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What is a Lavalier Microphone?


Quality audio comprises a large part of the videos we watch. Whether we’re listening to a lecture online, watching the local weather report, or getting immersed in a movie, we owe a positive experience to sound design.

Lavalier microphones make for some of the best hands-free audio equipment out there. Used mainly for broadcasting, podcasting, filmmaking, classes, and onstage, the lapel mic is a necessity for those who want a discreet device they can attach to their clothes and still produce excellent sound quality. 

We’ve made a curated guide to the best lavalier microphones of the year, but let’s dig deeper into what makes them a must-have in your repository.

What Kind Of Mic is a Lavalier?

A lavalier microphone, or a lav mic for short, is one of the many sound recording devices that offer a hands-free operation. You’ll find it in musical performances, live video broadcasting, cable news reporting, public speaking applications, and just about any function that requires a clear voice and freedom of movement. But what exactly is the lavalier mic?

Under the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the lavalier microphone definition is a “small microphone that is hung around the neck or clipped to the clothing of the user.” This way, you can capture audio discreetly without compromising sound quality. 

Lavalier microphones are also referred to as a clip mic, clip-on microphone, collar mic, neck mic, personal mic, body mic, or lapel microphone. 

What is a Lavalier Mic Used For?

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “What is a lavalier microphone used for?” then you’ve already stumbled upon the beauty of a lav mic. 

Because it offers a hands-free operation alongside top-notch sound quality, a lavalier microphone can be used for just about any setting. Lav mics or lapel mics are typically used by live reporters, singers, recording artists, teachers, actors, and podcasters. 

But even those who aren’t necessarily recording professionals can use a lavalier mic in their daily life. Lapel microphones can be a wonderful investment for gamers on voice chat, hobbyist vloggers, and even office-based employees that want to level up their presentation skills. The point is, lav mics are a great purchase for anyone who wishes to improve the audio quality of their outputs.

Lavalier Microphone Characteristics

Why are Lavalier Mics So Good?

While there isn’t a single type of microphone that works best for all video settings, what makes a lavalier mic or lapel mic so appealing is its versatility. Whether you’re shooting videos or speaking on a computer, the easy-to-attach clip-on microphone offers a reliable, affordable, and portable option for both professionals and amateurs. 

These factors may also be why some prefer to shoot or record with a wireless lavalier microphone rather than a handheld or shotgun microphone. Let’s talk about them further.

A Lapel Mic is Affordable

A lavalier microphone poses many benefits over the typical mic. 

One advantage is that it’s usually cheaper: a lapel mic is smaller and doesn’t come with a whole lot of cables, boxy receivers, etc. You will probably be able to get an excellent quality lavalier mic at around $800, while the better shotgun microphones retail at around $1,500.

It Produces Clear Vocals

Another advantage is its mic quality. Most microphones can be too sensitive or require a high input in order to pick up voices because they’re too far away from the subject. A body mic, on the other hand, can pick up vocals with little output because they are closer to the subject. This lets them capture voices while effectively muting background sound.

It’s Hands-Free

Setting up the perfect microphone for a video camera can be tricky. On set, you can either choose between an onboard microphone (a microphone that you can plug onto the top of video cameras), a lavalier microphone, or a boom microphone. Of course, many video cameras come with their own mic, but they aren’t the best at isolating vocals.

Unlike any of those options, a lavalier microphone doesn’t require additional manpower, and it saves you the trouble of having to clean up audio after filming.

You Don’t (Always) Need an Extension Cable

Unless you want to set up two lav mics for your camera or PC, there’s usually no need to pack an extra cable. In fact, there isn’t much you need to pack, because a lavalier microphone is small and portable. If you’re using solely battery-powered mics, just make sure you bring extra batteries in case you run out.

Watch: How To Set Up Lavalier Microphones

A lapel mic is clipped to the subject’s body and can be connected to your camera, laptop, PC, or even your phone. Check out this guide to setting up lav mics for newbies.

Final Note

Lav mics can be used by anyone, almost anywhere — and that’s something not every microphone can say for itself. It’s the perfect investment for anyone who wants to save money or desk space, and it can work for professionals as well as beginners.

Eager to learn more about professional audio gear? Keep visiting our website for some of the best music and mic-related content.

Naomi Feller

Originally from the East Coast, Naomi started singing as young as 3 years old. In her early teens Naomi made some embarrassing YouTube videos before settling on a love for Podcast editing. When she's not pouring over endless amounts of audio, she lends her expertise to us here at Shout4Music with her crystal clear and finely tuned microphone reviews.

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