What Type of Microphone Is Best For You?

Beyond mixing great tunes and sounds for your crowd, you also need to communicate with them with your voice. A good DJ microphone can improve your speech sound so you don't sound like your mouth is full of marbles when you talk. Your show is only as good as your sound!

what type of microphone is best for you

There are a few different types of microphones for stage use like dynamic, condenser, and ribbon; and there are a few different polar (pickup) patterns such as cardioid, hyper-cardioid, super-cardioid, omni-directional, and figure-8. There are different ways to "package" the mic, with/without an on/off switch, as a hand held and stand mounting, a lavaliere (clip on), and a headset mic. For this discussion, we will talk about cardioid mics, since they are the most commonly used for these voice applications.

Cardioid mics have a heart-shaped pattern grabbing the sound from the front of the mic and rejecting sound from the rear. They come as either a dynamic or condenser, and some hand held ribbon types, with the dynamic mic being the most common. Condenser mics tend to have more crispness to the sound, but require a "phantom" power supplied from an internal battery or the DJ mixer mic input to energize the capsule, but most DJ mixers don't supply it. This only applies to wired microphones. (Wireless microphone systems using condenser mics supply their own phantom power.)

Dynamic mics don't require phantom power to function, so they can be the best choice in most cases.

A feature (or the downside) of a dynamic microphone is they all exhibit a boost in the bass frequencies when you speak close to the windscreen. It's called "proximity effect" and can help thin voices but usually just muddies up the sound of a normal voice when used close to the mouth. So, for vocal clarity, you would usually want to cut the low equalization (eq) on the mic input, if you have eq on your DJ mixer. Some mics can include a bass roll off switch to cut down on the proximity effect, while some wireless mic systems include (high/low) eq on the receiver.

Don't want to hold or stand mount a mic? The current versions of headset mics on the market have very good quality, and the condenser types will usually include a phantom power supply. They make talking while mixing a breeze since you have both hands available, and they will stay in place in most cases.

I would definitely NOT recommend lavaliere microphones for this application because their frequency response is so erratic, they need a lot of specific eq to sound natural. And their polar patterns are hard to keep at the ideal position since they are attached to clothing that tends to shift when you move around. Plus the distance from the mic to the source (your mouth) prohibits much gain before feedback occurs. A lav mic is usually placed on the sternum about half way up. Any higher and the chin will cause a "shadow" and the mic polar pattern will be under it. That distance is about 6-8 inches and is about 90ยบ off axis (not directly pointed at mouth), so the sound is still not full and sounds distant.

You want to be speaking directly into the microphone for the best sound and lowest feedback potential.

You can hear the loss of volume with distance, with a hand held mic, by speaking into the mic closely and then backing off the windscreen an inch or two. Back off a few more inches and you can barely hear the voice.

Your choice of microphone will depend on your need, your mixers mic input capability, your budget, and your voice. See how your voice sounds on a few different types and brands at your local music store to get an idea of the differences and things like handling noise, if you're going to hold it. I recommend sticking to name brand products for quality and reliability. Then go for it!

Cary Wakeley is a working 30+ year veteran sound engineer for live and recorded sound. His background includes a staff recording engineer, recording studio and sound system design and build, AV design and installation, Pro Audio technical support, Pro Audio manufacturers' rep, retail sales, and as a musician. He has worked with many DJs and MCs in concerts, performances, and with retail purchases for DJ systems.
Bookmark his website and contact him at http://www.greatdjgear.com.

by Cary Wakeley; Saturday, November 26, 2011 @ 07:00 AM [2420]

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