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By: Bryce Boynton

What is the best way to mic my pastor?
This depends on the type of pastor. If he or she is a worship pastor, you will want to use a directional headset microphone, which rejects background noise. This is ideal for worship sermons and audio playback.

If you are micing an executive pastor, you will want an omnidirectional headset microphone, as it allows for ideal placement on the face. In addition, there is no proximity effect with an omni, which means there will not be an unnatural low-end buildup or handling noise.

After I’ve chosen either an omni or directional, what is the best placement for a headset microphone?
A great way to determine where to place a microphone is to ask the user, who, in this case, is your pastor, to smile widely. Then, aim the microphone at the corner of his or her lips. This will allow you to position it as close to the mouth as possible without placing it directly in front of the mouth itself.

This is especially important with a directional microphone, which can be susceptible to popping and breathing sounds if placed too close to the front of the mouth. Similarly, if the microphone is too far from the mouth, you risk losing your low end/depth very quickly.

The choir is another important element of our services. How do I determine how many choir mics I need and where to put them?
In general, at the right distance, you should be able to cover roughly 10 to 15 singers per microphone. But this mostly depends on how close you can place the mics next to one another.

It’s also important to consider the polar pattern of the microphones. Ideally, you want to achieve a nice ‘choral’ sound that doesn’t bring out any individual members. Therefore, you want to be just close enough to achieve a focused sound and reduce feedback, but not so close that your choir sounds like an ensemble.

Height is also an important factor. Imagine the mic is the 90-degree point in a right triangle, now extend your sight line straight forward to intersect with the singer in the top, back row. From there, extend your sight straight down to the floor in front of the choir. This is a good spot in which to position your microphone. You will always, however, need to adjust this based on your venue’s acoustics.

In addition to acoustics, what audio factors should I consider when purchasing a handheld microphone?
The voice is a complex instrument that covers a broad range of frequencies. At close proximity, vocalists can generate extremely high SPLs when singing. Along similar lines, the distance that each vocalist holds the microphone from his or her body, along with the subtle detail each singer adds, carries an extremely broad dynamic range.

Handheld vocal microphones that can handle these extreme conditions will, therefore, give the mix engineer greater headroom and enable him or her to use less EQ. This will allow that person to bring out the lead vocalist over the other singers and the worship band.

The higher the quality of your microphone, the more natural a sound it will produce. It should also work well with different types of singers and song styles.

Bryce Boynton got his start mixing church audio while still a teen. Since then, he has continuously engineered for the Aspen Music Festival, where he mixes and records classical ensembles and orchestras. He currently works in sales and marketing at DPA Microphones, and as a freelance audio consultant for various churches, where he improves the venues’ sound systems. He has also designed and installed audio systems at several concert halls and universities.

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