Microphone Techniques for Churches by Bruce Bartlett


Here are some suggested mic techniques for your church that will make speech and music sound clear, natural, and loud enough.

First note that microphones are available in many types:

*Clip-on mini mics (lavalier mics), which you clip onto the minister’s robe or onto an acoustic guitar.

*Lectern mics, which you mount on the pulpit or lectern.

*Surface-mounted mics which you put on surfaces(floor or table).

*Miniature choir mics which you hang over the choir.

*Handheld mics for vocalists and instruments.

All the mics above are the condenser type, which can be made smaller than dynamic mics, and tend to sound better. (Handheld mics can be condenser or dynamic. Condenser mics need a battery or phantom power from your mixer. Also, all the mics above have a cardioid or supercardioid polar pattern to reduce feedback. An exception is the clip-on mic, which should be omnidirectional because that type picks up less cable noise.

Let’s look at some specific applications.

Minister: If the minister stays at the pulpit while speaking, install a lectern mic on the pulpit. This mic will also pick up anyone who walks up to the lectern to make an announcement or read a passage. Modern lectern mics are slim and can be moved without creaking. Be sure to use a foam pop filter to prevent breath pops, and consider using a shock mount to reduce thumps. If the minister wanders, attach a clip-on lavalier microphone to the minister’s robe at chest height. This mic can be used either with a mic cable or with a wireless transmitter worn on the belt. The transmitter comes with a receiver, which you plug into a mic input on your mixer. Install a fresh battery in the transmitter before each service.

Choir: Hang miniature choir mics close to the choir to minimize feedback: about 18 inches in front of the front row of singers, and 18 inches above the head height of the back row. Use one mic in the center of every 20-30 foot span. A choir of 30 to 45 voices should need only two or three mics.

Soloist or reader: This person can be covered with a stand-mounted handheld mic. Be sure to use a foam pop filter. To reach a person seated in a presider’s chair, add a baby boom to the mic stand. A vocalist might prefer a wireless handheld mic.

Altar table: Place a surface-mounted mic on the table aiming at the people speaking.

Bruce Bartlett Microphone Engineer, Crown International. audioinfo@crownintl.com