Tell Me About: Handheld Wireless Microphones for Presenters
Many presenters like to use a handheld wireless microphone instead of a lavalier or headset. A handheld mic has a more powerful sound and allows the presenter to vary the loudness and tone for extra emphasis by moving the microphone closer or farther away.
Shure handheld wireless microphones are available with a choice of different microphones or “heads”. On some models like the BLX2 and PGXD2 handheld transmitter, the microphone is permanently fixed to the transmitter; you need to order the transmitter with the microphone that you want. On other models like the SLXD2, the microphone is removable and can be changed quickly in the field. All Shure handheld transmitters with removable heads have the same threads and electrical contacts for audio and power, so any Shure microphone head will work on any Shure transmitter. In less than one minute you can upgrade to a better microphone or switch microphones to accommodate different users or conditions.
Which is the Best Wireless Microphone Head for a Presenter?
The microphones for Shure handheld transmitters differ in two significant ways: the type of transducer and the polar pattern. Here’s how those characteristics apply to a presenter.
The Transducer Type Determines the Sound
The transducer is the part of the microphone that actually converts sound waves into an electrical signal that the transmitter can transmit. The two most common types are dynamic and condenser, and they have slightly different sound signatures. A condenser mic has better high frequency response than a dynamic mic, which gives it a somewhat brighter, crisper sound for improved clarity and intelligibility. A condenser microphone is also shorter and lighter than most dynamic mics, which some presenters prefer because it makes the microphone more comfortable to hold.
The Polar Pattern Influences Feedback Resistance
The polar pattern or ‘pickup pattern’ of the microphone describes how sensitive it is to sounds arriving from different directions. An omnidirectional microphone picks up sound from all directions equally, making it very forgiving when the user doesn’t hold the mic in a consistent position. An omni mic is also good if you’re recording video interviews and you want to pick up two people and some room ambience without moving the mic back and forth. But an omnidirectional mic is more likely to encounter feedback when used with a sound system – especially when the presenter gets close to stand-mounted loudspeakers.
Unidirectional microphones are much more popular with presenters because they can be turned up much louder before feedback becomes an issue -- especially important for presenters who use floor monitors -- and they pick up less ambient sound in noisy locations. The most popular unidirectional pattern is the cardioid which has a useful pickup angle of 130 degrees. The supercardioid is even better at rejecting noise or feedback because its pickup angle is 110 degrees, but the user needs to be more careful about keeping the mic aimed at their mouth. (Some presenters are good at this and some aren’t.) A hypercardioid has a 100 degree pickup angle in front but is also quite sensitive to the rear, making careful positioning critical.
Which Microphones Are Available With Each Shure Handheld Transmitter?
Some Shure handheld transmitters offer just a couple of microphone choices, while others are available with many different mics. Following are basic descriptions of each of the microphones that are available on Shure handheld wireless transmitters. These are considered primarily in terms of how they appeal to a presenter; a singer might evaluate the sound of a microphone differently. These are the options that are available in most countries.
The PG58 is a flexible microphone that is suitable for a wide variety of speech or music applications. With clear sound and a cardioid polar pattern that rejects feedback and unwanted noise, it’s a great choice for wireless system users on a budget.
The perennial favorite of public speakers, comedians, and rock stars worldwide, the SM58 sets the standard for sound quality and durability. A wireless SM58 gives presenters that “rock-and-roll” sound while moving freely. Its pneumatic shock mount minimizes handling noise, and the spherical mesh grille and built-in pop filter reduce wind noise and plosives.
The SM86 wireless microphone head is a condenser type with extended high frequency response for extra clarity and detail. It’s shorter and lighter than a dynamic head like the SM58, making it perfect for presenters who prefer a more compact handheld wireless mic.
The SM87A wireless microphone head has a supercardioid pickup pattern that offers better rejection of feedback and noise compared to a cardioid. The SM87A’s grille is also black, so some users prefer its appearance on camera.
The VP68 is the only Shure wireless head that has an omnidirectional pickup pattern. It’s designed for applications like video production where it’s desirable to pick up some ambient sound for context (like person-on-the-street interviews) or in situations where the talker may be significantly off-axis from the microphone.
The Beta58A wireless head combines the smooth sound of a dynamic microphone with a tight supercardioid pickup pattern that rejects feedback and room noise. It has a slightly brighter mid-range than the SM58 for added vocal clarity. A favorite of professional singers, the Beta58 also works well for presenters who work with louder sound systems or monitor speakers.
Beta87A / Beta87C
The Beta87 wireless head is a condenser, so it captures vocals with sparkling accuracy. The Beta87A has a tight supercardioid pattern that provides maximum freedom from feedback and noise. The Beta87C has a cardioid pickup pattern that maintains consistent sound levels over a wider latitude of microphone positions.
The KSM8 Dualdyne™ wireless head delivers balanced sound quality and increased working distance, so presenters sound stellar regardless of how they hold the microphone. The KSM8 is the most natural-sounding dynamic microphone available, making it a premier choice for performers and presenters alike. Its advanced shock mount delivers exceptional rejection of handling noise while maintaining robust low-frequency response.
KSM9 / KSM9HS
The KSM9 dual-diaphragm condenser microphone captures nuance and subtlety with extraordinary detail and articulation. With switchable polar patterns, the KSM9 is adaptable to a wide range of user styles and performance conditions. The KSM9 model is switchable between cardioid and supercardioid patterns, while the KSM9HS offers a choice of ultra-narrow hypercardioid and wide subcardioid patterns.
Shure Handheld Wireless Microphone Comparison Chart
Here's a handy reference chart that summarizes the characteristics of Shure handheld wireless microphones and lists part numbers and accessories.
The best handheld wireless microphone for a presenter is the one that helps them to connect with the audience comfortably and effectively. The right microphone paired with a Shure handheld transmitter delivers natural sound quality and reliable wireless performance that earns applause every time.
Need help choosing a microphone or wireless system? Contact the award-winning Shure Applications Engineering group in your region for personalized assistance.