What is a Lavalier Microphone
You could have noticed that quite often videos recorded by a smartphone, tablet or camera don't sound as clear and good as you'd want them. This is so simply because most mobile gadgets aren't intended for professional use. Those, who'd like to record audio and video with no quality loss should consider using a standalone microphone with decent frequency response and sensibility characteristics. From a range of microphones available, in this review we'd like to present our selection of the best lavalier microphones available on the market today. This type of microphones comes together with a clip to allow public and television people to attach the mic to clothing and use it hands-free.
We also recommend reading our review of recording microphones for professional sound records, as well as headphones to enjoy favorite audio tracks.
Sennheiser ME 2
High-quality and Reliable Mic
Sennheiser was founded by Fritz Sennheiser in 1945 and was called Labor W at the time. The company initially manufactured microphones and designed the world's first over-ear headphones, HD 414, in 1968. This model had a huge success and over 10M units were sold. So, considering the experience and achievements of Sennheiser, we could not ignore its lavalier microphone. The МЕ 2 has a frequency range from 30 Hz to 20 KHz which covers the entire spectrum of human speech. The mic is able to withstand a sound pressure up to 136 dB, so it is sensitive enough to catch quiet and muffled speaking. To do that, the mic needs a transmitter, which means you cannot connect it to a camera or laptop directly. Clip the transmitter to your belt, plug the mic, and hide the cable under your clothes. By the way, the cable is 5.2 ft long and it is more than enough for comfortable use of the mic even while walking. We would like to highlight a handy threaded nut that secures the mic's jack to the transmitter's slot. Therefore, the jack will not be unplugged if you accidentally tug the cable. Yet, the nut can be also a drawback as it may hinder connecting transmitters of other brands and an additional adapter will be required.
In general, this lavalier mic is a wonderful choice for high-quality recording at home, as well as in a small television studio, in combination with a branded transmitter.
Works in Pair
It is a truly decent lavalier microphone that differs from others. Let's start with the specs. The mic is able to pick up tones from 35 Hz to 14 KHz. This is a pretty nice frequency response, but the top limit of frequencies could be higher. As you might have noticed from the photo, the mic comes with a transmitter and receiver and 2 earphones. The kit of the kind allows recording voice with the mic and transmitting speech with the earphones. One pair of earphones features a built-in microphone for recording speech, while the other one is designed without a mic and is intended solely for listening. These earphones will be convenient for a long-distance broadcasting as their operation range is 164 ft, which is enough for taking most scenes or reportages. We should note that this lapel mic is bidirectional, i.e. it records the sound in the front and behind it, suppressing the tones from the sides. This peculiarity may come in handy for interviewing people on streets as no additional microphone will be required whereas any noise will be muffled. The receiver is powered by 2 АА batteries just like the transmitter, and the charge is enough for 3.5 - 4 hours of use. When the batteries die, replace them and continue recording.
So, we recommend this lavalier microphone system to people engaged in video blogging or professional reporters.
Watch Your Voice
The Rode company was founded in 1967 when immigrants from Sweden Henry and Astrid Freedman opened their shop in Australia. Since then, the company's activity has expanded beyond the continent and the total space of their warehouses has reached 30,000 sq ft. Furthermore, the company received Red Dot and Australian International Design award many times. We will review its lavalier mic called smartLav+ which is distinguished by its full compatibility with both iOS and Android-based devices. To start recording, you only need to hook up the mic with your smartphone or tablet via a standard 3.5mm jack. To unleash the full potential of device and see its all capabilities, install RØDE Rec app via which you'll be able to watch the frequency diagram of your voice and monitor your speech tonality making the needed improvements to sound better when it's needed. Speaking of technical specifications, the mic's condenser cap is able to record speech within the range of 60 Hz to 18 KHz which allows capturing voices of both men and women alike, preserving their natural tonality and clarity. The kit includes a convenient bag for storage and carrying and a windscreen. The cable is reinforced with Kevlar that ensures durability and wear-resistance, and its length is 4 ft - enough for comfortable use.
As you can see, this lapel microphone can be efficiently used for recording video clips, as well as for audio dubbing thanks to the branded app for iOS and Android smartphones.
The Attention of Any Audience Will Be Yours
Shure has a long history and broad experience in making sound equipment. Founded in Chicago by Sidney N. Shure in 1925, this company started its business activity from selling radio components. 6 years after the establishment, the company started to produce microphones. Let's review one of its recent mics - the Shure CVL lapel microphone. Casting a quick look at its exterior you will spot the Mini XLR jack which in our opinion is the major drawback of the model since it doesn't allow users to connect it to standard transmitters with a 3.5mm jack. On a strong point, you'll give praise to the cardioid pickup feature allowing the mic to catch speech right from the source, as distinct with a lot of other mics that record sounds from all directions. The frequency response makes 50 Hz - 20 KHz, a standard number for lavalier mics, while the sensitivity ratio totals whole 139 dB, a high value for the mic at such an affordable price. The microphone comes with two windscreens, which is handy, considering how easy it is to lose one.
Well, the Shure CVL can be recommended to all people who make presentations so that they could get the essential content across to the audience without unnecessary sounds.
Top Autonomous Device
Audio-Technica was founded by Hideo Matsushita in Tokio in 1962. In the beginning, the company manufactured phonograph cartridges, but today its assortment comprises headphones, microphones, mixing consoles, and many other audio and video products. Thanks to the development of the UniGuard® technology, in 2005 the company started to produce first-ever headphones resistant to radio frequency interference. The ATR3350 lavalier microphone is one of its great omnidirectional models which is worth your attention. Despite it doesn't strike with its frequency range which is quite moderate here, it is distinguished by its self-sufficient operation that doesn't require using a transmitter. Instead, it comes with a small power unit (fed by an LR44 battery) with a single ON/OFF switch. This also makes this mic compatible with literally any device that doesn't use external power source, such as a smartphone, tablet, photo- or video camera. We also liked that the mic is fitted with a pretty long cable reaching 20 ft in length, allowing its use even outdoors if needed. But the best proof of its quality and worthiness is that it's covered with a lifetime warranty by the manufacturer. Awesome choice!
All in all, we recommend this lavalier mic to users who make indoor recordings and do not want to bother with additional equipment.
1. Sam Mallery Guide to Lavalier Microphones, B&H.
2. Harry Guinness Use a Lapel Mic and Your Smartphone to Record Audio for Video, Envato. July 9, 2015.
3. Choosing the Right Microphone, MediaCollege.com.
5. Lavalier microphone, Wikipedia. November 6, 2016.