Have you ever wondered how you're able to hear your favorite talk-show or the live television musical with crisp, clear audio? Well, you probably witnessed the wonders of lavalier microphones, otherwise known as lapel mics. If not, you probably remember that movie scene in which a shady informant carries a small, concealed microphone. But so does the host of your favorite talk show.
The entire concept revolves around having a small, wearable vocal microphone whose use doesn't require you to holding it with your hands. Often then naught, they're the perfect solution for television studios, public talk shows, and performances, or just about any solution that requires a hands-free microphone.
In this review, we're going to cover some of the best lavalier mics on the market, their advantages, and features. We also added a comprehensive buyer's guide to help you pick a suitable product so you don't waste your money on an inadequate microphone. Without further ado, allow us to introduce you to our top picks:
Best Lavalier Mics:
PowerDeWise Omnidirectional Lapel Microphone
The first item on our list is a surprisingly affordable PowerDeWise omnidirectional lavalier mic that lives up to the media-driven 21st-century demands.
The PowerDeWise is a very well-built microphone that feels extremely durable to the touch. It's an omnidirectional microphone with -46±2dB sensitivity, which provides a good signal-to-noise ratio, and offers more freedom regarding its placement. The included wind muff does an excellent job of filtering external noises, making this microphone suitable for outdoor use.
It's quite a convenient product since it's compatible with a wide variety of hardware, including phones, laptops, DSLRs, and other devices capable of capturing sound. Additionally, the super-strong clip with a rotational system allows a straightforward, effortless, and time-saving setup.
The product features a TRRS 3.5mm audio connector at the end of a 6.5ft mic cord. However, the manufacturer provides another 6.5ft extension cord and a 3.5mm TRRS-to-TRS adapter for more versatile connectivity. Given the sheer number of extra features, good sound quality, and 10-foot vocal recording range, it's no wonder PowerDeWise found its way among the best lavalier mics.
Comica BoomX-D2 Mini Wireless Lapel Microphone
Designed primarily for vloggers, videographers, and journalists, this compact digital microphone system features two lavalier mics and only one receiver. Thanks to its design and features, this 1oz microphone made it onto our list as one of the best lavalier mics on the market.
The system provides a complete audio capturing solution for your mirrorless/DSLR camera or a smartphone, allowing you to record interview dialogue of two people talking simultaneously. It consists of two ultracompact clip-on wireless transmitters with built-it omnidirectional microphones, operating on a digital 2.4GHz transmission signal. Of course, the RF scanning and connection are automatic and operate on distances of up to 164ft.
The transmitters connect to a receiver, which can be mounted on, and plugged into your camera via a TRS output cable. Additionally, the manufacturer included a TRRS output cable that allows you to plug the receiver into any smartphone featuring a headphone jack. The system comes equipped with two more lavalier microphones that connect to the transmitters, bypassing the built-in mics, for a more discreet setup.
POPVoice Professional Lavalier Omnidirectional Microphone
POPVoice is another affordable option for interviewing, YouTubing, and audio-video capturing. It’s not as advanced as some other models on our list, but it provides decent audio for an attainable price.
The POPVoice is primarily aimed at content creators and interviewers that use Apple phones as their recording devices. As such, this lapel microphone is compatible with over six different iPhone models via a 3.5mm audio jack. Please keep in mind that newer models use a Lightning port, so you'll have to use an adapted.
Unfortunately, the Lightning-to-3.5mm isn't included with the product, but other adapters are, like the TRRS-to-TRS. This expands the microphone's compatibility with smartphones in generals, laptops, and other devices.
When it comes to performance, the mic performs better than standard microphones that you find built-in into smartphones. It's quite convenient to use, easy to conceal, features a 6.5ft long cable, and doesn't require batteries to function.
Videographers, filmmakers, and mobile journalists looking for a budget-friendly wireless microphone should look into MOVO WMX-20-DUO. It provides exceptional dual-channel performance, with excellent range, real-time monitoring, and 48 channels on disposal.
The system consists of two transmitters with connectable omnidirectional lavalier microphones that capture crystal-clear and distortion-free audio to your camera within the 330ft range. It operates on the license-free UHF frequencies, avoiding any interference with Bluetooth and WiFi devices, and offers up to 96 different frequencies.
Each device is powered by two AA batteries, which provide up to six hours of run time. The receiver features a 3.5mm audio output for real-time sound monitoring and XLR output cables that directly connect to your camera or other recording devices.
Setting up the device is relatively easy and takes only a few minutes. Besides attaching the microphones to the wearers, you have to select the channels and connect the appropriate gear. The bodypack transmitters use a belt clip for mounting purposes, while the lavalier mics use a small but strong clip to hold onto clothing.
Rode smartLav+ Omnidirectional Lavalier Mic
Oriented towards smartphone users, the smartLav+ features a great sound and exceptional build quality. Its simple design doesn't do justice to its high-quality, so rest assured, we're talking about one of the best lavalier mics on the market.
The mic is compatible with almost all types of Android and Apple smartphones and works with all apps that can record directly from the microphone input. The manufacturing company, Rode, included its proprietary app that allows you to edit, compile, and publish your recordings. It's a great feature to have, as it eliminates the need for a sound engineer.
The microphone uses a TRRS audio connector welded to a Kevlar-reinforced cord that won't stretch or snap during reasonable use. Unfortunately, the manufacturer didn't include a TRRS-to-TRS adapter or any Lightning adapter – these are sold separately. Additionally, if you opt for this product, downloading the proprietary app is mandatory since the mic doesn't seem to work without it.
Still, smartLav+ features an omnidirectional pickup, and a well-made cable management system. This increases your range of motion, which won’t affect sound pickup. Overall, smartLav+ is an exceptional product, granted its size and price point, that’s made by a reputable microphone company.
Audio-Technica Pro 70
Audio-Technica is one of the leading manufacturers in the microphone world, and its Pro 70 model certainly can't disappoint, even if it tried. But, as expected, its exceptional quality comes at a hefty price point.
The product features a small, condenser lavalier microphone that's well-suited for vocal and acoustic guitar applications. Vocal applications are achieved using a clothing clip mounted on the microphone's cord and allows for good sound pickup. The microphone's cardioid polar pattern reduces sound pickup from sides and rear, allowing you to isolate the desired sound source.
This polar pattern makes the microphone well-suited for acoustic guitar pickup, so the manufacturer included a mounting system for acoustic guitars. Batteries power the microphone, but it can also be powered by phantom power from the device it's connected to.
The build quality is also exceptional, and the microphone features a metal grill as a pop filter, which largely contributes to the overall sound quality. Add a low-frequency cut-off switch, and you got a lavalier microphone that mirrors more expensive, professional-grade microphones.
Sennheiser Pro Audio ME-2 II Omnidirectional Lavalier Microphone
Sennheiser's audio equipment allows you to discover true sound, making them one of the TV industry's golden standard. Their ME-2 II model is often seen on numerous TV shows and professional journalists since it's considered an epitome of brilliance.
The microphone itself is an ultra-small omnidirectional microphone of high quality, with a frequency range of 30-20,000Hz. Its recoding pattern eliminates any background and feedback noise, which significantly improves the quality of picked-up sound. This makes it very good for interviewing purposes, news, and talk shows, where you have to capture crystal-clear vocal.
The overall microphone's design, its heavy-duty 5.5ft-long cable, and a heavy-duty clip allow the microphone to fit any type of garment. You can also use the microphone with your smartphone, but it also connects to many bodypack transmitters from their Evolution Series.
Rode Lavalier Go
Featuring an understated design and premium quality, the Lavalier Go microphone is suitable for broadcasting and other recording purposes. The 3.5mm audio jack allows you to use the device with almost any recording device with a TRS audio input.
The omnidirectional pattern has a broader range of sound pickup and allows more flexibility when it comes to placement. Its sound capturing performance is pristine, as it records sound without any distortions in most environments. And if you’re worried about windy weather during your recording, don’t be – the pop shield prevents wind from creating noise in your recordings.
Placing and cable management are pretty straightforward, thanks to all the built-in lapel clip and cable-management facilities. This enables you to set up for an upcoming interview quickly. The cord is reinforced with Kevlar, so it withstands all the wear and tear associated with broadcasting and recording in unconventional and inconvenient locations.
We found that the only downside is the lack of audio adapters that would enhance the mics compatibility, but you can always buy those separately.
Samson Go Mic Mobile
More and more journalists and interviewers use smartphones as their sound recording devices, so Samson designed the Go Mic Mobile microphone. It's a unique lavalier microphone system specifically designed for smartphone use.
The Go Mic system consists of an incredibly convenient dual-channel PXD2 bodypack receiver and an LM10 omnidirectional lav mic. The PXD2 features fast connectivity to DSLRs and smartphones and allows real-time sound monitoring and channel switching. Additionally, it comes with a built-in battery that provides up to 6 hours of run time.
The microphone itself is very well-built and features a solid housing capable of withstanding daily abuse of on-the-go journalism. It comes with a ton of accessories that make recording smoother and less taxing, like a shoe-mount for smartphone use, a lighting adapter, a set of USB cables, etc.
If you’re in the market for a good smartphone lavalier microphone system, the Samson Go Mic offers a professional-grade recording solution on-the-go.
Sony ECMCS3 Omnidirectional Microphone
Relatively affordable but not lacking in quality, the ECMCS3 is exclusively designed for vocal recording. However, you can't expect much from a product at this price point; the microphone is good, the accompanying accessories – not so much.
In fact, the accompanying accessories are non-existing, as there aren't any. It's just a microphone, a cord, and an audio connector. Oh, there's a clip on the cable, as well. But that's about it.
Even so, the microphone itself performs quite well. It's an omnidirectional mic that provides sufficient recording capabilities, given its price point. Unfortunately, it also tends to pick up a lot of ambient noise, making it unsuitable for outdoor applications. Still, the design is pretty good and features a rotating mic head, which allows you to prioritize the sound source better.
The ECMCS3 comes with a standard 3.5mm TRS audio jack and a 40-inch long cord. It can be comfortably clipped to your clothing, having enough length to reach your pocket or some type of bodypack.
Purchasing a lavalier mic should be as simple as going out and buying a microphone. Unfortunately, that isn't the case, and you might end up spending your money on a product you don't actually want or even need. This buyer's guide aims to help you learn everything you need to know when looking for the best lavalier microphone.
Armed with the knowledge contained in this section of the article, you can confidently go out and purchase the right product. But before we dive into functions and features, let's start by going back to the time when humanity first asked: "What are lavalier microphones?"
What are lavalier microphones?
This question was first asked in 1932 when lavalier microphones first appeared due to the need for a functional, wearable, hands-free microphone. Since their inception, lapel mics allowed TV hosts or other performers to wear a microphone on their person, directly clipped to the wearer's clothing. In cases such as theatrical performance, the best lavalier microphones were clipped to the face or the hair of the person wearing it.
In summary, the lavalier microphones, also known as lapel, clip, body, or personal microphones, are dynamic microphones that are best suited for general-purpose use. They’re clipped to the clothing, allowing the wearer to project the audio through the speakers without any hassle. So, their top-selling quality is precisely their convenience.
However, not all lavalier microphones are the same, and they're mostly categorized by their construction and connectivity options. If you're new to lavalier microphones and microphones in general, then the two most common terms you'll hear are the "dynamic" and "condenser." But what do they mean?
Dynamic range vs. condenser lavalier microphones
These characteristics determine the construction type of microphones and how they actually function. And there's no clear winner here, as both excel at different things.
Dynamic – these mics are the oldest and most primitive in terms of design. Though they have become smaller in size due to technological advancements, their basic working principle remained unchanged from their inception.
They feature a diaphragm made of thin polyester film attached to the metal coil, which is suspended between two magnets. As the soundwaves reach the diaphragm, they cause it to move the metal coil, producing a small AC current that mimics the soundwave. The sound is thus converted into an electrical signal transported to the receiving device, which further processes it into sound. Dynamic microphones are capable of withstanding higher pressure and perform better when capturing louder sounds. They're also relatively affordable due to their simple design, making them better suited for live-performance settings.
However, the metal coil has a certain weight, and quiet sounds and lower frequencies might cause insufficient vibrations, preventing it from capturing the audio correctly. This is where condenser mics take over.
Condenser – these microphones also feature a diaphragm, but this one is made of an incredibly thin piece of metal, and another component called the backplate. When the sound hits the diaphragms, it changes the distance between the diaphragm and the backplate, which produces a change in electrical capacitance. It’s precisely the variation of spacing between the diaphragm and the backplate that produces the electrical signal that mimics the picked-up sound. However, unlike dynamic microphones, condenser mics require an electrical power supply to charge the plates, enabling them to generate a signal based on spatial variations between said plates. For this to be possible, the electrical current is usually provided by the battery or phantom powering. Phantom powering is a method in which the current is sent down the microphone cable itself, ranging everywhere from 12 to 52 Volts.Still, the diaphragm assembly is significantly lighter than that of dynamic mics, making it more efficient at picking up faint sound signals. They also feature a more comprehensive frequency range.
Wired or wireless
Depending on what you want to use it for, you can opt for either a corded or a wireless lapel microphone.
Wireless - Wireless lavalier microphones are the entertainment industry's standard since they're much more convenient than corded microphones. The lack of cables helps hide the microphone to a degree and provides the wearer with a broader range of motion. However, these Bluetooth variants aren't ideal since there's always a slight loss of signal involved, taking its toll on the audio quality.
Corded – Corded lavalier microphones are great for more massive performances, as they don't suffer from signal loss or interference as the signal travels through the cord to the receiver. The cable is connected via a 3.5mm TS, TRS, or TRRS 3.5mm audio jack, depending on the receiving or recording device. This can lead to confusion, as different recording sources feature different input connectors, so make sure to choose a device with matching connectors. Additionally, you can use adapters to connect your existing equipment.
Other features to look for
There are a plethora of other things you wish to consider when purchasing the best lavalier microphone. Size matters since the mic have to be as small as possible without hindering the audio quality. Larger microphones are better at capturing the faintest of sounds but also require a more oversized clip, which doesn't sit well with most professionals.
In the end, most people will be guided by their budget, so do your best to take audio quality, durability, and background noise into account. As with most things in life, when the product's quality goes up, so does the price. And you can expect the best possible quality with pricier microphones.
When it comes to quality, rare products match our top pick, the Audio-Technica Pro 70. It’s a perfect blend of versatility, design, and sound quality. The Rode smartLav+ Omnidirectional Lavalier Mic, our second pick, offers good recording quality at the cost of losing a few accessories.
Our best affordable choice falls on the PowerDeWise Omnidirectional Lapel Microphone. It certainly isn't the cheapest product on our list, but it's the best among the products on the lower end of the price scale.