Best Lavalier / Lapel Mics of 2018 Reviewed & Compared

Updated November 2018


Product Overview


If you’ve ever had to give a presentation to a large group, wanted to record an interview, or needed a way to capture audio for future use, chances are good you’ve run across lavalier microphones.

Sometimes called clip-on mics or lapel microphones, lavalier mics are a type of versatile hands-free microphone that clip onto the speaker’s jacket, blouse, or collar. They are designed to discreetly capture or amplify sound, and as a result, they are a popular choice for situations where it would ruin the visual if the speaker was holding a standard microphone or if the speaker needs to be able to use their hands.

We’ve taken the time to test and review a few of our top choices for the best lavalier mics available. If you aren’t sure which lavalier microphone is the right fit for your needs, you’ve come to the right place!

We’ll walk you through some buying considerations you’ll want to keep in mind, along with detailed reviews of our top three lavalier microphones. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to pick the best lavalier mic like a pro!


Top Picks: Clip-On Microphones

We narrowed down the options to three of the best lavalier mics out there. We accounted for all of the buying considerations we outlined above, along with additional information our testers noticed during the review process. Read on to learn more about our top picks and see which of them might be what you’re looking for!

Best Overall

Shure SM93 Lapel Mic

Shure SM93 Lapel Mic

Pros

  • Very discreet, subminiature mic
  • Captures full sound range incredibly well
  • Omnidirectional condenser

Cons

  • Needs a bodypack transmitter to work
  • Shorter connection wire

The Shure SM93 is a higher-end lavalier mic, and you can tell from the moment you see it. Most lavalier mics are small, but the SM93 takes it to a whole other level. This mic is perfect if you need something extremely discreet and easy to mask — think the type of mic that professionals might use for a documentary interview.

The tiny size definitely doesn’t impact the sound quality in the SM93! It captures sound extraordinarily well, and the omnidirectional condenser is sensitive enough to pick up on multiple people speaking. Our technicians noted that this lavalier accurately reproduced bass and treble equally well, and there was no noticeable sound degradation.

The downside to the sensitivity of the SM93 is that it did pick up background noise when we tested it in outdoor locations. This mic is not likely going to be the best fit if you intend to use it outdoors or in crowded, noisy locations where there are a lot of people and sounds in the background.

The SM93 is a SHURE just like the Centraverse, which means that it also requires an adaptor if you intend to use it with non-SHURE products. This lavalier requires a transmitter to be used, so factor that additional cost into your decision.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the connecting cable that comes with the SM93 is a little on the short side. If you need the cable connecting the mic to the transmitter pack to stretch more than 2-3 feet, you’ll likely want to invest in a different cable.

Overall, though, the SM93 is an excellent lavalier mic. It will be able to do just about anything you need it to, and the attractive build and quality sound reproduction mean you’ll get top-notch results.


Best Budget

Shure CVL Centraverse Lavalier Condenser Mic

Shure CVL Centraverse Lavalier Condenser Mic

Pros

  • Easy-to-use clips included
  • Clear, consistent sound reproduction
  • Omnidirectional condenser
  • Bang for your buck

Cons

  • Requires a bodypack transmitter to work
  • Only works with Shure connector

The Shure CVL Centraverse clip-on mic is what most people probably think of when they imagine a lavalier mic. It’s small, with attractive design and high-quality materials. It comes with different types of clips so that you can easily attach it to a collar, lapel, jacket, tie, or another item with no problem.

The sound quality in the Centraverse is impressive. Our technicians commented on how clean the audio was when amplified from the mic through speakers, and there were no concerns with inconsistency in the audio quality. The omnidirectional condenser was effective enough to pick up a conversation between multiple parties; our techs tested it in conversation with one person wearing the mic and talking to three other people, and the Centraverse picked up what everyone was saying without any issues.

The Centraverse does require a transmitter to work, so you’ll need to factor that into your decision. Additionally, it has a SHURE connector plug, so you’ll either need to use exclusively SHURE accessories or get a converter. Keep in mind that using a converter may cause some slight degradation in the sound quality since it’s one more connection that the audio has to pass through before reaching the speakers.

The Centraverse is a great lavalier mic at a reasonable cost. It’s pretty much smack in the middle of the price range, and you can definitely hear an improvement in sound quality over some of the less expensive mics. This mic would be suitable for most applications, and the quality is worth the hassle of having to purchase a transmitter.


Best for Smartphones

Rode smartLav+ Lavalier Microphone for iPhone and Smartphones

Rode smartLav+ Lavalier Mic for iPhone and Smartphones

Pros

  • Plug-and-play for ease use
  • Omnidirectional condenser
  • No transmitter or accessories required to use
  • Cost-effective

Cons

  • For moving applications, still requires a transmitter
  • Sound quality falls behind competition

The Rode smartLav is by far the best lavalier mic we tested if you’re looking for simplicity. It’s not anything fancy, but it will get the job done if you’re wanting a lavalier mic that will allow you to do interviews or record audio onto a laptop or smartphone.

The biggest perk of the smartLav is that you plug the included cable directly into your laptop or phone’s 3.5mm audio jack and the lavalier will record straight into your device. The mic is compatible with multiple audio recording platforms, so you don’t have to worry about not having the right software.

The sound quality was good; again, this lavalier isn’t meant to be the best of the best, it’s meant to be a user-friendly option that provides quality recording. We didn’t notice any excessive static or background noise, and the audio was clear and easily understood.

The smartLav doesn’t require any additional accessories to use for sound recording, which is a huge plus. That said, if you want to use this mic for amplifying sound via speakers you’ll need to invest in a transmitter pack.

The mic build was durable, and the cable was sturdy enough to withstand regular use without damage. This lavalier mic is a budget-friendly option, and we highly recommend it for anyone looking for a solid entry-level mic that can be used to record audio.


Buying Considerations: Lavalier Mics

Man putting on a lavalier microphoneLavalier mics can seem a bit overwhelming to figure out if you don’t have a lot of experience with them. They’re a little more complicated than standard hand-held mics, but don’t worry— we’re here to clear up any confusion on what you need to pay attention to when you’re shopping! Let’s start with the basics.

Intended Use

Lavalier mics aren’t all made for the same purpose. Some are better suited to only being used to record audio, while others are capable of both recording audio and also projecting it to speakers. You’ll want to think about what your plans are for the mic and determine what functions you need. If you’re only going to use the lavalier for recording interview audio, then you might not need a fancier (and more expensive) mic that can easily connect with speakers.

Ease of Use

One of the biggest things to pay attention to is the ease of use. Lavalier mics come in a wide variety of forms, and they range from plug-and-play to complex wired setups. When you’re looking at different mics, be sure to look at the fine print and see if the lavalier needs additional accessories or components in order to do what you want it to. This is particularly important if you need the lavalier to connect with speakers and amplify what the wearer is saying; in order to do that successfully, most lavaliers will need a transmitter pack that is capable of communicating between the lavalier and the speakers.

Build Quality

One of the perks of lavalier microphones is that they are meant to be small and unobtrusive. However, that means that they can be a little more delicate than traditional handheld microphones. You’ll want to pay particular attention to the quality of materials used in the cable that connects the mic to the transmitter pack (or to your phone/computer, depending on the mic). If that cable gets frayed or the connecting wires get pulled or loosen, your lavalier mic will stop working and become useless. Look for cords that have some sort of reinforcement at the connecting points to prevent this from happening.

Condenser Type

Lavalier mics are not all created equal. One of the key distinguishing features is the type of condenser that the mic utilizes. There are two main types of condenser: monodirectional and omnidirectional. As you might guess from the names, monodirectional condensers pick up sound from one primary direction, while omnidirectional condensers are designed to pick up 360-degree sound.

The type of condenser can make a huge difference in the level of sound quality that you get. We recommend omnidirectional mics since the condenser makes it easy to pick up sound from multiple speakers. Even if you only plan to use your lavalier mic for interviews or situations where there will be a single speaker, omnidirectional condensers will provide better sound quality.

Cost

Just like with all products, lavalier mics range from $20.00 all the way up to several hundred. There are some noticeable perks to the higher-end lavaliers, most notably the quality of the sound and how much the mic can amplify things, but it’s also possible to find solid mics that won’t break the bank. Doing a little research ahead of time will give you an idea of which quality lavalier mics are a good match for your budget. Be sure to also consider the cost of any required accessories (transmitters, converters, cables, etc.).

Compatibility with Other Devices

If you’ve ever used any type of audio equipment, you know how important compatibility is. Be careful to verify that the lavalier mic you’re looking at is compatible with the other tools you’ll be using to prevent any frustration or difficulty down the line. Particular components to pay attention to are the type of jack that the lavalier mic uses; some brands have their own unique jack size and require converters to be able to use a standard 3.5mm audio jack or cable. It’s also a good idea to check that the lavalier mic you’re considering will work smoothly with the audio recording software you’ll use if you plan to do interviews.


Verdict: Best Lapel Mics

If you’re still not quite sure which of our top three lapel mic picks is right for you, here’s our recommendation:

If you need a lavalier mic for recording audio onto your phone or computer, the Rode smartLav lapel mic is a great choice. We also recommend the smartLav if you want a lavalier mic that’s simple to use and doesn’t require much effort to set up and use.

If you want a classic lavalier mic that can connect with speakers for presentation, events, and other occasions, the Shure Centraverse is the mic for you! It’s got amazing sound quality for a reasonable price, and Shure is well known and respected for their products.

If you’re looking for a high-end lavalier mic in a discreet package, the Shure SM3 clip-on microphone is the best choice. The sleek design adds to the incredible sound quality this mic produces, and it’s versatile enough to meet all of your needs.

If you take note of the considerations and recommendations we’ve outlined here, you’re sure to choose the best lavalier mic for your next project!

If you have any specific questions on the lavalier microphones we’ve reviewed here, feel free to send us a message and we’re happy to help make sure that you have all the information you need to confidently purchase the best lavalier mic for your needs.


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