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Often times when I see public figures on media having multiple microphones during their speeches. Sometimes even up to 5 microphones for one person at a time.

Why is this? What are these microphones used for?

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There are a few possible reasons. If you see just two identical mics it's for coverage and diversity -- to get a good signal no matter where the speaker faces, to shape the pickup pattern.

If you see multiple different mics it's usually because the venue didn't provide a 'gang box', a splitter that can supply feeds to many different sources, or one or more of the people being fed couldn't connect to it.

Another (more cynical) reason is that many news organizations want to place their logos in the shot.

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  • So I understand that the answer is actually not sound engineering related, but in order to save time on further misunderstandings, I think it's good to keep this on the site. – Ivan Ivković Dec 22 '14 at 16:41
  • Having two microphones for a high profile speaker is also a way to have at least one microphone working if there's a failure on one of them. It can be considered mandatory for a live event. – audionuma Dec 22 '14 at 19:02
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Ultimately, each group doesn't want to be responsible if someone else's audio doesn't work, so they get their own. It's generally simply because they don't want to share/rely on each other and the venue or speaker doesn't force them (or can't provide for them) to play together.

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