An Introduction to Conference Microphone Types

Author: Meghan Kennelly

Choosing an appropriate conference room microphone for your space is just as important as investing in a high-quality mic. There are a variety of microphone types, and not every type will be optimal for your room. In this handy guide, we've outlined the basics of conference microphones, including the different pick-up patterns and mic designs. Once you learn the primary microphone categories, you'll have a much better idea of which mic makes sense for your conference room.

What is Microphone Directionality?

Every conference microphone has a pick-up pattern, which determines the overall direction where sound is captured. Choosing a mic pick-up pattern really depends on the room and usage case. At a basic level, there are two main pick-up pattern types:

directional_range.PNGDirectional Microphones

These mics have a pick-up pattern that mainly captures sound from the front, while rejecting sound from the rear. This is a great choice when amplifying a single speaker's voice, or when you're working in a room with poor acoustics. A popular version of the directional mic, known as "cardioid", has a heart-shaped pattern that works well for close-up audio capture. 

omni-directional.PNGOmnidirectional Microphones

Ideal for a small space where everyone needs to be heard, omnidirectional mics are designed to capture sound from every direction. However, this also means they pick up background noise, which can be problematic if there's a loud fan or cooling system. 

Conference Room Microphone Types

These are the four main conference microphone designs, which are tailored for specific scenarios:

Tabletop Mics
Perfect for a small conference area with multiple participants, a tabletop mic rests on a table and picks up nearby sound. These mics can be directional (i.e. capturing sound in one direction) or omnidirectional (capturing sound in every direction). The former style can be shared with two people, while the latter style is ideal for capturing an entire conversation in a smaller room.

Gooseneck Mics
Generally, these conference mics are used on a tabletop and podium. Designed with an adjustable, skinny microphone neck, they capture close-up audio and block out background noise. We recommend these mics for auditoriums and boardrooms, where each speaker's voice needs to be heard in full detail.

Wearable Mics
Pinned onto a speaker's lapel or worn as a headset, wearable microphones free up a person's hands so they can write or gesture. These mics are convenient for teachers, performers, and conference presenters.

Handheld Mics
There are clear advantages to using a wireless conference microphone, especially in large settings where a speaker needs the freedom to move around. Handheld microphones capture a speaker's voice in close-up fashion using a directional mic pattern. They're ideal for lectures, interviews, and presentations where you need a portable solution.

Ready to explore the world of unified communications? We invite you to use our Product Finder to discover the perfect conference microphone for your needs.

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