Tech for Magicians

As you may know if you've taken a look through my site, I am often asked to provide magic on stage for group performances and large events. Sometimes this is for corporate events where my after dinner entertainment is the perfect way to round off the night, and sometimes it's for festival type events. There are other situations too, including in comedy clubs, theatres and schools.

Often there is already some form of tech on site, and I simply provide my rider*, but occasionally I need to bring the tech in with me. With that in mind, I thought I would go through a few simple tech for magicians terms that you might want (or need) to get familiar with. I hope this will be useful to you in making your tech and staging decisions.

I also know that this will be useful for those of you who provide children's entertainment, as they often need to take their tech kit in with them.

I've recently been going through the process of updating my tech set up, and I'll talk about my choices throughout the post.

*A rider is simply document that a performer sends to their booker that details the requirements for their performance. This usually covers amplification, lighting, stage size, changing facilities plus any food or drink.

Here's the contents for this tech for magicians post:


  • Handheld vs Headset vs Lavalier Microphones
  • Condenser vs Dynamic Microphones
  • Wired vs Wireless Microphone Systems
  • Wireless Transmission Systems UHF vs VHF vs Bluetooth


  • Active vs Passive Speakers
  • Do you need a mixing desk or amp?
  • Line Array vs Two Top Systems
  • How do you play music cues and sound effects from the stage?


  • Balanced vs Unbalanced Cables




tech for magicians collage


Handheld vs Headset vs Lavalier Microphones

First let's look at the types of microphones you might choose. Handheld microphone, headset microphone or lavalier microphone.

Handheld Microphones
A handheld microphone is (obviously!) held in the hand, or can be placed in a mic stand. It is the most commonly found type of microphone that you will encounter, so if you can work with a handheld mic, then it's likely you won't have to take your own.

It's worth noting that many venues don't have a mic stand, so it's worth having one of those. They are super cheap (~£10 on ebay) and they fold up so you can keep them in the car. In the past, I've been shown towards a lectern with a microphone, which is obviously not great for performing magic!

If you are going to buy your own microphone, then the Shure SM58 is a quality microphone for spoken voice.

You can also get those round the neck handheld microphone hooks that only magicians seem to use, but in my opinion they look really naff. Instead I would just learn how to do your routines behind a mic stand.

Points to note

  • Durable and robust design that can withstand rough handling, but not dropping!
  • Commonly found at venues, although quality can vary!
  • Generally less expensive than other microphone types.
shure sm58 handheld microphone in a stand

Headset Microphones
A headset microphone is a attached to a headband or earpiece, positioning the microphone near the user's mouth. They can have a large black mouthpiece like a fitness instructor, or Madonna, or they can have a small flesh coloured mouthpiece like they use in theatres. The small type obviously looks better and is less distracting, but is more expensive. Of course, there is also always a wireless transmitter and receiver with these microphones.

Points to note

  • Hands free which allows you to move freely across the stage and perform the magic.
  • Less common, so you would have to have your own.
  • More expensive as you need both the microphone and the wireless unit.
headset mic styles shown side by side
Discrete theatrical style shown on the left, with the larger fitness style shown on the right.

Lavalier Microphones
A lavalier microphone, also known as a 'lav' or simply a lapel microphone, is a small, discreet microphone that can be clipped to clothing, such as a collar, tie, or lapel. They are commonly used in television, film, and video production, so if you are going to buy one, make sure you buy one that is best suited to live performance. Again, a wireless transmitter unit is required.

Points to note

  • Hands free which allows you to move freely across the stage and perform the magic.
  • Very small and discreet which makes it less visually distracting for the audience and more comfortable for the user. You can forget it's there.
  • Quality lavalier microphones are very expensive. I once did an event where the tech assistant put a £900 Sennheiser microphone on me, and that didn't even include the wireless transmitter or receiver.

Condenser vs Dynamic Microphones

Here are two other terms you will come across and that may confuse you.

Condenser Microphones
A condenser microphone uses a capacitor (also called a condenser) to convert sound into an electrical signal. These microphones require an external power source, either through batteries or phantom power (from the amplifier), to charge the capacitor. Condenser microphones are known for their sensitivity and ability to capture a wide range of frequencies, which means they are often found in studios and where high-quality audio is required.

Dynamic Microphones
A dynamic microphone operates based on electromagnetic induction. It contains a diaphragm connected to a coil of wire, which is placed near a magnet. As sound waves cause the diaphragm to move, the coil moves within the magnetic field, creating an electrical signal. These are cheaper, do not require an external power source and are known for their durability and ability to handle high sound pressure levels, making them better for live performances and loud environments.

For magicians, I would recommend a dynamic microphone for most situations.

Wired vs Wireless Microphone Systems

This one seems simple. There's an old rule that states if you can run a cable you should do. That's because physical cables are more reliable than wireless.

In reality, wireless can be more convenient, and as mentioned if you are using a headset or a lavalier microphone then you will have a wireless transmitter. However, if you are using a handheld microphone, where the amp is very close by, think something like a stand up comedy night, then a wired microphone is very convenient, you just plug one end into the microphone and the other into the amp, and that's it. There's no pairing or finding the right frequencies.

One important point to note though, is if you are using a wireless system, take a backup cable!

Wireless Transmission Systems UHF vs VHF vs Bluetooth

There are several methods for getting your wireless audio from your microphone to the amp.

UHF (Ultra High Frequency) Wireless Systems
UHF wireless systems operate in the ultra-high-frequency range, typically between 300 MHz and 3 GHz. UHF systems have been the industry standard for professional live performances, offering a stable connection, long range, and multiple channels for simultaneous use. They are often found in professional theatres. I once encountered some interference with a system installed in a school, but was able to simply change the channel.

Points to note

  • Stable and reliable with minimal interference from other electronic devices.
  • Long range, often capable of transmitting signals over several hundred metres, allowing for greater freedom of movement during performances.
  • Multiple channels enabling the use of several wireless systems simultaneously without causing interference.
  • Generally better suited for larger venues and professional setups where multiple performers require wireless systems.

VHF (Very High Frequency) Wireless Systems
VHF wireless systems operate in the very high-frequency range, typically between 30 MHz and 300 MHz. VHF systems were popular before the widespread adoption of UHF systems but are still used in some live performances and applications

Points to note

  • Usually less expensive than UHF systems, making them a more budget-friendly option.
  • Limited number of available frequencies and channels, reducing the ability to use multiple systems simultaneously without interference.
  • Shorter range compared to UHF systems, which may limit the performer's freedom of movement however this is usually not a problem for most magicians who are usually on a smaller stage than a professional theatre.
  • Susceptibility to interference from other electronic devices and radio sources, potentially affecting audio quality and signal stability.

Bluetooth Wireless Systems
Bluetooth wireless systems utilize the Bluetooth protocol, a short-range wireless technology originally designed for personal area networks and consumer devices. Bluetooth systems are becoming more popular in live performances due to their ease of use, portability, and lower cost compared to traditional UHF systems.

Points to note

  • Easy to set up and connect, often with automatic pairing between the transmitter and receiver.
  • Lower cost compared to UHF systems, making them more accessible for smaller budgets.
  • Portability, as Bluetooth systems are often compact and lightweight, making them suitable for smaller venues and mobile setups.
  • Higher unreliability as interference can come from the multiple bluetooth devices in the audience.
x vive u3 wireless microphone adapters or xlr cable
X vive U3 wireless cables can be used to make any microphone wireless via bluetooth. A nifty piece of tech for magicians.


  • A handheld dynamic microphone (Shure SM58).
  • A wireless headset microphone (UHF) (Sennheiser SXW ME2)*
  • A mic stand.
  • Several XLR Cables.

*I also really like my friends bluetooth system.

Sennheiser SXW ME2 Headset Version Tech for Magicians


Active vs Passive Speakers

OK, now let's take a look at the types of speakers and amplification that you might use for your microphone/s.

Active Speakers
Active speakers, (aka. powered speakers) have built-in amplifiers that power the speaker components. These speakers require an electrical power source (wall plug or battery operated) to operate and typically have individual gain controls, allowing for easy adjustment of volume levels.

Points to note

  • Simplified setup, as separate amplifiers are not required.
  • No need to match amplifier power to speaker specifications, as the built-in amplifier is designed for the speaker.
  • Often feature built-in signal processing, such as equalization and limiting, for enhanced sound control.

Passive Speakers
Passive speakers, (aka. unpowered speakers), do not have built-in amplifiers and require an external amplifier to power the speaker components. Passive speakers need to be matched with an appropriate amplifier based on their power and impedance requirements.

Points to note

  • Easier to replace or repair individual components, as the amplifier and speaker are separate.
  • Can be more energy-efficient, as only the amplifier requires power, potentially reducing overall power consumption.

Do you need a mixing desk or amp?

Separate mixing desk systems use individual components, such as a mixing console (where you place your inputs), amplifier (to amplify the signal and drive the speakers), and the speakers. These allow for greater flexibility in configuring the sound system, but are more common in professional setups and larger venues, where more control and higher sound quality are required. It also means that you would have more to transport to an event, which is why they are also more common in static locations such as a theatre.

You can get a mini mixing desk however, and I have heard that the Yamaha Stagepass is a quality product, but I would recommend an all in one system that includes the mixer with a fixed number of inputs (aka. channels), an amplifier and a speaker built in.

We'll look at two common options next.

yamaha stagepass pa system
The Yamaha Stagepass - I've heard this is an excellent system but may be too much for most people.

Line Array vs Two Top Systems

Portable Line Array Systems
Line array systems consist of multiple loudspeakers arranged in a vertical line. You may have seen the huge J shaped racks suspended above the stage at a rock concerts. These days you can get a portable version of that. The speakers are designed to work together, producing a more focused and controlled sound dispersion pattern.

Points to note

  • Focused sound pattern, so you can fill a dancefloor with sound whilst allowing people outside to continue have a reasonable level of conversation.
  • Reduced volume differences between the front and back of the audience. In short, it won't be really loud at the front.

Two Top Speaker Systems
Two top speaker systems, (aka. point source systems), consist of one or more loudspeakers placed on stands or mounted on poles, typically positioned on either side of the stage or performance area. These systems are more traditional and straightforward in design, making them suitable for smaller venues, presentations, and events with limited sound reinforcement requirements.

Points to note

  • Much simpler to setup and operate, as two top speaker systems generally require fewer components and less expertise to configure and use.
  • Generally more affordable than line array systems.
  • Can provide adequate sound quality and coverage for small to medium-sized venues and events, depending on the speaker specifications and positioning.

Here's a video that explains a little more. Starts at 2:24. Ends at 6:45.

How do you play music cues and sound effects from the stage?

Well the easiest way is to have someone do this for you. In most cases, this is what happens. I have the music on both an mp3 player (with a 3.5 mm cable) and on a USB stick, and then I print off a cue sheet and spend 10 - 15 minutes with either a member of the tech team, or a member of staff.

Another option if your PA system is nearby is to have a 3.5 mm cable from the PA system to your mp3 player and then simply hit play. This can look a bit unprofessional, if you have to dart offstage to do this, so an upgrade would be to have the music on a bluetooth device, such as your phone. You could then have this in your case, or even have a small bluetooth remote.

A final option is SOLO FX an RFID enabled bluetooth transmitter that sends cued up music or sound effects to an audio device. I haven't seen this in person, so I can't comment on whether it's any good. For me, it seems a bit overkill, but you might want to research it further.


  • An all in one battery powered active speaker (Electrovoice Everse 8)
    I use it on the floor, in a kick back position, but can add a speaker stand if the audience is a little larger. I usually say that it's best for up to 100 people indoors, and if there is more than that, then the client has to provide a PA system.
  • I may in the future get another one of these, plus a wireless XLR (X Vive U3)
  • I also have a consumer level mini bluetooth speaker, that I take to very small parties (~20 people) to play a little background music if required. This is for events when I won't need my microphone.

I just upgraded from a separate amplifier and passive speakers that was very heavy and took up a lot of space. Similar to the Yamaha Stagepass show above but even bigger and bulkier!


Balanced vs Unbalanced Cables

Alright, now let's look at what connects it all together.

Balanced Cables
Balanced cables use a design that consists of three conductors: two signal conductors and a ground conductor. The two signal conductors carry the same audio signal, but with opposite polarities. This design allows for the effective cancellation of any noise or interference picked up along the cable's length when the signals are recombined at the receiving end.

Points to note

  • Improved noise immunity, as the balanced design helps cancel out any noise or interference picked up along the cable length, resulting in cleaner audio signals.
  • Better signal integrity over long cable runs, as the noise-cancelling properties of balanced cables allow for longer cable lengths without significant signal degradation.
  • Commonly used in professional audio setups and live sound applications, where long cable runs and complex routing can increase the likelihood of noise and interference.

Unbalanced Cables
Unbalanced cables use a simpler design that consists of two conductors: one signal conductor and a ground conductor. The audio signal is carried by a single signal conductor, making unbalanced cables more susceptible to noise and interference.

Points to note

  • Simplicity in design and construction, making unbalanced cables generally more affordable than balanced cables.
  • Suitable for short cable runs and less demanding audio applications, where noise and interference are less likely to be an issue.
  • Commonly used in consumer audio devices, such as home stereo systems, headphones, and instruments with short cable connections.

This video here offers another great explanation.


  • I have a variety of cables, including balanced and unbalanced, but I always choose a high quality cable from a reliable manufacturer.
  • As mentioned above, I also would like to get "wireless cables" - which sounds like an oxymoron, but something like the X Vive U3 - although, I would always carry the cable as a backup, even if it means you have to run to the car to get it.

Oh and finally, in this section. It's worth having a quality cable bag to keep everything safe. Search for jump start cable bags. They are usually around £20 - £30.

And it's also worth learning how to wrap your cable correctly.


I don't own any portable staging. If I need a stage then I expect the client to provide that. I recommend it for audiences over 100. If you regularly find yourself providing shows for that size and running into the the problem of not having a stage, or you're setting up your own show, then if I was going to get portable staging, the first place I would look is at Spider Flex. A friend has one of their tables, which is amazing quality.


Likewise, I don't own any lighting. My show is super simple, so I ask for a straw wash, which essentially means that the stage is bathed fully in a very slightly off white colour. If you need a spotlight, or you need some specific lighting for a particular illusion then I am sure you will have more details than me. Unfortunately, I only know the very basic of lighting.

If I was going to buy a light then I would buy one or more non-led par cans (and bulbs to go with them), and then if I wanted to add extra ambiance some small led uplighters. A friend loves the brand Astera, but they are very expensive, and USA based, so there's import fees too. Doubly expensive.


So there you have it. This post about tech for magicians has explored the various technological aspects that can significantly enhance your live performances, from different types of microphones and wireless transmission systems to various sound reinforcement configurations and cable choices. By understanding the unique advantages and applications of these technologies, I hope you can now have the knowledge to make informed decisions when selecting the appropriate equipment for your specific performance needs.

Remember, you don't just need to copy my set up. The venues you work at, and the budget you have, are almost certainly different. Ultimately, the right combination of technology for you can help to both create an immersive and memorable experience for the audience while allowing you to focus on the show rather than just feeling like you are a removal person karting your kit around everywhere

Finally, if you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments below, or reach out to me here.

magician ed performing amazing entertainment for corporate events
Rebecca Blumstein
Rebecca Blumstein
I booked Ed to perform at my husband's 60th Birthday party. We had invited 20 friends to a local restaurant and Ed entertained us between courses. He was supremely professional and we loved all of his magic. Ed was friendly and funny and made sure to include all of our party, who were aged between 3-89. Having Ed's magic at our party made the event special and memorable and I would recommend Ed without reservation.
Daniel Coe
Daniel Coe
Fantastic close up magic that enthralled everyone
Becki Hughes
Becki Hughes
A great evening, blew our mind with his tricks! Would recommend 10/10
Richard Linden
Richard Linden
Ed, you were awesome! - very entertaining, funny and clever.
Craig Pearce
Craig Pearce
Very good and entertaining, would recommend.
Amanda Staton
Amanda Staton
Just wowed at a corporate event… thoroughly recommend.
Tom Soane
Tom Soane
Ed was great, very entertaining.
Davies Lettings
Davies Lettings
A fantastic magician and entertainer.
Shahzad Chaudhry
Shahzad Chaudhry
Just wow, totally babbled. How did he do it. Amazing

Ready to find out more?

Get in touch today for an accurate quote or more information.



It's easy to get in touch with me, either:


During a short phone or video call, we'll talk about your event and your initial ideas. Don't worry, if you're not sure. I've helped to plan many events so I can advise on the best use of magic and other events entertainment.


Once all the details are agreed, I'll send you a booking confirmation and ask you to make the first payment which confirms your date in my calendar. Then it's time to start looking forward to your big event.


I'll check in with you in the week before your event, and on the day of the event. All you need to do now is enjoy the magic, mind reading and conversational comedy.

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