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How to Make Your Pastor's Mic Sound Amazing

Kade Young
Kade Young
Chief Audio Guru
Vocal EQ Cheat Sheet

The most important microphone at church is the pastor’s. So, let’s go through a few simple steps to making your pastor’s mic sound amazing.

Use the right microphone.

When budgeting for a sound system, the pastor’s mic is usually an afterthought. So you end up with a budget-friendly lavalier or headset mic. Trust me, I have been in this situation more than once and budget microphones never produce great results.

When it comes to the pastor’s mic, you need one that rejects feedback, has a low-profile design and stays in place the entire service. You also need a quality wireless system so you don’t lose sound quality and struggle with drop outs.

The solution? The DPA 4088 microphone.

At around $879, this mic is an investment but your pastor is worth it. It has a cardioid pickup pattern instead of omnidirectional, which will pretty much solve any feedback problems.

It goes around both ears, so it stays in place. It is low profile as long as you don’t use the massive windscreen that is included.

Here is a full equipment list (including smaller windscreens) for the DPA 4088.

When it comes to a quality wireless system, I recommend the Sennheiser EW 112 G3 system. Keep in mind, you will need the microdot to 3.5mm adapter mentioned above to use the DPA microphone with this system.

Use EQ to take it to the next level.

The DPA microphone is going to sound pretty good out of the box, but you can make it sound even better with EQ.

The first thing you want to do is activate a low cut filter (aka high pass filter) at around 100Hz. This will help eliminate low-frequency pops and unwanted noise.

Other than the low cut filter, EQ will be different for every situation. Check out this post for essential EQ guidelines:

The Most Important EQ Techniques for Church Sound.

Use compression to keep the pastor’s mic under control.

If your pastor is anything like mine, he can go from a subdued talk to shouting within a matter of seconds. Now, you could ride the fader up and down, but a better solution is to use compression.

Here is a good starting point for compression settings:

  • Ratio: 4
  • Attack/Hold/Release: Auto
  • Threshold: Set to where loudest moments are compressed around 9dB
  • Gain: 6dB

If there is still too much dynamic range between the loud and soft moments, increase the ratio to 5 or 6. Keep in mind, I do not recommend compressing more than 9-12dB. This is the point where it can start sounding ‘smashed’.

You might also enjoy: How to Make Lead Vocals Sound Amazing

Bonus: Get the Vocal EQ Cheat Sheet

Does the pastor’s mic sound too muddy, harsh or thin? The Vocal EQ Cheat Sheet will help you determine what frequency range is causing the problem.

Vocal EQ Cheat Sheet


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20 comments on “How to Make Your Pastor's Mic Sound Amazing”

  1. The live sound for my pastor sounds great but the camera recording has noise, how can we filter this out for a clean recording without pulling the noise out via editing software? i don't know what kind of camera it is but we run a 1/4inch-xlr auxiliary out of our soundcraft lxii32 board which is then connected to an xlr-3.5mm cable that runs into the line in on the camera
    here is a link to one of the recordings so you hear what i am referring to

    1. Hey Tony - thanks for the comment. It sounds like an issue with the camera's auto gain. Dive into the settings and see if you can turn auto gain off and set gain manually in your camera.

    2. Tony, are all of your other mics (including drum mics) muted when the pastor is speaking? The auto gain settings on your camera could also be messing with you as Kade mentioned. There is some distortion that happens during the loud parts, and it is hard to tell if that is caused by the camera or if your aux output is too high.

  2. One other suggestion if your compressor has the capability, is to use a high (aka soft) knee on the compressor. That makes the compression just as effective, but not nearly as evident. It virtually sounds invisible, but still gets the job done.

  3. I know the importance of a good microphone, and I know a $730 microphone is worth every penny, but my church just doesn't have it. I'm not going to get a $50 Nady either, but is there something in between that you'd recommend? Thanks.

    1. I wish I did, Brian...I just don't know if there is a headset mic that delivers great sound other than the DPA. If we weren't using the DPA, I'd just have my pastor hold a wireless handheld, specifically the Sennheiser EW 135. This mic still comes in at $700, but it includes all the wireless gear.

    2. The DPA is certainly not the only good sounding headset mic out there for spoken word. Check out the Countryman H6 to save a solid $200-250 over the DPA. We ditched our DPA's in favor of this headset due to a series of micro-dot connector failures. The H6 gave more consistent results, and a better fit on the noggin, and thus far have been much more durable.

      It's a sinking feeling to have that stupid DPA connector fail on you while your pastor is speaking, MULTIPLE times. Fool me once, kind of thing...

      You just want something that is omnidirectional (cardioid if your stage is really loud or your pastor stands in mains coverage), and most importantly has field replaceable cables. The Countryman products also offer capsule covers that tailor frequency response to the vocalist.

      If $450-500 is still out of the budget, check out the Countryman E6 or the Point Source Audio CO-8 in the $300-350 range. E6 is a legend, and there are tons of earpiece clip/wrap/cable options.

  4. Zach b, what kind of failures were you having? We just picked up a dpa mic and have used it a total of 2 times when the threads came out of the microdot adapter. I’m waiting to hear about a replacement, but maybe I’ll swap the entire mic out as you did.

  5. Hello. I was wondering what your opinion is on using DPA omnidirectional mic. What are the pros and cons? Our church has used omnidirectional before without any feedback issue.

    1. If you are not having feedback issues with omnidirectional, then I'd stick with it. Other than feedback, the only other issue with omnidirectional is that it picks up way more of the surrounding noise. So, if you have a loud HVAC system or planes cross overhead that are ruining the recording, a cardioid pickup pattern would definitely help.

  6. Zach B great advice and I agree 100%. I won't buy another DPA mic - they sound amazing but in my experience (YMMV) they just don't hold up and replacement parts are expensive. Give me the tried and true E6 any day - extremely durable and replacement cables aren't going to break the bank. I use an E6 through a Senn EW system with similar EQ and compression settings to what Kade has mentioned. Sounds great and super reliable.

    1. Thanks Sean! Interesting that you had issues with the DPA holding up. We've had ours for well over 5 years and it works just like it did when we pulled it out of the box. No repairs and everything is holding up great.

      I'll have to check into the E6 though. Thanks for the tip!

  7. I question the whole "cardioid-feedback" thing.

    Yes, ON A FIXED STAND, it can help, but for handheld use, with untrained users, you never know where they'll wander. Someone always insists on standing right in front of the speakers, then holds the mic at bellybutton height AND mumbles.

    An omni HEADSET is at least predictable that the capsule is somewhat close to the mouth. ANY headset just bought you TONS of gain before feedback due to close mic position.

    Also, the E6 points the capsule AWAY from the mouth, so signal is 180 out of phase, null points to the pastor's back. (it is a great mic though).

    1. Hey Bob - thanks for the comment! I've tried omni and cardioid headset mics side-by-side and the cardioid version not only sounds better, but gives you incredible gain before feedback compared to the omni.

      I can definitely get what you are saying, but I recommend at least testing them side-by-side in your setup to see if it makes the same difference.

    2. How can I Seth up my pastor microphone to sound nice,

      Please I need more explanation on frequency, mid and high

  8. What do you mean by Microdot in this context please?????

    "When it comes to a quality wireless system, I recommend the Sennheiser EW 112 G3 system. Keep in mind, you will need the microdot to 3.5mm adapter mentioned above to use the DPA microphone with this system."

    1. Hey Richard - By default, the DPA microphones come with a microdot connection. But Sennheiser wireless packs have a 3.5mm connection. So, that's why you need the adapter.

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