DNA extraction and primer choice have a large effect on the observed community structure in allmicrobial amplicon sequencing analyses. Although the biases are well known, no com- prehensive analysis has been conducted in activated sludge communities. In this study we systematically explored the impact of a number of parameters on the observed microbial community: bead beating intensity, primer choice, extracellular DNA removal, and various PCR settings. In total, 176 samples were subjected to 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing, and selected samples were investigated throughmetagenomics and metatranscriptomics. Quantitative fluorescence in situ hybridization was used as a DNA extraction-independent method for qualitative comparison. In general, an effect on the observed community was found on all parameters tested, although bead beating and primer choice had the largest effect. The effect of bead beating intensity correlated with cell-wall strength as seen by a large increase in DNA from Gram-positive bacteria (up to 400%). However, significant differ- ences were present at lower phylogenetic levels within the same phylum, suggesting that additional factors are at play. The best primer set based on in silico analysis was found to underestimate a number of important bacterial groups. For 16S rRNA gene analysis in acti- vated sludge we recommend using the FastDNA SPIN Kit for Soil with four times the normal bead beating and V1-3 primers.