After several hour of research, I finally made my selection of the best lavalier microphones from more than thirty commercial models currently available on the market. The one that I found the most interesting from a quality-price, durability and reliability point of view is the Audio-Technica PRO70. You will also find at the end of this article a buying guide that will allow you to find the lapel microphone of your dreams … Or in any case the one that best suits your needs and your budget. Good reading!
|Best cheap||Best mid-range||Best high end|
|Rode Smartlav +||Audio-Technica Pro 70||Samson Go Mic Mobile|
|See on Amazon||See on Amazon||See on Amazon|
The best cheap lapel microphones
To ensure a certain audio quality, you still have to be ready to invest a few dozen euros in your lapel microphone. But do not panic! There are high-performance models at fairly affordable prices.
Rode Smartlav + : the best entry-level
- Good value for money
- Without batteries
- Good audio quality
- Easy to use
- Compatible only with smartphone
The Rode SmartLav + is an entry-level lapel microphone that can be found everywhere as soon as we look into the subject: many vloggers and podcasters recommend it and audiovisual professionals do not spit no longer on it.
We quickly understand why. It is a small, simple microphone specially designed for use with smartphones and tablets, which works without batteries and offers good audio quality.
The microphone is supplied with a clip, a windscreen foam windscreen, a Velcro fastening for the cable and a small pocket to store everything. It has a TRRS plug compatible with iPhone (beware! Not the latest, which do not have a jack) and some Android smartphones.
IPhone users can download the Rode Rec app, which allows you to make and export recordings with or without wires. There are two versions of the app, one free and the other paid, which offers premium features such as an equalizer, Dropbox compatibility or even different playback speeds.
The microphone is extremely easy to use: just plug it into your phone’s jack and start recording. Omnidirectional microphones (this is the case with this one) are well suited to picking up voice, because they do not force the speaker to remain in a static position, but are still relatively vulnerable to background noise.
Here, it is relatively well mastered and we immediately appreciate the sound quality, clear and limpid with a sensitivity quite correct: no need to dig into the recording parameters to have a good voice performance .
It is particularly suitable for use in “micro-HF microphone”: instead of an expensive wireless system with transceiver (for which you can easily count up to € 500), you can clip the microphone to the interlocutor’s jacket and plug it into a smartphone that you can slip into the person’s pocket for freedom of movement.
Ideal when you want to make recordings in the field, knowing that you can then export the recordings to add them to a video track.
There are still two major drawbacks to this type of system. First, the impossibility of performing simultaneous monitoring of its recording, with the risk of ending up with extraneous noise (rubbing of clothes, etc.) and having to start all over again.
However, this is not an inherent problem with SmartLav +, but with all microphones of this nature. More specifically in this specific case, to use this microphone with a device other than a smartphone (his PC for example, or even a recorder) it would be necessary to acquire a TRRS to TRS adapter, which represents an additional cost not negligible.
In addition, you should know that iPhones from 7 and more and more Android phones (the Huawei P20 for example, or the Lenovo Moto Z) are devoid of jack, and more and more manufacturers phone should continue this momentum.
We can therefore ask the question of the merits of a “special smartphone” microphone which in a year or two would not be compatible with most phones on the market without a TRRS to Lightning or USB-C adapter.
It is however a microphone that I do not hesitate to recommend because of its affordable price, its ease of use and the quality of its audio recordings.
Audio-Technica ATR-3350iS : quality sound with simplicity
- Affordable price
- Correct sound quality
- Smartphone adapter
- Low sensitivity
- No On / Off indicator
Let’s start our review of entry-level lavalier microphones with this low-cost model from the Japanese brand Audio Technica. With its very low price at less than 50 € and its smartphone connector, it is a microphone intended for a clear and precise reproduction of the voice, ideal, according to the brand, for aerobics or sport monitors ( personally, I’m not sure that a wired microphone is the most suitable system for this kind of use, but hey…).
It is an omnidirectional microphone with a 6 m cable (!) Integrated with a 3.5 mm mini-jack. It comes with its tie clip, a battery, an anti-foam windscreen and, as I said above, a TRRS smartphone adapter which makes it compatible with Android and iOS phones (supposedly! I will come back on the matter a little later).
One is immediately struck by the length of the cable, which, unless you need it for very specific use cases (an exclusive interview with a person on an elephant’s back for example?) Is likely to annoy more than ‘something else. With a weight of just over 6 g, it is very light and will slip easily into your bag – too bad, just that there is no pouch or case provided because with this gigantic cable, hello knots.
I also wonder about the durability of the pliers provided, questioned by some online reviews – it is actually not of remarkable solidity.
The microphone works thanks to a LR44 battery (supplied), but does not have an On / Off indicator, which means that there is a strong risk of forgetting to switch it off one day and finding the device consequently completely discharged. There is also no battery level indicator, knowing that LR44 batteries are not the easiest to find on the market: so remember to always plan one or two in advance.
As the battery drains, the audio quality of your microphone gradually deteriorates, and it’s pretty much the only way to determine its condition: so not very practical.
Fortunately, when it comes to sound quality, it’s not bad at all. You should know that the sensitivity of this microphone is not particularly high and that it must be adjusted to the level of your recorder to ensure clarity and intelligibility of the voice.
If you use the smartphone adapter provided, the sensitivity decreases all the more… So expect to have to make adjustments and record in a quiet place without too much surrounding noise. This question aside, the sound is quite correct and the voices are very well rendered.
Let’s come back to this question of smartphone adapter, which supposedly allows you to use the microphone with both Android and iOS: without a second adapter, it will not be compatible with the latest models of iPhone or iPad or with some newer Androids that don’t have a jack at all.
In conclusion, I will say that if your only objective is to have a sound of better quality than that provided by the integrated microphone of your smartphone or camera, this model will do the trick very well.
Otherwise, there are models for just a few euros more that do not require a battery, have a higher sensitivity and that do not have a cable several meters long in which to catch your feet in full Facebook Live.
The best mid-range clip-on microphones
Although an entry-level microphone may do the trick for simple voice pickup under static conditions, it may be necessary to invest a few euros more when you want a little more mobility or quality sound.
Small overview of mid-range microphones.
Audio-Technica Pro 70 : the best mid-range
- Excellent value
- Very good audio quality
- Subject to extraneous noise
We are going back to Audio Technica for this professional quality condenser lavalier cardioid microphone, designed to capture both voices and instruments. The range of lavalier microphones of the Japanese brand is generally very appreciated by both consumers and critics, recognized both for the quality of the sound and for the durability of the devices.
The AT PRO 70 is no exception. The components are very good, the finish is neat, the autonomy is excellent (you can choose between battery and phantom power) and the sound is above all of very good quality. The microphone is very popular for taking sound from acoustic instruments and a specific clamp is also provided for this purpose. It is also compatible with DSLR cameras using an XLR cable.
Admittedly, it is not a high-end microphone – we suspected, given its price around 200 € – but the sound produced is still professional and of a quality well above many lavalier microphones currently available on the market.
The microphone comes with its battery, two clips (clothes and instrument), a carrying case and has a gold-plated XLR output. We regret a little bit that the microphone is not detachable from the housing, which limits the possibilities of repair in the event of a breakdown.
Cardioid, the AT PRO 70 has very good sound insulation and effectively reduces ambient noise and reverberation while ensuring faithful performance of the voice or its instrument. Beware of parasites all the same: like all directional microphones, it tends to pick up the rustling and noises of friction of the device on clothing.
Even with its foam windscreen, it remains sensitive to the wind at the same time and is therefore not the most suitable microphone for outdoor capture.
We really appreciate its ease of use, with a small downside: if we choose battery power (we are happy to see that the microphone works thanks to an AA battery, easily available everywhere) you should know that there is no level indicator on the housing.
The autonomy is about ten hours; it is still better to provide recharging batteries and thus avoid being short in full capture.
In conclusion, a microphone of excellent value for money that will delight musicians and those who wish to make presentations or promotional videos, with a yield of fidelity rarely seen in a lavalier microphone.
Reliable, professional-quality equipment at a mid-range price: what more could you ask for?
Hey Mic! : interesting concept, but can do better
- High mobility
- Good range
- Android compatibility issues
- Poor sound quality
We discover a small UFO with the Hey Mic !, a brand new fully wireless model which, however, works without using a transmitter / receiver system. Designed by a duo of British conference consultants, this 100% Bluetooth microphone which calls itself “ An AV team in your pocket ” clips onto the interlocutor’s clothes like a classic model and works hand in hand with its Hey Cam app.
Great idea in principle – but what does it look like on the ground? The convenience of Bluetooth in general is no longer to be questioned, but it is true that on the audio quality side, it usually leaves a lot to be desired compared to the wired.
Once again, we are on a model specially designed to work with smartphones. Marketing clearly targets an audience of vloggers, consultants and salespeople.
Weighing around 10 g, it is delivered in a small box in playful colors with its case, its micro USB charging cable, a small user manual and, the little touch that we appreciate, a magnetic support that we can be used to hang the microphone if you are not wearing clothes allowing it to be clipped, such as a turtleneck. Not stupid !
The microphone itself is black plastic looking a bit cheap and has two volume buttons, a 3.5 mm jack and a pairing button. Everything is designed for maximum portability and offers an autonomy of about 6 hours.
You can easily imagine keeping the small case at the bottom of your bag to take it out as soon as you feel the need to make a small capture.
Big advantage of the concept: we are done with the stories of TRS vs. TRRS, various and varied jack and adapters in every way: Bluetooth works with everything! Uh … in theory.
Hey Cam is currently only available in iOS version, and even if the manufacturer recommends Android apps that can do the trick, we quickly encounter problems as soon as we move away from the native app. Cuts, distortions, or no sound at all. You will understand: caveat Android users (Apple followers may not want to limit themselves to the official app either).
Another downside: it is not possible to make Facebook Live, YouTube Live or Periscope videos via mobile with this microphone, because the apps in question simply do not accept Bluetooth as an audio source.
Regarding the quality of the captures, it is unfortunately not too much either. The microphone is quite sensitive and renders voices audibly, and that’s it.
The sound, metallic and hollow, does not correspond at all to what one would expect from a professional microphone. The Hey Mic! does not pretend to be one, you will tell me, but with a price which is around 100 € we expect much better. We still appreciate a fairly large range of up to 20 m.
In conclusion ? The performance of the whole still leaves much to be desired, especially in terms of sound quality.
However, the concept remains very interesting and the product may need to evolve afterwards. We are waiting to see that!
The best high end lavalier microphones
Are you looking for quality sound, mobility, versatility and innovation? Discover the best high-end lavalier microphone currently available on the market.
Samson Go Mic Mobile : the best high-end
- Great versatility
- Compatible with all smartphones
- Many possible configurations
- Good audio quality
- Interference issues
Once again, a model specially designed for capturing with your smartphone. The Go Mic Mobile is actually a stereo wireless system with a stand-alone receiver to which you can connect a lavalier microphone (supplied with), a portable handheld microphone or even a micro-barrel for great versatility.
Unlike wireless microphones with traditional transceivers, this one is particularly intended for mobile devices. it is supplied with all the necessary connectors for compatibility with various smartphone models.
The product includes a receiver for mounting on smartphone or tablet, several cables (mini jack, USB-C, micro-B to Lightning) and an AC adapter cable. We appreciate the fact that it is therefore compatible with just about all phones available on the market as well as DSLR cameras via their micro TRS input and cameras.
The receiver operates on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery with an autonomy of approximately six hours according to the manufacturer. It has two analog and digital audio outputs, a volume control and a selector for mixing.
Three configurations are therefore possible: a conventional hand microphone, a lapel microphone with adapter or micro-barrel, with the possibility of simultaneously connecting two microphones to the same case and either mixing them in mono or separating them into a stereo track, choice which is done using a switch.
If you really want to see it big, you can even run three systems at the same time for a total of six microphones. A big plus: you can connect a headset and monitor it simultaneously, allowing you to make all the necessary adjustments in real time.
Usually, HF microphones require a minimum of know-how during start-up and amateurs can quickly feel overwhelmed by events. Here, this is not the case.
This system operates on the 2.4 Ghz frequency band and automatically selects the least congested channel, thereby limiting interference problems. From the point of view of the physical mounting of the case on your phone, various accessories are provided for maximum compatibility.
You understood: we are therefore dealing with a system which is really a cut above the other models tested in terms of compatibility and versatility. But what about audio quality?
The sound produced can be impressive, but only in certain contexts: as soon as you are in a very busy place with a lot of interference, the cuts become numerous.
Fortunately, we have the possibility of monitoring live, which allows us to react in real time in the event of a problem. The system still lends itself better to capturing in a quieter setting.
At the same time, there is the question of charging via micro-USB, especially with regard to a device which also claims to be innovative. A rather curious choice: why not rather USB-C?
Go Mic Mobile is therefore a product which corresponds very well to certain registration conditions and less to others. Those who wish to conduct interviews in a more isolated context will find their happiness and will appreciate both the quality of the audio and the variety of possible configurations.
Others may be frustrated by cutting and interference issues. It’s up to you to assess how you will use it and decide if this type of system is right for you.
We welcome in all cases the connectivity, the versatility and the ease of use of this device which is positioned on a market which is likely to grow more and more in the years to come.
The products of my selection on sale for now
How to choose your lapel microphone?
The clip-on microphone (also known as a lavalier microphone) is a small microphone that hangs on clothing, leaving the presenter’s hands free.
Equipped with a small capsule and a windscreen, it amplifies the voice of a person speaking to an audience, provides better sound quality for recordings and limits interference and unwanted noise.
How do you make sure you choose a microphone that fits both your budget and your needs?
The type of lavalier microphone
Lavalier microphones for smartphones or tablets
There are more and more lavalier microphones designed specifically for use with a smartphone or tablet. This recording method is of course very interesting when you need to quickly capture and share it via messaging or social networks. There are, however, two major drawbacks…
Most of these microphones operate using a TRRS connector, but the latest iPhones and iPads, as well as some newer Android smartphones, do not have a jack. Some brands (Sennheiser) now market models compatible with Apple’s Lightning plug.
When you connect your microphone to the jack, you cannot connect headphones or earphones at the same time and thus follow the recording to ensure the quality. There are commercially available adapters for connecting both simultaneously, but they are often prone to latency issues.
If however you want to record with your smartphone, note that not all microphones work automatically with mobile devices. Conventional microphones have two small bands on the 3.5mm jack (TRS connection).
Microphones compatible with telephone jacks have three small bands (TRRS connection). You will need to either use a TRS to TRRS adapter, or use a microphone with a TRRS connector.
If you record with a camera or other recorder in addition to your smartphone, I can only advise you to invest in a TRS microphone and an adapter. Thus, you will have a versatile microphone compatible with all your tools.
The lapel microphone for carrying out interviews in front of the camera
A lavalier microphone is by far the simplest solution for carrying out an interview in front of the camera, especially if your subject does not move. The microphone should rest on the solar plexus, over clothing.
Be careful that nothing rubs on the microphone to avoid noise that would make your recording completely unusable.
Wired or wireless
The wired microphone is more suited to static contexts and is generally marketed at a much more affordable price than the wireless microphone. It can perfectly adapt to other contexts, but certain additional criteria must therefore be taken into account (length of the wire for example).
This is a relatively free solution of complications: no battery problems or interference, as can be encountered with wireless microphones, and you can manage audio levels directly from the recorder.
The wireless clip-on microphone connects to a transmitter that is usually in your pocket or attached to the presenter’s belt, which returns the signal to a receiver. The microphone therefore inevitably works in pair with a transmitter / receiver duo.
It is a much more expensive system than a wired microphone, with prices easily reaching 800 euros (most of the cost goes to transmitters / receivers), and more complicated to use, with higher possibilities. interference, batteries to be charged both at the transmitter AND the receiver, obsolescence due to the change in frequencies made available, little compatibility between systems, and so on…
Morality of the story: except in cases of great need for freedom of movement, prefer a wired lavalier microphone!
Let us be clear: it is not with a lavalier microphone that you will have an extraordinary quality sound. Quite simply, it is not made for.
But thanks to its small size, its discretion and its portability, the lavalier microphone lends itself easily to use with a smartphone and makes it possible to increase the quality of audio and video capture. The democratization of mobile devices and at the same time the rise of mobile journalism, the Youtubers phenomenon and the new trend of all-out podcasts have contributed to the development of a new series of lavalier microphones that are both affordable and affordable. ” a very respectable quality.
When we talk about the sensitivity of a microphone, we talk about the output voltage provided by it when it is subjected to ambient sound pressure.
This is the noise that the microphone itself can make, apart from the noise from the recording.
The response curve
This is the way in which the microphone picks up frequencies and favors the midrange and / or treble.
This is the area in which the microphone picks up sounds: in particular, 360 ° for omnidirectional microphones and forward for cardioid microphones.