Sunday, January 21, 2018

Microphone Review: Rodney Says, “This Microphone Gets No Respect.”

The lowly hand held microphone doesn’t always get the respect it deserves.

It is another another excellent external mic option. For some reason, I don’t see many people other than news reporters using them. That’s unfortunate because in many situations, they are the best microphone for the job.

Here is a short video I shot last week highlighting the difference between my shotgun mic and a hand held mic when shooting in a noisy environment.

Hand held microphones are generally inexpensive and can get really great audio in certain situations. They are perfect for interviewing people on the run, for example. Just hold the mic near someone’s mouth; no fumbling with a lapel or dealing with a mic boom. Hand helds are good for getting quick on-camera testimonials as well.

Handheld mics can be wired or you can buy a transmitter plug so you can use them wirelessly.

You can find them at reasonable price points. Audio-Technica makes several I recommend. The Audio-Technica PRO 41 Handheld Microphone, priced around $100, is made to withstand a lot of use. Audio Technica AT2010 can be found for less than $100 and is a favorite among vocal artists and churches. Finally at the higher price point of $300+ is the Audio-Technica AE5400 which delivers pristine sound quality. Any of these microphones should last you for years.

You do want to use some caution when using these microphones. Since the microphone only picks up a short range from where the audio is coming from, you need to watch your levels. The mic needs to be close to the source yet not too close.

If it isn’t close enough, you won’t hear it that well. If it’s too close or the person or sound is too loud, it may peak your audio levels causing them to flat line, which is really bad in the digital world. Once that happens, the sound is distorted and nothing can really be done to fix it.

Another benefit of hand held mics is that they are generally very sturdy. I have an old Shure stage mic that looks like it has been through World War II, but it still works fine.

I also like the feeling I get when I’m talking into one of these mics. Just something about them makes you feel like a voice of authority. The people you use them on also may feel this way. Many times we’ve given them to people we’ve interviewed and they’ve broken out in song or even took it upon themselves to do some interviewing of their own.

Next time you’re considering your microphone options, don’t forget about the good old hand held mic.


6 Responses to “Microphone Review: Rodney Says, “This Microphone Gets No Respect.””
  1. Larry says:

    Is your shotgun in this example mounted on the camera?

  2. Larry says:

    A properly used shotgun mic excludes sound except what comes from the direction it is pointed, and usually some from the opposite direction, behind the mic. In her case, it should be above her head pointed down at her mouth. The tip should be just out of frame. Likely it was on the camera pointed at her, and the waves. That is the worst position for any mic.

    • Rick Smith says:

      You are right about the best way to position the mic Larry, but this was a spontaneous shoot and we didn’t have a mic boom or any other device to hold the mic except to put it on camera. There was a really hard wind blowing and if we had pointed the camera in any other direction we would have bad light on Kim’s face and the wind would have been too much for my wind muff.

  3. Larry says:

    A dynamic mic is a non powered mic. It has nothing to do with how you hold it. Dynamic mics are typically less sensitive than condenser mics, which need external power (usually phantom power) or power from a battery inside the mic.

    • Rick Smith says:

      What we were referring to about holding the mic was the distance from the speaker’s mouth. This mic we were using is great in a noisy environment because it isn’t very sensitive and doesn’t pick up much ambient sound. We have to get it fairly close to the speaker to get good sound.


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  1. […] dynamic microphone used for television, theater, and public speaking applications. Different than a hand-held microphone, it frees up your hands and still gives you the ability to be farther from the camera yet get good […]


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