When should you consider an earset or headset microphone?
When you want the intimate sound of holding a handheld microphone close to your mouth but you want your hands free to express yourself. When compared to lapel and podium microphones the sound is louder, clearer, more intimate and more authoritative.
The main difference between the two headworn microphone types, the earset and headset are in the way you wear them. Most headsets have a spring-loaded band that goes over the head and uses pressure against both sides of the head to secure itself. The mic element is suspended on a small boom (shaft) that reaches down from your cheekbone/temple area to your mouth. Some models have a design that attaches around both ears to give a more secure fit for speakers, actors, or singers that move more while using the mic. Unlike the headset mic, the two-sided earset mic has a very thin bar that goes behind the head of the person wearing it so it is hardly visible and won't mess up your hair. The earset microphone is very lightweight and attaches around one of your ears and like the headset includes a boom or flexible boom that reaches your mouth. The lightweight unobtrusive earset is currently the most popular choice for house of worship and speaking applications primarily due to comfort and appearance. Some popular models are nearly invisible.
For years many pastors used a lapel mic (also referred to as a lavalier or lapel mic) and a wireless belt-pack system to get away from the pulpit, freeing themselves up to relax, move around and be more expressive. Now we find the earset mic and wireless system is the most popular combination for this user group. We still get calls for lapel mics and recommend them for specific applications, but most of the time the benefits of the headworn mics win out over lapels.
The reason these hands-free mics work so well is that they position the mic element (the part that picks up the sound) much closer to your mouth (the sound source). The mic element of an earset mic rests about 1 inch from your mouth, much closer than a lavalier/lapel or podium mic. A lavalier/lapel mic is normally clipped to your shirt or tie approximately 6 to 10 inches from your mouth. The podium mic is stationary and designed for this application, but is usually at least 8 to 15 inches away from your mouth depending on how disciplined you are. Since the headworn mics are closer to the sound source, you can achieve much higher levels (volume or loudness) without feedback and gain the mobility and sound quality as a bonus.
As you might expect the quality varies substantially throughout the available price ranges, you generally get what you pay for up to a certain point, but this rule does not always apply. Our favorite solution for earset mic is the Countryman E6i. After testing every earset mic on the planet (and we keep testing as more come out) we feel confident that the Countryman is the best value.
We currently have a couple of wireless systems that come with earsets from Audio Technica that are a super value. The ATW-701H92TH is an excellent entry level system and the ATW-2192-TH is a good intermediate system.
Two of our favorite headsets are the Audio Technica ATM75CW and the Shure WH20TQG.
Our recommendations come from the experience of selling thousands of microphones for speaking, singing, and recording. Feel free to call us toll free at 800-562-6006 about any of our microphone solutions.
Wayne DuCharme is a 25 year pro audio veteran,
active worship musician, producer/engineer
& technology product specialist