Best Lavalier Microphone : Ultimate guide
Years ago I recorded my first video for the internet.
I put my fancy brand new DSLR on a tripod… pressed record….and proceeded into the unknown.
I figured that because the camera was so expensive , the built in mics were going to do a decent job.
After all….. it was over 1000 dollars.
To my surprise after reviewing my footage….
It didn’t do a great job….The terrible audio stood out like a sore thumb …and my video was unusable.
That day I learned a valuable lesson.
Audio is a vital element to your video.
It really makes or breaks your video quality.
Most Filmmakers will agree that audio is equally as important as your visual content. If you watch enough videos on youtube you’ll experience the value in high quality audio.
In general most on camera mics sound terrible. You will need to invest in a better microphone system .
Lucky for us , in today’s world there are many options to help us record great audio for our videos.
One of the best ways to get great audio recordings is with the help of a lavalier Mic .
In this article , we will go over the general things you need to know about lav mics. After we explain the basics, we look at features and benefits that you should look for in equipment. After a brief education on the topic , we will show you our top choices in different price ranges. We will explore Budget Mics , Midrange, and Pro options to buy online.
LAVALIER 101 : A brief overview
- What is a Lavalier Mic? : A Lavalier mic is a small microphone that can clip or attach to the subject of recording. Its main benefit is to record high quality audio and not need to be held or seen by viewers. Benefits include
- Hands Free
- High Quality sound
- Hidden from view
- Placed close to mouth
- How do you attach a Lavalier Mic? : There are many ways to attach a Lav mic to yourself or another person. It’s very common to use a clip to attach a Lav mic. If you are attempting to attach a Lav under clothing onto the skin, you may need to use adhesive or tape. Many professionals try to hide the position of the lav so it is not visible.
- Common uses for Lav Mics: Lav Mics are most commonly used for interviews that need clear dialogue. Film makers can use lav microphones under the clothing and will typically hide all wiring so you cant see mic or transmitters . Many filmmakers pair audio with boom mic. The lavalier may provide clearer voice audio than shotgun mics.
General tips to consider : When Shopping for Lavalier Mics.
- Sound is subjective.
Everybody has their own preferences with regards to audio. If you ask 5 people to critique a recording for its quality content , you’ll get 5 different answers. Some mics are more bass heavy and others more dynamic in the high frequencies. It’s best to first become familiar with low , mid , and high sound frequencies and how they affect a vocal or other type of recording.
To create high quality audio, as a rule of thumb you should aim for a balanced range of high and low sounds.
- Everyone’s voice has different ranges.
When picking a microphone , you should choose the best recording device for your subject.
Pick the best tool for the job.
For example: when recording a female I usually pick a microphone with better lower end enhanced recording . This way it balances out the natural higher frequencies in a female voice. The opposite is true for most vocals of men’s voices. They tend to have more bass . For men I may recommend a mic that accentuates the higher frequencies. This way the recording doesn’t sound overly bass dominant. This also saves a lot of time in post production.
- Understanding microphone basics : Common type of mics
Understanding the polar pattern of a microphone you are using will help you get the right type of recording. There are commonly 2 types of patterns used with most Lav Microphones. Omnidirectional and Cardioid.
Omni directional mics will pick up audio all around in 360 degrees. This type of microphone will pick up small sounds in the background and environment when you are recording. These mics are good for most general audio recordings. These mics will catch background noises.
Directional mics will pick up sounds in a smaller area. The feature of a directional mic will only focus on one area of sound recording. This mic is good if you’re trying to isolate a smaller area without getting a lot of background sounds in the recording.
Lavalier vs other mics
To better understand why you should choose a lavalier, we will compare two other popular microphone designs. Common microphones used in Video production are Shotgun Mics ( aka boom mic) , Handheld and Desk Mics , and Lavalier Mics. It’s important to understand how they differ from each other.
- Lavalier vs standing microphone
A standing microphone will usually give you great recording quality. However one common problem with a standing mic is that it is in the way and is present in your video. You have to speak directly into it and sometimes hold it . Standing mics are usually very large and will be in the frame of video.
Some situations it may work. But that is up to you to decide. It really depends if you want the mic to be viewable in the scene.
This is a major reason creators use lavalier mics is so that the microphone is hidden and is attached to the talent or a nearby object.
- Lavalier vs shotgun
Shotgun microphones point a focus in one small area. Wherever you point the mic is where you can isolate the sound recording. Shotgun Mics can be used for interviews as well as capturing atmosphere and background sounds.
Many Films capture the audio using shotgun boom mics. (Great for background and ambient sound)
Shotgun mics are typically aimed at subjects from outside the frame. The farther away your mic is from you the weaker the signal.
That is one limitation to the shotgun mic.
Although many professional shotgun and boom mics can do a great job of isolating vocals or other sound effects, to get closer you will need to use a lavalier.
A lavalier can get closer to the target for example…… someone’s voice.
For situations where you need highly focused audio of something ( like a persons voice ) a lavalier is a great option. You can also record the same setting with shotgun and lavalier recordings , then blend them together to have greater control of all audio.
Now that we’ve gone over some basics of Lavalier mics, let’s look at our top Lavalier product picks for 3 main categories.
Budget , Mid-level , and Pro level suggestions.
BEST LAVALIERS MICS UNDER $100
What makes a budget level Microphone?
- High Value for the money
- Great for Beginners
- Increase Production Value of your videos
- Minimal Price Investment
- Size : Small and compact vs handheld mics
- Mediocre Build quality : For these low price point companies usually have to cut corners to make a lower priced item. The build quality is usually the first to go.
- Usually only 3.5 jack
- Higher Radio interference than higher priced mics. Decreased quality
- No Mic Caps for sound filtering ( see pro lavalier )
- Not water resistant
- PURPLE PANDA SUPER CHEAP
The Purple Panda is a great budget lavalier microphone that is great for those on a budget. This microphone is compatible with many popular smartphones .
With over 1500 4-5 star reviews on amazon you can see the social proof that many people are happy with the purchase.
Comes with extra clips , dead kitten , 6 foot wire and extension cable.
Comes with all accessories to connect to phone to computer .
No batteries needed and is powered through cable. Check the availability in link below
- AGD -DAT BEST
The AGD – dat best Lavalier is our second choice for best budget Lavalier mic. It records in mono which is not as good as a stereo signal , but still delivers a decent sound quality. This mic seems to use higher range frequencies. We may recommend using this with male vocals to cancel out the naturally bass heavy male voice.
Comes with noise canceling muffs, Extended chord, clip, and works with most cell phones. For under $40 this is a great budget lavalier that won’t break the bank.
- BOYA BY-M1
The Boya BY-M1 is a great budget mic. It’s a condenser mic meaning it will require a battery for phantom power. Condenser mics are more sensitive and can provide high quality sound. The design and build quality is all plastic not anything amazing. However this is a budget mic for under 25 dollars. It can record to smartphones or cameras.
- Condenser Mic Omni directional
- Needs battery
- Does Not have dead kitten
- GOOD SOUND QUALITY
- 3.5 to ¼ inch adapter
- 6 meter cable
- Larger LAV than AGD and PURPLE PANDA
- RODE SMARTLAV+ ( WIRED SYSTEM FOR YOUR SMARTPHONE ) $79
Last on the List is the Rode SmartLav Plus. Although this is a great Lav, we placed in in fourth place due to the higher price. Its is over 2x the price of the Purple panda and other Lavs.
Some perks to the Rode is the build quality is superior to the other Lav mics in this category.
Comes with a standard clip , dead kitten and extension cord.
The lav can be used with all smartphones and other devices using 3.5 inch and ¼ inch jack.
- MOVO WMIC50 $79
It’s hard to find a wireless system under $100 . If wireless is what you’re looking for this full system is your best option. Offers quality audio and comes with Lavalier, Transmitter and receiver.
Design and build quality : Cheap build as you expect for the price. Size is slightly bulky (the size of a deck of cards) Transmitter and Receiver are the same size.
Comes with all cables to use the lavalier system.
Sound quality: Best for female voice as it lacks in high ranges ( more of a bassy tone). Check stock below
BEST LAVALIER MICS UNDER $300
What can you expect from the best MID RANGE level Microphones under $300?
- Quality build and design : Better Materials
- Size : Smaller components to hide better
- Wireless Options
- Best value for the money
- professional sound quality
- Known brands you can trust
- Repairable elements
- RODE WIRELESS GO $199
The Rode Wireless GO is an incredibly popular wireless system by Rode. We chose this as our number one Mid ranged Lav system because of its high popularity among creators and professionals alike.
The Build and design is compact and high quality. It is not made with cheap materials and definitely can survive a few drops .
In the box it comes with all you need to begin recording wirelessly.
Sound Quality is very good and wireless range is very good. You can record from over 100 feet away with clear signal.
7 hour battery life.
One major advantage of this system is that you can record directly into your DSLR vs an external recording device. With many other lav options all audio recording must be matched up with video in post. Check current pricing below
- SENNHEISER XSW-D $299
Second place goes to the Sennhieser XSW-D. This is another wireless system . It is slightly larger in size that the Rode Wireless Go system.
The build quality is good .
Everything you need to begin comes in the package.
Battery life 5 hours
- COUNTRYMAN B6 $294
The Countryman B6 is an incredibly professional Lavalier Mic for the Mid- Level Price Range.
It is made to work with sennheiser wireless systems. This means you need additional items to make it work.
SIZE : This lav has very pro features including Super Tiny design. If you need a mic to be hidden the size should be important to your purchase. The diameter of the chord is also very small which is good for hiding.
Sound quality is good . It is stronger in the bass frequencies. (perhaps is better for higher pitched vocals) It comes with some helpful accessories to filter noise. It has different color caps for filtering different frequencies ( pro feature )
Micro Dot Adapter gives access to all jacks and attachments
- SARAMONIC 2.4 GHZ WIRELESS LAV SYSTEM $179
Many people have compared the Saramonic wireless system to Rode wireless go.
One pro to this system is that you can attach 2 wireless mics to 1 receiver. This feature is great if you plan on having interviews with multiple people. The rode receiver only can receive 1 signal.
- Build quality is good.
- Sound Quality is good as well
- Comes with all you need to begin.
- Can be purchased with 1 or 2 lavaliver systems for 1 reciever.
- AUDIO TECHNICA PRO 70 $139
Last on of List of best lavs under $300 is the Audio Technica Pro 70. This system is a directional condenser mic that created high quality sound. It is a directional microphone meaning it will get slightly less ambient and background noise.
Good for vocals as well as instrument recording.
Quality build and design. Comes with all you need to begin recording.
A better option for those looking to record instruments as well as vocals and dialog.
BEST LAVALIER MIC UNDER $500
BEST PRO LAVALIER MICS:
What makes a pro level Microphone?
- QUALITY OF THE BUILD: Meant to take a lot of abuse. Repairable
- SIZE : Usually trying to hide the mic
- Comes with other connectors (not just 3.5 jack)
- RF IMMUNE : tons of interference from radio frequencies. ( in the pro level gear they spend a lot of resources on this area )
- DIFFERENT CAPS : Made for sound tweaking high and low frequency
- WATER RESISTANT : Pro level gear may be water resistant
- Different color options ( white , black , natural skin color options)
For these Pro Mics, you will get very high quality sound from each. What makes them different is the small details. Each mic has its own tambr and sound spectrum.
Choose a microphone based on the voice or sound we are aiming to get.
1.SANKEN COS-11D $423
- GREAT BUILD .
- VERY WELL CONSTRUCTED
- MOISTURE RESISTANT
- CUTS WELL WITH OTHER HIGH END SHOTGUN MICS
- PRO LEVEL SOUND QUALITY
- GREAT RF IMMUNITY
- HAS A BRIGHTER SOUND
2. VOICE TECHNOLOGIES VT500 $359
- FLAT RECTANGLE DESIGN.
- PRO LEVEL SOUND QUALITY
- Brighter High Frequency Sound
- GOOD FOR HIDING UNDER CLOTHING
- Comes with ALLIGATOR CLIP & VAMPIRE CLIP : DIFFERENT ATTACHMENT OPTIONS
3. DPA 4061 $472
- MULTI COLORED OPTIONS TO MATCH SKIN TONES
- GREAT FOR CORPORATE VIDEO
- UNIQUE DESIGN –
- HIDES GREAT IN BUTTONHOLE .
- SLIGHT MID RANGE SOUND.
4. SHURE TWINPLEX TL-47 $449
- GENERAL PURPOSE MICROPHONE
- TAN SKINCOLOR
- DIFFERENT CAP OPTIONS
- WHATS UNIQUE WITH THIS ONE : DUAL DIAPHRAM DESIGN (NICE NATURAL SOUND)
- WATER RESISTANT
5. SHURE TWINPLEX TL-48 $449
- SPECIFICALLY FOR DIALOGUE
- VERY HIGH QUALITY SOUND
- DIFFERENT CLIP OPTIONS
6. SENNHEISER MKE2 $349
- HIGHER END LAVALIER FROM SENNHEISER
- HIGH DURABILITY BUILD
- SUPER SMALL
- FAIRLY BRIGHT VOICING ( GREAT FOR UNDER CLOTHING)
As we have addressed in this article, Audio is an incredibly important factor in video . It can enhance your production value when used correctly. Using a Lavalier Mic system is a great way to record audio for your projects.
There are many great options in a wide price range to get the job done.