What is a Clip-On Microphone?

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  • Written By: R. Anacan
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 April 2014
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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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