Special Occasion Microphones

Understanding that there will always be unique live or recording situation will ultimately lead you to discovering specialty microphones. These microphones serve a specific purpose for unique situations and are often the best option in capturing the best audio. Below are a few of the most common specialty microphones that you will come across in your career.

Wireless Microphones

Wireless microphones are probably the most common type of specialty microphone that you will come across in the audio world, particularly in live situations. Most bands when performing want to be mobile and really interact with the crowd. Same goes for presenters in large auditoriums or classes. Mobility allows for better performances and interaction.  Below is the basic setup of the wireless microphones system:

Microphone – Transmitter – Receiver

The audio signal is sent through the microphones into the transmitter where it is then sent as a radio signal into the receiver where it is then translated back into an audio signal.

Most Wireless mic systems work on the VHF or UHF frequency ranges where the signal is broadcast.

Shotgun Microphones

You will find this type of microphone used primarily with video production. Whether it be the filming of a movie, news cast or documentary shooting, this type of microphone has a type directional response perfect for capturing the audio from a tight angle.

You can often pick this microphone out as it will be hovering overhead during the shooting of a scene. It is the microphone that looks like a long tube held by the “boom operator”

Lavalier Microphones

You will find lavalier microphones mainly in interviews and presentations. This low-profile microphone will often be mounted on the tie of a presenter or near the collar adjacent to the mouth. This small form factor microphone works exactly like a wireless microphone where the signal chain goes microphone, transmitter and then receiver.

Because this microphone is placed relative far from the mouth, the main sound source, creating a well-balanced and clear sound can be difficult if your mixing this particular live situation. Be sure to try multiple positions before settling on the one that accommodates both the presenter and your live sound mixer. Comfortability and distance to the mouth is key when working with these types of microphones. Finding that perfect balance will lead you towards a great sound.

Stereo Microphones

You can think of a stereo microphone as two separate microphones in one capsule with both diaphragms faced away from each other. These types of microphones are particularly useful when an audio engineer wants to capture a nice wide-open sound but does not want to set up more than one microphone.

Remember though, even though there are essentially two microphones within the capsule, there will be only one signal sent to the preamp in mono. This signal however will sound wider and open rather than just using one microphone.

A great application for stereo mics is the capturing of the drum room when recording drums. When placed away from the kit, you will be able to capture that big sound that is resonating in the room when the drums are being played. When blended with the up close, individual microphones, you can truly create a huge drum sound when mixing. I often recommend buying one of these microphones to young aspiring studio engineers as it will begin to open up their recordings.