Clip it On – The Best Lapel and Lavalier Microphones

Microphones of all different varieties are more in demand these days than ever before. More media is created than it was even 10 years ago, and people are using microphones for all sorts of reasons, live performances, webcasts and streaming, gaming commentary, corporate video and much more. The technology is getting better all the time, and the market is getting more competitive. We’ve compiled a list of the best lavalier microphones below for you to find which one is best for your video or other project.

What is a Lavalier or “Lapel” Mic?

For those who aren’t certain of the terminology, a Lavalier mic is a very small, clip on microphone which is designed for using without your hands needing to hold it. They usually come equipped with a clip which is great for attaching to ties, lapels (hence people referring to them as lapel microphones), collars and other clothes, they can even hook onto a t shirt with ease. The cord runs from there directly into a camera, into a mixer or other recording device, smartphone such as iPhones and android. They can even run into a transmitter if you’re looking for a wireless lavalier microphone. Some wireless lapel mics don’t even need to be run into a transmitter as they can work 100% cord and wire free. More on that as we explore the best lavalier mics below.

Shure CVL Centraverse Clip-On Lavalier Condenser Microphone

Shure are possibly the biggest name in the world of microphones of all different varieties, and their lapel and lavalier range is pretty impressive. The CVL centraverse is a very discrete but high quality product made with the quality we’ve come to expect from the brand. This has been designed with speaking engagements and other voice recordings in mind and is optimized for recording (or streaming) your voice. Features include:

  • Small, barely visible design with no hands needed to use.
  • Always charged electret condenser style microphone, best for vocals.
  • Unidirectional recording pattern designed to isolate the voice reproduction.
  • Windscreen shield built in to reduce ‘popping’ or wind/breath sounds that can otherwise be emphasized.
  • Frequency response which has been optimized for vocal recordings.
  • TA4F (TQG) connector which is made to work seamlessly with Shure’s wireless setups.

As a relatively affordable option, this is great for any live stuff such as presentations and anything needing a voice recording.

Rode smartLav+ Lavalier Mic for Smartphones Review

Lavalier Microphones can work perfectly with iPhones and other smartphones, and the Rode SmartLav+ has been made with precisely this in mind. Most of our iPhones have a voice recording app built in anyway, and this can also be hooked up if you’re planning to take video on your iPhone or other smartphone and will record straight into the video file, overriding the built in mic.

As well as being really easy to use without needing an adaptor or for you to download apps, this a high quality microphone, which records voices with a lot of quality.

Rode make a lot of brilliant microphones and this is a very good example. Whilst not being the very best lapel microphone in our opinion, it is amazing in terms of convenience and ease of use. It is small and discrete, comes with a wind shield and is amazing for field recordings whilst out and about. If you want to isolate vocals and make sure you don’t pick unwanted sounds up, the omnidirectional recording pattern is perhaps not the best, but this doesn’t cause a problem for 99% of uses, and helps to record the voice clearly.

Giant Squid Audio Lab Omnidirectional Lavalier Microphone

This is a brand that may not have as much history in terms of producing microphones as competitors such as Sony, Rode and Shure, but the Audio Lab Omnidirectional lapel mic from Giant Squid definitely holds its own. The 3.5mm microphone jack is great and plugs into loads of devices such as cameras, your laptop etc, and the audio quality is really great.

The reviews of the audio lab elsewhere on the internet show how much people love this mic. Many reports have praised this for a wide range of vocal uses, including voice recording and even singing, making it great for theatre or performance use when you need your hands to be free. Rarely have we come across such a good quality mic at such a price, and its versatility means that you can use it for a lot of different purposes. It does a great job of filtering out plosives and sibilance so you get the highest possible quality audio recording or reproduction.

Sony ECMCS3

Sony are a brand who we associate with a lot of video products and other electronics as well as audio, so it makes sense that they would offer something that is compatible with their cameras and other products. This is an electret condenser and has an omnidirectional pickup pattern, which is very sensitive and picks up a lot of audio.

One of the main benefits of this is the price. If you are looking for the cheapest lavalier microphone that can still do a good job, this is a contender for that title. It is available at a very budget friendly price point especially when you consider how well reviewed it is. If you want something right at the top of the range then you may have to look at one of its competitors, but for fun video projects and an upgrade on the sound most cameras and video cameras can provide this is a good choice. It doesn’t have the compatibility in terms of being wireless that others have, but if you hook it up to an audio recording device you can synchronize the sound in post production.

Audio-Technica PRO 70

Time for a really professional model which is hard to argue with in terms of quality. A lot of microphones in this list are good for recording voices and designed with video projects in mind, this can do a wonderful job even for musical applications and on stage performances. Designed with music in mind, it even has a recording EQ to roll out the low end from the recording. Audio-Technica are a good quality brand and they’ve shown that once again with this offering. It is a condenser microphone which means that it requires some sort of phantom power, you can do this in the traditional way or it is compatible with batteries making it great for portable recording applications.

The pickup pattern on this mic is Cardioid which is great for isolating sounds, and again suggests a use for music or other high end audio usage. The reviews show exactly why the Audio Technica Pro 70 is such a highly regarded mic, with a lot of people complimenting the build quality, the amazing audio recordings it can provide and the ease of use.

Sennheiser EW 100 ENG G3-A

Sennheiser are another of the big boys in the world of microphones, and they produce a huge amount of the mics used professionally today. Their offering in the world of Lavalier is truly aimed at the higher end of the market, and the EW 100 ENG G3-A comes as a kit that will do a wonderful job for most applications.

If you’re looking for cheap, then I’d look away now, and whilst the price isn’t too high for a professional wireless lavalier microphone it isn’t really for amateur and semi-pro projects. In the kit you receive the lapel microphone, two receivers, a converter for XLR microphones. It is amazing for the reliability in its wireless setup, and the extra cost mainly comes from having the wireless capabilities, but the audio quality and clarity on offer here is another big plus point.

A quick look at some wireless lavalier microphone reviews will show you that a lot of them are pretty average, but this set has been very well received, and earns its place on the list as one of the best wireless lavalier mics. The clarity is amazing, the wireless system works flawlessly and is tuneable to your preference, totally avoiding interference that can ruin a performance and show. The amount of five star reviews we’ve found for this offering from Sennheiser show just how excellent a product it truly is. Rock solid, reliable, quality.

Budget Friendly Option – Vidpro XM-L Lavalier Condenser Microphone

I wanted to ensure there is something on the list suitable for those of us who are beginners or just want a simple but affordable way to improve our audio recordings. The Vidpro XM-L is not the absolute cheapest model, but it is a very affordable yet still credible option, with some pretty good reviews. It has a very long cable, good for all sorts of recordings and other uses. It comes with a battery that the manufacturers say can run for up to 700 hours, and it will record into loads of devices via a standard 3.5mm input. A wind shield comes with it, great for field recordings, and all for a very modest price. Perhaps not the very best but if you’re just getting started or are recording your first interview, this could be a way to do so without breaking the bank.

 

Considerations When Buying Your Mics!

There are definitely some things to consider when buying any sort of microphone, and lapel or lav mics are no exception.

  • There are so many bad options. Sadly, there are some unreliable wireless microphone systems out there and some poor quality recordings coming from low end lapel mics. Avoid them. The models listed above are all, in our opinion, very good in their own way. A quick scan through some reviews on Amazon or other retailers will show you which ones haven’t been well received.
  • Buy as a set if you need to. A lot of the time you will need more than one of these mics, if you’re a filmmaker or a producer or are putting on a show, it is best to buy microphones as sets to ensure the closest possible audio response on each. If your dialogue is recorded on a bunch of different mics of differing quality then it will show.
  • Wired vs Wireless. Wireless technology has come a long way in all different types of tech, including microphones. There are some impressive wireless clip-on microphones but you should bear in mind the big jump in price if you’re looking to purchase something with a wireless system attached. They can be vitally important for certain uses, and make your life a lot easier, but this does come at a cost.
  • Compatibility. Think about whether you need this to work in conjunction with an iPhone, plug straight into your camera or be compatible with anything else. Doing this before you buy will ensure you don’t have to rethink your recording or find yourself disappointed when you come to use it.

Conclusion

It is important to work out your own needs and budget before buying a lapel mic, and to do a little research to make sure you don’t end up with a dud! We’ve provided a list with a lot of different price points, with some good lavalier mics under $50, under $100 and then all the way up to the top end of the market. If you want something cheap, but functional, there are even mics out there for under $10. Don’t expect them to be used in any oscar winning movies, but for a home video some will do a good job.

Image credit: Original author flickr user https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrikoolme/

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