I’m a big fan of the audio quality, reliability, and simplicity of wired microphones.
That said, sometimes wireless can be a good option, for instance when dragging a cable around would be really inconvenient, or just to minimize trip hazards.
Some MICROPHONE questions to consider:
Omni or directional element? Earset and headset omnis sound good and work well.
Directional mics are harder to place, but work well in loud environments.
Definitely directional for handheld use.
With any wireless mic it is easy to walk around in a crowd with no cable to consider. Handheld, single-hook earset, or double-hook headset mic?
Modest cost handhelds sound better than ear/headsets in a similar price range.
Handhelds are easily passed between multiple users.
Some handheld transmitters have a fixed, not replaceable element.
Better transmitters can take replaceable elements, which offers the option of different elements, or replacing a damaged one.
Keeping the mic at a consistent distance is easier with ear/headsets.
Ear/headsets free up the vocalist’s hands, though putting a handheld mic on a stand addresses this.
Will a headworn mic be used by only one person, or will it need to fit multiple users?
Options are fixed-length short and long booms, adjustable booms.
Earsets work well on some heads, not so well on others. Sometimes a bit of clear surgical tape is needed to hold mic in place.
Dual ear-hook headsets offer fixed or adjustable headbands. These are generally more stable, and are often the choice for dance or other movement instructors.
For connecting mics to bodypacks, does the element have a fixed or detachable cable?
Cream, brown, black? Sometimes the most important choice!
The windscreen is important, particularly on headworn mics! Have a spare!
Cables fail! Have a spare!
What Wireless Transmitter/Receiver SYSTEM?
Will one mic be used in an area with few other radio interference sources?
Or many mics in a crowded RF spectrum? Or somewhere in between? Can the system operate on multiple frequencies? This can help avoid RF interference, and allow multiple units to operate at once.
Analog or digital? For many users analog works very well. Digital can allow for more units in one space, but don’t buy 2.4GHz, and be aware of latency.
Transmitter power – more is not necessarily better.
With the transmitter fairly close to the receiver, low power will likely work fine. An advantage of low-power is that, when other wireless systems are in use on the same stage, there is less interference.
Higher power can be useful if you really need to go longer distances.
Metal or plastic bodypack or handheld transmitter? Metal is more durable, particularly if handled roughly.
9V or AA batteries. Both work well, but good, rechargeable AAs are less expensive.
Battery metering – good/dying, bar graph on transmitter and/or receiver?
Batteries die! Have a spare set easily available!
If a singer has a handheld mic that they really like, that isn’t available to fit a wireless system, some companies offer a transmitter block that inserts in the mic’s XLR connector.
Many mic elements that are wired to go to a bodypack transmitter can instead go to an adapter that allows for XLR wired use.
If you are a Drummer sitting at a Kit, do you really need a wireless vocal mic?
Why no mention of lavalier mics for vocal use?
Lavaliers can be great if you are recording or broadcasting.
But for live use, they can be challenging to get enough gain-before-feedback.
Ear/headset options are simply easier to work with.
Need a Clip-on Instrument Mic System?
Again, omni or directional? An omni lavalier very close to an instrument, for instance a Violin, can sound quite good. Foam, clip, clamp or other mounting?
Instruments With 1/4″ Output:
The obvious choice is simply a 1/4″ cable to a bodypack.
Please let me know any significant considerations I’ve left out!
Thanks and good health, Weogo