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6 Essential Worship Microphones and How They’re Used

June 10, 2024 jill Blog
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One question that we get every day is, “What type of mic should I use for ____?” There are so many loaded opinions about this, not to mention an overwhelming amount of options from which to choose.

The type of microphone that you use in a worship environment matters. Using the wrong microphone can make or break your chances of getting the best sonic results from source to congregation. The good news is that it’s a little easier than you may think.

There are so many microphones that do the same thing as their competition. Once you understand WHY you’re using a specific microphone, you’ll be able to pick one based on taste and preference.

Also, sometimes breaking the “rules” gives some great results. Learn the rules of why you need to use a specific mic, and you’ll have a greater understanding of when to break rules for creative results.

Model: Shure 545s

Type of Microphone: Cardioid Dynamic

Usage: Amps, Drums, Organs

MSRP: $149

One thing that Shure has really gotten great at over the years is crafting a great microphone that can be used for an overwhelming number of applications. This unit is considered a Dynamic Microphone, and its best usage is for things like guitar amps, toms, snares, organs, and even a vocal if you’re in a bit of a pinch.

Its narrow diaphragm allows for precise positioning when you’re really trying to dial out certain frequencies at the source. You may be asking yourself, “Why not go with the Shure SM57?” You certainly can. The Shure 545s is basically the same microphone without the famous “mid-range hump” that engineers and musicians alike tend to complain about with the Shure SM57.

Model: Shure SLXD24

Type of Microphone: Wireless Cardioid Dynamic

Primary Application: Vocals

MSRP: $699

Shure has dramatically upgraded the SLX line of microphones over the last several years. This is by far the most popular microphone that we sell to churches. There are several benefits to this microphone unit.

The first and most important feature of this microphone is that it sounds incredible, especially considering the price point. Also, you can get rechargeable batteries and chargers for these units.

Another huge benefit is the ability to use Shure Wireless Workbench with these microphones. Getting a great workflow with Shure Wireless Workbench is essential for dialing in the best wireless frequencies for your room. These units have the ability to connect directly to your network for the best Wireless Workbench experience.

Model: Shure VP89

Type of Microphone: Modular Shotgun Condenser

Primary Application: Videography, Crowd Mics

MSRP: $1299

This one is a little different than the others on the list. This modular microphone is touted as having superior RF immunity, a state-of-the-art preamplifier, a low-cut filter, a slightly smaller footprint, and is rugged as the day is long.

You may have seen something like the Rhode NTG4 series of microphones used for this case. In my experience as an audio integrator and FOH engineer, I’ve noticed that these microphones sound so much better than their Rhode counterparts. It is a different price point. though, so that’s a factor to consider.

Use a couple of these for crowd mics for your broadcast mix, and you’ll hear a massive improvement to your broadcast stream, causing viewers to feel more connected to the room without actually being there. They just bring a “realistic” feeling to your stream.

Another massive use-case for this microphone is as a boom microphone for videography applications. Things like video announcements and other “talking head” or “interview” style videos will benefit greatly from having such nice microphone.

Just make sure you purchase a windscreen or “dead cat” for the microphone to avoid things like AC noise or wind from causing some unexpected issues that can be tough to remove in post.

Model: Shure Beta 52a

Type of Microphone: Supercardioid Dynamic

Primary Application: Kick Drums, Organs, Bass Amps

MSRP: $199.99

THE GOAT. This microphone is incredibly priced, incredibly versatile, and tougher than a honey badger. For the price, it’s really hard to beat this microphone from Shure.

We always recommend this unit as the starting point for your collection of low frequency microphones. It’s designed with low frequency in mind, so you’ll want to place this at the bottom of a Leslie, on a bass amp, or on a kick drum.

Bonus tip: try using this microphone on a floor tom, and you’ll be amazed at how much difference it makes grabbing those really low tones.

Model: AKG C214

Type of Microphone: Large-Diaphragm Condenser

Primary Application: Drum Overheads, Crowd Mics, Studio Vocals, Studio Acoustic, Choirs

MSRP: $479 (single) $899 (matched pair)

Incredibly underrated and extremely clear, the AKG C214 is an incredibly versatile microphone for both studio and live applications. The little brother to the AKG C414, it brings a similar punch and clarity that will leave you impressed for a fraction of the price.

I’ve used these microphones in so many applications. I’ve used them in studio environments for the following sources: acoustic guitar, pianos, choirs, gang vocals, and drum overheads. In the live environment, they are great for an additional crowd mic, drum overheads, and especially drum overheads.

Model: Earthworks DM20

Type of Microphone: Small-Diaphragm Condenser

Primary Application: Toms

MSRP: $349

Earthworks has been making some of the best microphones on the planet for years. This mic has a very specific application, Drum Toms. Though a little bit pricier than some of their counterparts, the Earthworks DM20 is a phenomenal choice for the ultimate clarity and punch that you are looking for when crafting a drum mix. Rated for 150db SPL, this mic can handle the loudest of drummers with ease.

Even better, the microphone has a gooseneck so that you can make it stay exactly where you place it. By using the gooseneck, it also eliminates the need for additional mic stands. Even though that feature isn’t specific to Earthworks by any stretch of the imagination, you never know what you’re missing until you don’t have it, right?

These microphones are the personal favorites of our team, and we trust them 100 percent. We don’t try to sell the most expensive microphones on the market if there’s not a specific request for something of that nature. These are what we consider “industry staples” that would work at any level of expertise. Large or small venue, all of these microphones are great options for churches.

Zakk Miller is the founder and lead installer of HoneySonic Production Company, a team of integrators that specialize in house of worship AV systems,