Best Lavalier Microphones: Top Picks for Crystal-Clear Audio Capture

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Last updatedLast updated: January 14, 2024
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When it comes to crystal clear audio, the best lavalier microphones play an instrumental role in delivering an unparalleled sound experience.

Known for their compact size and convenience, these tiny powerhouses capture the nuances of sound, making them an essential tool for professional recording, live performances, and broadcast scenarios. This guide aims to help you navigate the myriad options available in the market and choose the best lavalier microphone for your specific needs.

1.

Rode SmartLav+Editor's Choice

Features

Features:

  • Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional
  • Maximum SPL: 110 dB
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 67 dB
  • Connection: TRRS

The Rode SmartLav+ Lavalier Microphone is a high-caliber wearable microphone designed to ensure professional-grade sound recording across a variety of applications. Its design features an omnidirectional condenser microphone, offering a 360-degree sound pickup, making it a versatile choice regardless of positioning.

The SmartLav+ shines in its performance due to its high-quality omnidirectional condenser capsule. This feature ensures that it can pick up sound from all directions, a valuable characteristic for microphones used in dynamic settings. This means that regardless of how the microphone is positioned on your clothing or how much you might move, the audio recording remains clear and consistent.

Ideal for presenters, broadcasters, and filmmakers, the Rode SmartLav+ offers a discreet design that can be conveniently hidden on the user’s clothes, while the foam pop shield that comes with the device provides a significant reduction in wind noise and vocal plosives. The wind noise reduction ensures that the microphone delivers optimal performance even in outdoor settings or in the presence of air conditioning or fans. The mitigation of vocal plosives ensures a clearer, more professional sound recording by reducing the impact of certain consonant sounds that can cause distortion.

The compatibility of the Rode SmartLav+ sets it apart from its competitors. It is designed to connect directly with a smartphone or tablet, allowing you a hassle-free recording experience. This means you don’t need complex and often expensive audio interfaces to capture professional-grade sound. Moreover, it includes a sturdy mounting clip and ample cable length to ensure flexibility during recordings, allowing you to move freely without affecting the audio quality.

However, like all products, the Rode SmartLav+ does have room for improvement. It would be significantly better if it included a carrying case for safe storage and transportation. This feature would allow you to carry the microphone with you conveniently and reduce the risk of damage or loss.

What makes it special?

  • High-quality, omnidirectional sound recording
  • Broad compatibility with a variety of devices
  • Discreet design with wind noise and vocal plosive reduction

What cons did we find?

  • Lack of a carrying case for secure storage and transportation

2.

Shure MVLBest for Vocals

Features

Features:

  • Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional
  • Frequency Response: 45 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 65 dB
  • Connection: TRRS

The Shure MVL Omnidirectional Condenser Lavalier Microphone is a sleek, compact wearable microphone designed to deliver enhanced clarity in speech recordings across different settings. Its compact and clip-on design makes it unobtrusive, allowing for easy use on the go.

The Shure MVL performs exceptionally well in capturing vocal details. Thanks to its high signal-to-noise ratio, it ensures your voice is loud and clear even in environments with a high noise level. This microphone effectively filters out the noise, focusing solely on the primary sound source, ensuring optimal clarity and accuracy in your recordings.

The Shure MVL is the perfect tool for singers, podcasters, and bloggers, given its excellent vocal clarity. Its high-fidelity audio ensures that every word, whether sung or spoken, is captured precisely, making it a preferred choice for live performances and studio recordings. Its compact design makes it easy to use, whether you’re performing in front of a crowd, recording a podcast, or creating content for your vlog.

A key feature that makes the Shure MVL stand out from other lavalier microphones is its RF/GSM interference protection. This is a technology that minimizes the impact of mobile phone signals on audio recording, ensuring uninterrupted, clear sound. This is particularly important in today’s digital world, where mobile phone signals are everywhere.

However, despite its impressive features, the Shure MVL has a weak point: its audio cable. The cable is somewhat thin and fragile, requiring users to handle it with extra care to avoid damaging it. A more robust cable would make this microphone even better.

What do we love it for?

  • Superior clarity in vocal recording
  • Compact and unobtrusive design
  • RF/GSM interference protection

What were we disappointed with?

  • The audio cable is thin and fragile

3.

Sennheiser ME 2-II Omnidirectional Lavalier MicrophoneGood for Streaming and Studio Applications

Features

Features:

  • Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional
  • Frequency Response: 30 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Maximum SPL: 130 dB
  • Connection: 3.5mm jack

The Sennheiser ME 2-II Omnidirectional Lavalier Microphone is a renowned lavalier microphone, celebrated for its durable construction and clear sound quality. It features a compact design, ensuring it is discreet enough for on-camera applications while still delivering professional-grade audio.

When it comes to performance, the Sennheiser ME 2-II really shines. It boasts high sensitivity and low distortion, ensuring a crisp, clear audio recording every time. Additionally, its omnidirectional pickup pattern guarantees that the sound will remain consistent even if the microphone is not facing directly toward the sound source. This makes it a highly reliable microphone for all your recording needs.

This microphone is perfect for streamers and those using it in studio applications. It offers an excellent balance of clear audio reproduction and low handling noise, making it an excellent choice for professional broadcasting, live streaming, or interview recordings. It ensures that your voice is captured in high definition, providing your audience with an immersive listening experience.

A standout feature of the Sennheiser ME 2-II is its robust design and its ability to handle high SPL (Sound Pressure Level) sources. This means it can capture louder sound sources without distorting the audio, which is an essential feature for live performances and interviews.

Despite its many impressive features, the Sennheiser ME 2-II isn’t perfect. The main drawback of this model is its lack of an inbuilt windscreen, which could affect audio quality in windy outdoor conditions. This means that extra equipment or specific positioning might be needed to ensure optimal audio quality when recording in such settings.

What makes it stand out?

  • Crisp, clear audio with low distortion
  • Robust construction and high SPL handling
  • Ideal for professional broadcasting and streaming

Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?

  • Lacks an inbuilt windscreen for outdoor recording

4.

Audio-Technica ATR3350iSBest Budget Option

Features

Features:

  • Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional
  • Frequency Response: 50 Hz to 18 kHz
  • Maximum SPL: 120 dB
  • Connection: 3.5mm jack

The Audio-Technica ATR3350iS is a versatile lavalier microphone that is designed for clear and accurate voice reproduction. Its compact size and lightweight nature make it perfect for on-the-go recording, whether that be for vlogging, podcasting, or live performances.

In terms of performance, the ATR3350iS ensures excellent audio quality due to its omnidirectional pickup pattern and condenser element. This feature allows for the microphone to capture sound equally well from all directions, ensuring consistent and reliable audio reproduction regardless of the microphone’s orientation.

The ATR3350iS is excellent for those who require a high degree of mobility in their recording applications. Its long cable offers the flexibility to move around while recording, making it a great option for interviews, presentations, or performances. Whether you’re delivering a keynote address or recording a video blog, this microphone will ensure you’re heard clearly and distinctly.

What sets the Audio-Technica ATR3350iS apart is its dual-mono output feature. This allows the microphone to work seamlessly with both video cameras and DSLR cameras, providing superior flexibility and compatibility for a range of recording scenarios.

While the Audio-Technica ATR3350iS offers an array of benefits, there’s always room for improvement. Its most significant limitation is the lack of a power indicator on the on/off switch, which can make it challenging to ascertain when the microphone is operational.

What stands out?

  • Excellent audio quality with an omnidirectional pickup pattern
  • Long cable for greater mobility
  • Dual-mono output for compatibility with video and DSLR cameras

What cons did we manage to find?

  • No power indicator on the on/off switch

5.

Countryman B3Best for Outdoor Use

Features

Features:

  • Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Maximum SPL: 140 dB

The Countryman B3 Omnidirectional Lavalier is a robust and reliable microphone built to withstand even the toughest conditions. Its rugged design makes it an excellent choice for a variety of recording situations, from outdoor interviews to studio performances.

Performance-wise, the Countryman B3 excels due to its moisture resistance and exceptional sound quality. This microphone offers low handling noise and broad frequency response, ensuring your voice is captured accurately and clearly, even in challenging environments.

Given its rugged design, the Countryman B3 is ideally suited for outdoor recording applications or environments where durability is key. Whether you’re recording a documentary in the wilderness or conducting a podcast interview at a bustling city location, the B3 will ensure your sound is captured impeccably.

The Countryman B3 is unique in its water and moisture-resistant feature, setting it apart from many of its competitors. This means you can use it confidently in a wide range of conditions, including high humidity, rain, or even while submerged.

However, the Countryman B3 falls short when it comes to wind noise reduction. Without a built-in windscreen, it may struggle to provide clear audio in windy conditions unless additional accessories are utilized.

Why are we impressed?

  • Robust, rugged design with moisture resistance
  • Low handling noise and broad frequency response
  • Ideal for outdoor recording applications

What negatives must you be aware of?

  • Struggles with wind noise without additional accessories

Features

Features:

  • Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Maximum SPL: 134 dB
  • Connection: MicroDot

The DPA Microphones d:screet 4060 is a professional-grade lavalier microphone renowned for its precise sound quality. This small, versatile microphone can be easily concealed for discrete recording while providing excellent audio reproduction.

The d:screet 4060 impresses with its performance, boasting a wide dynamic range and high SPL capabilities. It is capable of handling sound pressure levels up to 134 dB, making it suitable for capturing loud sources without distortion. This, combined with its omnidirectional pickup pattern, ensures the microphone delivers reliable, high-quality audio.

This microphone is excellent for situations where high-quality sound capture is critical. Its versatility makes it suitable for an array of applications, from stage performances to broadcast journalism. Its excellent audio reproduction ensures that every nuance of the sound source is captured accurately, enhancing the listening experience for your audience.

What sets the d:screet 4060 apart is its modular nature. The microphone is part of DPA’s d:screet series, which allows you to interchange various microphone capsules for different sound characteristics and applications. This provides greater flexibility and adaptability, making the 4060 a versatile tool for any audio professional.

Nevertheless, the d:screet 4060 has a shortcoming: its high price. This microphone is one of the more expensive options on the market, making it less accessible to those on a tighter budget.

Why are we impressed?

  • Professional-grade sound quality with high SPL capabilities
  • Versatile and adaptable due to its modular nature
  • Ideal for professional audio applications

What negatives must you be aware of?

  • High price point may be prohibitive for some users

7.

Sony ECM77B ElectretBest for TV Broadcasts

Features

Features:

  • Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional
  • Frequency Response: 40 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Maximum SPL: 120 dB
  • Connection: XLR-3-12C type connector (Sony)

The Sony ECM77B is an industry-standard lavalier microphone known for its outstanding noise reduction capabilities. It is a favorite among broadcast professionals thanks to its exceptional sound quality and reliable performance.

When it comes to performance, the ECM77B stands out with its ability to deliver clear, crisp audio while effectively minimizing background noise. Its electret condenser design offers a wide frequency response, ensuring accurate voice reproduction. The microphone’s miniature size ensures it remains unobtrusive during video shoots, while including a windscreen helps to further minimize noise interference.

This microphone is ideally suited for high-quality voice reproduction in noisy environments. Whether you are conducting an interview on a busy street, broadcasting from a sporting event, or capturing dialogue on a film set, the ECM77B’s noise reduction capability ensures that your subject’s voice comes through clearly and distinctly.

A distinguishing feature of the ECM77B is its low-profile design. The microphone capsule is small enough to be easily hidden in clothing yet robust enough to deliver professional-grade audio quality. This makes it an excellent choice for television, film, and theatrical productions.

Despite its many strengths, the Sony ECM77B could benefit from an upgrade in terms of its connector compatibility. It currently requires specific Sony wireless transmitters, which can limit its utility for users with different audio systems.

What makes it special?

  • Excellent noise reduction capabilities
  • Compact and unobtrusive design
  • Ideal for use in noisy environments

What cons did we find?

  • Limited compatibility with non-Sony audio systems

8.

Tascam DR-10LBest Mobility

Features

Features:

  • Recording media: microSD card(64MB to 2GB), microSDHC card(4GB to 32GB)
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 22kHz +1/-2dB (IN to PHONES)
  • Maximum SPL: 115 dB SPL
  • Recording format: WAV(BWF), 44.1kHz/48kHz, 16/24-bit

The Tascam DR-10L is an all-in-one solution combining a high-quality lavalier microphone and a portable digital audio recorder. This compact and easy-to-use device offers an excellent solution for anyone needing to record high-quality audio on the go.

In terms of performance, the DR-10L shines with its ability to deliver professional-quality sound recording in a portable package. The included lavalier microphone captures clear and detailed audio, while the built-in recorder offers high-resolution audio recording. Furthermore, the DR-10L features an automatic leveling function and a limiter to prevent distortion and clipping during sudden volume increases.

The Tascam DR-10L is an ideal solution for a range of applications, from interviews and documentaries to weddings and corporate events. Its all-in-one design provides a simple and effective solution for capturing high-quality audio without the need for bulky equipment.

The unique feature of the DR-10L is its integrated recording capability. Unlike traditional lavalier microphones, the DR-10L includes a digital recorder, eliminating the need for a separate recording device. This allows for greater flexibility and mobility, particularly when recording on location.

However, the Tascam DR-10L is lack of XLR output is one limitation. This can restrict its compatibility with certain professional audio equipment, limiting its versatility in more advanced audio setups.

What are its best features?

  • High-quality microphone and digital recorder in one compact package
  • Automatic leveling and limiting functions
  • Ideal for a range of on-the-go recording applications

What could be improved?

  • Lack of XLR output can limit its compatibility with certain audio equipment

Things to Consider

When it comes to the audio world, lavalier microphones are vital tools. Known for their small size and ability to clip onto clothing for hands-free usage, they are a mainstay in fields like television production, theater, public speaking, and many more. However, the market is teeming with a multitude of models, each boasting unique features and strengths. This comprehensive buying guide aims to provide you with the in-depth information necessary to navigate the selection process and find the best lavalier microphone for your specific needs.

Understanding Lavalier Microphones

Lavalier microphones, also referred to as lapel or body microphones, are small, clip-on devices that can be affixed to clothing, typically near the user’s mouth, to capture audio. Their design provides users with an unobtrusive solution for recording sound and allows for hands-free operation, making them incredibly popular for live performances, interviews, video production, and similar applications where audio capture is key.

The principle behind the operation of these microphones is simple: sound waves vibrate the microphone’s diaphragm, which in turn moves a coil or magnet (in dynamic microphones) or changes the capacitance (in condenser microphones), thereby producing an electrical signal corresponding to the sound.

Understanding their working principle is the first step to appreciating the different types and designs of lavalier microphones and making an informed decision when purchasing one.

Sound Quality

Sound quality is paramount when selecting any type of microphone, and lavalier microphones are no exception. The best lavalier microphones, such as the DPA Microphones d:screet 4060 and the Rode SmartLav+, deliver clear, natural sound with minimal distortion. To ensure the optimal sound quality, there are a few key factors to consider:

  1. Frequency Response: This refers to the range of frequencies a microphone can capture and reproduce. A broad frequency response ensures a fuller, richer sound, capturing all the nuances in the audio. When selecting a lavalier microphone, it’s vital to consider the frequencies you’ll be working with to ensure the microphone can adequately capture them.
  2. Sensitivity: Sensitivity is the measure of the microphone’s ability to convert sound pressure into an electrical signal. A higher sensitivity means the microphone can capture quieter sounds. However, striking a balance is important, as overly sensitive microphones may distort loud sounds.
  3. Signal-to-Noise Ratio: The signal-to-noise ratio compares the desired signal level to the background noise level. A higher signal-to-noise ratio means the microphone can better isolate the desired sound from background noise, resulting in cleaner audio.

Connectivity

Lavalier microphones can be divided into two broad categories based on their connection types: wired and wireless.

  1. Wired Lavalier Microphones: Wired lavalier microphones, like the Sennheiser ME 2-II, are connected to the recording device through a physical wire. They are often favored for their reliability and the superior sound quality they offer, as there is less potential for signal loss or interference. However, they may limit mobility, making them more suitable for static applications like interviews or seated presentations.
  2. Wireless Lavalier Microphones: On the other hand, wireless lavalier microphones offer greater mobility, allowing the user to move freely without worrying about cables. However, signal interference from other electronic devices can potentially affect their performance. A wireless microphone would be ideal for performances or presentations where the speaker needs to move around freely.

When choosing between wired and wireless, it’s important to consider your specific use case and requirements in terms of mobility, reliability, and sound quality.

Best Practices for Using a Lavalier Microphone

Using a lavalier microphone effectively requires attention to certain techniques and considerations. Follow these best practices to achieve optimal audio quality and ensure a seamless recording or performance.

Positioning the Microphone

  • Attach the microphone to the subject’s clothing near the chest area, ensuring it is securely fastened and not obstructed by fabric or accessories.
  • Position the microphone approximately 6 to 12 inches away from the mouth to achieve a balanced sound.
  • Orient the microphone capsule facing upward or slightly tilted towards the mouth.

Managing Cable and Movement:

  • Position the cable discreetly along the subject’s clothing, securing it with clips or tape to prevent it from dangling or getting tangled.
  • Select a cable length that provides enough slack for movement without being excessively long.
  • Encourage the subject to be mindful of their movement and avoid unnecessary contact with the microphone or cable.

Minimizing Environmental Noise:

  • Choose a recording location with minimal background noise, such as a quiet room or a controlled studio environment.
  • Use a foam windscreen or a deadcat/windjammer accessory to reduce wind noise when recording outdoors.

Monitoring and Testing:

  • Conduct a sound check before recording or performing to verify the microphone’s signal and check for any audio issues.
  • Adjust the microphone’s input gain or sensitivity to achieve an appropriate volume level.
  • Consider using a backup recording device or a secondary microphone as a safety net.

By following these best practices, you can maximize the potential of your lavalier microphone and ensure clear, professional-quality audio capture in a variety of situations.

FAQ

 
 

Many YouTubers use a variety of lavalier mics depending on their specific needs, budgets, and preferences. However, popular choices include the Rode SmartLav+ for its great audio quality and compatibility with smartphones and the Audio-Technica ATR3350iS for its high-quality sound at a more affordable price point. YouTubers requiring more professional-grade equipment often choose options like the Sennheiser ME 2-II or the Countryman B3.

Whether you should buy a lavalier microphone depends on your specific needs. Lavalier mics, like presentations, interviews, and video production, are excellent for hands-free operation. They’re discreet and allow for natural movement without hindering the sound quality. However, a desktop or boom-mounted condenser microphone might serve you better if your primary use case is stationary and doesn’t require movement—like podcasting or voice-over work.

One drawback of using lavalier mics is that they can pick up unwanted noise, especially if not placed properly. This includes rustling from clothing or hair if the microphone is attached to a person. When used outdoors without a suitable windscreen, Lavalier mics are also susceptible to wind noise. Additionally, while they are designed to be inconspicuous, some people may still find them distracting or unsightly, particularly in video productions where aesthetics are important.

A lavalier microphone and a lapel microphone are essentially the same things. Both terms refer to a small microphone that is typically clipped onto a speaker’s clothing, often on the lapel of a jacket, for hands-free operation. These microphones are primarily used in broadcasting, public speaking, theater, and television production, where discreet audio capture is required.

The term “lavalier” originally referred to a type of pendant necklace, and it was adopted in the context of microphones because early models were often hung around the neck. “Lapel” refers to the part of a jacket or coat where these microphones are commonly clipped. Over time, both terms have become interchangeable in the context of microphones.

Therefore, when you hear the terms “lavalier microphone” or “lapel microphone,” they’re referring to the same type of device. The main difference lies in terminology rather than any functional or technical distinction.

Final Thoughts

Lavalier microphones are invaluable tools for achieving high-quality audio capture in a range of applications. Whether you’re a content creator, presenter, or performer, investing in a reliable lavalier microphone can greatly enhance your audio recording experience. Throughout this guide, we’ve explored some of the top lavalier microphones available, each with its own unique features and strengths.

Among the top lavalier microphones reviewed, three standout options deserve special mention. The Rode SmartLav+ takes the Editor’s Choice spot, offering exceptional sound quality, ease of use, and compatibility with both iOS and Android devices. Its wide-range frequency response ensures rich and authentic audio reproduction.

The DPA Microphones d:screet 4060 also deserves recognition for its outstanding sound quality, durability, and versatility. Its miniature size and wide frequency response make it a top choice for professionals seeking superior audio reproduction.

Lastly, the Shure MVL impresses with its smartphone compatibility, making it convenient for mobile journalists and content creators on the go. Its compact design and excellent sound performance make it a reliable option for capturing clear and professional audio.

Consider your specific needs, budget, and intended use when selecting a lavalier microphone. By choosing one of these top lavalier microphones, you can confidently capture clear and professional audio, ensuring that your recordings, presentations, and performances sound their best.

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