How to use a lavalier microphone correctly

A clip-on microphone, a lavalier microphone, or simply a lavalier microphone is a compact sound recording device. The main advantage of the device lies in its invisibility, which makes it popular with many from bloggers to journalists. To enjoy all the advantages of a lapel pin, you need to know how to use such a microphone correctly and how to fix it.

This type of recording equipment has many features to consider. In some situations, the device may be useless, so it is advisable to understand the nuances before purchasing the device.

Initially, lavalier microphones were used in professional areas: on television, in cinema, theater. Thanks to the practicality of the device, the scope has gradually expanded. Now “lapels” are used in video blogging, for communication in games. The device can be seen on speakers during performances.

What is a lavalier microphone and what types of devices exist
“Lavalier” is a compact omnidirectional microphone with a short range. Most often, electret (capsule) models are used, but there are also devices of a dynamic type, which are extremely rare. The “Lavalier” records a lively, natural sound, and, if properly installed, provides sufficient freedom of movement – no need to statically sit / stand at the microphone in one position.

Microphone set BOYA BY-M2D

As an alternative to the lavalier, you can consider a head microphone (headset), which gives even more freedom, but loses its natural sound. Another option is a handheld microphone, but its use is not always possible and practical. Unlike the listed analogs, with a lavalier microphone, you can choose the installation location to obtain the desired quality. In addition, head and hand models can disrupt the aesthetics and image in the frame.

A professional studio lavalier recording system involves a direct wired connection between the lavalier microphone and a recording device (recorder). This can limit mobility, but if necessary, you can use mobile recorders, voice recorders or even smartphones that can be easily hidden in clothes or on special belts. Many bloggers record sound from a lavalier microphone to a smartphone using the standard Dictaphone application or specialized software. From the point of view of practicality, this is the easiest and most convenient option.

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In a professional radio system for work in the field or on stage, the microphone is connected to a transmitter, which sends sound through the radio channel to the receiver (receiver), which transmits the signal to the recorder. As an addition, you can consider an earpiece, thanks to which you can control the broadcast.

The “Lavalier” can be used as a main and additional microphone for live broadcasts or subsequent sound mixing. By the way, in order to simplify the mixing of audio tracks, it is necessary to create landmarks during the recording process, for example, pops, clicks.

Connection features
Why are wires still used even in professional recording systems? Interference and delay cannot be ruled out in wireless signal transmission. In studios, a lavalier microphone is often connected directly to a mixer. This is possible in situations where the wires will not interfere with the movement and do not enter the frame, otherwise it looks unprofessional.

As for the connection between the microphone itself and the transmitter or recorder, there is a power problem. Wireless connectivity involves the use of a battery and built-in transmitter, which affects the weight and size of the device, thereby depriving the device of key advantages.

There are lavalier microphones with Bluetooth connectivity. This signal transmission technology allows you to transmit sound to a smartphone, tablet, PC or laptop, but the delay and dependence on interference in this case is higher than that of a radio signal, and the transmission radius is less. Clip-on Bluetooth microphones are not popular with professionals, but they can come in handy for personal use.

Hide or not hide the microphone
You should hide the microphone only when it looks unnatural, disturbs the image and can interfere with the perception of the audience. For example, in movies, live interviews and polls. In other cases, this is not accepted, but the need to hide the wires is almost always there. The wires in the frame look ugly, so their volume should be reduced to a minimum. This can affect the choice of installation location or wardrobe choice.

The connection cable is most often hidden under clothing. The transmitter can be attached to pants or a special belt with a pocket, which is worn under clothes. Another option is a bra. The microphone can be attached to the hair, and the wires can be brought out behind the back so that they do not fall into the frame. In theaters, the microphone and transmitter are often hidden under a wig.

How to wear a lavalier microphone
It is impossible to give an unambiguous answer to this question, because the choice of the installation site depends on the situation, location, clothing, props, movements and many other factors. What works in one situation may not work in another. For example, recording in a studio with a direct wired connection to a mixer and performing on stage. Another striking example: shooting a program where the buttonhole looks appropriate, or filming a movie where the microphone needs to be carefully hidden. Each format has its own requirements and limitations. It is difficult to imagine a blogger recording a video with a “lapel” on his forehead in the frame, and in the theater this is a common practice.

Guidelines for choosing a location for installing a lavalier microphone.

The optimal area for installing the “buttonhole” is 2-3 palms from the mouth. To capture more background sounds or to make breathing sound less audible, you can place a microphone near your solar plexus. The sensitivity of microphones is different, so you need to experiment, and remember that with increasing distance, the level of background noise increases.
Ideally, the device should be positioned below or above the mouth. Turning your head to the left and right will minimize sound distortion, giving you extra freedom.
It is not recommended to install a “buttonhole” in the throat area. If the user needs to tilt his head and speak down, then it is better to move the “buttonhole” slightly to the side. For example, if you need to read or consider something on the table. Otherwise, overload may occur due to the high sensitivity of the microphone at low frequencies.
If turning the head to one side is unlikely (for example, during a conversation), then the areas of the collarbone or chest on the opposite side are suitable for installation.
When installing the microphone, you need to make sure that it is securely fixed, it will not rub against clothing or skin. It is also recommended to exclude shaking. For these purposes, you can make an impromptu casing or buffer.
Popular lavalier microphone locations:

To fix the microphone, you can use a clothespin, hairpins, electrical tape, tape, medical tape, and other devices. When using any adhesive tape on the body, the skin must be degreased – rubbed with alcohol. To securely fix the microphone under your clothing, fold the piece of adhesive tape into an “envelope”.

“Buttonhole” does not write a sound: what could be the reason
After purchasing a lavalier microphone, the user may find that the device is not working. Before reporting a malfunction, it is necessary to study the type of connection. Rather, it needs to be done before purchasing the device. The problem is solvable, but first you need to understand its essence.

The reason is most likely in the incompatibility of the connector and plug. This may not be obvious if you are using a standard 3.5mm Mini jack – there are three main formats. TRS has three pins. This is the jack for connecting a microphone to a DSLR camera , and in smartphones this plug is used to connect headphones without a microphone. The TRRS connector has four pins, and in this case, headset headphones are provided. However, there are two main standards: TRRS OMTP and TRRS CTIA. They differ in pin configuration and are not compatible with TRS and with each other.

You can solve the problem with adapters . Some modern smartphones may not have a headset jack. To get out of the situation, there are adapters for Lightning or USB Type-C interfaces. More expensive microphones are often equipped with an adapter or a set of adapters, so when choosing inexpensive models, you need to pay attention to the plug – otherwise you will have to buy an adapter separately, which can negate all the savings. It is worth noting that a poor-quality adapter can cause interference.