Study Hall

Supported By

Audio / Video Microphones Explained

The most common microphone types used for video and when they're appropriate.

In audio, it’s not unusual to have multiple responsibilities semi-related (or completely unrelated) to audio.

Though you may be the Front of House guy, it’s not out of the question to be asked to handle some audio/video sound either in your free time or on a job.

No matter if you’re a seasoned pro or a volunteer still learning the ropes, here are some good application hints for when to use the following are some good hints on choosing the right mics for some common audio/video applications.

In most situations, there is no “right way” to do it, but by understanding the different options, you’ll be better equipped for every eventuality.

Though obvious to some, it’s worth stating that the first step in getting the sound of someone’s voice onto tape is the microphone. Microphones serve a very basic purpose: to change acoustic energy to electrical energy.

They convert sound waves into an electrical signal which can be modified, amplified, or recorded. Since the microphone’s function is so basic, you might well ask why there are so many different kinds of microphones.

It’s simply because some types of microphones are better suited to certain uses than others, just as pickup trucks are better than small sports cars for carrying large, heavy loads.

If you are familiar with the different types of microphones, and how and when to use them, your productions will start sounding less like a home video and more like the nightly news

Physical Design
In choosing a microphone for a specific application, the first thing that must be considered is how it will be used.

Will it be held by the person talking? Will it be clipped to the user’s clothing? Will it be located a few feet away from the subject, so that it remains out of the frame?

Examples of different microphone designs.

Handheld: The most common kind of microphone is the handheld type. This style is the most flexible, because it can be held by the user, mounted on a floor or desk stand, or attached to a flexible “gooseneck” on a lectern.

A good quality handheld mic should have an internal shock mount which will minimize handling noise (thumping sounds transmitted through the handle and picked up by the microphone cartridge), and it should be ruggedly constructed to withstand physical abuse.

If you can have only one microphone in your kit of audio gear, it should be a handheld mic. Models at the upper end of the price scale will usually offer clearer, wider-range sound, better shock mounting, and more durable construction.

Tips on Using Handheld Mics: Whether held in the hand or mounted on a stand, the microphone should be positioned about 6”-12” from the talker’s mouth, pointing up at about a 45-degree angle.

With some types of microphones, holding the microphone very close (3”-6”) will cause additional emphasis of the lower frequencies (known as proximity effect), resulting in a “warmer”, bass-heavy sound.

Read More
Church Sound: Rate Your Audio Performance With This Handy Scorecard

Supported By

Celebrating over 50 years of audio excellence worldwide, Audio-Technica is a leading innovator in transducer technology, renowned for the design and manufacture of microphones, wireless microphones, headphones, mixers, and electronics for the audio industry.