Question: Do you have any tips for miking the pastor in a house of worship?
Answer: In both traditional and contemporary worship environments, the spoken word of the pastor is notably the most important. The message that is given needs to be intelligible to all in attendance. And while the entire signal chain must be set up properly with a well-tuned sound system, appropriate speaker placement for sufficient coverage, and proper gain structure, choosing the correct microphone is the first step. Proper placement and usage of the microphone will allow the spoken words to be clearly delivered to the congregation. Today we begin a series on miking in houses of worship with tips for effectively miking the pastor.
The full spectrum of microphone techniques is used for picking up the pastor’s voice. Distance miking may work depending on the situation in some houses of worship. Hanging microphones or boundary microphones are sometimes used with the understanding that the pastor will be projecting their voice. The microphones will then pick up the projected voice and capture the sound to be sent through the sound system, amplifying the voice. Remember, all microphones act as a human ear and cannot “hear” something that is not there, so the person speaking must project their voice. Close miking is often the preferred technique, as this allows the microphone element to be closer to the source for better sound capture. Handheld microphones, such as the PRO31 and ATM610a/S, may be a quick and cost-effective way for a pastor to use a microphone, as it gives them the ability to move the microphone around so they are always speaking towards the microphone. A good starting point is to hold a directional microphone roughly six to eight inches from the mouth and then move it closer or further away depending on the volume level. You may find that speaking across the microphone rather than directly into it will reduce excessive plosives. A windscreen may also help with this.
Lavalier or “clip-on” microphones, such as the AT899 and AT831R, allow the pastor to operate “hands free.” Public speakers, presenters, and pastors often like to use their hands when speaking, and by attaching to clothing such as ties, sport jackets, shirts, and blouses, lavalier microphones allow them to do so. Placement of the microphone should be around six to eight inches away from the mouth but, again, may be adjusted to change the volume and tone. Just like when used for video and broadcast, the proper placement of the microphone is an important step for the best sound reproduction in a house of worship (you may find this video helpful).
Audio-Technica has found that the most popular choice for miking the pastor is to get the microphone as close to the source as possible. And while lavalier microphones often perform well, when the pastor turns their head to the side, they change the distance of the source (their mouth) to the microphone element, hence changing volume and often tonality. Headworn microphones, such as the BP892 and BP894-TH, keep that distance consistent and are quickly becoming the “go to” microphones for pastors. The low-profile design is visually unobtrusive for the congregation and the mics provide great intelligibility and voice reproduction.
Handheld, lavalier, and headworn microphones are all available in wireless microphone versions as well. Pastors often like to move around and not be attached to a wired connection, and all of the popular miking solutions for pastors may be used with the addition of a wireless system, such as the System 10 PRO.
In the coming weeks, we’ll provide you with additional miking tips for a house of worship, including suggestions for covering the baptistery, pulpit and congregation. As always, if you have any further questions about which microphone or miking option will work best in your house of worship, feel free to contact our Audio Solutions Department and we will be happy to assist you.