What makes a good podium mic?

Selecting the appropriate podium microphone is essential to setting up an effective presentation, conference or event. Of course, podium microphones come in all shapes and sizes, meaning that it’s important to get familiar with the options before making a final selection. Here are a few pointers from experts who have been at it for quite a while.

Obama Shure Sm57 Podium Microphone

President Obama with the iconic Shure Sm57

It’s Not a Popularity Contest
Many people fall into the common trap of picking a mic just because they saw someone else using it. A prime example is the Shure SM57. This microphone has been used on the official press conference podium used by the President of the United States for years, but this doesn’t mean it’s absolutely the best microphone out there.

The SM57 is a good microphone that does a fair job of transmitting sound, but the fact of the matter is that it’s also highly favoured simply because it has nice a traditional look and is virtually bulletproof. If you get a podium mic, you need to think about maintaining the balance between sound quality and durability.

Appropriate Equipment 
Many audiophiles  favour the warmer tone of old ribbon microphones, which largely fell out of use in the 1960s but are still manufactured by a few firms to this day. Of course, the fact that these microphones’ warm tones are largely lost without an accompanying tube amplifier system and driver PA means that they’re usually not worth the added expense. For the sake of simplicity, it’s critical to pick a microphone that matches your other audio equipment.

Of course, if you want to go the cheap route and still have a reliable podium mic, there’s nothing wrong with a generic Shure SM57 or other brand. It’s important to consider, however, that even Shure has far better models of podium microphones that are more featured and use more durable modern technology. Mini microphones like the Earthworks Flex series or the Shure Microflex MX412 series and shotgun microphones like the Schoeps CMIT 5u are worth the extra money if you really want to create a better experience for the speakers and their audiences.

Microphone choice also depends greatly on the experience of the presenter that you expect at the event. It may not always be appropriate to use an expensive, purpose built podium mic if there is a chance that the presenter will be moving the microphone away from the podium.

Remember that your podium microphones may not even be used. Some of your speakers may prefer lavelier, or lapel, microphones that they can clip to their shirts or coats, allowing them to walk around while they present. In this case, keeping your podium outfitted with inexpensive dynamic microphones provides the option for either without forcing you to spend as much on your sound system.

In the end, selecting a good podium mic is about balancing sound quality and durability with expense. Certain high quality microphones fare poorly in high outdoor humidity, while others keep on ticking. Talk to one of our technicians for the skinny on specific models before you pick one.

At Kettner Creative, we stock a variety of podium microphones to fit your needs. Please contact us for more information, or for a quote on your meeting, conference, or event A/V services.