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The Best Lavalier Microphones for Podcast & Video Recordings

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The Best Lavalier Microphones for Podcast & Video Recordings

Looking for a way to improve your audio quality or record audio discreetly? Lavalier microphones provide a hands-free option that allows podcasters to record quality audio without a mic in the video shot. 

With so many lav mics out there, knowing how to choose the right one can be challenging. We’ll explain what a lav mic is and how you can use them to record great audio. We’ve also included our top picks for the best wired, wireless, and Bluetooth lav mics to help you select one that’s right for you.

What is a Lavalier Microphone?

Lav mics are tiny microphones that clip on a person’s clothing to record vocals. These discrete mics come wired or wireless. Developed in the 1930s, lavalier mics provide speakers with more freedom of movement. Today, professionals use them all across the recording industry. 

Some other names commonly used for lavalier microphones include: 

  • Neck mic
  • Clip mic
  • Lapel mic
  • Body mic
  • Personal mic 
  • Collar mic 

What Does a Lavalier Microphone Do?

A lavalier microphone works in the same way a traditional mic does to record or amplify sound. The main difference between a lav mic and a standard mic is size. Lavalier microphones are tiny and placed directly on a person’s body or clothing. They can attach to other pieces of recording equipment or a computer used with audio recording software

How Does a Lavalier Mic Work?

Correct mic positioning is essential for a lavalier mic to work correctly. Lav mics are designed to attach to a person’s shirt or another article of clothing, positioned close to a person’s mouth.

When placing a lav mic, do as many sound checks as you need to confirm you’re capturing vocals at the correct volume levels. Most lav mics are omnidirectional condenser mics so that they can pick up small sounds and vocals. Make sure your mic isn’t picking up any rubbing or scratching sounds caused by it pressing against clothing. 

What Type of Mic Is a Lavalier?

There are many types of lavalier mics on the market. Make sure to understand some microphone basics before selecting one. Once you know the different kinds of lav mic and how they work, you’ll know which mic type to look for based on your needs.

Pay attention to these three different mic types when choosing a lav mic:  

Condenser vs. Dynamic 

Dynamic mics are suitable for recording big sounds and loud environments, making them great for live performances. They aren’t super sensitive and are usually more durable than condenser microphones. Condenser mics are used for their detail and recording accuracy and are most often used to record vocals. They’re susceptible and can pick up on small sounds and quiet dialogue that other mics might miss. Most lav mics are condenser microphones. 

Omnidirectional vs. Cardioid  

A microphone’s polar pattern determines how it picks up sound. Cardioid mics pick up sounds in front of them, while an omnidirectional microphone picks up sounds coming from all directions. Most lavalier mics are omnidirectional microphones. This means you can place them without pointing them directly at the speaker’s mouth. Because they record sound from all directions, omnidirectional mics can sometimes capture unwanted background noise.    

Wired vs. Wireless 

Lav mics come in both wired and wireless styles. Wired mics tend to cost less and be more reliable, but dealing with the wire can become a hassle depending on your recording situation. You can use wireless lav mics more discreetly, but they have limited battery life, and their transmitting signal can be interrupted.   

Benefits of a Lavalier Microphone

Many of the benefits of lavalier microphones have to do with their size. Lav mics are small and discreet. Because of their small size, they can easily be placed on a person close to their mouth without a mic showing up in your video shot. 

Take a look at a few of the benefits of using a lav mic for your podcast or video recording: 

Discreet Recording 

Because of their small size, lav microphones can record someone on camera without any visibility. A lav mic captures premium audio discreetly when positioned on clothing correctly, making it an excellent option for recording actors for a film. Interviewees often feel more comfortable and act more naturally with lapel mics because they forget about wearing them.      

Portable and Convenient 

Lav mics are extremely easy to transport and set up, thanks to their size. This makes them convenient, mainly if you frequently record on the go. Consider the hassle of transporting and setting up a boom mic for multiple shoots. Compare that to lavalier microphones that clip on a piece of clothing. 

Clear and Crisp Vocals  

Most lapel microphones are condenser mics explicitly designed to capture vocals. Lavalier mics clip to a lapel or piece of clothing close to a speaker’s mouth. This proximity to the mouth captures better vocals, making them a great choice when you need to record dialogue. 

When Would You Use a Lavalier Microphone?

These mics record vocals and have several uses for podcasters, filmmakers, and other video content creators. Lav mics offer a great solution whenever you want to record someone on camera without a visible mic or when you want a hand-free recording option. Many public speakers prefer using lavalier mics so they can talk with their hands.

Some common uses for lavalier mics include: 

  • Discreetly recording actors during a play for film 
  • Recording hands-free for a tutorial video 
  • Streaming gaming sessions
  • Conducting interviews on the go
  • Having a hands-free mic option for public speaking

What Does a Lavalier Mic Plug Into?

Like traditional microphones, lavalier mics work with audio equipment, computers, video equipment, and mobile devices. Modern lav mics can be wireless or use Bluetooth technology. Wired lav mics are still used widely in professional audio and video recording because of their reliability. 

Some of the devices lav mics are most commonly connected to include: 

  • Desktop computers and laptops 
  • Tablets and smartphones 
  • Audio mixers and digital audio workstations 
  • DSLRs and other digital cameras 
  • Speaker systems

Do Lavalier Mics Need Power?

Lav microphones usually require power because, often, they’re condenser mics. This means they need additional power for the condenser element inside of the mic. Wired mics require phantom power, and wireless mics need power from a battery pack to operate. 

How Do You Connect a Lavalier Microphone to a Mixer?

You can connect most lav mics to an audio mixer with an adapter. Most lav mics have a 3.5mm output, and most professional audio mixers use XLR inputs to connect mics. You can easily connect a lav mic to an audio mixer with a 3.5mm XLR adapter, which you can buy online or at many electronics stores. 

Pro tip: Turn off phantom power on your audio mixer mic input, or you could end up frying your lav mic when you connect it. 

Are Lavalier Microphones Good?

Although not always the best option, lavalier microphones are great when you need to capture quality audio on the go or you want a hands-free recording option. We previously discussed the benefits of using a lavalier microphone, but these mics also have limitations. Understand your specific recording needs when trying to determine if a lav mic is right for you. Review these cons of using lavalier mics to see how they compare to your needs. 

Lav Mic Cons:

  • The mic rubbing against clothes can affect recording quality
  • Mics can be difficult to clip on some clothing and materials 
  • Wireless lav mics have limited battery life 
  • Wireless lav mics can lose signal and stop recording 

How to Use a Lavalier Mic

A lavalier microphone is only effective at capturing audio when used correctly. Using a lavalier mic isn't overly complicated, but you should consider a few things to get the best possible audio.

When using a lav mic, be very aware of the following two things: 

How you position your lav mic: When placing a lav mic, think of the speaker’s mouth you want to record as your sound source. The mic should be as close to the speaker’s mouth as possible and in direct line with it for the best possible outcome. 

How you connect your mic to a recording device: To use your mic most effectively, you need to understand how it connects to other equipment. Pay attention to your lav mic’s outputs and know how they match up with the inputs on any other recording equipment. 

How Do You Use the Lavalier Mic On a Laptop?

Using a lav mic with a laptop is simple and usually only requires plugging the mic in and changing a couple of your input settings. If your lav mic has a 3.5mm output, it can plug directly into your laptop’s mic or headphone jack. Then, change your computer’s audio settings so that the mic is the audio input for the computer. If your mic isn’t a 3.5mm or USB mic, you might have to get an adapter to use with your laptop. 

How Do I Use a Lavalier Microphone On My Phone?

Lav mics can plug directly into your phone or connect using Bluetooth. While some mics are made with USB-C outputs that can connect to Android devices, you’ll probably need an adapter to connect a lav mic to your phone if you aren’t using Bluetooth. Pay special attention to device compatibility if you plan to use a lav mic with a phone. 

How to Use a Lavalier Microphone With iPhone

In almost all cases, you’ll need an adapter to connect a lav mic to your iPhone using a wired connection. You can connect any lav mic to an iPhone as long as you have the correct adapter. Below, we’ll review some of our favorite lav mics that are compatible with iPhones and other mobile devices. 

Related article: Best External Microphones for iPhone & iOS Recordings

Can You Use a Lavalier Mic For Streaming?

Many creators use lav mics for streaming and to record YouTube videos. Lavalier mics are a great choice when you want to record streaming content because they’re hands-free. Whether you’re gaming or creating a tutorial, you’ll have free use of your hands with the ability to move around if you need to. We’ll cover some of the best lav mics for streaming later in this article. 

Can You Use a Lavalier Mic For Zoom?

Lavalier mics work with Zoom as long as the mic output is compatible with the device you’re using. If you’re using a Bluetooth lav mic, make sure the Bluetooth on your device is also turned on. You can plug most lav mics into the mic jack of computers or laptops. You may have to buy an adapter to use a lav mic with Zoom on a mobile device. 

How to Wear a Lavalier Mic

Mic placement is critical for capturing quality audio with a lavalier mic. You want the mic positioned directly in line with the mouth of the speaker. It should be close enough to their mouth to capture the audio but not so close you pick up breathing and other distracting sounds. Placing a lav mic correctly is a learned skill. Be prepared for a lot of trial and error before you get it right! 

Where to Clip a Lavalier Microphone

You should follow specific rules to capture high-quality audio when using a lav mic:

Use these rules of thumb for attaching lav mics to get great audio:

  • Position the mic on the speaker’s chest, about 10 in from their mouth.
  • Clip a lav mic to the edge of a piece of clothing like a jacket lapel or the seam of a button-up shirt. 
  • If the speaker’s clothing doesn’t have seams to attach a lav mic, the neckline can work. Just be sure the mic isn’t directly under the speaker’s chin.
  • Lav mics can also be attached to hats, headbands, straps, and other clothing parts if you need to get creative. 

Pro Tip: Secure a lav mic to clothing inside with tape for discreet, concealed recording. 

How to Choose Your Lavalier Microphone

Choosing a lavalier mic can seem overwhelming with so many great options on the market. When selecting podcast equipment or video recording equipment, you have to have a clear idea of your specific recording needs to get the proper setup. 

Ask yourself these questions when shopping around for a lavalier microphone: 

What’s my budget?

Have a clear idea of how much you can spend on a lav mic. The amount you pay will affect the mic quality and functionality you get. Wired lavalier mics usually cost less than wireless mics. When it comes to wireless lav mics, you’ll probably want to spend a little more to make sure you get a mic with a quality transmitter and receiver system.

What and where am I recording? 

A lav mic probably isn’t the best choice for recording anything other than vocals. They’re usually condenser mics designed to pick up the slightest sounds in the human voice’s frequency range. (These mics shine when capturing voices.) since this type of mic is also usually omnidirectional, you’ll want to record in an environment that doesn’t have a lot of background noise. 

Which other pieces of equipment am I using the mic with? 

Make sure the lav mic you choose is compatible with any other equipment you use. If you plan to connect your mic to a smartphone or camera, check that the microphone has the correct outputs and comes with the right wires. You may have to purchase additional cables or equipment to connect some lavalier mics to audio and video equipment. 

Wired or wireless? 

Have a good idea of how you’ll be using your mic while recording. If you interview someone and remain stationary, a wired mic will work great. Wireless lav mics are much more practical if you expect to move around during recording. 

Best Lavalier Microphones

The best lav mic for you will depend mainly on how you answered the questions in the previous section. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the features of the top lav mics to help you determine which is best for your needs. We paid particular attention to mic type, whether the mic is wired or wireless, the mic output type, and affordability. 

Best Wired Lavalier Microphones

Many professionals prefer wired lav mics over wireless mics because they’re more reliable. Though convenient, wireless mics rely on limited battery power and can sometimes lose their transmission signal. We reviewed some of the best lav mics on the market and chose these top pics based on price, versatility, and ease of use. 

Rode smartLav+

Mic Type: Condenser / Omnidirectional 

Connection Type: Wired

Output: 3.5mm TRRS

Price: $58 ($)

This lav mic is one of our top picks because it pairs easily with smartphones and cameras. This mic comes with a reinforced kevlar cable to keep your mic from snapping or stretching. Because of its broad compatibility and affordable price, this is an excellent mic for beginners. 

Shure MVL

Mic Type: Condenser / Omnidirectional 

Connection Type: Wired

Output: 3.5mm TRRS

Price: $69 ($)

The Shule MVL plugs easily into any mic jack and is compatible with most cameras. This lav mic has an excellent signal-to-noise ratio and comes with a windscreen. The Shule mic works with iOS and Android devices and is compatible with the ShurePlus MOTIV Mobile Recording App. 

Sony ECM-44

Mic Type: Condenser / Omnidirectional 

Connection Type: Wired

Output: XLR connector

Price: $156 ($$) 

This Sony lav mic is great for using a mixer because it’s made with an XLR output. You’ll need to get an adapter to use this mic with a smartphone or camera. This mic doesn’t support phantom power. It’s battery-powered and requires two AA batteries. 

Best Wireless Lavalier Microphone

Wireless lav mics give you more freedom of movement while recording. Plus, they’re easier to set up because you don’t have to worry about running cables. Though more convenient, wireless mics are prone to having technical issues since they rely on wireless technology. Wireless mics come with a whole system that includes transmitters and receivers. Below are our top picks for wireless microphone systems. 

Shure BLX14/CVL Wireless Microphone System

Mic Type: Condenser / Omnidirectional

Connection Type: Wireless

Output: Connects to transmitter via 4-pin XLR connector

Price: $299 ($$$)

This wireless lav mic system comes with a bodypack transmitter, wireless receiver, CVL lav mic, power supply, lav clip, and windscreen. The wireless body transmitter can operate for up to 14 hours on the power of two AA batteries. The system features easy frequency matching and adjustable gain control. 

Shure GLXD14/93 Digital Presenter Wireless System with WL93 Lavalier Microphone

Mic Type: Condenser / Omnidirectional

Connection Type: Wireless

Output: Connects to transmitter via 4-pin XLR connector

Price: $519 ($$$$)

This Shure wireless system includes a wireless receiver, wireless bodypack transmitter, WL94 micro-lav microphone,  power supply, rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and windscreen. The rechargeable battery lasts up to 16 hours and will save you from having to buy batteries. The system makes it easy to identify local open frequencies. 

Rode Wireless GO Compact Digital Wireless Microphone System

Mic Type: Condenser / Omnidirectional

Connection Type: Wireless

Output: 2-in-1 mic and transmitter 

Price: $192 ($$)

The Rhode Wireless GO system is great because the transmitter can function as either a clip-on wireless mic or as a belt pack transmitter that you can plug a more discreet lav mic into. The whole set is super compact and easy to connect and disassemble. This mic isn’t meant for extended continuous use as its battery can only hold a 7-hour charge.  

Best Wireless Lavalier Microphones For DSLR Cameras

You can connect wireless lav mics to DSLR cameras to capture quality audio and video simultaneously. Most wireless mic kits include a shoe mount to attach to your DSLR camera securely. We considered operating range and ease of connection when choosing the best wireless lav mics for DSLR cameras. 

Saramonic Dual Wireless VHF Lavalier Microphone Bundle

Mic Type: Condenser / Omnidirectional

Connection Type: Wireless

Output: 3.5mm TRRS 

Price: $129 ($$)

This wireless mic bundle comes with two transmitters, two receivers, and an audio mixer. The system has a 200ft wireless operating range and can operate on four separate channels. This Saramonic mic system connects easily to DSLR mic jacks using the 3.5mm output. 

Rode RodeLink Filmmaker Kit

Mic Type: Condenser / Omnidirectional

Connection Type: Wireless

Compatibility: 3.5mm TRRS

Price: $399 ($$$)

The RodeLink Filmmaker kit includes a belt pack transmitter, receiver, and lav mic. The lav mic features a frequency range of 20Hz-20kHz, uses Series II, 2.4GHz digital transmission, and has a transmission range of 300ft. The receiver features an OLED display with info on levels and your battery status. 

Wireless Lavalier Mics For Smartphones

Connecting external microphones to your smartphone is easy to turn your mobile device into a professional video recorder. A wireless lav mic compatible with your phone eliminates the need to buy additional recording equipment. If you’re a podcaster or video creator working on a tight budget, that could be huge. These are some of the top lav mics you can get to connect to your smartphone.    

Comica CVM-WS50

Mic Type: Condenser / Omnidirectional

Connection Type: Wireless

Output: Smartphone interface adapter 

Price: $143 ($$)

The Comica mic has an LCD screen display that shows audio status, battery life, and real-time monitoring. The wireless mic has a working distance of 197ft and has flexible channel matching. The entire system is very portable and includes an adjustable tripod. 

Samson Go Mic Mobile Lavalier System

Mic Type: Condenser / Omnidirectional

Connection Type: Wireless 

Output: USB, 3.5mm TRRS

Price: $180 ($$)

This Samson microphone comes with a belt pack transmitter and a receiver with up to 13 hours of battery life. You can use this mic system with various smartphones because it comes with lightning, USB Micro, USB-C, and 3.5mm adapter cables. In addition to connecting to smartphones, this mic system can also be mounted on cameras, tablets, and tripods. 

Best Lavalier Microphones For Live Streaming

Many live streamers use lav mics because they allow hands-free recording and provide more freedom of movement. Below, we’ve reviewed a wired and wireless option we think live streamers will love. 

Movo WMIC50

Mic Type: Condenser / Omnidirectional

Connection Type: Wireless

Output: USB, 3.5mm TRRS

Price: $79.95 ($)

This wireless lav kit from Movo includes a belt-pack transmitter, a receiver with show and tripod mounts, a lav mic, and two earphones. Convenient live monitoring features allow you to make sure you’re recording correctly without having to stop and start again. The wireless mic has a 164ft operating range and a 2.4GHz frequency range.  

Audio-Technica AT899

Mic Type: Condenser / Omnidirectional

Connection Type: Wired

Output: XLR connector 

Price: $269 ($$$)

This Audio-Technica mic has an operating range of 300ft. The mic comes with accessories that include clips, element covers, windscreens, and mic holders. You can use phantom power with this mic, but it doesn’t require it. Though this mic is a little pricey, it’s worth it for the sound quality you’re able to capture. 

Best Bluetooth Lavalier Microphones

The best thing about Bluetooth lav mics is their versatility. Since these mics use Bluetooth technology, they’re compatible with almost any other device that uses Bluetooth. Though these mics are pricier than the more traditional wired options, they’re worth the investment because they are convenient and easy to use. 

Hey Mic!

Mic Type: Condenser / Omnidirectional

Connection Type: Bluetooth

Output: Micro USB charging 

Price: $98 ($)

The Hey Mic! is designed for vloggers and content creators who want an affordable Bluetooth mic they can use with their smartphones. It can be clipped onto clothing and connected to any device with Bluetooth to start recording in just a couple of minutes. The mic’s battery can last for weeks on standby, and it only takes 2 hours to charge.

Comica CVM-WS60 Combo Wireless Dual Lavalier Lapel Microphone System

Mic Type: Condenser / Omnidirectional

Connection Type: Wireless

Output: USB, 3.5mm TRRS

Price: $199 ($$)

The Comica mic system can be used with a camera or a smartphone and has an operating range of up to 100ft. The system is designed to provide convenient mounting for your smartphone for recording. The mic can last for up to 8 hours of continuous use on a two-hour charge. 

Where to Buy Lavalier Microphones

Many consumers purchase lav microphones directly from the website of the manufacturer. Amazon is a great place to buy lavalier microphones because the website has full product specs and allows you to compare mics side-by-side to see how their features stack up. Amazon product reviews are a great source of information about products. You can learn what other people who have used the lav mic you’re considering have to say about the product’s strengths and weaknesses. You can also have questions about a specific mic answered by someone who has used it. 

Lav Mics for Podcasters and Filmmakers 

Make sure you clearly understand how you plan to use a lavalier mic before selecting one for your podcast or other video content. Your budget, the content you record, and other equipment you use should be all factors in your decision when choosing a belt-pack lav mic. Experiment plenty with correct mic placement before you start recording with a lav mic.

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