How to Choose the Best Handheld Mics for Worship

Soren Pedersen | September 4, 2021 How to Choose the Best Handheld Mics for Worship

Worship Matters. Worship can both inform and transform your congregation. In this guide, you will learn key factors to consider when selecting the best mics for your worship team to ensure crystal clear audio.

Worship leaders have a mission to create an environment where every congregation member feels comfortable lifting their voice in praise. For Houses of Worship, singing is much more than just the physical act of making noise with one’s vocal cords. It’s a critical part of the service to get their congregants in the mood to receive the message. 

It’s currently rare for vocalists, particularly those who sing in Houses for Worship, to lead songs without the aid of a microphone. When you add on the added pressure to broadcast your worship service via streaming platforms remotely, vocalists are using microphones more than ever to ensure their audience can clearly hear the songs from any location.

A question that comes up repeatedly for Houses of Worship is figuring out which handheld microphones are best suited for their worship vocalists. The options can seem endless.

When picking microphones for singing, there are many considerations, including handling noise, durability, feedback rejection, and, of course, the sound. In this guide, you will learn key factors to consider when selecting handheld microphones for worship. 
 

Understanding Microphone Polar Patterns

Each microphone made today has what is known as a polar pattern, but what exactly is this? Though it may sound a little complicated, a polar pattern describes a microphone’s inherent directionality. In more specific terms, polar patterns refer to the sensitivity of any given microphone to sounds arriving from different angles to its central axis.

Omnidirectional Mics can pick up sound equally from all directions and accept sound from anywhere in the 360-degree sphere around the capsule. These types of mics have an open and natural sound, and they’re used frequently in the studio when the engineer wants to include the sound of the room in the recording.

When using omnidirectional mics, one thing to consider is that the mic will pick up any room sound or ambiance during the live performance. In a live sound application, omnidirectional mics are the most prone to feedback.

Cardioid Mics directional characteristics prefer the front of a microphone, and they reject sounds coming from behind the mic – making it an ideal choice for live sound applications. Cardioid microphones also have a reduced sensitivity to sound coming from the sides.

Cardioid mics reduce the relative levels of room ambiance and other sounds coming from behind the mic.

Supercardioid, as the name suggests, is like cardioid but more directional. It exhibits even less sensitivity to sound coming in from the sides than a regular cardioid but more sensitivity to sound at the rear. Despite that, supercardioids perform better when eliminating background noise and focusing on a specific sound source.
 

Tips for Reducing Handling Noise with Handheld Microphones

Handling noise is an important issue, especially in a live setting compared to studio mics, which will have specially designed shock mounts to protect them from vibrations, bumps, and thumps. Mics used in a live sound environment like Worship service must contain ample internal shock mounts and vibration control.

If you line up ten different mics on the stands, you’re likely to notice dramatic differences in the sound caused by simply removing each mic from its clip. Some mics even rumble in everyday handheld use. With these types of mics, just shifting the mic in your hand causes a dramatic rumble.

Mics that exhibit excessive handling noise will also pick up excess noise from anything that moves on or vibrates on the stage – such as footsteps, the kick drum, dancing, etc. 

It’s critical to pick a handheld mic with an excellent design that includes internal shock and minimizes handling noise. Some microphones are practically immune to handling noise.

One thing to consider is poor handling noise is a common fault of low-quality dynamic microphones. Shure has spent decades advancing our handheld microphones to have an excellent internal shock mount to minimize handling noise. 
 

Recommended Distances from the Handheld Mic for Lead and Background Vocalists 

The most common mistake is holding the microphone too close or too far from the mouth. Your vocalists will sound muffled and distorted or too distant with no vocal sound at all by improperly holding the mic.

The mic should be held no closer than 2 to 3 inches from their mouth during regular singing to avoid distortion. When people tell singers to “eat the microphone,” this does not mean they should literally eat it. “Eating the microphone” means you should keep the mic one or two inches from the mouth.

There will be times when your worship vocalists will use more volume, hit higher or louder notes on the chorus of a song, for instance, versus using lower or softer notes in the verses. When your vocalists get louder, the idea is to move the microphone slightly away from the mouth.

The variance in the distance will be proportionate with the increase in volume – that is, the louder you sing, the more you pull back – but how far is something you’ll need to determine by getting to know the mic. It will probably never be more than 5 or 6 inches. You will have to experiment a little, as the distance is dependent on the singer’s natural power and ability to project.

It can seem to be an unending array of options to choose from when picking the best handheld microphones for your worship team – while being a good steward of your house of Worship budget. We’re here to help by introducing you to three microphones that you will want to have in your audio arsenal. And best of all, these mics are all available as wired or wireless handheld microphones.
 

3 Must-Have Handheld Microphones for Any Worship Team

SM58 

The affordable SM58 is one of the most widely used vocal microphones. Worship leaders worldwide agree that the SM58 is vital to amplifying their ministry. And most importantly, your house of Worship budget will love them. These mics have a typical cardioid pattern and are built like a tank – meaning they can take a variety of abuse and still work beautifully. The SM58 also uses an internal shock mount to reduce handling noise.

 

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BETA 87A

Due to an increased extension in its frequency response, the BETA 87A is excellent for low-pitched voices. The BETA 87A has a super-cardioid pattern. This mic has a noticeably brighter tone, and it helps vocalists stand out and break out of the mix. The Beta 87A microphones capture vocal subtlety with extraordinary detail to deliver clear articulation, functional flexibility, and precise vocal reproduction for live performance. Like all other Shure mics, the Beta 87A is built to withstand just about anything to ensure you can perform service after service, no matter how rough of a beating it takes.

 

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BETA 58A

For modern worship services with drums and electric guitars, the BETA 58A will ensure your vocalists stand out. The BETA 58A microphone has been known as the vocalists’ best friend for decades, elevating vocal presence to cut through the other sounds. The brightened midrange and bass roll-off give the lead and background vocals a mighty presence in the mix. The supercardioid pattern works harder to isolate your sound from every other source in the air and allows for high gain before feedback. Beta 58A’s internal pneumatic shockmount minimizes handling noise as well. 

 

 

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Shure: The Perfect Choice for Your Worship Vocalists Needs 

Whether you’re looking to mic your vocalists for Worship, the pastor, or the piano, Shure can equip your House of Worship with all sound needs. Contact us today to get started!

Here are a few other resources you might find helpful:

Shure's Central Hub for Houses of Worship

How to Choose the Best Mic for the Pastor

How to Choose the Right Wireless Microphone System

How to Choose the Best Mics for the Choir at Worship

How to Choose the Best Mics for Brass, Wind, and String Instruments

How to Choose the Best Mics for the Guitar at Worship

How to Choose the Best Mic for the Pianist

How to Choose the Best Mics for the Drummer at Worship

Soren Pedersen

Soren Pedersen

Soren is a Product Specialist for wired microphones at Shure. He led development efforts on the MOTIV™ and PG ALTA product lines and is a Shure earphone enthusiast. He studied Audio Arts and Acoustics at Columbia College Chicago and has been recording music since the age of 15. Outside of Shure he plays drums and is an ambitious home cook.