Question: How should I mike a baptistery?
Answer: Churches intend baptisms to be wondrous and joyful events for all involved – the church, the family and, of course, the individual being baptized. Therefore, they need to be shared with the entire congregation. The challenge in doing so is how do you amplify the audio in such a way that everyone can hear?
Before moving forward, we need to clarify the type of baptism we are talking about. There are different methods of baptism practiced by various denominations, but here we will focus on total immersion in a water-filled tank.
First we should address the wrong – but all too common – way of miking a baptistery: using a wired handheld microphone. Anyone who understands basic electricity knows that electricity and water do not mix. There have been several unfortunate incidents where a pastor grabbed a wired microphone while standing in the baptistery and was electrocuted. Please note that this is not the fault of the microphone, but is simply the result of electricity. For this reason, you should never use a wired handheld microphone for this application.
The safest and easiest way to mike a baptistery is to use a wireless microphone, since there is no wire to provide a pathway to ground. Quite often, a handheld microphone is placed on a microphone stand with a boom just outside of the baptistery. A wireless system with a handheld condenser microphone, such as our ATW-3171b, is a good choice because the sensitivity of the microphone will allow for great pickup.
Some pastors use a wireless headset microphone and a belt-pack transmitter, such as our ATW-2192b.
The key here is to keep the transmitter (and microphone) dry. Some pastors actually wear waterproof apparel, such as a rubberized suit, which often has pockets that can hold the transmitter. Or the transmitter can be worn under the suit. Other pastors place the transmitter in some type of waterproof container, such as a ziplock bag. Regardless of the method used, it is important to keep the transmitter above the waterline, such as in an upper pocket.
If a wired microphone must be used, one option is a hanging choir microphone, such as our U853PMU, suspended above the baptistery, well out of reach.
One final thought is that you should make sure the baptistery and microphone (if using a hanging microphone) are properly wired and installed by licensed electricians. An improperly wired water heater or pump is an accident waiting to happen.
If you have additional questions or would like a recommendation for an Audio-Technica microphone, feel free to contact the Audio-Technica Audio Solutions Department. We are always happy to help.