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I seem to loose my voice a couple of times a year, much to the relief of my boyfriend and family, which frustrates me immensely. It can largely be put down to my job (not to mention the fact I love to talk) which, as a teacher, means I do have to talk for the majority of the day and raise my voice at times too! I can handle a croaky voice but when it goes completely I must admit I have no patience and start gesturing furiously in people's faces... I've even resorted to writing notes on A3 sized paper to get my point across and believe me; it's not easy at all. At school the one thing I hate is doing a whole school assembly and trying to get the whole hall to be quiet without shouting! We've recently invested in a microphone to accompany an iPod speaker system that the school invested in last year and guess whose desk it ended up on...
Despite my initial reluctance to actually unpack the microphone, for fear of sounding like an absolute idiot when using it, the setting up and operation of it was incredibly simply. The school opted to purchase a Sony FV120 which is described as being a hand held vocal microphone. It's very much like the sort you used to see on programmes such as Top of the Pops (gosh I'm feeling old now, especially as the children I teach had never heard of it when I mentioned it today), it's a basic microphone with a silver head and a black base, attached to a black wire. The wire itself is 3m long which is perfectly adequate for what we currently use it for, but didn't stretch quite far enough for all the shepherds to use it during our nativity play at Christmas! The microphone itself weighs under 200g making it quite light if holding for longer periods.
In terms of operating the microphone it really is incredibly simple but there was also a brief instruction manual supplied in the box just in case I got confused (which is always a possibility)! Prior to using it the microphone must be plugged into a traditional amplifier, a speaker system or even a stereo using the adaptor which is at the end of the 3m cable. There is also another adaptor in the box it comes in which is described as a phone plug adaptor, I've never used this one but I'm presuming it lets you use the microphone with your phone maybe?! Once plugged in the microphone uses power from whatever outlet it has been plugged into, which means there is no need for a separate electricity supply to be nearby. This is great for us as our iPod speaker runs off a battery that can be recharged, so we can wheel it round wherever we want and still use the microphone. On the base of the microphone there is a simple control panel which features a single silver on and off switch which you can't really go wrong with, even I can't!
When you turn the microphone on there's often quite a dull thud type of noise which I associate with turning on speakers or stereos. This seems to be louder too if you're standing near to the outlet it's plugged into as well. There's very little static when this microphone isn't being used, even when it's switched on which is a big bonus during our school productions. The sound is incredibly clear when using the microphone; it really does amplify and project your voice without any interference or static being audible. I was worried we'd get some muffling or some loud squeaking noises (those ones where everyone instantly covers their ears and goes "owww" as they're so high) but luckily we've had very few incidents. I can't really fault the sound quality of this or the ease of operation... my Year 4 children find it incredibly easy to work with indeed.
I did worry that this microphone might not plug into newer systems (as it was released some time ago) but it works fine with our new iPod speaker system and also with a very battered and old stereo system that I've got in my classroom. Here's some technical information that I've taken from the instruction manual (it doesn't mean much to me but here goes)... it's a vocal dynamic microphone that is uni directional (not omni directional whatever the difference might be). The frequency is 50 to 12,000Hz and the output level is 530 dB. As already mentioned it doesn't have an AC power supply or a battery supply to it. It's 204mm in height and 51mm in width at the widest point which seems quite standard really. There's no carrying pouch included.
This Sony microphone was released back in 2003 so it is a somewhat dated model now compared to other hi tech versions that are on the market. The big advantages for us are that it's very easy to work and it's also a lightweight unit which means it's easy to use and comfortable for younger users as well. We've had this for nearly half a year now and in that time it's been used at least once a week, by a variety of people! Considering the children are freely allowed to use this and it's still in one piece and operating just fine I'd certainly say it's a very robust model that will withstand the tests of both time and use. I would however say that it wouldn't be suitable for serious musicians or users out there as, although the sound is very clear, there are far better models that we looked into but were just too expensive for us to purchase.
With regards to price it's currently on sale for £8.99 on Amazon which seems very reasonable to me. So if you fancy a break from shouting... or are simply bored of singing into your hairbrush every night... then maybe think about investing in the Sony FV120 microphone... X Factor ready!
Thanks for reading.