What is a Lavalier?
A “Lavalier” is a type of microphone used in various forms of media production like television, film, theater, public speaking, and newscasts. Also known as a lapel mic, body mic, clip mic, or collar mic, it’s a small, portable, and inconspicuous audio device that is primarily designed to capture high-quality sound from a single source and minimize background noise. A Lavalier microphone can be wired or wireless. A wired Lavalier microphone is connected to a recording device by a cable and is often used in situations where the subject is stationary, such as a sit-down interview or a news anchor’s desk. Wireless Lavalier microphones allow for greater mobility and they consist of two main parts which are the microphone itself and a transmitter. The microphone captures the sound and sends it to the transmitter, which then sends the sound to a receiver connected to the recording device. This system is perfect for situations where the speaker or actor needs to move around like in a theater production or a walking tour.
Benefits of using a Lavalier
The lavalier microphone is typically clipped onto the speaker’s clothing, near the mouth. It’s named after the style of pendant necklace known as a “lavalier” or “lavaliere,” referring to its method of attachment and the way it hangs similar to a pendant. Lavalier microphones vary widely in price and quality. They can range from affordable options suitable for hobbyists and lower-budget productions, to professional-grade mics with exceptional sound quality used in film and broadcast productions. Despite the difference in cost and quality, all Lavalier microphones serve to provide clear, high-quality audio in a compact and discreet package. Their ability to capture closeup sound without intruding on the scene or obstructing the camera view is particularly useful in video production. By using a Lavalier microphone, the sound engineers can capture high-quality audio without compromising the visual aesthetic. Some Lavalier microphones are omnidirectional which means they pick up sound from all directions. This can be useful when the sound source might move around or when the microphone isn’t perfectly aligned with the speaker’s mouth. The placement of the microphone can be a delicate process. It needs to be close enough to capture clear sound, but not too close that it picks up the speaker’s breathing or movement. Also, it has to be positioned in a way that it doesn’t rub against the wearer’s clothing which can also create noise interference.
Some Lavalier microphones are directional or cardioid, meaning they primarily pick up sound from a specific direction, reducing unwanted ambient noise. The power supply is another key aspect of Lavalier microphones. Wireless Lavalier systems typically use batteries in both the microphone and the transmitter. Battery life can be a crucial factor in long shooting schedules and keeping track of battery levels to prevent power loss during recording is essential.