Learn More About Lavalier Microphones
Those immersed in the world of multimedia have a deep appreciation for the A-side of A/V -- as do their audiences. After all, where would a documentary, podcast, or interview be without high audio quality to back up amazing visuals? Though there's a large family of mics that pick up and transmit sound, we're going to focus on the nearly invisible lavalier microphone.
Lavalier microphones give content creators a few advantages over, say, shotgun or podcast microphones. Let’s go over what a lavalier microphone is, what its advantages are, compared to other microphones, and help you find the best lavalier microphones for your next production.
What is a Lavalier Microphone? Lav Mics 101
Lavalier microphones go by a few different names, such as lav mic or lapel mic, even personal mic. They have a relatively long history dating back to the early 30s and have become smaller and more invisible by the decade. Ultimately, lav mics are discrete microphones that attach directly to a person’s body (usually by the lapel, tie, collar, etc.) and capture high sound quality from the person speaking into them. They come in wired and wireless versions, with the latter gaining popularity (and advancing in quality).
A lot of lav mics are considered to be omnidirectional, meaning they pick up audio equally from sound sources in all directions, as opposed to a shotgun mic that mainly picks up sound from the subject directly in front of it.
You can find lapel mics used in public speaking, broadcasts, podcasts, interviews, and even Moment’s own sweet YouTube Content. Don’t sleep on the unobtrusive recording power of lav mics.
Now, let’s go over a few advantages and then show you our top picks from the pros.
Lavalier Mic Advantages. Why You Need a Lav Mic...or Two
As previously mentioned, the lapel mic comes with a few advantages over other mics. Learn why you should add a couple to your gear bag.
The most obvious advantage of a lav mic, specifically the wireless lavalier microphone, is its unobtrusiveness. You can attach a lav mic directly onto yourself and other subjects comfortably and record hours of dialogue without the invasion of an object protruding in front of your face. This is useful in helping subjects appear more natural in front of an audience, while simultaneously feeling more natural & comfortable themselves, during one-on-one style conversations, for example. The level of discretion provided by lavalier mics allows audiences to focus on what’s being said instead of the equipment used.
Beware: Lav mics are so discreet and feel so natural, some people forget that they have them on (hot mic, anyone).
Whether your production takes place while you're sedentary or while mobile, the portability of these discreet wireless systems gives subjects the freedom to gesture, tilt, walk, and move spontaneously, with no strings attached (literally). Just look at TV shows that have guests sit, stand, jump, spin wheels, press buttons, walk back and forth, etc. Sure, removing a mic from its stand can get the job done, but the hands-free portability of lav mics is unmatched.
Though seemingly vain, looking professional is its own advantage. The perception of professionalism can draw more eyes & ears to your content, making it appear more intriguing to your target audience without doing anything else to enhance or change what you’re already putting out. We don’t need to tell you that aesthetics are a big deal, but we’ll make sure you don’t forget that perception can make or break any production -- news or otherwise.
It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, though. Some of the disadvantages include limited power and sound quality compared to larger, more robust microphones. But lavalier mics do have their time, place, and reason to include in your ensemble of mics.
If you need mics and audio gear for other uses, check out our catalog of audio equipment for every purpose imaginable.
Now, see our favorite lav mics selected by audio and video pros.
Our Top Picks of Lavalier Microphones
At Moment, we love a good microphone, so we’ve carefully curated some of the best by top industry brands. Peep below.
RØDE Lavalier GO
First up is the Lavalier Go. One of our absolute favorite lines of lavalier mics and the #1 pick of our very own creator, Caleb Babcock. The Lavalier Go offers professional-grade sound to pros, whether you’re a podcaster, journalist, or another business professional, delivering clear audio in any environment.
Best part? The Lavalier Go pairs perfectly with the next must-see option on our list.
RØDE Wireless GO
The world’s smallest and most versatile system, the Wireless Go works both as a clip-on mic or a belt pack for the previously mentioned lavalier mic. It pairs in three seconds, so there’s no complicated technical setup required, and we absolutely love that.
Audio-Technica ATR4650-USB Omnidirectional Condenser Boundary / Lapel Microphone
As the name implies, this omnidirectional lapel mic by Audio-Technica serves multiple purposes. The mini powerhouse is a USB mic that snaps onto your computer, iPhone, tablet, and other devices while allowing you to use it as a lapel mic as well.
Scroll up to see more information on our lapel mics.
Now that we know what lavalier microphones are, their advantages, and which are a couple of our favorite combos, let’s answer your common questions to help make the decision.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Are lavalier mics good?
Yes. Lavalier mics are good for discreetly capturing audio for interviews, podcasts, films, and more. They can be used with your DSLR camera and smartphones and offer a few advantages that other mics don’t, like ultimate discretion, portability/freedom, while giving off professional vibes.
What should I look for in a lavalier microphone?
There are a few things to look for in a lavalier microphone. Since size isn’t a common issue nowadays, you can get that out of the way. But do pay attention to your mics technical features like whether it’s a transparent mic (meaning it picks up sound regardless of distance) or a proximity mic (that isolates subjects from background noises).
Pick up pattern is another characteristic to look at. While many lavalier microphones tend to be omnidirectional, there are a plethora of mics that are unidirectional or cardioid. The former performs best in situations where subjects don’t move around too much (like an interview). The latter make great options for other film and video productions (like if you’re constantly moving or want to pick up foley).
How much does a lav mic cost?
A lav mic can cost however much you’re willing to invest. At Moment, we have options from under $25 to bundles worth a couple of hundred bucks depending on needs.
Which is the best lapel microphone?
The best lapel microphone is discreet, portable, looks professional, and captures fantastic sound. We have multiple world-class options here at Moment, with one of our favorites being the RØDE Lavalier GO. Other industry-best options are the Saramonic Wireless Lavalier Microphone System or the RØDE SmartLav+ -- all available at Moment.
When would you use a lavalier microphone?
As discussed, there are plenty of use cases for a lavalier microphone, with interviews, broadcasts, podcasts, and similar scenarios as the most common. At Moment, many of the lavalier microphone systems we carry are multi-purpose and can be used for conference calls, action videos, and more.
If you’re someone who needs to capture high sound quality unobtrusively, then you need to get your hands on a lavalier microphone. Discreet, portable, and hands-free for ultimate freedom, these mics are naturally equipped with advantages that other mics simply can’t compete with. If you need more help deciding on exactly which lav mic is best for you, reach out to a Gear Guide to help your YouTube videos, speeches, and interview games to the next level.