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microphone

The dos and don'ts of microphones

By Will Griffiths, technical manager, Eclipse

Microphone: Wireless Handheld.

This type of microphone will most likely be used in difficult acoustic spaces and loud environments.

It has lower sensitivity than lapel and headset mics, so will pick up less background noise and is the easiest type to get volume out of. You won't need to be fitted to use this mic by a technician but you will need to hold it (the closer to your mouth the better).

How to use the Wireless Handheld correctly:

· DO: Speak directly into the mic, close to your mouth.

· DON'T: bang or tap on the mic to check that it is working - trust the engineer!

· DON'T: put the mic down carelessly - it can cause a loud bang, and potentially damage the mic.

· DON'T: cover or cup the head of the mic. This affects the pickup pattern and can cause feedback.

Microphone: Lavalier (a.k.a. Lapel, Tie Clip)

The lavalier is best for smaller events where acoustics are good and background noise will be at a minimum.

This hands-free mic consists of a small clip-on mic and transmitter pack, generally the size of a pack of playing cards. It is discrete in appearance but very sensitive to sound, so will pick up more distant sound sources than other mics and can be susceptible to feedback. If you know you will be using this style of mic, wearing clothing with a lapel would be a smart move.

How to use a Lavalier correctly:

· DO: Wear suitable clothing. The microphone needs to be clipped to something between 6-10 inches from the mouth, ideally central to the body. The transmitter pack needs to either go in a pocket, or be clipped to a belt/waistband/the back of a dress or shirt. Some female speakers/performers will clip this to their underwear when no other options are available. Eclipse can provide pouches on request which can be tied around the waist.

· DO: Speak loudly and clearly. Imagine you aren't wearing a microphone - the mic is there to reinforce your voice, not replace it.

· DON'T: tap the microphone. It is very sensitive, and this will be louder than you expect, and can damage the mic or speakers.

· DON'T: take off the mic and hold it close to your mouth to try and get more volume. This will distort the microphone and pick up a lot of pops and hisses from your mouth.

· DON'T: forget to return the microphone to the technical team before you leave the event! If you can, please give it back to the person who fitted it, rather than leaving it somewhere - they can be hard to find in a big room!

· DON'T: take the microphone off yourself or switch it off before going on stage. The engineer will mute the mic until you are on, and if you replace the mic yourself incorrectly this can cause issues.

Microphone: Headset

The headset mic performs best at events in difficult acoustic spaces and noisy environments where speakers need to have hands free.

This mic is a favourite of sound engineers because it sits closer to the mouth, meaning it isn't as sensitive or as likely to pick up background noise as lavalier mics. Because the headset always sits the same distance from the mouth the volume and tone of the sound never changes, so you are less likely to have to repeat yourself or speak louder. Do turn up a little earlier to be 'miked up' however as this system takes longer than others to fit.

How to use a Headset correctly:

· DO: Wear suitable clothing. Unlike the lavalier mic, no particular clothing is required to clip the mic to, but the transmitter still needs somewhere to go.

· DO: speak loudly and clearly, as with the lavalier.

· DON'T: forget to return the microphone to the technician, as with the lavalier.

· DON'T: take the microphone off yourself or switch it off before going on stage. If you are not used to using these mics then it can be difficult to fit it yourself without assistance.