Want to lose the interest of your audience and get off track? Mess with your microphone! If you’d rather stay on-message and keep the audience rapt, you are going to want a double mic setup. But that doesn’t mean that you actually have to carry an extra microphone around in your pocket. Here’s why you need a redundant microphone setup and how to set it up.
What is Double Mic’ing?
Double mic’ing is using two discrete microphone channels (a primary and a backup) to ensure consistent and uninterrupted audio in case the primary mic goes dead or there’s a wireless glitch during a presentation or performance. The goal of double mic’ing is to create a seamless switchover to the backup without the “can you hear me now” moments.
When Should I Double Mic?
Is your presenter presenting? Is your singer singing? Are your performers performing? If yes, then you want to double mic. No matter how good your equipment and audio tech team is, something can still go wrong and disrupt the performance. Double mic’ing assures that the audience’s attention stays on the stage until the curtain is called.
Experienced RF tech and A2 Richard Stockton supports the backup mic’ing strategy. “The goal in audio production is to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible,” said Stockton. “A backup audio plan in general is an essential step in achieving this goal because, at some point, your lead mic will glitch and you will need to address this quickly.”
4 Ways to Set Up Double Microphones
Building redundancies into your mic setups can be done in a few different ways. Here are some common setups.
For a lav or clip-on mic, use two lavalier microphones clipped side by side, each with a separate body pack and dedicated wireless channel. This way, if the primary lav goes dead, you can quickly mute it and enable the backup mic/channel. In situations where the dual lav mic elements are perfectly or closely matched (more about this later), the switchover can be seamless.
Headworn microphones come in three basic forms: earworn, headset and earmount. They are increasingly popular with speakers and performers because they match maximum mobility with a low-profile style for a high-quality audio signal. But, since a headworn is a single source feed attached to one ear, an earmount or lapel lavalier can be used as a backup. It doesn’t hurt to have a handheld ready as well.
Handheld and Podium Mics
For a podium, mount two mics together with the second mic designated as a backup. If your speaker moves around and prefers a handheld to lavalier or headset, the best plan is to have a second wireless mic within easy reach. In either case, be sure to closely match audio quality (use EQ or compression if necessary) of both mics before the service. Perfectly matched audio in a dual mic setup is critical for a transparent backup solution. Testing the mics beforehand helps, but if the mics are different types/patterns, or elements in the two mics are not matched, the differences in audio quality will be noticeable and distracting.
Integrated Redundant Mics
New designs like the Point Source Audio CO2-8WL lavalier have built-in backups, making setting up redundant mics much easier. These use a single feed for the two mics that splits mid-body, feeding two discrete body packs or channels, helping reduce distracting cable clutter. And since the mic elements are factory matched, you don’t have to worry about the sound being different between mics.
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The goal in audio production is to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible,” said Stockton. “A backup audio plan in general is an essential step in achieving this goal because, at some point, your lead mic will glitch and you will need to address this quickly."