Church Production

Image courtesy Shure

Tutorial: Mic’ing Pastors

Easier than wrestling alligators...but it too requires some trial and error to get it right.

By Andrew Stone
March 28, 2013 4:12 pm EST

Topics: Tech Tutorial, Audio-based,
Tags: audio, microphone, pastor,

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"More than once a properly placed lavalier microphone has made me the hero by picking up an obscure wedding vow, not to mention digging me out of a hold during an onstage live dramatic moment."

I dared pose the question to the pastor about switching to a headset mic. His response, "Will it make me sound better?"
...the amount of presence and low end with a good headset microphone is second to none.

Having spent the greater portion of my life listening to human voices as translated through various audio systems has afforded me a distinct perspective for what I do in the church market. Understanding the various ways out there to successfully mic my pastor, as well as remaining vigilant to analyze the quality of his spoken words, has set me up to win.

Although my church places a great deal of importance on the music and production value of every event, I don’t want anything to diminish the power and authority of the message content as compared to the creative content. When listening to other mixes, oftentimes it feels like no expense was spared in getting the music and creative content across, but very little regard was given to the message portion. A little bit of research to discover the perfect pairing of a microphone with a voice can result in a powerful message portion that delivers maximum impact. A voice that commands respect purely from the presence, richness, and robustness of the audio is something I strive for.


One of the most common and simplest microphone styles is the handheld. Regardless of the manufacturer, wired or wireless, or even choice of capsule, putting a handheld microphone in the vicinity of the speaker’s mouth usually yields a fairly decent result. Although perhaps the simplest to put into play, there are a few things to be aware of. The proximity effect of the capsule—the dramatic decrease of presence or tone as the mic drifts from the source—can wreak havoc on trying to achieve an accurate and consistent representation of the speaker. Also, plosives—a sudden rush of air while pronouncing certain consonants—can be quite destructive to the quality of the vocal sound. This can usually be controlled using compression, equalization, and high-pass filters, but I try to stay as minimal as possible to avoid losing low-end presence, tone, and warmth.

A perfect example of this is one pastor who favored holding a handheld mic with his right hand. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but due to an old sports injury he has a pin installed in his elbow. The result was a bit of decreased mobility, particularly in how far his arm can bend to bring the mic closer to his face. At best, the mic ends up about 8 to 10 inches away from his mouth, greatly decreasing the quality available for the house mix. Next page