Microphone enthusiasts pay attention to all kinds of microphones out there and we take into consideration characteristics such as shape, size, and build, but lavalier microphones really stand out from the rest. There’s nothing quite like a lav in terms of practicality and quality.
Lavalier microphones are small mics that are commonly used for TV, theatre and public speaking in general because they provide a hands-free operation. These mics come with small clips and they’re usually attached to clothing, which makes it easy to hide the cord and the radio frequency transmitter can be either clipped to a belt, kept inside a pocket, or even routed to the mixer or to a recording device.
The most common question when it comes to deciding what kind of microphone to buy is: which one is the best choice for me? When it comes to lapel mics, what makes them the best choice is that they’re convenient, practical, small, they look discrete and they have an amazing performance quality.
Today we will review the best lavalier microphones available for you in the market to help you make the right decision and get the most value for your money.
- The benefits of lavalier microphones
- Advantages and disadvantages of lavalier microphones
- How to choose your lavalier microphone
- The Best Lavalier Microphones
The benefits of lavalier microphones
As mentioned above, lavalier microphones, also called lav mics or lapel mics are dynamic microphones. They are versatile and practical, which makes them a great choice for general use. “Lavalier” is a word that refers to a piece of jewellery that’s worn around the neck, and they date from the early 1930s when they were mostly used by telephone operators and air traffic controllers who wore microphones secured by a strap around their necks.
The lavalier microphone evolved into what we know today: a small mic that’s placed near the neck of the speaker and can be easily clipped to any piece of clothing, which allows freedom of movement. They are commonly as external mics for DSLR cameras, TV, theatrical performances, smart devices, public speaking, news reporters, sports anchors and more.
Advantages and disadvantages of lavalier microphones
Lavalier microphones have both advantages and disadvantages; we already discussed some of the advantages above, which include greater freedom of movement for the speaker, no more cabling problems and they reduce the hazard of tripping over cables as well.
Now, some of the disadvantages include limited range, which is a common disadvantage among wireless and wired devices, operation time will depend on battery life, so it will be somewhat limited, and the number of operating mics at the same time and location will also be limited if you use lapel mics and this is because there’s a limited number of radio frequencies. Most of the disadvantages are simply the limitations of wireless and wired mics, that means that, depending on the kind of use you’ll be giving to your lav mic, these disadvantages will hardly get in the way.
How to choose your lavalier microphone
When it comes to choosing the perfect lav mic for your purposes, there are a few factors you should consider. First and foremost, you have to consider your budget. Not having tons of money to spend on a microphone does not mean that you can’t get the best value for your cash, and the good news is that lapel mics are usually very cheap! But you’ll find that putting in a few extra bucks can get you a super high quality mic. Models that cost a bit more are always worth the investment, but if your budget is really tight, getting a cheaper one or two will do the trick.
Price ranges for lav mics are not very diverse, but the prices usually go up if the lav mic is wireless. On our list of top lavalier microphones you’ll find a balanced mix of both wired and wireless lapel microphones for you to consider.
Another important factor to consider when you’re thinking about what lapel mic to get is output and input. Make sure that the input of your lac microphone will match with the output on your recording device, whatever that may be; a smart phone, camera, portable recorder, etc. If you don’t check this beforehand, you might end up spending money on a mic you won’t be able to use.
The Best Lavalier Microphones
Here’s our top 10 list of the best lavalier microphones in the market for you to consider. We’ve done our research and we’re providing a varied list where you’ll find different prices and characteristics that will hopefully suit your purposes and cover all of your needs!
Rode is one of our favorite microphone manufacturers out there, and their smartLav+ is one of the best lapel microphones we’ve found. This mic is on the expensive side of the spectrum, but it’s an amazing investment and you’ll know exactly where that extra money went. The Rode smartLav+ has a reliable build and it has a high-quality omnidirectional condenser capsule that will guarantee equal distribution and pickup for a better performance.
One of the things that makes the Rode smartLav+ so great is that it comes with a foam pop shield that will take care of wind and pop sounds that are unavoidable when you’re recording a speaker from up close. Rode also offers their clients an audio mobile app for when you decide to use your lapel mic with a smart device. This application will allow users to pair the mic with their device so they can have an excellent recorder.
The Rode smartLav+ is definitely one of the best options out there and it’s well worth your money when you consider build, sound quality, and the use you’ll get out of it. If you’re on a budget but you want the best lapel mic, consider saving up to get this one and you’ll be all set.
The Sanken COS-11D is one of our high-end picks and it’s reflected on the price, but it’s the best professional lapel microphone in the market today. The COS 11-D will provide you with an omnidirectional polar pattern and it’s also water resistant, it has a -9 dB reduced sensitivity level, it offers RF noise protection to a certain degree, and it has a very wide frequency range.
The Sanken COS-11D is one of our wired options and the cord is 5.9 inches long. Now, all of these characteristics affect the price, but the real reason for it being on the more expensive side is its internal build. Sanken engineers were capable of fit an extremely powerful mechanism known as lectrosonics transmitters, which are advanced wireless transmitters, into this small lav mic. It’s safe to say that the COS-11D will definitely be worth your money! It also comes with a metal windscreen for protection, a holder clip, a plastic case, and a rubber mount.
If you can afford a professional lapel mic, look no further. The Sanken COS-11D is the best choice in the market by a long shot!
Audio-Technica ATR-3350 won’t provide as high a quality as the lapel mics we’ve seen so far, but the quality is good enough to be a perfect choice and it’s very popular on the web. It has positive reviews and ratings across the board, which is why it’s definitely worth our attention. We promised this would be a varied list, so here’s one of our budget-friendly options. We’ve seen the Rose and the Sanken mics, which are both a bit pricer; now, the
Audio-Technica ATR-3350 comes with a condenser capsule built-in and it’s of surprisingly good quality for such a low price; it also has an omni-pickup pattern and the package includes a clip, a foam windscreen, and a LR44 battery. Audio-Technica is constantly providing their clients new products with reliable builds that will last you a very long time provided that you take good care of your equipment.
If you need a lapel mic right now and your budget is tight, the Audio-Technica ATR-3350 is definitely the way to go. It’s cheap, but it provides a great level of quality that will pleasantly surprise you. Just keep in mind that the sound quality can vary according to the type of device you use to record, and this has a lot more to do with preamps and other factors than with anything else.
Sennheiser EW 100 ENG G3-A
So far this is one of the most expensive lapel mics on the list, but our goal is to show you a great variety so you can be aware of the kind of lapel mics you can get for different prices. The Sennheiser EW 100 ENG G3-A can be the perfect recording system for you if you can afford it. This is one of the best wireless lapel mics in the market and you’ll be getting two receivers, a transforming converter, and of course the clip-on lav mic.
The transforming converter is suited for XLR mics, so this is a great choice if you’re using one of those and if you’re a more advanced user. The Sennheiser EW 100 ENG G3-A has a great build, a great graphic display, and it also communicates with receivers via AF frequency. This lavel mic is definitely a “go big or go home” kind of buy for semi professionals and professionals alike, so it’s worth checking out.
Audio-Technica PRO 70
If you’re a musician and you’re looking for the perfect lapel mic, the Audio-Technica PRO 70 is one of the best choices on the market for you. According to users, this microphone is best suited for vocal and acoustic guitar recording thanks to its switchable low-frequency roll-off.
The Audio-Technica PRO 70 can run on batteries or on phantom power and it has a cardioid pickup pattern that makes it ideal for recording sides and rear. This is semi-professional lapel mic and if we look at the price, it’s a bit more expensive than other lapel mics, but it’s not as expensive as other semi-pro or pro choices like our previous mic. Audio-Technica provides its clients with stable and long-lasting devices which makes for a great buy. If this is something you can afford, you’ll be getting a lot of value for your money and it will definitely make a difference in your recordings.
Pyle Pro PDWM96
The Pyle Pro PDWM96 is one of the most affordable options in the market for lav microphones, and it’s a great choice for you if you need a wireless lapel mic while still saving a few bucks. When you consider that cheap microphones can be low quality, the Pyle Pro PDWM96 will get the job done even if it’s a cheap setup.
The Pyle Pro PDWM96 comes with a body pack transmitter with a clip-on mic and volume control, batteries are included in the package and the mic’s range can reach up to 60 ft. This is a simple wireless solution to your problems and we’re actually very surprised with its quality considering it’s so inexpensive. However, the truth is that you’re still getting what you pay for and it will have some limitations. The Pyle Pro PDWM96 can also be strapped to your waist, so it’s considered a belt mic, which will make it even more versatile.
The Countryman B6 is another high-end option for you and it’s one of the common choices for professional users. One of the big advantages of the Countryman B6 is that it’s super small, which means that it can be hidden in somebody’s hair, around a button and almost anywhere else you can think of. This is one of the most attractive features for professional users because the lavel mic won’t be an eyesore; it will be extremely discrete and non-intrusive.
Now, don’t think for a second that such a small mic won’t be worth the price. The Countryman B6 has a low distortion at high sound-pressure levels and it also has an amazing feedback and ambient noise rejection which means that your recordings will be clean. Another great characteristic that experienced users find extremely attractive is that the protective caps can be changed to toy around with frequency for when you need to adjust it to the application.
If you’re looking for a professional, high-end equipment, the Countryman B6 is definitely a great choice to consider.
Sennheiser ME 2
The Sennheiser ME 2 is another really expensive choice but that’s because Sennheiser provides some of the best quality when it comes to build and overall reliability.
This lapel microphone has a wide frequency range at 30 to 20 kHz and a condenser capsule that’s one of the main reasons the price is so steep.
The Sennheiser ME 2 is omnidirectional with a pick-up pattern, which makes it quite ordinary, but it’s a high-quality microphone and it’s a lot better than other cheaper models on the market.
The Azden EX-503 is yet another omnidirectional lapel mic with a decent response of 30 to 18 kHz. One of the really cool features of the Azden EX-503 is the attachable windscreen because it provides decent sound quality, and it comes with a seamless clip and a long cable that will suit any application.
It’s super budget-friendly and it provides a lot of value for your money! Azden microphones are known for being a solid and reliable choice and it’s one of our favorite picks.
You should definitely consider this if you want a good lapel mic and you don’t want to or can’t spend big bucks.
The Movo WMIC50 is our last option on the list and it’s a wireless microphone that’s a bit more expensive than the Pyle mic we discussed earlier. This is definitely a safe choice because you’ll get range of up to 164 feet! It comes with a belt clip, two transmitters, a camera show, a lav mic and two earphones.
The Movo WMIC50 is a great deal and its 2.4 Ghz frequency is very decent. The only disadvantage is that the battery life is around 3.5 to 4 hours of use, which is not much if you’ll be out in the field for a longer period of time. However, you can easily deal with this problem if you get extra batteries, but that’s definitely up to you and to the limits of your budget.
When you’re considering the best option, you really have to have a clear idea of the applications and uses you’ll be giving to your new mic, because that is what will help you to make the right decision. As long as you have a clear idea, you’ll find an option that fits your budget without too much complication. All of the lavel microphones on this list are amazing for their price and they can suit your purposes and needs very well. Be sure to leave us a comment telling us what you think of these choices and we would also love to hear about your experience with any of these lapel mics!