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What is a Clip-On Microphone?

By R. Anacan
Updated May 16, 2024
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A microphone is a device that converts sound waves into electrical signals. This allows the sound entering the microphone to be amplified, recorded, or transmitted. A clip-on microphone is a microphone that is designed to be attached to the user. This design allows the user the convenience of portable, hands-free operation.

A clip-on microphone is typically attached to the clothing of the user, by means of a clip; hence, the name. While the microphone can be attached almost anywhere, it is commonly clipped onto the lapel of a jacket, the front of a shirt, or to a neck tie when in use. Clip-on microphone users generally try to select a location to attach the microphone that maximizes sound quality while reducing the possibility of unwanted noise resulting from movement.

In addition to the clip-on microphones that are used primarily for the voice, there are also clip-on microphones that are designed for musical instrument use. These microphones are usually attached to the bell of wind instruments such as saxophones and trumpets and on the top hoop of drums or percussion instruments.

Clip-on microphones work through the use of wireless technology. The microphone is attached by a cord to a battery powered transmitter pack that is worn by the user. The transmitter pack sends a signal from the microphone via UHF, VHF or FM frequencies to a receiver that is tuned to the same frequency as the microphone. The receiver is usually connected to an audio component that allows the sound to be amplified, adjusted, and heard through speakers.

Cordless headset microphones work in much the same way and offer the same portability function as a clip-on microphone. Headset microphones are also attached by a cord to a transmitter pack that is worn by the user. Wireless hand-held microphones transmit a signal directly to a receiver, eliminating the need for a transmitter pack.

When selecting a wireless microphone, it is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of the different designs. Clip-on and headset microphones offer maximum portability and the ease and convenience of no-hands use. Users who require the ability to move around extensively while wearing a microphone, such as singers and performers, may want to consider the headset microphone over the clip-on. While users who prefer or require a less conspicuous style may find the clip-on microphone a more appropriate choice.

One disadvantage of both clip-on and headset microphones is that the user does not have the ability to easily move the microphone away from the face when desired or needed, as someone with a hand-held microphone would be able to do. In addition, the sound quality of clip-on and headset microphones is often inferior to hand-held microphones.

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Discussion Comments
By Reminiscence — On Jul 02, 2014

I like to use a clip on wireless microphone when I sing, but I have difficulty finding a suitable place to wear it. I know I drive the sound people crazy whenever I show up for a performance, because I will clip the microphone to my shirt, my jacket, my tie and my collar during a rehearsal and still not be happy.

I've heard my own heartbeat get amplified through a wireless UHF microphone before, and I also have to make sure the clip on mic doesn't pick up my breathing. I tend to take large breaths while I'm singing, and if the microphone is too close to my mouth, it will sound like a loud roar. My favorite kind of microphone to use is a handheld wireless microphone, since I can move around the room and control the volume by moving the microphone closer or further from my mouth. I can't do that with a standard lavalier microphone.

By Ruggercat68 — On Jul 02, 2014

Our pastor liked to step away from the pulpit and speak to the crowd sometimes, which made it difficult for older members to hear him very well. I convinced the church trustees to buy a wireless clip on microphone so people would stop complaining about the loss of volume during his sermons. He agreed to wear it, so every Sunday morning I would attach the clip on mic to his tie and put the transmitter in his coat pocket.

The system depended on him turning on the transmitter, however. He'd forget to switch on the unit and then he'd walk away from the hard wire pulpit microphone. I'd have to make all sorts of hand gestures to get him to turn the transmitter on. It became a joke when other members saw me wildly pointing at his coat pocket during the sermon.

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