Capturing Great Audio – An Invisible Art
Capturing great audio is just as important as capturing high quality footage.
For some reason it’s overlooked more often than what we see with our eyes. The hidden quality that you hear with your ears during a film is somewhat of an invisible art.
What I mean by that is – when it’s done correctly, you probably won’t even notice it.
It isn’t until it sounds bad that your audience will pick up on it. And the first subconscious thought they’ll have is the lack of quality in the overall video.
Let’s avoid that problem and narrow down a few of the best lavalier mics for filmmaking out there.
What is a lavalier microphone?
A lav mic is a small microphone that is often hidden or placed inconspicuously on your subject to pick up audio during filming. Lav mics can be under or outside of clothing. They can be wired or wireless. They are most often used for documentaries, interviews, and other stationary scenarios during filmmaking.
Wired vs. Wireless Lavs
I’ve worked with both and each has their own advantages and disadvantages. A wired mic is absolutely a nuisance if you have a moving subject. I would only recommend a wired mic in situations where your subject is seated or standing for an interview. Even then, they can be restricting and you have limited distance to move your camera or recording device so that the cord reaches your subject.
On the other hand, while a wireless mic is certainly more convenient in many ways, you have some technical issues to think through. You will often encounter interference between the mic and the receiver, resulting in obnoxious static that can absolutely ruin your audio.
For these reasons, it’s crucial that you think through exactly what type of situations you’ll be using your mics most often. I hope this brief list of the best lav microphones will narrow down your search a bit. Let’s get into the details!
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- Discreet and portable
- Professional quality omni-directional condenser allows for maximum versatility and user friendly use for beginning filmmakers
- Kevlar reinforced cable to ensure quality
- Compatible with iOS devices and select Android devices
- Includes windshield, durable mounting clip, and pouch**TRRS cable – this means it draws power from your phone to work. To plug directly into a camera you’ll need a TRS to TRRS adaptor, like this one.
- Comes with LCD screen to easily display channels, audio status, and power consumption
- Option to use 6 different channels (great for restricting interference)
- Working distance up to 197 feet
- Comes with adjustable smartphone clamp and mini tripod
- Real time audio monitoring abilities
Comica CVM-WS60 Combo 12-Channels Professional UHF Dual Smartphone Wireless Lapel Microphone for iPhone Samsung Android Phones,Canon Nikon DSLR Cameras(RX+2TX)
- Same brand as the above model, but made for smartphone as well as DSLR cameras
- Dual transmitters triggered by one receiver which can be used for camera and smartphones working together
- Option to use up to 12 different channels to easily change and avoid signal interference
- M/S output, volume adjustable, muting mode, MIC/LINE IN Auto recognition
- LCD screen that makes it super easy to navigate and user friendly
- 96-CHANNEL: One transmitter triggered by one receiver which can be used for multiple devices working together, with auto-scanning for quick channel selection to A/B group
- Real time monitoring with LCD display, HD display dynamic volume test bar and transmitter power
- Low Cut Filtering Mode to be used in a noisy environment for audio recording to cut down the low-frequency noises like air conditioning, etc.
- Dual channel selection and adjustable mono/stereo output modes
- Long working distance: up to 394 feet
- Adjustable RF signal strength: switching to a low strength mode when the wireless lavalier microphone is within 197 feet helps reduce power consumption and extend standby time. When it’s working distance is greater than 197 feet, you can choose high strength mode to improve audio quality.
ADDITIONAL AUDIO ACCESSORIES THAT YOU MAY NEED
I stumbled across these handy little things a few years ago and now I can’t live without them. They are basically individually little sticky discs (one side sticky, the other side furry). You sandwich the lav mic in between and stick it directly on your subject to easily conceal the lav mic.
So much less bulky and easier to hide than the clip that comes with the lav mic.
Professional Gaffer’s Tape – here’s my favorite kind.
This is a MUST have for any professional filmmaker.
It’s different than other types of tape because it sticks really well, but doesn’t leave any sticky residue behind which makes it the perfect tool for taping a lavalier microphone to your subject.
I often prefer to use gaff tape instead of the typical lav clip, because I like to hide the mic behind clothing and the clip is too bulky for that.
Simply fold the gaff tape into an inside out triangle (sticky side out) and then use that to stick the lav mic directly under the collar of a shirt, or directly to the chest of your subject under their shirt. You can get creative here and also stick it under the brim of a ball cap.
In a few of the above models (specifically, those designed to plug directly into a smartphone), a TRRS cable is used.
This means the lav mic draws power from your phone in order to work.
To plug directly into a camera you’ll need a TRS to TRRS adaptor.
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