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Guide from Shure: How to choose the best lavalier microphone

The lavalier microphone is minuscule but mighty when it comes to sound recording and reproduction. Learn all about choosing the right lavalier for your needs in this guide from Shure. When diving into sound recording and reproduction, the name that often surfaces when miking talent, speakers, and performers is the lavalier microphone.

Often termed a ‘lapel mic’, or just ‘lav’ for short, the lavalier has been a crucial tool in broadcast, film, and live event productions due to its small size and ability to be placed intimately on talent.

 

Its design as a shirt microphone, intended to be discreetly clipped onto attire, has been the reason we often herald the small clip microphone as the go-to gear for ensuring flawless audio for both video and speeches.

 

The history and evolution of lavalier microphones

For those unfamiliar, you might wonder, “What exactly is a lavalier microphone?” The name finds its roots in French, referring to a pendant necklace. This term captures the essence of its design, hinting at its discreetness. Over the decades, the lavalier has emerged as an anchor in ensuring clear audio delivery, particularly in broadcasting, theater, houses of worship, and public speaking.

 

Choosing between wired and wireless lavalier microphones

As you dive deeper into selecting the best lav mic tailored for your needs, there will be a decision: wired or wireless?

The wired versions of the mic, being budget-friendly and consistently reliable, were the traditional choice. But with the advent of wireless systems and bodypack transmitters, the wireless lapel microphone, with its promises of unrestricted movement and the absence of tangling wires, is compelling.

Imagine a theater artist delivering a fascinating performance or a keynote speaker walking about the stage free from wires; that’s the unmatched promise of a wireless lavalier microphone.

 

Understanding sound directionality in lavalier mics

There are several choices to make when it comes to lavaliers. One of the most essential decisions rests with the microphone’s directionality. We’ll provide an in-depth comparison of omnidirectional and unidirectional lavalier mics.

  • Omnidirectional Lavaliers: As the name suggests, these mics capture sound uniformly from all directions — their 360-degree sound response delivers in settings where the ambient noise contributes to the auditory narrative. For instance, while recording a bustling marketplace for a documentary or capturing the whispers and gasps of an audience during a live event, this type of mic stands unrivaled.
  • Unidirectional Lavaliers: Precision is their game. These mics are laser-focused on the sound source they’re aligned with, ensuring peripheral noises are left out. Imagine interviewing a renowned personality amidst the noise of a bustling event. This type of mic will allow the individual’s voice to reign supreme, undisturbed by the surrounding racket.
  • Cardioid Lavaliers: These microphones are designed to prioritize sounds coming from the front while effectively minimizing noise from the rear. Additionally, their sensitivity to side noises is reduced, ensuring room ambiance and background disturbances from behind are significantly reduced.
  • Supercardioid Lavaliers: As the name implies, these are more directional than standard cardioid microphones. They further reduce sensitivity to side noises but slightly increase rear sensitivity. Nevertheless, supercardioids excel at isolating specific sound sources and minimizing background interference.

The environment will invariably influence the type of lavalier you choose for the production, ensuring your recording remains authentic and crystal-clear.

 

How to properly place a lavalier microphone on clothing

Due to its design, a lavalier microphone generally finds its home near the chest. However, often achieving optimal sound with lavalier microphones demands creativity:

  • Shirts & Blouses: This attire is often a favorite for many professionals. Place the shirt microphone above the sternum and run the cable discreetly inside, ensuring the microphone remains visible.
  • Ties: This clothing accessory is a fashion statement and an excellent spot for mic placement. Set the microphone above the sternum and keep the cable hidden, ensuring optimal sound.
  • T-Shirts & Sweaters: When these are your choice of attire, fasten the lav mic to the collar, ensuring minimal friction with the neck. Slight adjustments might be needed to get the sound right.

In the entertainment industry, it’s not uncommon to see the lavalier strategically placed within an actor’s hair or wigs. This placement guarantees that every dialogue delivered hits the right note while the microphone is not visually or physically intrusive to the performer.

 

Choosing the right lav mics can make or break the outcome of the audio recording. Whether you’re a professional in broadcasting and theater or a novice looking to elevate your audio game, we're here to help.

 

Let’s dive into the best lav mics lineup of Shure

 

Shure CVL-TQG

Begin your lavalier journey with the CVL-TQG mic. Perfect for novices, this entry-level unidirectional mic ensures clear sound quality, making it especially ideal for speeches and presentations.

Shure lavalier 1 HI

 

Shure WL93

The WL93 mic, a subminiature omnidirectional condenser mic, offers versatility. Its compact design and consistent sound pickup render it apt for diverse settings, from small theaters to lectures. It is also visually non-intrusive for the discreet placement on talent.

Shure lavalier 2 HI

 

Shure WL184

When the environment gets noisy, the WL184’s supercardioid design emerges as a beacon of clarity. Designed for situations demanding pinpoint sound precision, its voice isolation is impeccable.

Shure lavalier 3 HI 

 

Shure WL185

Meet the all-rounder, the WL185 mic. Its cardioid design captures a broad sound area, ensuring a harmonious clarity and ambient noise mix. It is a favorite for dynamic setups at houses of worship and public speaking events. The WL185 is one of the bestselling lavaliers for Shure and is used in various scenarios for speech representation and recording.

 Shure lavalier 4 HI

 

Shure UniPlex UL4

For the pros requiring unmatched clarity, the UL4 stands tall. UniPlex is the perfect solution for speaking situations when rejection of sound from stage noise, an audience, or other nearby presenters is called for. This utilizes the 1.6 mm Plex Cable, the best-in-class cable for all Plex Lavaliers, and it is made to last exponentially longer in the field due to its design and quality manufacturing. UniPlex is offered in four colors and three connector types and ships with a protective case, snap-fit windscreen, and a tie clip.

Shure lavalier 5 HI

 

Shure DuraPlex DL4

Take on any environment with the DuraPlex DL4. This IP57-rated waterproof and dust-resistant professional lavalier microphone ensures unwavering audio consistency, whether indoors or outdoors. This utilizes the 1.6mm Plex cable, the best-in-class cable for all Plex Lavaliers. DuraPlex is available in four colors and two connector types.

Shure lavalier 6 HI  

 

TwinPlex Lavaliers

TwinPlex Lavaliers stands as a testament to subtle power. Its low-profile design doesn’t compromise sound quality, ensuring it’s discreet and effective, perfect for on-camera and the best lavalier microphones for theater. These mics have a 1.1mm Plex cable, which is versatile and extremely thin for placement on performers and talents. TwinPlex lavaliers are available in four colors.

Shure lavalier 7 HI 

 

In the quest for the best lavalier, understanding your specific needs and the offering of each product is critical. Shure, with its varied lineup, ensures that your audio remains pristine whether you’re capturing the bustle of a market for a documentary, the pastor’s message, or the whispers of a theater. With this beginner’s guide for lavaliers, you’re well-equipped to make an informed choice, ensuring that your sound game is nothing short of perfect.

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