A lavalier microphone is extremely nifty, and as obsessed as we are with all types of microphones, whether it’s their shape, size or overall build, there’s nothing quite like having one in our toolbox. For lavs, it’s their convenience, small size, discrete fit on a person and the overall quality they can provide our performances, speeches and recordings is what makes them special. Today we review the top 10 best lavalier microphones in the market to help your shopping endeavors.
The benefits of a lavalier microphone
So what is a lavalier microphone? In short, most people call it a lav mic (some even called it a “lapel mic”). Firstly, they’re dynamic microphones, so they’re more versatile and better suited for general-purpose use as opposed to other popular types, such as condensers. Their pickups are also suited for capturing what’s in front of them and rejected the outside axis to help us isolate our source.
To get to the actual definition of what “lavalier” means, it used to refer to (and still does) a piece of jewelry in pendant form found around the neck. So what you’re getting is a microphone that’s small in size, fits neatly near the neck of the speaker, and clips freely to their piece of clothing allowing for one of the most hassle-free techniques of projecting an audio source through a speaker. We’re talking convenience here.
This particular type of microphone is best used with the following applications: As external mics for DSLRs, television, theater, smart devices, public speaking, newscasters, sports anchors, interviews, product reviews, YouTube videos and much more. We wouldn’t get discouraged if none of these were your preferred use. If you need a smaller microphone that’s discrete in nature, we’d grab a lav mic.
How to choose your lavalier microphone
- Your budget. One great thing about lav mics is that they’re pretty dang cheap! There isn’t much of a wide range in price (at least compared to some other types of microphones); however, if you do decide to go a bit higher in price, you’ll see a big increase in quality. We recommend going with a higher-priced model because of this. Although if you’re on a budget, it won’t hurt to grab a cheap one (or two) in that case.
- Do you want wired or wireless? There’s a significantly large jump in price if you’re going to want a wireless lavalier system. We made sure to give you a mixture of the two connectivity types to appeal to all lav mic users. We have a new wireless lavalier microphone guide that you should read instead if you do indeed don’t want to hassle with wires.
- What are you connecting it to? What’s your source of recording? A portable audio recorder? Smart phone? Camera? Not sure yet? Double check the output on your recording device, and make sure the input the lavalier microphone you’ve chosen will be able to plug-in to it.
The top 10 best lavalier microphones
As we always mention a Rode microphone in our posts, this is one of the best lavalier mics we’ve come across. It’s a bit more expensive than the dinky budget-friendly models (we’re talking under $10 at a local electronics store) but for good reason. a build that’s a lot better quality than most (as always with Rode) and a high-quality omnidirectional condenser capsule (for an equal distribution and pickup). What’s also great is the foam pop shield that comes with the package to help with wind as well as those pesky b, t, and p pops we sometimes get when recording up-close to a human.
Next we have an audio app by Rode (if you’re even using it with a smart device), which pairs up to the mic and supplies us with a nifty recorder and some presets along with it. The Rode SmartLav+ is in our opinion the best lavalier microphone out there, as it’s a lot better quality than most in terms of build, sound quality and overall use. If you want the best, save up the cash for this and you’re good to go.
Here we have one of our favorite professional and high-end picks as the best lavalier microphone in the market today. The COS-11D gives us an omnidirectional polar pattern, water resistance, a -9 dB reduced sensitivity level, some RF noise protection, and very wide frequency response. It is indeed wired, however is very long at 5.9′. The reason it’s so expensive however is the internal build — they were really able to cram a powerful mechanism inside of this small mic.
There are ‘Lectrosonics Transmitters’ (advanced wireless transmitters), and also included in the box for further protection is a metal windscreen, holder clip, plastic case and rubber mount. The Sanken COS-11D is by far the best lavalier microphone in the market if your budget is in the higher-end.
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly model as opposed to the previous Rode lav listed, this is our pick. It’s a little more than half the price if you’re comparing, and although it doesn’t provide as good of sound quality, it’s highly popular among the net in terms of positive ratings and reviews. It has a pretty high-quality condenser capsule built-in, an omni-pickup pattern, and also comes with a clip, foam windscreen and LR44 battery.
The Audio-Technica logo should give you confidence when it comes to longevity, as they are always coming out with products that have super solid builds that will last you for quite some time if you take care of your gear. Grab the Audio-Technica ATR3350 if you want a lav mic that’s lower in price but can still provide decent sound quality (the quality depends a lot on what device you’re recording to in terms of their preamps and what not, anyways).
Sennheiser EW 100 ENG G3-A
This is quite the jump for the best lavalier mic in terms of price points with this article, but we wanted to introduce at least a few wireless lav mics if that’s what you were looking for. If you have the cash and really need a wireless solution for recording, this is by far one of the best wireless lav systems out there. You get two receivers, a transforming converter (for XLR mics), and of course a lav mic included (clip-on). It’s recommended for those who are more advanced and may use an XLR mic at some point.
It has a very nice build, communicates with the receivers via AF frequency and a nice graphic display. Although for semi-pros to pros, the EW 100 ENG G3-A is something worth looking at if you want to go big or go home. This was also in our DSLR camera mic guide.
Audio-Technica PRO 70
Here’s a high-end lav mic system that’s more geared towards musicians. It’s reportedly best for vocal and acoustic guitar applications because it comes with a switchable low-frequency roll-off that’s perfect for the use. It can operate via battery or phantom power and the cardioid pickup pattern is best for recording the sides and rear. Considered to be a semi-pro lavalier mic, it’s not quite the previous model’s price but is a lot more than normal lav mics.
Again, an Audio-Technica brand logo gives us confidence in the stability and longevity of the mic, so if it’s down your alley we recommend looking at the Audio-Technica PRO 70 microphone as the best lavalier mic if your budget allows.
Pyle Pro PDWM96
Here’s a bit of a different spin for the best wireless lav mics. It’s extremely affordable and is a nice solution for those looking for a wireless mike while saving some cash (we’re talking saving). It’s not nearly as crazy as the Sennheiser previously listed, but it gets the job done for low-cost setups. You get a body pack transmitter with a clip-on lav mic, batteries included, a range of up to 60 ft. and volume control on the transmitter.
Grab the Pyle Pro PDWM96 microphone if you want an easy wireless answer. We’re pretty baffled it’s so cheap (but remember you’re getting what you pay for) — they consider it a “belt mic” because it can strap right there on your waist, helping you out with some great versatility.
Let’s talk high-end, top-of-the-line lavalier mics. The B6 is a very popular choice among professionals for many reasons. For one, this thing is almost as small as a hair pin! Don’t let the photo above fool you, they can literally be hidden in somebody’s head in their hair, on or around a button on a shirt, or really anywhere you can be creative with. The non-intrusiveness is especially attractive for those in the professional world, since it won’t be a pain on the eye if being filmed. So is something this small packing a powerful punch? Of course it is, and we’d hope with that price.
You have very low distortion at high sound-pressure level (up to 140 dB with phantom power of 48 V). It has great feedback and ambient noise rejection. You can also swap out protective caps to tweak the frequency (for more experienced sound users) in case you need to match with your application (you can buy detachable connectors separately). Check out the Countryman B6 if you wanted a professional, high-end and non-intrusive solution to the best lavalier microphone.
Sennheiser ME 2
This is another jump in price but with the Sennheiser logo, we’re confident in the overall build and quality this provides. A wide frequency range at 30 to 20kHz and condenser capsule is what gets the price up there. An omnidirectional pick-up pattern to finish off the specs list — just an ordinary lapel mic here but a lot better quality than the cheaper models previously listed. The Sennheiser ME 2 lav mic is worth looking at. It’s what the previous wireless Sennheiser system actually comes with, but sold separately without the converter\transmitters.
We have another omnidirectional electret condenser lav mic with an OK response of 30 to 18 kHz. What’s cool is the attachable windscreen that comes along with it. Decent sound quality, seamless clipping and a long-enough cable for pretty much all applications regardless of where you’ll place it. A bit of a step up as compared to the Neewer model previously spoken about that was super budget-friendly.
Azden mics are pretty solid so it’s worth taking a look at the EX-503 lavalier microphone if you want a decent solution above the Neewer. It’s another one of our favorite picks as the best lavalier microphone for those not wanting something fancy with a higher price.
Last but not least we have another wireless lav mic system that’s slightly more expensive than the Pyle Audio model before. This is a solid one because you get 164 feet of range (that’s pretty long if you think about it), comes with a belt clip, two transmitters, a camera show, a lav mic and 2 earphones. A nice package deal here, and the frequency band of 2.4 Ghz is relatively decent.
The only con we’d say here is the batteries last only 3.5 to 4 hours, which isn’t long especially if you’ll be in the field all day. It would be fine you were to bring some replacement batteries, however. Look at the MOVO WMIC50 for a decent wireless option that comes with a convenient package.