They are used mostly by television news anchors and talk show hosts and their guests. Theater performers have adopted the use of them. Public speakers use them to free themselves up to walk around the stage and use their hands.
Lapel microphones are also convenient because they are small and can be hidden. They were great for hiding in plants when I was in college shooting studio sitcom shows. In situations like this you want to have a lapel microphone that picks up good and clear sound. So, I have done some research and come up with a list of the best lapel microphones.
AT Pro 70
First off an ideal lapel microphone for vocals and instruments is the Audio-Technica Pro 70. It has a handy instrument mount in the package, a battery pack and a standard XLR output. The microphone capsule is polarized by phantom power, which can be generated by battery or supplied externally. The microphone can work up to 2 months straight on a single AA battery.
The AT Pro makes the list of the best lapel microphones because it produces a high quality,
professional sound. The mic is actually not high end. The manufacturer provides complete specifications for the AT Pro 70. These include frequency pattern and polar diagram.
The pickup angle is reduced to 120 degrees from having a cardiod pattern. This cuts down on reverberation as well as environmental noise. The microphone, though, need to point straight up towards your mouth, a guitar hole or whatever the sound source. AT Pro 70 does have a proximity effect that boosts the low frequency proportionally to the distance. It won’t affect your voice unless you are eating the microphone. Its sensitivity to handling is the problem. Vibrations receive an enormous decibel boost since they have zero distance to the capsule. It’s not that bad, but it will be heard if you’re rubbing the mic or its wire.
The AT Pro 70 is a microphone that can be used for numerous types of recordings. The mic can be used for interviews as well as music and instrumental recordings. This microphone gives a sound quality almost as good as microphones that cost three times more.
Giant Squid Audio Lapel
A lapel microphone that can likely blow you away with its sound quality is the Giant Squid Audio Lapel microphone. It is a renowned lapel microphone that works wonders in all kinds of set-ups. It can be used with most standard devices including computers, laptops, and cameras. It may not be the best choice for smartphones. The mic will require an additional 4 pin 3.5mm adapter due to the GSAL having a standard 3.5mm microphone jack. Compatibility is not an issue. It works the exact same way as any common microphone headset.
The GSAL works best with any voice recording and can even handle occasional singing. It is not susceptible to plosives and sibilance which is a common problem in some recordings. The microphone produces a sound with a great amount of detail and crispiness. The windscreen doesn’t sit tightly and may detach if you make a wrong movement. So, be careful not to lose it or just have some extra foams on hand. The mic can be used with a specialized recorder for best results. These specialized devices, like the zoom H1 or zoom H4n, will add to the cost but will provide incredible quality. The advantage of using the zoom recorders is that they cancel the room’s ambient noise.
The mic preformed surprisingly well when hung on a wire between two people. The conversation was clear without distortion. Plugging the microphone straight into the camera did not produce very good sound. The design of the mic is not fancy but sturdy and solid. The full metal clip is one of the best around. It sits well on just about anything and doesn’t detach like some other lapel microphones.
Two drawbacks on this microphone are that it has a loose windscreen and the hardwired cord. In the event that the cord wears out or is accidentally torn, you will probably have to replace the entire microphone instead of just the cord. Even with these drawbacks it still comes in high on the list of the best lapel microphones.
Sanken COS-11D Omni
This top of the line widely used microphone can certainly be called one of the best lapel microphones. The Sanken COS-11D Omni is very small and easily concealed so it works great in professional broadcasts. Size is one of its main advantages along with its natural open sound and the fact that it produces only minor handling noise when brushed against clothes. The Sanken is truly one of the best lapel microphones because of its unrivaled form factor and its ease of use. This omnidirectional microphone is one of the most natural sounding lapels out there. It produces an open, crisp sound. The frequency response though is quite bright. The mic balances out well in the end because it is usually worn under clothes and not spoken into directly.
The COS-11D is also highly resistant to RF-interference. It also comes with a mesh that is water
resistant and protects the mic from perspiration and cosmetics. The microphone has terminals for unterminated, TA5 universal locking for Lectrosonics transmitters, and 3.5mm locking connector for Sennheiser evolution transmitters. Lectrosonics gear is high-end, so it is mostly used with cheaper Sennheiser G3 systems.
The ME-2 lapels that come with the Lectrosonics system are decent but the Sanken is a major upgrade. The power of this small lapel microphone should not be underestimated. It can give you a sound almost as good as a studio microphone or shotgun.
Sony ECM-44 Condenser Omni
At first glance you may not think this microphone merits being on the list of the best lapel microphones due to two flaws. The Sony ECM-44 Condenser Omni has a high self noise and a very low output. This gives the mic a hard not to notice level of static hiss. Most of the hiss can be lessened if the mic is hooked up to a quality preamp.
The reason it makes the list is that it has a smooth and stable frequency response. The ECM-44 gives good tenal reproduction. It doesn’t produce a muddy sound since the lows are gently rolled off. The microphone has a natural feel and a bright character although the sound may not be particularly rich. The ECM-44 handles much better than most entry level lapels.it comes with a preamp that can be powered by phantom power or battery. The mic has a good build quality but nothing extraordinary. It has metal clips and a long thick wire.
The ECM-44 is not as good as the other microphones on this list. It is a good buy if you want a decent, bright sound and don’t mind some hiss.
Shure SM93 & WL93
These are two omnidirectional sub miniature condenser lapel mics. The Shure SM93 and WL93 come with an additional preamplifier with a balanced XLR output. The preamplifier module drains a low current and is powered exclusively by phantom power. The side address pickup gives the microphone a muffled sound. The Shure still gives a smooth sound and great value for a sub miniature lapel microphone. Aside from it being muffled the sound is pretty good. The voices do come out natural and understandable. The mic can handle the occasional singing but not really serious singing like for opera.
The Shure SM93/WL93 come with a durable wire that isn’t likely to fail anytime soon. So, the microphone doesn’t disappoint in terms of build quality. It is particularly designed for heavy usage. The sturdy clip leaves a small footprint. The microphone has the muffled sound issue but overall gives a steady performance and is a good value for its price.
Audio Technica AT829CW
This good quality lapel microphone was designed for the AT body-pack wireless transmitter. You can buy it in a bundle if you don’t have the transmitter. The mic won’t work with different vendors because it has a unique four-pin connector.
The Audio Technica AT829CW has a compact connector with no external module. It plugs directly into the transmitter, which makes for a more efficient system.
The microphone is sensitive enough to handle a whisper and can accommodate singing. It captures the voice with accuracy and clarity. The microphone should be tucked at the collar level for best results. The mic has a molded plastic body with a metallic clip. The wire is a bit too long and will have to be rolled up. The cable isn’t that sturdy so a lot of rolling up could lead to tearing. But if it fails you will only have to replace the microphone and not the entire system.
This is one of the more expensive mics on the list of the best lapel microphones. The quality you get is well worth the price. The Audio-Technica 899 is a high-end lapel mic with a standard XLR output. It has a very low profile and exceptional sound quality. This is a versatile mic that can be used for video making, broadcasting, theater plays, church services, and many other things. The package includes many accessories like a clothing, viper, and magnet clip. It also includes extra windscreens and grilles.
The low profile does not hurt the rich and natural sound this mic delivers. It actually rivals some
full-size studio microphones. It has a good frequency response that fully covers a typical vocal range. This means it gives an uncolored and natural sound. An added presence is the result of a slight boost from the condensers. This makes the microphone a perfect tool for recording speech and singing. It is also suitable for instruments.
The mic’s package also includes a battery pack. The slim power module is powered by a single AA battery. You don’t have to worry about phantom power with this mic and it can connect to any device: camera, laptop, or even smartphone. All you need is a simple XLR adapter.
The one drawback of this microphone is the excessively long cable. The cable measures in at 10 feet long. With the sound quality of this microphone the cable is a minor issue.
A last note is that the AT 899 comes in two color themes: black & beige. Black is hardly noticeable on tuxedos and jackets. The black is good for 90% of scenarios but if you can afford it having some beige ones wouldn’t hurt.
This last microphone is specifically designed for smartphones. The Rode smartLavt is an omidirectional lapel microphone. It offers great quality for the price because a smartphone doesn’t need a high-end microphone. The most important thing is usability. With this microphone you just plug it on and you’re ready to go. You won’t need any special app or sophisticated adapters. The mic is best for recording a single person’s speech with or without the video. The mic will give great sound if used correctly. It doesn’t matter whether it’s pointed upside down or sideways since it is omnidirectional. The setup just needs to be close to the mouth.
The Rode smartLavt is an excellent and well priced microphone. For those who know the basics of sound recording this microphone can be a treasure. It won’t be good for everything but it is always better than the stock/in-built microphone.
For whatever type of production you have there should be a microphone on this list to suit your needs. Some are more expensive but all give good sound quality especially if used with high-end equipment. So determine your need and take your pick from this list of the best lapel microphones. Sounds like good advice to me.