Lavalier microphones or ‘lav mics’ (also referred to as collar, body, or lapel mics) are most commonly associated with TV and film work. They’re really small microphones which pin to the speaker’s clothing, and I’m sure you’ve seen one attached to your favourite news reporter at some point.

In television, a big part of their appeal is that they are easily hidden or disguised, so you might be thinking that there’s no real benefit to using lavalier mics in podcasting. But, there’s two things to consider here:

  1. They are very small, light, and portable. Not everyone has a permanent recording space, and so using a lav mic or two can be great for the ‘whenever, wherever’ podcaster who records in the car, out walking, etc.
  2. They are excellent for conduction location interviews. Many people can be engaging speakers, right up until you hold a microphone in their face and they seize up. Lav mics are much less intimidating and lead to a more natural conversation.

What Are We Looking For In A Good Lavalier Microphone?

lavalier microphoneIn this article I want to talk through different makes and models of lavalier mics and compare things like audio quality, durability, and price. As podcasters the ultimate priority is good audio quality, but we also need to look at other factors. A particular lav mic might have a flimsy, easily broken clip, or a very short cable.

Most lavalier mics will plug into and run through a digital recorder, mixer, or computer. However, smartphone lavs (which, funnily enough, plug directly into your smartphone) are becoming increasingly popular.

I’m looking to expand this feature over time to include the most popular lav mics out there, along with any others I have the opportunity to test and review. If you recommend a particular type of lav mic that isn’t already included please let me know in the comments section below.

Audio Technica 3350

Audio Technica 3350This lav mic is in the ‘budget range’ due to its extremely affordable price tag. The Audio Technica 3350 comes with a massive 6 meter long cable, which might be a curse or a blessing depending on your own specific needs. For more info check out our full review.

    • Costs: £22 or $21
    • Works With: A digital recorder or mixer, or directly into your computer
    • Connection: 3.5mm jack
    • Powered By: Cell battery

Rode Smartlav and Rode Smartlav +

Rode SmartlavThe perfect option for someone who wants to keep their kit as simple as possible. The Samartlav simply plugs into your smartphone and you can record directly into it without the need for a digital recorder.

Rode have made some serious improvements in the level of noisefloor picked up by the Smartlav + in comparison to the original Smartlav, you can listen to the difference for yourself in the sound samples below.

Struggling to Choose & Use Your Podcast Equipment?

Pick the right gear, and learn how it works: from USB mics to mixers.

Check out The Podcast Host Academy

Rode Smartlav plusThe downside of this approach is that you’re relying on your smartphone to record. This can be risky. Phones crash, friends ring and apps can be unpredictable at the best of times. But, I’ve recorded many a good interview on my phone, on being let down a few times out of dozens of recordings. Saying that, you don’t want that to happen when you’ve secured the best interview of your career… It’s up to you.

  • Costs: £40 or $80
  • Works With: A smartphone
  • Connection: 3.5mm jack
  • Powered By: Smartphone

Giant Squid Podcasting Omni Stereo Lavs

The Giant Squid Podcasting Omni Stereo mic is a unique, hand-built model that feeds two quality lav mics into one plug, and provides a stereo recording.

It’s ideal for interviews and co-hosted podcasts which are recorded locally. The mics will record on either side of a stereo track which can be split in post-production, offering independent control over their levels.

This can also be achieved with most other lav mics by using a HosaTech stereo splitter, but for a one-device solution, it’s hard to see past this offering from Giant Squid.

  • Costs: From $75
  • Works With: A digital recorder or mixer, or directly into your computer
  • Connection: 3.5mm jack
  • Powered By: Plug In Power

Speedlink Spes Clip-On

The Speedlink Spes Cli-On is an extremely lightweight and low cost lav mic.

If you’re on a very tight budget then you’ll get by with one of these. Though they can be pretty fragile and easily broken.

  • Speedlink Spes Clip-OnCosts: £8 or $10
  • Works With: A digital recorder or mixer, or directly into your computer
  • Connection: 3.5mm jack
  • Powered By: n/a

Sony ECM-CS10

A budget offering from Sony. The ECM-CS10 costs more than the ATR3350 and doesn’t sound nearly as good. Hard to make a case for this one.

  • Sony ECM-CS10Costs: £38 or $27
  • Works With: A digital recorder or mixer, or directly into your computer
  • Connection: 3.5mm jack
  • Powered By: n/a

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a Lavalier microphone to record interviews or speeches, then, for me, you’ve got three choices here.

If you’re happy recording on your Smartphone, taking on the risks that come with that, then get hold of a Rode Smartlav+. It’s great quality, and a decent price.

If you want to record on a dedicated digital recorder, which is the most reliable, robust way to do it, then I can’t see past the ATR-3350. It’s a bargain price for the audio quality it produces.

With that said, if your recorder only has a 3.5mm input, then the Giant Squid Podcasting Omni Stereo mic might be the way to go. Either that, or go with two ATR3350s onto a HosaTech stereo splitter.