If you’re looking for help picking the best wired or wireless lavalier microphone you’re in the right place. In this mega-guide we’re going to walk you through what you’ll want to consider when choosing a lav mic and present several options that are suited for your particular needs. We’ve got lav mics for documentary film, indie filmmaking, lav mics that work well with DSLRs and lavalier microphones for camcorders, even lapel microphones for audio recorders like the Zoom or lavs for iPhones, iPads and Android devices.
Since this is a long guide, we’re using a table of contents to help you find what you need faster.
The best lavalier microphones for documentary filmmaking & interviews
There are few pieces of documentary filmmaking equipment more useful than the wireless lavaliere microphone. You can use a wireless lav for interviews, put it on a subject as they go about their daily life and you film them, even set a wireless lav on a podium and use it capture sound from the person speaking at a public event. Wireless lapel microphones used to be quite expensive but today they’re a standard part of any documentary film sound kit.
The best lavalier mic for interviews
The Sennheiser G3/G4 is known as a workhorse in the documentary filmmaking community. It’s one of the most common wireless microphones in the industry and for good reason: it’s rugged, easy to use, affordable and sounds terrific. This wireless lav has a good wireless range of up to a couple hundred feet from the transmitter on a person to the receiver unit mounted on the camera.
Sennheiser also sells a G3/G4 kit with a plug on transmitter to use with reporter style interview microphones that you can use with the lav receiver instead of the lav body pack. Uses two AA batteries in the receiver, two in the transmitter.
The venerable Sennheiser G3 also has a bigger brother called the AVX. The AVX is a newer wireless lavalier and it incorporates new tech to provide a better wireless range, rechargeable batteries, and smarter power saving technology. It also has a smaller receiver unit which is lighter on your camera which is especially nice for run and gun documentary filmmaking when you’re not using tripods as much so you get tired faster (less weight is a big win!). With automatic on-and-off switching, the AVX saves battery power and lasts longer than the G3.
Check out this video that shows some of the enhancements of the new AVX wireless lav that make it the best Sennheiser lav mic:
If you’re looking for more of a budget lav microphone for documentary filmmaking, the Movo 70 Wireless Lav might be up your alley. It’s definitely cheaper but can also provide decent quality sound within a 328 foot wireless range. Like the Sennheiser units listed above, this lav mic comes with both XLR and 3.5mm audio outputs so you can plug it into either a pro level video camera with 3-pin XLR inputs as well as DSLRs and camcorders with 1/8th inch audio minijack inputs. If you’re interested in getting a Movo, also be sure to check out the other kits and configurations available such as a dual wireless lav setup or kits with reporter style microphones.
Honorable mention – The Sony UWPD11/42 Lavalier Microphone is another great wireless lav mic for documentary filmmaking. It’s slightly easier on the budget than the Sennheiser versions an provides excellent sound quality at a decent wireless range.
Factors to consider when choosing a lavalier mic for documentary film
When you’re choosing which lavalier microphone to get for documentary interviews, there are a few different things to keep in mind:
Compatibility with other systems – All of the wireless lav mics for documentary that we’ve listed here are compatible both with DSLRs/camcorders and also professional video cameras because they include XLR outputs and 3.5mm minijack plugs for your camera. But if you choose a model with that is compatible with other accessories (like the Sennheiser options for instance), you can use this mic to connect to other systems. For instance, if you pair a Sennheiser G3 or AVX which uses a 3.5mm microphone input, you can disconnect the mic cable and swap it for a 1/8th inch to XLR cable which allows you to plug into event soundboards and wirelessly receive the microphone feed at rallies or speeches–quite handy.
Type of batteries – Lav mics tend to burn through batteries in a few hours, although how long your batteries last depends on how actively you’re using them and the distance between the transmitter & receiver. The further apart they are, the harder they have to work to reach each other and the faster your batteries may run down. Especially high or low can also negatively wireless lavalier battery life.
The upshot is, you’re probably going to be going through a lot of batteries if you’re doing heavy shooting with wireless microphones. Many wireless mics use standard AA batteries, although some higher end models like the Sennheiser AVX use rechargeable battery packs. If you’re getting the AVX, we strongly recommend getting extra battery packs for the transmitter & receiver to go with it. Even though its battery packs last longer than typical AAs, nothing is worse than having material to shoot but not enough battery power to film.
Cost – Expense is often a factor for low budget documentary filmmakers and unfortunately the sound department is often the victim of cost cutting. Just remember, nobody gives you credit for having great sound but everyone will notice if your sound is poor quality. Fair or unfair, bad quality sound is often less forgivable than poor picture quality.
The best lavalier microphones for indie film
Independent filmmakers work very hard to balance budget demands with a desire to achieve high production values. Even though sound is “invisible” it’s also extremely important and not an area you want to skimp on since poor sound can doom a film faster than many visual problems.
Luckily wireless body microphones are cheaper and higher quality than ever before. It’s entirely possible to built a pro-sounding sound kit for indie filmmaking for affordable prices these days. We’ve done research on the best wireless body mic options. Here they are below.
Wireless body mics/lav mics for indie filmmakers
The Sennheiser G3 wireless lavalier microphone is well known in the indie filmmaking community for its versatility, durability and good quality sound. Sennheiser is one of the most respected microphone producers in the world and their G3 lav is a classic. Although its shipping configuration is aimed at documentary filmmakers and television reporters with a lapel clip, you can easily detach the clip and hide this lav under an actor’s shirt with tape (more on this below in the tips section). We would argue that every indie filmmaker looking for a great wireless sound system should at least consider the Sennheiser G3.
If you’re curious which lavalier microphone Hollywood sound departments use, look no further than Lectrosonics. Their high priced, high quality microphones are used extremely frequently in professional Hollywood films. This kit includes the Lectrosonics receiver M152 omni-directional microphone, a transmitter and receiver pack, as well as a semi-soft carrying case to safely store them away with. It also includes mounting hardware to attach this pro-level wireless lav to your camera setup, although many Hollywood sound departments are recording directly to an external audio recorder and therefore have no need for camera mounting hardware.
The Sarmonic wireless lav system is used by some low budget indie filmmakers to get good quality sound for the money. It has a wireless range of up to about 300 feet and it provides clear high quality audio. This kit includes both an XLR output cable as well as a 3.5mm minijack for DSLRs or camcorders with 1/8th inch microphone input ports. It also includes camera mounting hardware to secure the wireless receiver to your camera’s hot or cold shoe.
Honorable mention – The Rodelink FM Wireless Filmmaker System is a good medium budget lav microphone for indie filmmakers. It’s also compatible with a neat Rode accessory for easily concealing lav microphones underneath shirts. Since you’ll probably need to hide lav mics underneath clothing for your film, this is an option worth considering.
How to hide a wireless lav underneath clothing
Unlike documentary filmmaking where microphones are commonly seen on screen, indie filmmakers normally need to hide all microphones. Here are three tricks to hide wireless lavs under your actors’ shirts:
Using a vampire clip – A vampire clip (see photo) is a tiny clip that holds a lav microphone and secures it underneath a shirt by sticking two tiny pins as if they’ve “bitten” into the shirt. This won’t work especially well if your actor is wearing light colored clothing since these pins are traditionally black, stick out on top of a person’s clothing, and will stick out and might be visible. But if your actors are wearing coats or dark colored (or patterned) shirts, they can work quite well.
Using tape – You can also use a special type of skin-safe tape to affix the microphone to your subject’s chest or the inside of their shirt. For more on hiding lavalier microphones, check out this video:
Using a Rode Invisilav concealer: Additionally, you may want to consider getting the Rode lav mic and a set of invisible lav holders that Rode makes to easily conceal their microphones underneath clothing. If you go that route, sure to get a minijack to XLR converter if you have a camera with XLR inputs because the Rode FM Wireless Filmmaker System only comes with a 3.5mm jack out of the box. Depending on the size of your lav microphone this invisible lav holder might work with other lavs too (some people are using it with the Sennheiser G3 with good results even though it’s not a 100% perfect fit.)
The best lavalier mics for iPhone, iPad
If you’re recording audio on an iPad or iPhone you already probably know that the quality of these devices’ built in microphones isn’t great. A lavalier microphone for iPhone can be a great solution.
If you have an iPhone that has a headphone jack (like the iPhone 6 or earlier), then you can get a normal 3.5mm lavalier microphone. However if you have an iPhone 7 or later with just the small rectangular Lightning jack, then you’ll need either a lavalier microphone with a Lightning cable or a lav mic with a 3.5mm jack plus two adapters daisy chained together. Below we’re going to break down your options for using a lav mic with an iPhone or iPad.
How to use a lav microphone with an iPhone/iPad
Sennheiser makes very high quality microphones and if budget is no concern, we have no hesitation recommending this high quality lavalier microphone for iPhones. It features the ME 2 microphone head– the same model used by professional documentary filmmakers– with a Lightning connector at the end to plug into your iPhone or iPad. It works with the normal iOS voice recording app that comes with your phone, as well as third party voice recording apps. This unit is a plug and play microphone for iPhones– it doesn’t require a special app or software or drivers. This is an excellent quality iPhone 7 microphone, and probably the best lav mic for iPhone 7 that exists today.
If you have an iPhone 6 or another iOS product like an iPad with a headphone jack, you can buy this smartphone lavalier microphone and you’re good to go. If you have an iPhone 7 and above, or other iOS device with just a Lightning jack you can still use this lavalier microphone but you’ll need two adapters to use it. First, you’ll need to plug the a Lightning to headphone port adapter like the one that came with your iPhone (if your phone didn’t come with one or you’ve lost it, you can get a replacement one here). Next, you’ll need to plug a headphone-microphone jack splitter into that. You can get a cheap one of those here. Does that make sense?
Here’s a short video demo-ing how this works with the adapters in practice:
Honorable Mention – If you would prefer a microphone with a Lightning jack at the end of it instead of a clip on lavalier microphone, consider the Zoom iQ6, which plugs directly into your iOS device’s Lightning jack and provides you with a high quality microphone.
The best lavalier microphones for Android smartphones
If you have an Android phone or tablet, it’s pretty simple to plug in a lavalier mic with a 3.5mm jack and record good quality audio. Here are our favorite lavalier mics with 3.5mm headphone-size jacks:
This solid quality lavalier microphone for Android smartphones that plugs into your phone or tablet’s headphone jack. It includes the lav mic itself, a removable shirt clip and an extra cable extender in case the original cable is too short for your intended use. The shirt clip is reversible so you can easily configure it to clip on either the right side or left side of whatever article of clothing you’re using (a tie, a jacket, shirt, etc). The cable extender can also be used with headphones instead of the microphone, to provide you with an extremely long-cabled headphone. It comes wrapped with a convenient re-usable velcro tie.
Here’s another good lavalier microphone for Android phones like Samsung, Google, Huawei, LG, Lenovo and Motorola.
It includes the microphone with a 4 foot cable (1.27 meters), a foam windscreen, a reversible mounting clip, and a convenient carrying bag.
If you need to do a two-person interview or you’re recording a podcast on your cell phone, consider this two-lavalier microphone kit. It plugs into your phone’s headphone jack and then branches out into three directions. Two of them are lavalier microphones with shirt clips, and the third is a headphone jack so you can wear headphones to monitor the sound quality (optional but helpful in some situations). Be sure to read the description of the item for more information on how it works.
How to use a lav mic with USB C Android phones
If you have a newer Android phone that only has a USB C port instead of a headphone jack, you may still be able to use an adapter cable to hook up a lapel microphone. There are a few possible routes for making this work (although we should note that they may not work with every single Android gear/software combination).
Option A: Use a USB C to microphone dongle to connect a lav mic with a 3.5mm audio jack (like the ones listed above) to your smartphone. Here’s an example USBC to microphone dongle that’s getting decent reviews. Again, keep in mind that depending on what your exact hardware/software combination is, there’s a chance it might not work. Reading the reviews from other customers or using the pre-buy question asking feature can give you clues however.
Lavalier microphones that work with DSLRs
Midrange to high end DSLRs typically have microphone input ports but they’re not the same size that professional video cameras have. Pro video cameras typically have XLR audio inputs, whereas DSLRs will often have 1/8th inch microphone jacks that look like headphone ports. So, how do you use a professional lapel microphone with a DSLR that only has a 3.5mm microphone input?
Lav microphones that work with DSLR cameras
The Sennheiser G3 is known as a workhorse in the documentary filmmaking community. It’s one of the most common wireless microphones in the industry and for good reason: it’s rugged, easy to use, affordable and sounds terrific. This wireless lav has a good wireless range of up to a couple hundred feet from the transmitter on a person to the receiver unit mounted on the camera.
Sennheiser also sells a G3 kit with a plug on transmitter to use with reporter style interview microphones that you can use with the lav receiver instead of the lav body pack. Uses two AA batteries in the receiver, two in the transmitter.
Movo makes budget-friendly wireless lav microphones which work well with DSLR cameras such as the Canon 5D, 7D, Rebel, Sony A7, Panasonic GH3, GH4, GH5 and many others.
This model of lav for DSLR boasts a wireless range of up to 328 feet. It offers both an XLR cable and a 3.5mm microphone jack that you can use to plug into your DSLR camera or camcorder.
The Movo WMIC70 comes with all the mounting gear you need to affix the receiver to the hot or cold shoe mount on top of your camera and runs off standard AA batteries.
Sarmonic is a competitor to Movo in the budget lavalier microphone category. Its products come with both DSLR-friendly audio jack hookups as well as XLR cables suitable for bigger professional video cameras. This particular unit offers 96 wireless channels and easy to read displays on both the receiver and the microphone transmitter body pack. It can even auto-scan frequencies to find an available one without interference from other wireless devices nearby. This is one of the best lavalier microphones for the money.
Frequently asked questions about using DSLRs with pro microphones
Can I use a lavalier and a shotgun microphone on a boom pole at the same time with my DSLR?
Yes but it’ll require a bit more gear. In order to use two different microphones with a DSLR you’ll need to use an XLR audio adapter. These breakout boxes take two different microphone inputs and mix them down to a single 3.5mm microphone cable (but still two channel separable stereo) which you can plug into your DSLR. We’ve got an article to help you pick the best XLR audio adapter for DSLRs.
Is there an advantage to using an XLR lav with an XLR adapter for DLSRs instead of using a lav microphone with 3.5mm audio output?
Since XLR audio adapters for DSLRs can be heavy and bulky, we’d generally suggest that you use the 1/8th inch (3.5mm) microphone jack to plug into your digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera directly instead of running it through an adapter first. With that said, if you’re planning to use multiple microphones at the same time (such as a a boom microphone and a lavalier), you’ll need one of these XLR breakout boxes.
Do these lavalier microphones for DSLRs also work with pro video cameras (i.e. with XLR audio ports)?
The lapel microphones for DSLRs that we’ve listed in this section all include both 3.5mm microphone jacks for DSLRs/camcorders as well as full size XLR audio adapters for pro video cameras. That way if you buy a full size video camera with XLR inputs later, you’ll still be able to use these wireless microphones.
What is the best lav mic for DSLR cameras?
If you’re looking for the best DSLR lavalier microphone and money is no object, we’d recommend you consider the Sennheiser AVX system. It offers many of the features of its less expensive cousin model the G3, but the AVX offers some additional features. For one thing its round shaped receiver pack is smaller and lighter than traditional size lavalier receiver. Size and weight is often of particular importance to DSLR videographers and so that’s a win. Plus it has some advanced power saving features which may mean that you need to carry less batteries with you, again lightening your load if you’re shooting as a “one man band” as many DSLR shooters are.
How do I use two lavalier microphones with the same DSLR camera?
In order to use a DSLR camera with two microphones, you’ll need to add an XLR audio adapter for DSLRs which can merge two audio streams into a single cable that you plug into your camera. Of course you could also conceivably use an external audio recorder such as a Zoom recorder to capture audio completely separately from video, although you’ll need to then sync them up later. Generally unless you have really substantial post-production resources we recommend recording audio and video together because it makes your editing process afterward much simpler and less error-prone.
Lav mics for camcorders
Consumer level camcorders generally have 3.5mm microphone jacks. Not every lavalier microphone or lapel microphone system works with these– many only offer the larger XLR size audio outputs. In order to use your camcorder with a wireless lapel microphone you’ll need to get a special type of microphone that has 3.5mm (or 1/8th inch– same size) audio output cables. We’ve rounded up the best of these below.
The best wireless lavalier microphones for camcorders
This basic lapel microphone for camcorders has a range of up to about 330 feet (100 meters). It’s simple to connect the receiver unit to your camera using the 3.5mm microphone jack, and the transmitter body pack with the microphone comes with a handy belt clip (although you can also place it in a person’s pocket). Both the transmitter and receiver units are powered by 2 AA batteries each and they can last for up to 8 hours of continuous use before they’ll need to be replaced with fresh batteries.
Sarmonic makes decent quality budget lavalier microphones for camcorders. This unit has a range up to 100 meters (over 300 feet) and offers 96 channels to choose from so you can avoid radio interference from other devices.
It also has an auto-scan function which can help you choose a clear frequency to use. This wireless microphone works with camcorders and also full sized professional camcorders with XLR audio inputs. Runs off of AA batteries.
This wireless lavalier system for camcorders is one of the easiest to use on the market today. It comes with a 3.5mm audio output jack that you can plug into your camcorder or DSLR and has a maximum range of about 164 feet (50 meters). It doesn’t have a screen since you can’t switch wireless frequencies. Powered by two AA batteries (both the receiver and transmitter) which last for up to 4 hours of continuous use.
Note: this unit does not include an XLR audio adapter which the other two units listed in this section do. So if you plan to get a bigger professional camera with XLR audio inputs later on, consider choosing a different model. If all you need is a lav mic for camcorders with 3.5mm audio microphone inputs however, this is unit may be a good low budget choice.
Frequently asked questions about using lapel microphones with camcorders
These are all wireless microphones; what about wired lapel mics for camcorders?
Generally we recommend people choose wireless lapel microphones since they provide you with much more flexibility in terms of what/how you can shoot, plus there’s no long cable that people can trip over. However if you really need a wired lapel microphone for camcorders, then we recommend the Movo LV1 Lavalier Lapel Clip-on Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone which comes with a 20 foot audio cable to connect to your camcorder. It has a normal 3.5mm audio jack to connect to the “audio in” port on your camera, as well as an adapter for 1/4th inch (6.35mm) audio inputs. Comes with a tie clip and foam windscreen, runs off a LR44 button cell style battery (included) which lasts about 700 hours. You may want to remove the battery from the unit when it’s not in use to avoid any accidental “vampire” power drainage.
How do I adjust the audio level of a lapel microphone?
Each camcorder is a little bit different and some camcorders allow to you manually adjust the volume of external microphones while others do not. Often these audio settings are buried deep in the camcorder’s menu system so we’d recommend first looking to see if you have any options to adjust this. You can also often adjust the volume of the microphone from the receiver or transmitter of your lavalier microphone by using its menu system or external buttons. Consult your manual for more detailed instructions applicable to your specific microphone model.
Lavalier mics for podcasting
Often podcast hosts will use desk-mounted condenser microphones for podcasting, but there are situations where podcasters may want to use lavalier microphones instead. For instance if you’re recording a podcast on the go, using your hands, or you’re recording a live event you might want to be able to clip a microphone to your shirt or jacket. Because there are a lot of different possible podcasting setups, we’ve picked a variety of great lavalier microphones for different configurations below.
Best lavalier microphones for podcasting
This is a basic no-frills USB lavalier microphone for podcasting. It works on both Macs and PCs and has a normal USB type A connector at one end and a lavalier microphone with a windscreen and clothing clip on the other. If you need a lavalier microphone for podcasting and you’re planning to record on a computer, this might be a great choice– especially for the money. It has a 20 foot long cable (6.1 meters) and comes in black. Comes with a bonus extra foam windscreen in case your first one gets lost.
This is a wireless USB lavalier microphone for podcasting. The kit includes a lavalier microphone, a transmitter body pack powered by two AA batteries, and a USB receiver stick which you plug into your computer. It has a wireless range of about 100 feet and you can use it to record podcasts or other applications where you need to record audio to a computer. Since this is a simple lavalier microphone system you won’t have to fiddle with choosing which wireless frequency to use; it works right out of the box without any setup.
If you need to record a podcast without access to a computer, you might want to consider using an all-in-one unit like this Tascam digital recorder with lavalier microphone. It records broadcast quality WAV files to Micro SDHC memory cards and this kit includes a memory card and headphones for monitoring, in addition to the recorder and microphone itself. This is a great lavalier microphone for recording podcasts with if you need to be mobile.
If you want to record a podcast without a computer, this podcast recording kit could be a great solution. It combines a high quality Zoom H4n audio recorder with two lavalier microphones for podcasting. Two people can clip these lapel mics to their shirts and podcast from anywhere, powered by the Zoom unit’s batteries (2 AA batteries not included). The lavalier cables are each about 6 and a half feet long (nearly 2 meters) and you can also record with just the Zoom recorder’s built in microphone array.
Note: if you need a kit with four lavalier microphones for podcasting, instead of just two, consider this kit instead.
Extra tips for using lavalier microphones for podcasting
Keep in mind that almost all lapel “clip-on” microphones are omni-directional, which means that they’ll try and pick up sound within a 360 degree circle around you. Their range may not be too far but if you’re in a noisy environment such as in a crowded room, they may pick up some of that background noise. For best results, try to record only in quiet environments.
Generally speaking it will always be easier if you can record all your audio to the same device rather than trying to stitch together multiple audio streams from different devices into one single file. Because of the way different recorders work, there can be small discrepancies in time that get bigger the longer the recording gets.
Lapel microphones for pastors & church use
Lavalier microphones for church can be quite useful because they free the person speaking from standing behind a lectern. Being able to move around can make a sermon more dynamic and can also allow for a wide range of different types of interactions with worshippers. We’ve rounded up the best wireless lapel or lavalier clip on microphones for religious institutions.
Best lavalier microphones for church uses
Sennheiser is known for their professional quality audio gear and this lavalier kit for pastors is no exception. It provides a range of about 100 feet (perhaps more in some environments) and it’s also easy to set up and use. It has a wide range of tunable frequencies so you can find a frequency that will work interference-free in your church, synagogue, or mosque.
This kit includes a receiver system plus two wireless clip-on lavalier microphones and two handheld microphones. The wireless microphones and lav mics have a range of about 250 feet (and sometimes more under ideal circumstances). The receiver has very simple and easy to use controls with volume knobs for each microphone which allows you to adjust the levels of each one individually. On the reverse of the unit you have four XLR outputs or a 1/4th inch “phono” cable.
This wireless microphone kit for pastors comes with three microphone options: A standard handheld microphone, a wireless clip on lapel microphone and a headset which can be plugged into the wireless lavalier transmitter body pack. It has a range of up to 250 feet (sometimes more, depending on the space) and runs off of 9V battery packs for up to 10 hours of continuous use before you’ll need to swap out batteries. The wireless components have low battery indicators which tell you when you’ll need to swap batteries.
Frequently asked questions about church microphones
How do I combine the sound from multiple microphone systems to use with my speakers?
If you have multiple wireless systems or multiple microphones working at once that you want to combine into a single stream to send to your speakers, you’ll probably need an XLR mixer like this unit. Make sure you choose one that has both the right number of inputs (how many audio sources/microphones you can plug into it) as well as the correct audio output types for your speakers.
How do I record an MP3 of a sermon so we can put it on the internet or release it as a podcast?
Lav mics for weddings
Lavalier microphones for weddings need to fulfill a few different requirements: they need to be easily concealable (or at least not super-obvious) and they also need to have decent range and a wide variety of choosable frequencies because of the number of cell phones that will be in the area which can cause radio interference. Below we’ll provide examples of lavalier microphone gear for weddings.
Best lavalier microphones for weddings
The Sennheiser AVX wireless lav system is a great microphone for weddings. It has a range of up to 150 feet, more than enough for most wedding videography uses. It also offers an intelligent link protection feature which can automatically switch frequencies if there is any interference (which is helpful if you have 100 guests with cell phones in their pockets and purses). Plus the Sennheiser AVX has a small and light transmitter and receiver which works with both DSLRs that have 3.5mm microphone jacks as well as full size video camera with XLR inputs.
Check out this video that shows some of the features of the AVX wireless lav that make it the best Sennheiser lav mic:
If you need to put a lavalier microphone on a bride wearing white, there’s a good chance you won’t want to use a traditional black microphone. Sure you can get a white lavalier windscreen, but why bother with that if you can get an actual white lavalier microphone to use with your wireless transmitter and receiver kit? This white lav mic from Sennheiser works with their popular G3 system as well as their advanced AVX lavalier microphone system, mentioned above. The MKE 1-EW-1 is an extremely small, extremely high quality lavalier microphone that’s smaller than the one included in the default AVX or G3 kit, and it comes with white casing. Plus with extra sweat-proof coating above and beyond what most body mics provide, this model is one of the best lavalier microphones for weddings.
This tiny Countryman lavalier microphone is ideal for mic-ing up brides. It comes in white and works with Sennheiser and other lavalier microphone transmitters with 3.5mm locking connectors such as the popular Sennheiser G3, the newer Sennheiser AVX, and even lower cost systems like the Saramonic TX10. It’s a little less expensive than the Sennheiser white lavalier microphone but it’s still excellent quality for the money. It features a protective cap that you can remove for cleaning off sweat, makeup, etc and you can draw on it with a felt tipped marker to color it temporarily for additional camouflage.
Other tips for using microphones at weddings
If the wedding you’re filming already has a DJ with a sound system that’s hooked up to amplify wedding vows and the officiant speaking, it’s often better not to try and duplicate the work they’ve already done– instead you can usually piggyback on their setup. If you can get an audio stream out of the DJ’s sound system you can patch that into your camera. We like to use this trick to get a wireless feed from a sound board:
1. Unscrew the microphone from a standard lavalier transmitter pack like the popular Sennheiser G3 to a 3.5mm to XLR cable.
2. Connect the XLR cable to the sound output port on the sound board. You will then have an transmitter that’s broadcasting the “sound out” of the board.
3. Connect the transmitter to your camera and adjust the gain settings on the board, transmitter, receiver, or camera, as necessary (usually you’ll have to crank things way down since the board will often be feeding you line out by default– way too high).
If you arrive with plenty of time before the wedding, or make arrangements ahead of time, this solution can often be worked out with the DJ’s help or the wedding venue’s help if it has a built in sound system.
Best USB lavalier microphones for YouTube & other uses
USB lavalier microphones are useful for a wide variety of purposes. Many people use USB lavalier microphones for YouTube videos or speech to text dictation programs like Dragon Naturally Speaking for instance. However some cheap USB mics are extremely low quality and can lead to sub-par results. We’ve done the research on the best lavalier microphones for computers (PCs & Macs) and we’ve laid out our findings below.
Best USB lav mics for PCs & Macs
The Movo M1 lavalier microphone with a USB jack provides you with a generous 20 foot cable and plugs into your Mac or PC. It comes with a foam windscreen and can be clipped to your shirt or another article of clothing. Available in black, no batteries necessary. This is a great microphone for YouTube as well as a good microphone for dictation programs because you don’t need to wear it as a heatset which can become uncomfortable over time, and can mess up your hair.
In some circumstances you might want a wireless lavalier microphone for computers, for instance if you’re making a podcast or you like to record memos while pacing around the room. This wireless lavalier USB microphone has a range of about 100 feet (30 meters) and consists of a transmitter bodypack, a clip on microphone and a USB receiver unit that plugs into a normal USB Type A port found on most computers today. You don’t need any special software, this USB microphone works with any standard audio recording program that allows audio input from an external computer microphone.
In some cases you might want a USB microphone that also provides headphones in the same unit. For those situations a USB headset like this model might be an ideal choice. It combines a pair of high quality over-ear headphones with a microphone. This pair of headphones with microphone is comfortable for several-hour use and provides a generously-lengthed cable. It’s compatible with Macs as well as PCs without any additional software to install. This is also one of the best headsets for gamers.
An additional note about USB lavalier microphones
Although the choices we’ve listed here are “native” USB microphones– that is to say they have USB plugs at one end to connect directly to your computer– you can also connect other types of headphones into a USB port. If you have, for instance, a professional XLR microphone you just need a USB preamp like this unit which lets you hook up an XLR microphone to a USB port. It also works with a variety of other types of audio inputs ranging from RCA cables to 3.5mm microphones and headsets.
Lavalier microphones for GoPro cameras
GoPro cameras can use a variety of different types of microphones and we’ll be breaking down the best GoPro microphones below. One thing that’s important to know is what type of GoPro camera you have. If you have GoPro Hero 5 and above you’ll need one tpye of microphone but if you have GoPro Hero 4 and below you’ll need a different type. We’re going to list the best external microphones for GoPro cameras below, separated by which type of GoPro they work with.
Best External Microphones for GoPro Hero 3 & GoPro Hero 4
This lavalier microphone for GoPro Hero 3/4 plugs into your Gopro’s mini USB port and provides you wih a clip on microphone and windscreen. The cable is 5 feet long which will give you plenty of room to mount the Gopro as needed without needing to be too close to the camera yourself. This all in one external clip-on microphone for GoPro is ideal for recording a person’s voice, and it will also pick up higher quality environmental sound than the microphone built into your camera.
If you already have a microphone with a 3.5mm headphone style microphone jack that you want to use with your GoPro, this is an adapter that can help you bridge that gap. On one end it offers a 3.5mm (1/8th inch) female port and on the other end it plugs into your GoPro camera’s mini USB port. This GoPro external audio adapter should work with most 3.5mm microphones.
Although this is technically an article about lavalier microphones for GoPros, we’re going to sneak this other external mic for GoPros in here just because it’s quite popular and worth considering. It’s an L shaped microphone that plugs into your GoPro 3 Hero or GoPro 4 Hero’s Mini USB port on the side and then extends upwards to capture sound much better than the tiny microphone built into your action camera. Also be sure to check out the extra furry dead-cat style windscreen which can dampen down wind noise.
Best External Microphones for GoPro Hero 5 and GoPro Hero 5 Session
If you have a GoPro Hero 5 or GoPro Hero 5 Session or above you’ll need an external microphone adapter for USB C. This GoPro external mic adapter provides you with two functions: you can use the 3.5mm microphone jack to attach an external microphone (like these) and you can use the USB-C port to hook up to an external power supply to charge your GoPro for extended run recording longer than the camera’s internal battery.
Additional resources & accessories for GoPros
The best cheap lavalier microphones for the money
Extremely high quality professional lavalier microphones can cost a thousand dollars or even more. However you it is possible to get decent quality sound using a lavalier microphone on a low budget. We’ve rounded up the best cheap lav mics for the money below.
Cheap wireless lavalier microphones
Saramonic offers a good cheap wireless lavalier phone that comes with 96 user selectable channels so you’ll be sure to find one that doesn’t have any radio interference on it. It also comes with two types of audio ouputs for you to use, depending on what type of camera you have (XLR pro audio outputs plus 3.5mm microphone jack style outputs). This unit has a range of up to 330 feet in ideal conditions although realistically you probably won’t need to get that far away from the camera. Both the transmitter and receiver run off of two AA batteries each.
Here’s another low budget lapel mic. This unit saves money by not including an XLR output so if you have a pro video camera with XLR video inputs you’ll want to look elsewhere. But if you have a camcorder with a 3.5mm headphone jack sized mic input, this model will work just fine. It also saves cost and makes operation easy by only operating on one pre-set wireless frequency.
This cheap wireless lavalier microphone has a twist up its sleeve: not only does it allow you to use a clip-on microphone, it also includes a handheld microphone which you can optionally use with the transmitter pack instead of the body mic. Note that this model only comes with 3.5mm microphone jack output for your camcorder or other device– it won’t work with cameras that have full sized XLR audio ports without an 3.5mm to XLR adapter cable.
Extra notes on cheap wireless lavs
You’ve probably heard the old saying, “buy cheap, buy twice.” We haven’t included the absolute cheapest wireless microphone systems since those are almost always poor quality but instead we’ve hunted down the units that at least have decent reviews and features that people commonly need. Still, it is possible that you won’t be satisfied with the results of a very low budget microphone system. In our view the “sound department” is very often overlooked and shortchanged but poor audio quality can often separate a good video from a bad one. So we’d encourage you consider your options carefully when selecting a lavalier microphone system and weigh the pros and cons of choosing an inexpensive mic option vs a more expensive one.
Best lavaliers for undercover microphone recording
If you need to secretly record audio by “wearing a wire” as they say in movies, there are a few different options available to you.
Best undercover microphones for secret recording
This recording system will capture high quality audio from a lavalier microphone attached to a small recorder that’s easily concealable. It records audio on a micro SDHD memory card (included). You can tape the microphone underneath your shirt to your chest or clothing and conceal the wire and recording pack underneath your clothing. This is not a wireless recorder; it doesn’t transmit to anywhere, but instead records straight to the unit. Comes with a pair of headphones.
This spy recorder will capture audio and video for up to 6 hours on its built in memory storage. You can easily slip this pen into a shirt pocket or place it on a desk and hit record to capture audio. It even writes if you need to use it as a pen (it comes with eight refillable ink cartridges). To transfer it to a computer simply unscrew the top of the pen and plug it in via the included USB connector. It can even serve as an 8GB USB flash drive if desired. Works with Mac OSX and Windows.
Important notes about secretly recording audio
Keep in mind that local laws vary from place to place and before you do any secret audio (or video) recordings, you’ll want to check to see what laws are applicable in your local area. For instance some US states are considered “one party consent states” which means that as long as one party to the conversation knows it’s being recorded (and presumably you know, since you’re doing the recording) it’s legal. Other states however are two-party or all-party consent states which means it may not be legal to record people without their permission.
For more information on your own state’s status, go here and click on your state in the sidebar. If you live outside the United States, be sure to research the legality of secretly recording conversations in your municipality.
Wired lavalier microphones
Most of this article is dedicated to helping you select appropriate wirelress lavalier microphones but of course wired lavalier microphones exist as well. Although they’re more limited in how you can use them (and how close you need to be to the camera), they’re also cheaper and they can be easier to operate. With a wired lapel microphone you don’t need to fuss with changing channels or wireless interference.
The best wired lav mics
Here’s a basic low budget lavalier microphone that connects to your camera with a 6.5 foot (2 meter) XLR cable. It doesn’t require any batteries (it’s powered by the phantom power from your pro video camera with XLR sound inputs) and has an omni-directional pickup pattern. A cardiod version is also available, which will only pick up sound in one particular direction instead of all around. This wired clip on microphone also comes with a soft carrying case for travel use and storage. Note that if your camera doesn’t have an XLR audio input port, you’ll want to consider a different mic.
This is a basic lavalier microphone with a 3.5mm jack that plugs into a microphone or “audio in” port on a camcorder or even a cell phone. It has a cable that measures 50 inches long (1.27 meters) and it comes in black. Includes a windscreen and a tie clip. No batteries necessary.
If you’re looking for a lavalier microphone that plugs into your computer, look no further than the Movo M1. It’s a basic wired lavalier microphone for computers and it works with both Macs and PCs without any additional drivers or software (it works with whatever recording app you’re using). You can use it as a microphone to record podcasts, for voice dictation programs like Dragon Naturally Speaking, for YouTube video narration and more.
Notes to consider about getting a wired lavalier microphone
Because of how much wireless lavs have come down in price, we’d still encourage you to consider getting a wireless mic instead of a wired one because of how much more flexibility it gives you. Using a wireless lav you can shoot much further away from the camera and in all sorts of setups you can’t make work with a wired model. Plus with a wireless lapel mic, there’s one less cable to trip over or forget that it’s connected while you start walking away.
Didn’t find what you were looking for? Consider browsing Amazon’s directory listings for lavalier microphones.
Frequently asked questions about lavalier microphones
What is the lavalier definition?
Above: a lavalier microphone with a cable that has not been concealed.
What is the difference between a lapel microphone and a lavalier microphone?
The terms lavalier microphone and lapel microphone are often use interchangeably; they both refer to a microphone which clips on to a person’s clothing (also sometimes called a body mic). Sometimes the term “lavalier” is used more frequently in the filmmaking community and the term “lapel” is used more often in the videography community.
What is the difference between omni-direction lav microphones and directional ones?
Omni-directional microphones have a roughly spherical pickup pattern. This means that audio from roughly any direction around them. By contrast, a directional microphone like a cardioid mic will only pick up audio in one particular direction (or at least it tries to isolate sound). While directional cardioid lavalier microphones do exist, they’re rarer and in some ways more error prone since they won’t pick up the sound of your voice unless you have them positioned perfectly.
How do you mic a two person interview?
There are different ways to capture sound for a two person interview and if you’re shooting one we recommend you read our article: How to mic a sit down interview.
What are lavalier microphones used for?
Lavalier microphones are used for all sorts of purposes in many different industries. Here are some example uses for lav mics:
- Interview microphones for documentary filmmakers or TV journalists
- Wireless microphones for musical theater
- Clip on microphones for YouTube videos
- Lapel microphones for tour guides
- External microphones for camcorders, GoPros, and DSLRs
- Lavalier microphones for indie filmmakers
- Mics to pick up sound far away from cameras
Related: External GoPro Microphones