10 Best Conference Microphones

Well, life is not just about singing and Skyping, there is also business. With businesses bigger than tutoring come conferences and that is when you really need a reliable sound quality mic. It should pick up everybody’s voices and cancel out everybody’s noise. Here are the best conference microphones for you.

Boundary microphones

MXL AC404 USB Conference Microphone

Boundary microphone is the simplest solution and you have probably seen it in the movies or places of business. One 10-inch long mic that works for everyone in the room and has as equally simple USB connection, both on Mac and PC. MXL AC404 picks up sound from 25 ft. around. The red light under the metal mesh indicates it’s on.

The mic delivers superior sound quality even in noisy environments. 30 people cannot make enough noise to crash a Skype call or a hangout with this hardware. In fact, any location with walls and a ceiling can be turned into a conference room thanks to MXL AC404.

3 capsule boundary design makes positioning and reverberation easier but still important in any room you are planning to use it. Some old USB ports do not provide enough phantom power so if the mic does not seem to be working, connecting to another USB port could be a solution. Built-in headphone/speaker monitoring jack is a thing of use as well, but you should remember the device is the mic only. No additional latency when testing with Skype or Google+ with a headphone for voice or video. The package includes 6 ft USB cable, that headphone jack, and a leather-style carrying case.

Samson UB1 USB Boundary Microphone

A competitive solution from Samson, UB1 offers plug-and-play operation on Mac OS and Windows as well. 16-Bit, 44.1- 48kHz sample rates and omnidirectional pickup pattern are a reliable standard for this kind of mic.

The UB1 also comes with Cakewalk Sonar LE workstation software. The solid zinc body and sturdy metal mesh construction make the UB1 a reliable tool for conference rooms, courtrooms, and all other rooms that require high-quality computer recording. It perfectly works for non-professionals, being simple. It works well with self-powered USB extension cables, a 10-foot one comes bundled.

This is an old model, though, first available in October 2011.

MXL AC-424

The next, wireless level for boundary mics is the MXL AC-424. Just like the AC-404 above this model offers a wide angle of pickup that captures sound accurately in your conference room. That’s based on another commonality – the three-capsule layout with 180 degree pickup pattern. Maybe, the thing that will make you happy the most is that 25 ft. range is available here as well. For many users, MXL AC-424 is so good it works even in the corner. Top-of-the-line it is.

Naturally, the AC-424 has not lost the PC and Mac compatibility.

As shown on the pic, this one also features a backlit mute button for whimsical private remarks. It stays muted until you press it again.

There is a headphone jack here too, you can do private conference at a work station.

Realistically speaking, as it works in huge spaces AC-424 is not 100% echo-proof.

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Gooseneck conference microphones

If you are sure that the microphone must be as close to speaker as possible, there are no alternatives to gooseneck mics.

MXL AC-400

This might start looking like an ad for MXL mics, but when it comes to goosenecks the producer can offer you a thing as well. MXL AC-400 features flexible 15” gooseneck that speaker can adjust to his face. Individual mute button helps speakers not to interfere. The is excellent hardware for offices and conference rooms. Easily connectable up to three AC-40EXT mics. This gives each conference member his own microphone with his own mute switch.

As the “gooseneck” name suggests, this kind of mic can be far from elegant. But it’s not true for MXL AC-400. With solid metal construction and high-tech design, the MXL AC-400 makes for one elegant goose neck. 

USB connected and powered, this is model deserves a spot on this list.

Pyle Home PDMIKC5

The significant difference from boundary mics is you need quite a few goosenecks to equip a conference room. That could be pricey and the best way to save money would be Pyle Home PDMIKC5. Lots of features are no worse than with the MXL model. The gooseneck is adjustable. Rugged metal tube and PVC plastic amount to a pretty good design. The thing everybody uses is also here – the on/off switch, AKA mute button.

Microphone sensitivity is high enough at -40dB (+/-)2dB. Cardioid pickup pattern filters away off-axis sound. Power Supply comes from a 9 Volt battery. Frequency response is not really important for a conference but here is 40Hz~16kHz anyway.

What else? The sound is mono, not stereo, does not work without the battery. And if you put the battery in backwards, you’ll immediately fry the preamp. If you forget to switch the mic off, the battery naturally drains.

Shure CVG18-B/C

We chose Shure CVG18-B/C as a top model CommShield shielding technologu sounds very cool and does save people’s ears from the much hated RF interference, cellphones and any other radio signals. 

Cardioid polar pattern picks up the cleaned up tailored response.  Frequency response is perfect for capturing fast transients in any possible location, especially on the usual podiums and desktops.

Superior rugged and reliable Shure design comes bundled. The base does not allow any tipping at all but it is sold separately. This mic requires 48v phantom power.

B for black, C for cardioid, so the model name is actually shorter and easier to remember.

 

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Ceiling-Mounted Microphones

When people see microphones they tend to bedn down to them. So, the previous two types of mics don’t work if the speakers do not like bending to mics, they like talking while standing or if the speakers use huge sheets of paper that cover the desks and mics with them. In those cases, a ceiling mic is one of the best solutions.

ClearOne 910-001-013-W

The smallest of good ceiling microphones is a ClearOne 910-001-013
condenser mic. This one 1,5″ “showerhead” contains 3 wide-range mics behind one metal grill. They have a 114 dB sensitivity. With a 3.3″ height it does not look like a menacing UFO in the sky. Phantom power unit comes with the package.

 

 

 

Polycom 2200-23809-001 HDX

The “showerhead” above is OK, but not a perfect solution. Polycom 2200-23809-001 is way better at providing the 360-degree voice pickup. In fact, the manufacturer promises a “2,800 square feet of voice coverage”. Usually, conference halls are bit smaller than that. This model is also compatible with the Polycom HDX video systems and Polycom Sound Structure, if you like playing with your hardware.

 

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Microphone Arrays 

Microphone arrays are actually just jumbo size ceiling microphones but they look beyond cool. They look like things from future. No boring metal grills that’s been around for a hundred years.

ClearOne Beamforming Microphone Array

To put it simply, this is a board covered with 24 microphone elements. These 24 microphones comprise the beamforming and adaptive steering technology. The already perfect sound is enhanced with a next-gen acoustic echo cancellation. The array works with Converge Pro 840 and 880 series mixers through the G-Link expansion port. The huge disadvantage is the price. And it would take some time to install and set up.

Available in black as well.

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 Lavalier microphones

The cheapest solution for speakers who like walking about would be the lavalier microphones. They don’t have the word conference in the model names and some would call an unorthodox solution, but nevertheless.

Pyle-Pro PDWM96 Lavalier

This thing is not attached to anything but the speaker and consists of body pack transmitter with that lavalier microphone. Receiver has a 1/4” plug. Volume control and super compact design come in handy in closed spaces. Operation range of up 60 ft is enough for most conference halls. Naturally it is nit powered from the grid as it comes with 9V x 1 battery for belt pack transmitter, and an AA x 1 for the ¼” wireless transmitter.

But this solution will take some time to set up every time.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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