Whether you’re a freelance personal trainer or a gym owner with multiple instructors on your payroll, headset microphones play a very important role in the delivery of high-quality fitness classes.
In a market filled with varying levels of quality, it can be hard to choose the perfect wireless microphone for your purpose. Here are a few things to look out for when shopping around for your next headset microphone.
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The main purpose of a fitness headset microphone is to deliver the fitness instructors' voice clearly, while they are moving around energetically. Therefore, it is important for the headset to self-adjusting.
Avoid headsets that do not have an adjustable headband, especially if the headset is bought for use by multiple instructors. Make sure it is self-adjusting or easy to adjust, so you don’t have to fidget with the headmic ahead of every class.
Fitness instructors go through extreme movements while leading a class. On any given day, they might guide a class through a yoga flow, demonstrate aerobics exercises or lead a group through an indoor cycle hill climb.
The headset microphone should be able to keep up with every move the instructor makes. A key player in this is the attachment cable.
Aim for a cable length of around 1.2m to make sure the instructors have free range of movement, without getting tangled in excessive lengths of cable, or tugging from a cable shortage.
The cable should have a steel core to withstand tugs and bends, and the connector should be locking, so that it doesn’t get damaged by a drop of the mic-pack belt or headset microphone itself.
Be wary of mics that have interchangeable connectors. The flexibility can be useful if you need a variety of connector types, but it can add a weakness where the cable connects to the headset.
A steady fit will automatically enhance the overall comfort of the headset while wearing it. There are other ways of ensuring the wearer does not suffer from fatigue or pressure pains. The weight of the headset is a good place to start:
The overall weight of the fitness headset should not exceed 60g. A good headset will weigh around 50g to account for the high-quality materials. Lighter headsets might compromise on sound quality or comfort, while heavier headsets would reduce the length of time you can comfortably wear it for, or would cause it to move excessively during exercise.
The material, design, and build of the headset are the next key component to a comfortable fit.
A hard plastic head-harness can cause excessive pressure points around the ears, which make the headset microphone uncomfortable to wear for extended time periods. A soft build can be more comfortable, but can also contribute to an unsteady fit.
A good feature to look for is a padded anchor point for where the headmic rests by your temple and a rubberised adjusting headband. This eases immediate pressure and allows you to wear the microphone for longer.
Another feature that would greatly improve wearer experience is a movable microphone arm. Not only does this mean the microphone can be positioned perfectly for better sound pick-up, but it also means it can be moved out of the way easily when the instructor wishes to give private instructions to any participants.
Look for a swivel or bending headmic arm for ease of use and to reduce the chance of neck strain.
A vital feature for headset microphones are their ability to resist moisture ingress, through sweat or other elements (like light rain when training outdoors).
Look for a headmic that is moulded out of as few pieces as possible. Every seam in the build provides a chance for moisture to enter and compromise the electronics within. Wherever possible, ensure your cable leading to the transmitter pack is hardwired into the headset, and not a plug-in type, as this could cause early failure in the product.
The most valuable part of the headset is the microphone itself. The holes within this allow your voice to be picked up, but also pose a weakness in the overall build.
Always make sure you follow your manufacturer's instructions on how to maintain the microphone, and ensure it is covered with a foam windshield at all times while in use. This will vastly reduce the chance of moisture entering the microphone and corroding the wiring.
First and foremost, you want to make sure it’s easy to find replacement foam windshields for your fitness headset microphone, as these will be the first to get worn or lost.
Secondly, like any electric device, your microphone headset might break. Make sure you buy a headset that comes with a good warranty, and check whether they offer a repair/replacement service in your country.
Some breaks, like cable kinks and connector breaks might not be covered, as these are often caused by misuse, so be careful when transporting and storing your headset. Double-check the manufacturer's warranty terms before you buy your headset.
Speaking of transporting, for the personal trainer on-the-go, it’s vital to have a safe way to carry the headset.
Look for a microphone headset that comes with a hardshell carry case; a huge bonus if you’re prone to carrying your headset loose in your bag.
If your perfect headset doesn't come with a carry case, consider purchasing one separately. It will extend the lifespan of the headset, and it's a good way to store extra windshields too.
A good headset microphone shouldn’t set you back by a lot, but as with most things - you get what you pay for.
The sweet spot seems to be around the £90-£150 range. Usually it’s the little details that can ensure the headset is reliable and long-lasting. For the average fitness instructor, in terms of sound delivery and reliability, it’ll be hard to define a big difference between the headset that cost £300 and £150.
A good way to see whether you’re paying for quality or brand is to compare technical specifications between microphones. You’ll want a mic that has a single-direction pickup and includes noise-cancelling features. This means that your voice won’t be drowned out by background music, and reduces the chance of speaker feedback.
If you’re buying microphones for a single gym, choose the mic that comes with the right locking connector for your mic packs.
If you’re a freelance instructor, having a headset that can connect to various mic packs can be beneficial, but remember the payoff in terms of the longevity of the product.
Finding the right headset microphone will make your fitness classes more enjoyable to teach, improve your student's experience and should last you a long time. Make sure you consider how your headset will be used and stored.
Check the headband and build of the head harness is comfortable and steady.
Make sure the headmic arm is easily adjustable for good vocal pickup and avoid neck strain.
Ensure the connector to the mic-pack is locking to prevent falling damage.
Buy a headset microphone with specific moisture ingress prevention to avoid sweat or other water elements damaging the internal wiring.
Compare direct specification, not brand names or costs.
If you’re looking for budget microphones under £90, be aware that you may sacrifice some comfort or longevity.
If you're buying a high-end headmic above £150 make sure you have a good look at the specs to see what you're really paying for.
Always make sure you protect and use it properly to make your investment worthwhile.
Of course, we've used our experience within the fitness industry to build out own range of fitness-specific headset microphones. If you'd like to find out more about those, check out the Active Pro Series or browse all our headsets here.