused by sudden breath blasts (Fig. 10). While the microphone should be positioned in front and slightly to one side of the mouth, the user must stay within the acceptance angle* of the microphone to avoid unwanted changes in volume. Note that some of the best microphones may be the most susceptible to breath popping because of their flatter, more extended low-frequency response. Use of proper technique, and perhaps an accessory windscreen, will solve most popping problems.

* See Figure 4, page 6.




Unlike a lavalier microphone that is worn on clothing or hidden in a costume, a headworn microphone is mounted on a short boom and held in place near a performer’s mouth by some type of headband, earhook or similar device. Because the microphone is always in the same place with relation to the wearer’s mouth, you do not experience variations in output level caused by the wearer turning their head. Versions are available with the capsule located to the side of or directly in front of the user’s mouth. Ideal for speaking as well as singing, these mics are rugged and reliable.

Ultra-lightweight, low-profile subminiature style condenser microphones worn hooked over the wearer’s ear are increasingly popular with pastors, worship leaders, educators, broadcasters and performers. Audio-Technica offers headworn microphones with capsules as small as 2.6 mm in diameter but easily provides a wide range natural sound. Comfortable and almost invisible from a distance, these subminiature headworn microphones are ideal for high visibility public speakers, church pastors, and theater performers.



Table or Altar

Boundary or plate microphones, with their low-profile design – less than ¾" (19 mm) high – provide very inconspicuous sound pickup at a table or altar. Unidirectional boundary mics pick up sound clearly over a horizontal angle of about 120° and a vertical angle of about 60° above the mounting surface (Fig 12). Omnidirectional models pick up sound from all directions around the table or altar.

The microphone should be centered on the mounting surface and positioned with the front of the microphone facing the sound source. The sound source should not be below the surface of the mounting plane. Where feedback is a problem, a flexible gooseneck-style microphone may be installed, as on a pulpit, to place it very close to the subject.

Group or Area

Certain situations, such as dramas or children’s programs, necessitate picking up sound from an area rather than from a specific person in one spot. One solution is to use suspended microphones, miking the area as you would a choir.

However, for temporary situations, or where architecture makes hanging microphones impractical, a miniature cardioid gooseneck microphone mounted on a floor stand provides excellent sensitivity and “zone” coverage while its slim design makes it visually unobtrusive. Generally, one such microphone will work well to pick up duets, trios and quartets.

Boundary microphones also offer inconspicuous miking possibilities, particularly for dramas where they may be placed on hard, flat-surface props or set on the floor when feedback is not a factor. Note that if stage-monitor speakers are used, or if high volume levels must be achieved, individual close miking is normally required.