The more I look at microphones and amplifiers and PA systems and pickups (oh my) the more I am realizing that I have no idea what I am doing. (sorry the question is so long, it's kind of a stream of consciousness thing. there's a tl;dr down at the bottom.**)
I am a multi-instrumentalist playing with a volunteer band that plays at several retirement and nursing communities in the area a few times a year. We've played indoors in a room with school cafeteria acoustics, indoors in a smaller/warmer dining room area, and outdoors on a cement patio. The people in the band who have gigged before and have their own equipment have set me up with a mic and mic stand a few times and done their best to place it so that I can be heard with either instrument, but it is not really an ideal situation. I have to have my face right in the mic while fluting and therefore can't really see my music or the rest of the band, and it is rather too close for comfort while I am bowing the violin.
Ideally, I would like to have a setup that is somewhat self contained and possibly wireless if I am going to be moving around and switching up instruments all the time. (I'm kind of klutzy.) I'm also not above picking something up that fits my budget (under $100) and almost does the job and DIYing a rig that better suits my needs.
I was originally considering getting a small practice amp that I could clip onto my person (such as the Honeytone N10B) and just switch cables between a lavalier mic clipped to the headjoint of my flute and a violin pickup as needed: Cherub-WCP-60V-Violin-Pickup (amazon) $7.20; Danelectro-N10BK-Honey-Tone-Black (amazon) $19.99; Audio-Technica-ATR-3350-Omnidirectional-Condenser-Microphone (amazon) $18.99 (picture shows a watch battery, so I assume this means phantom power is optional?); 1/8 to 1/4" adapter (already own).
While I like the roughly $50 price point of that set up, further reading on this site has lead me to believe that a practice amp will not have enough juice to carry over the other instruments, particularly not when they are also mic'd.
So, possibly a personal PA system? I do believe that I could get away with using a single headset mic for both instruments, provided I can keep it out of the way of both the shoulder rest and the bow on my violin, and a headset seems to come packaged with the PA systems I have looked at. But I'm really not at all certain how to determine if one of these in my price range would hold it's own with the rest of the group? Idea: Or, could something like this also serve as a line-out to the mixer rather than serve as the speaker itself? Actually, my keyboard has a 1/4" mic in (complete with separate volume knob) and a 1/4" line out which certainly makes me think the idea is viable. Granted, my keyboard is a bit cumbersome compared to something I might be able to clip to my person, but it also might turn out to be one piece of the puzzle that I don't have to purchase.
Actually, yeah, do they make microphone switches that would allow me to have two microphones plugged into the same cable on the mixing board and just switch between whichever one I want to be active? I think I could maneuver around a single cable that came directly to my belt or something if I were able to easily alternate between inputs, or if I were using just a single headset mic. That could work very well for me and might even let me get away with spending a little bit more money on the mic.
(After reading more into wireless systems, I do not think this will be practical financially or even in application. I don't know if anyone else in the group currently uses a wireless system and whether we'd have to continuously juggle frequencies at each different venue, one of which is adjacent to the township police and fire/rescue facility and might therefore be subject to additional radio activity. Additionally, I probably would prefer to not have to pay for both a transmitter and a receiver in addition to the microphone itself.)
**So, the tl;dr version: Budget is $100 or less for all
1) volunteer multi-instrumentalist on a budget: can't stand having stationary mic in face, what are my options (some thoughts in the text above)? I play flute and violin and whatever else I can get my hands on with several vocalists, a bass guitar, a banjo, two acoustic guitars and a ukulele/acoustic guitar/mandolin. The group plays mic'd.
2) is there such thing as a microphone switch (ie, a device that would allow me to plug multiple sources into a single input on the mixer and designate which source is active, like an hdmi switch for the tv)? my search results on Amazon seemed sketchy so I thought maybe it had a different name if it existed.
3) can I/should I consider using my keyboard as microphone/cable manager to help realize my dream of musical mobility? Will it save me money? Is it just too clunky to bother (Casio LK 165)? Or is it just too weird to have a keyboard on stage when no one intends to actually play it?
Thanks for your input.