Conference Microphone Types Introduction

High-quality audio is a critical factor for ensuring every person — near and far — hears every word and has a successful conference experience. This means organizations must be selective in the microphone systems they integrate within each space. Selecting the right microphone or microphones for the space is a primary concern.

While it is best to have an expert evaluate your space to design the right solution, it helps to have an understanding of different conference microphone types and their uses.

Let’s first cover the different pick-up patterns conference microphones can have. To get the best sound from your microphone, it’s important to understand the different patterns and how to properly use them. The two most common pick-up patterns you will find in a conference setting are omni-directional and directional.

Directional 
A directional microphone offers sound pickup best from the front, a lesser amount to the sides and little from the rear. Due to the sound rejection from the rear, it can block unpleasant audio coming from behind the mic making it ideal for environments that have less than perfect acoustics. A directional microphone is also known as “cardioid” due to its heart shape pickup pattern. For best pickup, the mic should be positioned at most a few inches from the speaker’s mouth.

Omnidirectional 
Omnidirectional microphones are designed with a 360-degree pickup to capture all speech above and around the microphone equally. They offer greater flexibility in sound pick-up and are useful for picking up multiple speakers. One drawback of the omnidirectional microphone is that is can also pick up unwanted noise like an HVAC system. For rooms that have good acoustics, an omnidirectional mic can be a great solution.

Different meeting spaces and applications call for different conference microphone types. How many people will be speaking? Will your speaker be moving around the room? Will participants be asking questions? Let’s take a look at some popular conference microphone options that might suitable for your space.

 

Directional Tabletop
Directional microphones can easily be placed in small to large conference rooms. As we discussed earlier, directional mics are great for a room that might not have the best acoustics. To be effective, point to the microphone in the direction of the speaker(s). One mic per 2 people provides excellent audio performance.
Gooseneck 
Gooseneck mics are typically found on a podium or tabletop. They are designed to capture individuals who speak directly into the microphone close-up. Available in a range of heights, these microphones are perfect for lecture halls, boardrooms or auditorium settings.
Wearable  
Wearable microphones are a sleek, convenient and compact way to pick up individual speech and are great for speakers who tend to move about the room. This type of mic has a wide range of applications and verticals served. Educational institutes implement them for their lecture halls whereas enterprises can utilize them in boardroom, multi-purpose rooms or training rooms where a speaker would be presenting.
It’s also worth noting that with backchannel audio and a headset connector this type of mic can provide user-selectable two-way audio.
Handheld Microphone
Handheld microphones are not just found on a concert stage or in the hands of a reporter.  Similar to the gooseneck mic, they are designed to capture individual speakers who are speaking directly into the microphone close-up. These are common in conference or lecture settings where you might be passing a mic for questions or switching speakers often.
Omnidirectional Tabletop 
Omnidirectional tabletop microphones are a great option for conference applications where there are multiple speakers in a small area, and numbers of mics are limited. A perfect example for this type of microphone would be where you want to pick up multiple voices in a conference discussion around a table. Having the omnidirectional mic makes sure you’re picking up comments from everyone.
In summary, no one microphone is better than the other. Each has pros and cons in given situations and your choice of conference microphone type really depends on the needs of your meeting environments.