“Our church doesn’t have much to spend on vocal microphones, what should we get?” I see this question often so today, let’s attempt to answer that. To start, there’s a lot that goes into selecting the right vocal microphone. It’s more than price, that’s for sure.
There are 5 common properties that affect the sound produced by a microphone:
1. Microphone Type.
There are three types of microphones: dynamic, condenser, and ribbon. Church vocal microphones are usually dynamic microphones and condensers. Each type works differently and the nuances of the sounds they detect improve from dynamic to condenser to ribbon mics.
2. Polar Pattern.
Microphones capture sound differently based on the source of the sound in relation to the head of the microphone. The area in which it captures sound is known as the polar pattern. These polar patterns show the regions around the microphone where the microphone will detect sound. The reason for these different types of patterns is to provide microphones that work best in specific environments or to get a specific sound.
3. Frequency Response.
Microphones differ in how they respond to frequencies. One microphone might boost a frequency where another might reduce it. It’s usually based the mic’s purpose, such as a snare mic, a kick drum mic, or a vocal mic, but even within each of these types, the frequency response can vary greatly. Because of this variety, it’s best to pair a microphone with a frequency response that benefits a particular user. In short, why always eq out a problem area for a singer when the mic can do that for you. View the frequency response charts to see what they do.
In short, microphone sensitivity is the measure of the microphone’s ability to convert acoustic pressure into an electric voltage. The higher the sensitivity, the less amplification required to bring the sound to a useable level on the mixer channel. Think of it like this, if you have a soft-spoken pastor or a soft singer, you want an extremely sensitive microphone.
5. Diaphragm Size.
The portion of the microphone that detects the sound waves. This isn’t as much of a concern when we talk about church vocal microphones for single-use, but the different sizes can affect things like frequency sensitivity, especially when off-axis, as well as how much extra sounds are detected.
For more information on these, check out these two articles:
Every microphone has these different properties and the more you know what’s needed and how it’s used, the better choice you’ll make.
Best Microphones Under $200.
I have experience with a lot of microphones but so does the international tech community so I turned to them with a recent survey.
Before you check out the list, know that sound quality is subjective and the pairing to the right singer makes a huge difference. For example, I’ve heard the Blue 200 and the Blue 300, and I liked the lower-priced 200 when I heard it…but others say the 300 is better. Who is right? Like anything in audio, it depends on many things and in this case, mostly the singer using the mic.
That being said, these microphones were suggested the most. The order is based on the number of recommendations but before you jump on the #1 spot, check out the microphone properties of each and then make your decision. Other mics were mentioned but nothing in great frequency…frequency, get it? Haha…ok, I’ll move on.
- Heil PR22. Heil has been around a long time and while most of their mics run on the expensive side, the PR22 is a great mic below $200. Just don’t get the one with the switch – haha.
- SE Electronics V7. At only $100, this mic has a great sound with many people recommending this supercardioid dynamic mic.
- Shure Beta 57a. This dynamic mic runs well under $200.
- Shure Beta 58a. I expected this one to come in first place and while it didn’t, any of these top four are solid choices in my book.
- Sennheiser e835. These next two were close enough to be a tie. I’d opt for the e935 but that’s just me.
- Sennheiser e935. You’ll get a wider frequency response from this mic. Additionally, the frequency response is different between the two.
- Shure SM58. Definitely a top mic at the $100 price-point but it’s also solid enough that even looking in the $200 price-point, it’s still the number one choice.
Maybe you have a vocal mic you love but it’s not on this list. That’s ok, it just means it works for you. However, if you find the sound quality of your mic is lacking, this list is the best place to start. If you can, find someone in your area that has one of these mics you can borrow to hear how it sounds for your situation.