What Is a Portable Microphone?

A microphone is a device that transfers sound to another device for the purpose of amplification or recording. A portable microphone uses a battery or the battery of another device, such as a laptop, for power. It can be used virtually anywhere. There are several different types of portable microphones that are frequently used.
One very common type of portable microphone works with a tape recorder or other portable recording device. This kind of microphone is often built in to smaller tape recorders, though for highest sound quality people often choose to use a separate microphone that plugs into a port on the recorder. These setups are used for functions such as recording sounds in nature, and are favorites among bird watchers. They are also popular for taping classroom lectures and are also used in many other situations where portability and ease of use are required.

A similar type of portable microphone attaches directly to a laptop computer. Although laptops usually have some kind of microphone built into the unit, an add-on portable microphone can provide higher sound quality. Podcasters use microphones such as these to create clear, understandable podcasts for broadcast over the Internet or via cellular phones.

Teachers and lecturers often use a portable microphone connected to a speaker to amplify their voices. This allows the audience to hear everything that is said without undue strain on the presenter’s voice. Typically one of these microphones is attached to a headset that is worn by the user. The small but powerful speaker is worn on his or her belt and is used to output the user’s voice so that it can easily be heard by the audience.

Television also makes use of portable microphones. It is not unusual to see people in reality shows, talk shows, news interviews, or other types of broadcasts wearing tiny, portable microphones clipped to their lapels or collars. These portable microphones pick up whatever is said and transmit it via a wire to a unit worn by the person, usually on a belt or attached to the person on his or her back under clothing. From there, the signal is sent via a radio signal to other equipment for use in the program.

A portable microphone is generally not very expensive, though the units made for television can cost quite a bit due to the need for very high-quality sound. Units such as those that lecturers use are available for under $100 US Dollars (USD) as of 2011, and a small portable microphone for use on a tape recorder can cost less than $10 USD. Sound quality should be considered when purchasing a microphone, but even very inexpensive units often have acceptable sound quality and can work well for most purposes.