Recommendations on wireless mic setup?
  • Does anyone have any experience purchasing wireless sound systems?

    Looking for a _simple_ system for the ambo, for a cantor in the loft, and a presider wireless mic.

    The church seats about 240.

    Any thoughts on how to go about evaluating systems? Anyone have any success with a system they have in their own church?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,283
    We didn't have success with wireless. We were picking up police calls, truckers talking to each other, and one Sunday a local radio station.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,158
    State of the art systems successfully avoid all those scenarios CDub mentions.
    Those who exercise their duties at fixed locations should use a fixed microphone. Shure condensors always come through for us. Now there are also digital mic's that have certain benefits. Wireless can be used at ambos, but they are not ideal. There is absolutely no reason to use wireless for song leaders/psalmists/cantors.
    Using wireless for celebrants and deacons is understandable, but can be problematic with proximity saturation if signals co-mingle unmitigated which lead to signal loss or worse-audible short outs which are more abrasive to the ear than feedback. Also, folks brushing against the mic head with albs/chasubles/other fabrics and hands can be an annoyance as well.
    Leave wireless to the theatre if at all possible, my advice that is.

    Thanked by 1PaxMelodious
  • Our wireless mic for the celebrant works consistently better than the ambo mic. That may be because readers will not adjust their mic for their position, while the celebrant (one priest parish) knows where to clip it on, and TakeS GreaT Care WiTH ArticulatioN. It may well be relevant that our MC worked for a local radio station.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 631
    You have an MC for your services? Never heard of such a thing!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,283
    We don't have an MC, but as music director it kind of falls to me, and to one of my friends who is good with sound equipment, to keep the system running. We bought an expensive ambo mic and mounted it permanently. We have instructed readers where to stand, how far to get from the mic, and to speak directly into the mic - all to little avail with many of them.

    As I have said many times before, I can fix the equipment, I can't fix the people.
  • Ted
    Posts: 141
    Our system works quite well.
    If you really want wireless, you need to get a very good quality one, such as those made by Shure. These are expensive but very reliable. The receiver plugs into the existing PA system, and the transmitter is worn on the body, with a lapel type mike plugging into it. Already mentioned is the problem of rubbing the mike on vestments, so the mike has to be worn in a way to prevent that. Switching the wireless mike on/off at the appropriate times is also important. If the mike is not really needed, such as starting from the back of the church in procession, you invite all sorts of "walking" noise when it is turned on. These mikes usually have a maximum recommended range, so having one in the choir loft may exceed that range and become unreliable.
    You should use wired mikes as much as possible, because maintaining a handful of wireless devices can be a headache.
    Your PA amplifier should have an audio equalizer. Most churches have a certain frequency on which they will resonate, and the PA amplifier should be able to attenuate sounds on that frequency.
    As for wired mikes, you must use balanced cables and mikes, with appropriate balanced inputs on the amplifier. Otherwise you will pick up electrical noise through the cables especially if they are long. I would recommend a mixer in the choir loft.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,511
    Remember these wireless feature tasks ...
    ... charge the batteries
    ... replace broken antenas
    ... replace broken wires because everyone is obsessed with coiling them tightly
    Thanked by 2CharlesW bhcordova
  • What Ted says.
    We have a spare lapel mic on standby, despite the expense.
  • dboothe
    Posts: 25
    Many good recommendations here, especially what @eft94530 said about ongoing maintenance. As @Ted stated, don't use wireless when hardwired will do. A few hours saved in setup using wireless instead of hardwired can cost you untold headaches week to week.

    A few additional comments, applicable mostly in the USA:

    Since the digital television repack a few years ago, selecting the proper frequency has become even more crucial than ever. (Three of my older systems at work became "illegal" after this.) Each additional wireless you system you add, notches it up another order of magnitude in complexity. If you are operating on the wrong frequency, you could be subject to interference or even FCC action, if someone complains. Don't use an older system, or, if you do, be sure it is in an allowable frequency range and one usable for your locale. More about this below.

    Buy the best equipment you can. Recent Shure systems have gotten good reviews. I typically use (professionally) Sennheiser or Lectrosonics. You might consider a head-worn mic instead of a lavalier. This can resolve several issues. I've used Countryman and DPA, which are unobtrusive (almost invisible). There are other good makes, too.

    For a good single channel, wireless system with a good head-worn mic, expect to pay about $1500-$2000. Cutting corners here buys you problems later on.

    If the priest simply does not want to wear a head-worn mic, then a lavalier can work, as long as it is out in the open and not subject to rubbing against fabric.

    As I said, in the last few years, frequency selection is more important than ever. Ask your dealer to recommend what frequency you should use for your system, based on your locale. Selecting the wrong frequency can subject you to interference or, worse, FCC complaints. Frequency coordination is even more important with multiple wireless systems, to avoid their interfering with each other.

    If your dealer cannot or will not frequency coordinate your system, message me privately. I may be able to help.

    David M. Boothe, CAS
    aka dboothe

  • Our parish also had to upgrade after the TV switchover from a 2001 vintage VHF system. We moved to the Shure ULX system—it is excellent, and still in use. If we were doing it today, we would go for one of their newer digital systems--ones that can get around interference almost entirely. (

    Thoughts from experience:
    1. This is not a do-it-yourself project—audio professionals that can survey available frequencies and be sure you're compliant with FCC regulations are essential.
    2. This is not cheap—buying anything but the best is a waste, as it will be nothing but trouble and will be replaced before the useful life of the product has been reached.
    3. The Countryman E6 headset is excellent, and a vast improvement over lavaliere mics.
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  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,292
    Re: that Countryman E6 headset

    I abhor it. In my mind there is nothing that says "Let me entertain you" more than having a presiding priest wear that kind of mic. And if it, indeed, has better fidelity than a lavaliere mic, I will gladly settle for the lesser fidelity rather than look like some septuagenerian bad imitation of a rock star.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW melofluent
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,283
    I will gladly settle for the lesser fidelity rather than look like some septuagenerian bad imitation of a rock star.

    And all this time I thought you were a millennial.

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  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,292
    I wish. No, on second thought, I don't.
  • dboothe
    Posts: 25
    And if it, indeed, has better fidelity than a lavaliere mic, I will gladly settle for the lesser fidelity rather than look like some septuagenerian bad imitation of a rock star.

    Understandable. But as long as one uses a comparable lavalier, properly placed, fidelity will be no worse.

    To continue the Countryman example... With each mic being correctly mounted and positioned for its type, a Countryman B6 lavalier will give fidelity comparable to the Countryman E6 head-worn. Not the same, but comparable. Other manufacturers' mics will have the similar capabilities in their line-ups.

    My original point was that sometimes people are not too careful with placement and mounting of lavaliers, thus creating as many problems as they solve. Head-worn mics are less susceptible to that.

    Hope this helps.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,532
    Some of our celebrants where some sort of microphone that discreetly attaches to their eyeglasses. One can see a bit of the cord coming up behind their ear but other than that they're fairly invisible.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,158
    where some sort of microphone

    Do what?
    they're fairly invisible

    When their worn they're, the celebrants are fairly invisible? If there wandering the aisles delivering an homily, that's wear their most invisible to me. Unless their sporting the MJM look, a sort of quasi wherewolf ("their....wolf!" Eyegore) who's enduring a three olive martini travesty delivered hymn.
    I'm here all week.
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