The Best Lavalier Microphones for Video Production
Today we break down the best lavalier microphones currently on the market for your film and video productions.
Hear that? It’s crisp, clear, and perfect audio coming from your interview subjects or actors. How did you get it, you ask? Well, instead of just using the audio from your camera, or trying to wrestle with a boom mic, a boom pole, and a boom operator, you simply set up a lavalier microphone.
What’s that? You can’t even see it? Well, that’s because it’s hidden. It’s tucked discreetly on the lapel of your interview subject, with the wire running behind the shirt so that it’s nowhere to be seen on camera.
So, what is this wonderful contraption? Today, we’ll explore the best lavalier microphones (or “lav” mics) for use on film and video production. Let’s go!
What Is a Lavalier Microphone?
First off, let’s define the all-important “lav mic.” As you can see in the video above, the lav mic is just one tool in a filmmaker and/or audio engineer’s arsenal to capture quality sound on a film or video production set.
Other names for a lav microphone include:
- Lapel mic
- Clip mic
- Body mic
- Collar mic
- Neck mic
- Personal mic
But, as the many names imply, the lav mic is basically a small microphone that’s attached directly to your subject(s) to record their audio directly—up-close and personal. Due to their small design, these lav mics are easy to hide. They also come in wired or wireless options. Let’s explore options that range from cheap and affordable, to higher quality wired and wireless kits.
Cheap Lav Mic Options
Here are three lav microphones that won’t break the bank. I’m personally a fan of starting off with some of these cheaper alternatives when you’re just beginning. These are nice if you’re shooting videos for social media or even on your smartphone. I would, however, recommend buying a couple at a time, so you’ll have a backup or two in case one should stop working.
These three are all available on Amazon for under $35 and are wired options. If your production is compact enough, I recommend stringing the wires down from you subjects and directly into your main camera. The audio will be better than your in-camera audio or even using an attachable shotgun microphone.
Wired Lav Mic Options
After you’ve explored the cheap and replaceable options, you’ll be more comfortable looking into making some lav microphone purchases that should last you years, as well as hundreds of shoots (just don’t lose them!). These five lav mics are all wired options. But, as we’ll explore below, you can use them with pretty much any wireless system that you might have, as well.
I personally recommend the RØDE smartLav+, as I’ve used it on many shoots over the years. Like many of these options, it’s an omni-directional condenser that picks up extraordinary audio when set up on a subject’s lapel, but you don’t have to worry too much about getting the angle just right or if it shifts around mid-shoot. However, as the price points go up, you’ll be looking at higher quality mics and better materials for more long lasting options.
Wireless Lav Mic Kits
Finally, once you’re serious about working with lav microphones on your video sets with regularity and at a professional standard, you’re going to want to invest in a full wireless lav mic kit or set. As you can see below, these range from just under $100 to almost $1,000. And, at each price point, you’ll be looking at more sophistication and greater audio control.
While the Sennheiser options might represent this highest class of quality for wireless lav mic kits, I still recommend starting cheaper and working your way up. The Movo WMIC50 is a tenth of the cost and will help you learn the ropes as you develop your workflow with multiple lav mics at once.
- Movo WMIC50: $80
- Tascam DR-10L: $200
- RØDE RØDELink Filmmaker Kit: $400
- Sennheiser EW 100 ENG G3-A Set: $800
- Sennheiser AVX-MKE2 Set: $900
These are all perfect options to help you get started. The real test is to experiment with lav mics on your film and video shoots, remembering that these microphones aren’t the end-all for audio production, rather, one tool in your sound design arsenal to help you provide crisp, clear, and beautiful audio.
Cover image by HC FOTOSTUDIO.
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