In a church environment, PA microphones will enable preachers and other people to be heard, and singers to sing without yelling. The problem is that there are many different types of microphones available, and the sound you hear is reliant on good quality sound input.
Choosing the wrong type of microphone can mean you spend a fortune and still don’t get the quality of sound you want. The most common types of microphones are dynamic and condenser microphones, with dynamic microphones being a great choice. Durable and good in noisy environments, dynamic microphones like the Shure SM58 serve most purposes well.
Condenser microphones use different technology to record sounds and are more sensitive to softer sounds – they’re great for singers, but you certainly wouldn’t want to use them to capture the sound from a drumkit.
Additionally, condenser mics have higher power requirements than dynamic mics and will need phantom power (from an audio interface or other similar hardware) to work properly. Phantom power is nothing to worry about – it just means that a power supply is effectively built into the cabling.
Next, you need to consider the connections. This may in part be driven by the constraints of your mixing desk. Wireless mics are available, but eventually the wireless receiver needs to connect to something, and you’ll need to determine which connector is best.
USB microphones are unsuitable for most church PA requirements, which leads you to jack or XLR connections. XLR can provide higher quality sound, but it will again rest on the connections available on your mixing desk – adapters are available, but every adapter will slightly degrade the sound quality.
Other considerations are the polar patterns which are the areas around the microphone that are sensitive to sound, allowing you to focus on certain areas, and the frequency response. This is the selection of vibrations in the air that the microphone is sensitive to, from low bass frequencies to high treble frequencies.
Choosing one with the right response range is important for great sound. A variety of microphones may be required, with different features needed for speaking and singing as well as capturing the sound from analogue instruments.
If in doubt, consult an experienced sound engineer who will be able to help you determine the best type of microphones for your church PA system.