Gear Talk: Micing a Speaker (the Budget Option)

Here we are in week 2 of our Gear Talk series talking about headset microphones. Last week we quickly discussed the types of microphones I prefer to use with speakers and my choice of lapels and podiums along with the pros and cons for each options. This week I wanted to talk about two budget options for headsets to use if money is a bit tight. Both of these options are omnidirectional and both have the option to be dual ear headsets which I would highly recommend for stability and reliability in general.

This first option is a headset my supervisor ended up ordering in a hurry because one of our regional campuses didn’t know they needed so many headsets until basically the last minute. We simply didn’t have time to rent in our normal stock so we had to look for something with great reviews that we could purchase 5 or 6 of. That was the Pyle-Pro PMHMS20. Yes these are $20 headsets (sometimes cheaper) but we were pleasantly surprised at how well they work given the price point. I should note that I actually have my speakers wear them upside down simply because I feel like it fits people better and stays in place much easier. Here is the thing, they could sound a lot better for sure, but they are dual ear and omnidirectional and incredibly cheap so you are getting what you are paying for (it’s not a DPA folks). If you have a drama coming up and using lapels doesn’t seem like an appealing option or you just need a “pyle” of headsets to have around for folks, these aren’t a bad option at all. We actually ended up keeping them in a bin when they were done and we pass them out for use in large group Bible studies and for use in our other tech spaces around the church. They work great and guess what, they are $20 bucks so you don’t mind if one doesn’t come back or is broken. We can comfortably send this out to a camp or on a trip and not worry about a $400 headset getting broken. In my mind, this is just another tool that can find a home and find its’ purpose within a larger arsenal of tools to be used in different scenarios.

This next headset is the one I grew up and basically learned on. When I was younger this seemed to be the industry goto for a long time: the Countryman E6. Now I linked up the dual ear model which rings in just under $500 (perhaps less on other sites) but the single ear version is usually under $350. Earning it a place in the budget category. If you spend time customizing and bending the single ear model to each person, it can and will stick to them reliably but in my experience, very few techs spend enough time doing that. Alternatively, a few pieces of medical tape will help dramatically if time is short (which we all know it can be). Or you can just get the dual ear model. Acoustically, this headset is very middle of the line, which can be a very good thing. It sounds like a tiny condenser so the lows are a bit thin but better placement can help this dramatically. But, it is easy to make sound pretty good and the headset as a whole is great foundation to build on in any arsenal. It also comes with several accessories like windscreens that can help with those unwieldy pops and such. We do keep a stock of these to give out for internal events because they still work great but as they age, we’ve had a few get very brittle because metal can only be flexed so many times before it snaps. This wouldn’t be my very first choice but if I wanted a good place to start, the Countryman is great for that.

So what headset do you guys say is a great budget headset? I’m always looking for new headsets to learn about and keep in the hopper for unique situations. Please use the comments below or on Facebook as a way to let me know what you guys use or have seen so we can get some conversations started. If you have any more questions about either of these headsets or some use case scenarios email me at daniel@studiostagelive.com or drop me a message on Facebook. Next week I’m going to spend the week talking about my utility headset. The one I’ve been turning to a lot. It has a great balance of sonic quality, reliability, and build quality that have made it my go to headset in most situations. If you don’t want to miss it be sure to subscribe to the blog here by following this link. See you all next week!

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