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Updated June 10th 2020
Lavalier microphones, also known as lavs, lapel mics, and clip-on microphones, are indispensable in filmmaking.
Lav mics are frequently used for interviews and thanks to their compact size, they’re easy to carry and easy to hide. But good lav mics are also very expensive.
Luckily, there are some inexpensive options on the market, which offers excellent quality sound. They are an excellent choice if you’re a budding film producer, videographer or vlogger.
At the end of this article, you’ll find seven excellent lavalier microphones, which doesn’t break the bank.
But before we get to that part, and if this is your first time buying a clip-on microphone, here’s a short general guide to lav mics.
Wired clip-on microphones
Some lavalier microphones are wired, others are wireless.
Wired lavs are usually less expensive than wireless lavs, so they are a great option if you’re on a tight budget.
You connect a wired mic to your camera or mobile phone through a thin cable with a 3.5mm jack.
Then you clip the mic on your suit or dress, hide the wire under your clothes and talk to the camera while the mic records your voice.
Wired lavs are an excellent choice if you’re on a shoestring budget, or if you don’t want to deal with batteries and radio frequencies. However, you are limited in terms of movement, and the wire can be a hassle to work with.
And if you’re unlucky and forget you’re wearing a microphone, you can accidently pull your camera, so it falls to the floor.
One way to circumvent this is to connect your wired lavalier microphone to a handheld recorder such as the Zoom H1, which you can then carry in your back pocket. Then you also record your voice with the in-built microphone in your camera and sync the audio when you edit your video.
Wireless clip-on microphones
A wireless lapel microphone system consists of a transmitter and a receiver. You connect your lav mic to the transmitter and place it on the body of your subject. Because of this, the transmitter and lav mic end of the system is also known as the body pack.
Some newer systems – such as the Rode Wireless GO – has a microphone directly built into the body pack, but also allows you to connect your own lav mic if you want to.
The receiver is a device which decodes the information transmitted by the body pack and changes it into an audio signal, which can then be recorded by your camera or external recorder.
You plug the receiver into your recording device of choice by either a 3.5mm jack or XLR-input.
Wireless mics also have an operating range, but since you’re not bound by a wire, you have a lot of more freedom to move around. An operating range of up to a 100 feet or more isn’t uncommon.
The operating range will fall drastically e.g., if you’re in an environment with a lot of concrete walls.
Wireless lavs are an awesome and versatile choice and what most professionals use. However, they do come with some caveats.
First, they need batteries. Either AA, or some kind of in-built rechargeable battery. If the batteries die, your lav don’t work. And not all models have options to change the batteries on the spot. And if they do – you still have to bring extras.
Second, they operate using radio frequencies. Not all frequencies are allowed everywhere. And if you travel with your lapels, don’t expect them to work in another country. They might conflict with the allowed frequency bands.
If you’re filming at big events with a lot of other filmmakers and electrical equipment, you might also run into trouble with finding a bandwidth which is clean and free of interference. You don’t want the sound of someone else’s interview mixed in with your signal while you record.
New digital systems – such as the Sennheiser AVX series – can find free frequencies on their own and changes automatically to the best on.
The AVX with the classic ME2 lavalier is an awesome high-end professional microphone system, but I wouldn’t exactly call it “inexpensive”, which is the only reason it isn’t included in the list below.
Be aware, that digital systems like the AVX series have a tiny latency, due to the digital signal. So if you use it together with analog mics, you might find that your audio signals are out of sync, and you have to do a bit of extra work re-syncronizing the audio when you edit your videos.
Options for attaching the clip-on microphone to your talent
As the name ‘clip-on microphone’ implies, lapels come with a small clip which you attach to your shirt and or dress.
But what if you want to completely hide the microphone under your clothes?
Well, in that case, you can use double sided foam adhesive squares or gaffers tape to tape the lavalier microphone to the clothes. You can also use medical tape if you want to tape it directly onto the skin of your subject.
The bodypack itself usually has some kind of clip installed, which lets you mount it to the belt or back pocket of your talent, so that they’re free to move around.
Most lavaliers feature an omnidirectional pattern, which means that they are designed to pick up sounds from all directions.
Therefore, you can move your head while talking and position the mic anywhere you want, it will still pick up sound.
The omnidirectional pattern also lets you put the lavalier in many different locations e.g. the chest, the collar, the collar bone, behind the ear, or in the hair, and still let you capture good audio quality.
You can get lavaliers with more directional patterns, but they are more niche, not as easy to use, and usually a lot more expensive.
When it comes to this aspect, you might want to pay attention to the cables and mounting options.
For example, most lav mics come with standard cables, but some of them are reinforced with Kevlar. This makes the cable much stronger and less prone to get deteriorated, especially when you film outdoors.
All mics come with a characteristic known as the frequency range.
This lets you know what types of sounds the mic can pick (low, medium, high and very high ones).
For example, most mics come with a frequency range from 50Hz to 20kHz.
However, some mics come with different ranges such as from 60Hz to 18kHz. This slightly narrower range leaves out extremely low sounds (think background traffic noise or handling noises) and extremely high ones (think whistling sounds).
You should go for a mic which serves the needs of your particular filming projects. For example, if you’re into interviews and speeches, a microphone with a frequency range of 50Hz to 16kHz is ideal for you.
Most lapels are condenser microphones, which means they needs a little bit of “juice”.
Wired lapels will draw power from the device you’re plugging it into such as a camera, tablet or mobile phone.
Wireless lapels usually come either with in-built rechargeable batteries or the option to use a rechargeable battery pack or AA/AAA batteries which you can change on the spot.
If you’re doing longer interviews, it is best to have a wireless system, where you change change the batteries on the spot. But these systems also tend to be bigger.
If you’re going for a really compact system in-built rechargeable batteries is the way to go, if you still want it to be wireless. But be prepared for some charging time.
Most lavaliers in this price range use 3.5mm minijacks instead of the bigger XLR-connections. That doesn’t mean, that all minijacks are created equal though.
Please be aware, that there are several types of 3.5mm minijack connections available.
TRS is good for DSLR and mirrorless cameras.
TRRS is good for mobile phones.
If your lapel microphone comes with only a TRRS connector, you need an adapter – like this one – if you want to use it on a DSLR/mirrorless camera or camcorder.
Likewise, if your lapel comes only with a TRS connector, you need an adapter – like this one – if you want to use it on your smartphone.
Foam Windscreens and “Dead Mouse”
Most lavs come with a foam windscreen as standard, which you attach directly onto the small head of the microphone. This will prevent wind noises – such as those from breathing – from being picked up by the microphone.
However, if you’re going to film outside in windy conditions, you should consider buying a “dead mouse”.
This is a small furry ball, you can put on top of your microphone, which will prevent even strong winds from being picked up by the microphone.
It is, in essence, a smaller version of the “dead cat” windscreen you use on shotgun microphones.
Seven Inexpensive Lavalier Clip-On Microphones for Video
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to look at a few mics available on the market today and see how they stack up.
First, for the sake of easy comparison, here is a table for you:
|Microphone Name (click the name to check current pricing)||Rode RodeLink FM Wireless Filmmaker||Rode smartLav+||Rode Wireless Go||Samson Go Mic Mobile Professional LavalierSystem||Saramonic LavMicro Broadcast-Quality Lavalier||Saramonic UWMIC9 RX9 + TX9 + TX9||Shure MVL|
|Operating Range||100 meters||Cable: 1 meter / 47 inches||70 meters||30 meters||Cable: 6 meters / 236 inches||60-100 meters||Cable: 1.3 meters / 51 inches|
|Frequency Range||60 Hz to 18 kHz||60Hz - 18kHz||50Hz - 20kHz||20Hz - 20Khz||50Hz - 18kHz||40 Hz - 18 kHz||45 Hz - 20kHz|
|Power||2 AA or micro USB||From smartphone||Built-in, recharges via USB||Built-in, recharges via USB or AC adapter||LR44 battery||2 AA batteries||From smartphone|
|Mounting Options||Shoe mount, 3/8" thread||-||Shoe mount||Shoe mount, 1/4" thread, arm brackets and fasteners||-||Clip-on, 1/4" thread|
|Accessories||Windshield, 3.5mm cable, 1-year warranty card||Windshield, 1-year warranty card||Windshield, carrying pouch, sc2 cable, USB-C cable and USB-A cable||Multiple mounting brackets, 3.5mm cable, AC adapter||Battery included||Windshield, output cables||Carrying pouch, windshield|
1. Rode RodeLink FM Digital Wireless Filmmaker System
The Rode RodeLink FM Digital Wireless Filmmaker System is an ideal filmmaking lavalier system if you have the budget for it.
It consists of a transmitter, a receiver and the lavalier mic.
The transmitter comes with a small antenna and it can be attached to your belt. It ensures a whopping range of 100 meters/330 feet which is very helpful when filming outdoors. The 2.4 GHz series II digital transmission ensures high-quality, crystal-clear sounds whether you record indoors or outdoors.
The receiver can be mounted on top of your DSLR camera with a shoe mount adapter.
The receiver features an OLED display, which shows vital information such as the battery level, channel selection and others.
You can also mount this unit on a tripod or stand using a compatible 3/8 inch thread, so this lav mic is very versatile when it comes to mounting options.
The lavalier mic connects to the body pack and it can be clipped onto your clothes.
The lav itself features an omnidirectional pattern and has a frequency range of 60Hz – 18kHz.
Best of all, this entire wireless lav mic system offers 128-bit encryption, so your audio tracks are protected against people who are too curious for their own good.
The system can use either AA batteries or be powered by micro USB.
2. Rode smartLav+ Omni-directional Wired Lavalier Microphone for iPhone and Smartphones
If you’re looking for a microphone specially designed for smartphones, check out the Rode smartLav+ which comes at an affordable price.
This mic features a 3.5mm jack which plugs into your favorite gadget. The cable is reinforced with Kevlar, so it cannot be damaged that easily, even if you bend it and twist it really hard.
The length of the cable is about 100cm/47 inches including the microphone. So if you need a longer cable, you need to buy one like this one from Rode.
The mic also features a clip-on thing which enables you to discreetly attach it to your suit or dress. The frequency range is 60Hz – 18kHz.
All-in-all this is an inexpensive lavalier microphone which offers great sound quality for the mobile vlogger or person who works in a company and has to create a lot of short videos for social media fast.
3. Rode Wireless Go
If you’re looking for a really compact and versatile wireless lavalier microphone then look no further than the Rode Wireless Go.
In the package, you’ll find the transmission unit and the receiver which offer an impressive range of about 70 meters/230 feet. This model uses a 2.4GHz transmission system.
The in-built microphone in the body pack has an omnidirectional polar pattern and a frequency range of 20Hz – 20kHz.
You can attach your own microphone with a 3.5mm jack, if you prefer, but the body pack itself actually does a pretty good job at preventing scratching noises from clothing.
The receiver also comes with a small LED display which shows vital information such as battery level, Wi-Fi settings, signal strength and more. You can attach to the receiver to any DSLR camera using the cold shoe slot.
When it comes to power options, this lav mic includes a built-in rechargeable battery. You can recharge it using the USB cable included in the package and the battery offers a recording time of around 7 hours.
One of the main advantages of this mic set consists of its portability. Both the receiver and the transmitter weigh just 31 grams each, so they are not cumbersome or hard to work with. The manufacturer also includes a carrying pouch in the package as well as USB-C cables.
4. Samson Go Mic Mobile Professional Lavalier Wireless System
We were really impressed with the Go Mic wireless system from Samson and wanted to include it in this article.
This mic system consists of a receiver, a transmitter and the lav mic which attaches to clothes. The transmitter ensures an operating range of 30 meters/100 feet which is not bad for most filmmaking purposes.
The system is digital with a low latency and operates in the 2.4Ghz frequency spectrum.
The LM10 lav microphone features a 3mm mic capsule and a omni-directional polar pattern, which has a frequency respons of 20Hz-20Khz.
This system is compatible with DSLR cameras as well as mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. In fact, the package contains mounting options for all kinds of gadgets such as a shoe mount adapter for DSLR cameras, mounting brackets for smartphones, fasteners for tablets, tripods etc.
When it comes to the cables, the manufacturer is again generous with you. It included one USB-C cable for connecting your mic to Apple devices as well as one micro USB cable for Android devices. You can also get analog input from a 3.5mm cable included in the box.
The battery which powers this microphone system can last for about 13 hours and it can be charged via USB cable.
However, you also get an AC adapter, so you can recharge the battery from a power outlet if necessary.
So if you’re the type of person, who needs a lapel microphone, which can quickly be adapted from recording on your mobile phone to your DSLR or mirrorless camera, then you should definitely check out the Samson GO mic.
5. Saramonic LavMicro Broadcast-Quality Lavalier Omni-directional Microphone
If your budget is really tight, but still want to buy a professional grade lavalier mic, we recommend the LavMicro from Saramonic.
This is a small clip-on mic which works well with almost any device out there such as DSLR cameras, camcorders, smartphones, tablets, etc.
The omnidirectional polar pattern picks up sounds within the 50Hz-18kHz frequency range.
The length of the cable is about 6 meters which we consider is sufficient for a lapel microphone.
The clip-on device is also very durable, so you can simply attach the mic to your outfit and start talking while the microphone records your voice.
When it comes to connectivity, the mic uses a 3.5mm jack to send sound to your device. It uses a small LR44 battery (which is included in the package) to record sound.
This mic also comes with a switch which allows you to turn the device on or off, depending on your needs.
All in all, this affordable solution is ideal for filmmakers who are just learning the ropes of videomaking and don’t have a very large budget to work with.
6. Saramonic UWMIC9 RX9 + TX9 + TX9
If you’re looking for a professional level lavalier mic system, which doesn’t break the bank, take a look at the Saramonic UWMIC9 system.
You’ll find it in various buying options, depending on what’s in the package. For example, this model we’re reviewing contains one receiver and two transmitters with two lavalier mics.
This basically allows you to record multiple audio tracks from different sources, which is useful in many different situations, e.g., if you’re doing an interview and want to record yourself asking the questions as well, or shooting a scene for a short film, and want to capture the voice of two actors at the same time.
What is so cool about this system is that the receiver can handle two body packs. So many other (and more expensive) systems require a separate receiver for each transmitter, which can make it a hassle to find a place to stick it onto your camera and also requires two separate microphone inputs (unless you use an adapter).
Here you just need to find room for one receiver, which makes it much easier to work with on an overcrowded DSLR, which might also needs to hold an on-camera light and external monitor.
This microphone system is compatible with DSLR cameras (comes with a shoe adapter) as well as smartphones (requires the Saramonic SR-UC201 minijack or a similar adapter).
The omnidirectional microphone has a frequency response is 40 Hz to 18 kHz.
When it comes to power options, this lavalier mic works with two old-school AA batteries, so make sure you have a few pairs of those in your travel bag when recording video footage on the go.
Both the transmitter and the receiver come with small displays which provide you with information about the battery level, operating frequency, signal strength, selected channels, etc.
The specified working distance of this model is about 100 meters/330 feet in open spaces which is really impressive. At the same time, if you’re filming indoors or in a space with obstacles, the operating distance drops at about 200 feet, but that’s still very good for a wireless microphone system.
The package also contains a 1/4” thread which allows you to place this microphone system on a tripod or stand, so you have multiple mounting options at your disposal.
If you’re serious about your filmmaking career and have complex projects to work on, this mic system from Saramonic might be ideal for you!
7. Shure MVL Omni-directional Condenser Lavalier Microphone
The last product on our list comes from Shure which is a popular manufacturer of microphones and audio gear.
The Shure MVL is a wired microphone with a 3.5mm connector which plugs into your mobile phone or tablet.
It has an omnidirectional microphone which can be easily attached to your suit or dress, and a frequency response of 45Hz-20kHz.
The length of the cable is about 130cm/51 inches including the microphone. So if you need a longer cable, you need to buy one like this one from Rode.
One major advantage of this microphone is that it has RF/GSM interference protection which basically “zones out” external interference, audio artifacts or background noise which could damage the quality of your audio tracks.
The mic is ideal for mobile journalism, speeches, lectures, and interviews. It works well with Android as well as Apple devices such as the iPhone and it’s made from high-quality materials which ensure its durability long service life.
Which Clip-On Mic Caught Your Attention?
We know it’s hard to make up your mind when you have so many lavalier mics available at your disposal, but just try it!
The best thing you can do is to analyze your budget and find out if you want a wired or wireless mic. Secondly, you should also know what devices you’re going to use the mic with such as DSLR cameras or mobile phones.
At the end of the day, any of the mics included in this list can do a great job at recording audio tracks. It’s up to you to experiment with them and see which one is more suitable for your specific needs.
About the author
Nick Gold is a content writer for hire specializing in health and tech topics. He writes regularly on multiple websites including