What Is A Lavalier Mic? Everything You Need To Know

Written by: Pete Luckhurst



Time to read 8 min

A lavalier microphone, or "lav mic", is a compact and versatile audio device commonly used in various settings, including broadcasting, filmmaking, public speaking, and live performances. It is also known as a lapel mic or clip-on mic due to its small size and ability to be discreetly attached to a person's clothing.

The Evolution of Lavalier Microphones

Lavalier microphones have come a long way since their inception. Originally developed in the 1950s, these mics revolutionized the way audio was captured in television and film production. In the early days, lavalier mics consisted of large and cumbersome designs that required external power sources. Today, advancements in technology have resulted in more compact and lightweight models that offer improved sound quality and versatility.

Modern lavalier mics often utilize wireless transmission systems, allowing greater freedom of movement for the person wearing the microphone. These wireless systems use radio frequencies to transmit audio signals to a receiver, eliminating the need for cables while maintaining high-quality sound reproduction.

One of the key developments in lavalier microphone technology is the integration of noise-cancelling features. This innovation helps to reduce background noise and improve the clarity of the recorded audio, making lavalier mics ideal for capturing crisp and clean sound in a variety of environments.

Furthermore, some modern lavalier microphones are equipped with adjustable polar patterns, allowing users to customize the microphone's sensitivity to sound from different directions. This versatility makes lavalier mics suitable for a wide range of recording situations, from capturing intimate interviews to recording dynamic performances on stage.

How Lavalier Mics Work

Lavalier microphones work on the principle of converting sound waves into electrical signals. The microphone's capsule, housed in a compact enclosure, contains a diaphragm that vibrates in response to sound. This diaphragm is connected to a coil or capacitor that generates an electrical signal proportional to the sound wave's intensity.

The electrical signal produced by the microphone is then transmitted through a cable or wirelessly to an audio recording device or sound system. This allows the captured audio to be amplified or recorded for various applications.

One of the key advantages of lavalier microphones is their discreet nature. Due to their small size and the ability to clip them onto clothing, lavalier mics are often used in situations where a traditional microphone would be obtrusive or impractical. This makes them popular choices for interviews, live presentations, and video recordings where the speaker needs to move freely without being encumbered by a microphone.

Additionally, lavalier microphones are known for their omnidirectional pickup pattern, which means they can capture sound from all directions. This feature is particularly useful in environments where ambient noise levels may vary, as the microphone can effectively pick up the speaker's voice while minimizing background noise. It's important to position the lavalier mic correctly to ensure optimal audio quality and clarity in recordings.

Types of Lavalier Microphones

There are several types of lavalier microphones available, each tailored to specific needs and preferences. Here are three common types:

  1. Wired Lavalier Microphones: These mics use a physical connection, often an XLR or mini-jack connector, to transmit the audio signal from the microphone to the recording device. They are reliable and typically offer high-quality sound reproduction, making them a popular choice in professional settings.

  2. Wireless Lavalier Microphones: As the name suggests, these mics operate without the need for physical cables. They consist of a transmitter, which is attached to the user or their clothing, and a receiver, which is connected to the recording device or sound system. Wireless lavalier mics provide greater freedom of movement, making them ideal for presentations, interviews, and live performances.

  3. USB Lavalier Microphones: Designed for ease of use and convenience, USB lavalier microphones connect directly to a computer or mobile device via a USB port. This eliminates the need for additional audio interfaces or mixers, making them a popular choice for podcasting, vlogging, and voiceovers.

Each of these types are available at Maplin. Check out our range of lavalier mics!

Each type of lavalier microphone has its own set of advantages and considerations. Wired lavalier microphones are known for their reliability and consistent audio quality, making them a preferred choice for broadcast professionals who require a stable connection during live broadcasts or recordings.

On the other hand, wireless lavalier microphones offer the flexibility to move around without being tethered to a specific location. This freedom of movement is particularly beneficial for performers, presenters, and speakers who need to engage with their audience while maintaining clear audio transmission.

Benefits of Using a Lavalier Mic

Lavalier microphones offer numerous benefits that make them indispensable in certain situations. Here are some advantages of using a lavalier mic:

  • Portability: Lavalier mics are small and lightweight, allowing users to carry them anywhere and easily attach them to their clothing.
  • Discreetness: These mics are designed to be inconspicuous, allowing the user to wear them without drawing attention.
  • Improved Sound Quality: Lavalier mics capture clear and direct audio, minimizing background noise and interference.
  • Hands-Free Operation: With a lavalier mic attached, users can move around and use their hands without worrying about holding a microphone.

Lavalier microphones are commonly used in live performances, interviews, and presentations where mobility and clear audio are essential. Their small size and discreet design make them ideal for situations where a traditional microphone would be obtrusive or impractical. Many professionals, including public speakers, news anchors, and performers, rely on lavalier mics to deliver high-quality sound while maintaining a polished appearance.

Another advantage of lavalier microphones is their versatility in capturing audio from a single source. By attaching the mic close to the speaker's mouth, lavalier mics can pick up clear and focused sound, making them perfect for recording speeches, dialogues, or monologues. This direct audio capture minimizes echo and ambient noise, resulting in a more professional and polished recording.

Wireless Lavalier Mic

Tips for Properly Using a Lavalier Mic

While lavalier mics are versatile tools, using them correctly can significantly enhance your audio recording or performance. Consider the following tips:

  1. Positioning: Place the lavalier mic as close to the sound source as possible, typically 6-8 inches away from the speaker's mouth.
  2. Cable Management: Ensure that the microphone cable is properly secured and does not cause any noise or distractions when the user moves.
  3. Test and Monitor: Always test the microphone before recording or performing to ensure it is capturing the desired audio accurately. Monitor the audio levels throughout the session to prevent excessive or insufficient recordings.
  4. Protect from Wind Noise: In outdoor or windy conditions, use a windscreen or foam cover to reduce unwanted wind noise.

Additionally, it's essential to consider the clothing the speaker is wearing when using a lavalier mic. Avoid fabrics that rustle or make noise when they brush against the microphone, as this can interfere with the audio quality. Opt for clothing that is microphone-friendly, such as smooth materials like cotton or silk.

Another crucial aspect to keep in mind is the battery life of the lavalier mic. Always check and replace the batteries before important recordings or performances to avoid unexpected disruptions. It's a good practice to carry spare batteries to ensure uninterrupted operation of the microphone throughout your session.

Lavalier Mic Techniques for Clear Audio

Mastering specific techniques can help you achieve optimal audio quality when using a lavalier mic. Consider the following techniques:

  • Proper Clothing Placement: Attach the mic to clothing that offers minimal movement and minimal risk of rubbing against the fabric, resulting in unwanted noise.
  • Wire Concealment: Conceal the microphone wire under clothing to maintain a clean and professional appearance.
  • Directional Positioning: Point the microphone towards the sound source or the speaker's mouth to capture clear and direct audio.
  • Audio Monitoring: Use headphones or a monitoring system to listen to the audio in real-time, ensuring it is clear and without distortion.

When it comes to lavalier mic techniques, another important aspect to consider is the environment in which you are recording. Factors such as room acoustics, background noise, and even the presence of reflective surfaces can greatly impact the audio quality. To minimize unwanted reverberations and echoes, choose a recording location with soft furnishings or sound-absorbing materials.

Understanding the technical specifications of your lavalier mic can also enhance your audio recording. Pay attention to factors such as frequency response, sensitivity, and polar pattern to optimize the microphone settings for the best sound quality. Experimenting with different microphone placements and settings can help you find the perfect configuration for your specific recording needs.


Here are some frequently asked questions about lavalier microphones:

Q: Can lavalier mics be used with smartphones or tablets?

A: Yes, there are lavalier microphones specifically designed to be compatible with smartphones and tablets. These mics often have a TRRS connector to connect directly to the device's audio jack or a lightning/USB-C connector for newer models.

Q: Are lavalier mics only used by professionals?

A: While lavalier mics are commonly used in professional settings, they are also accessible to amateurs and hobbyists. The versatility and affordability of lavalier mics make them suitable for a wide range of applications.

Q: How do I prevent interference or audio dropouts with wireless lavalier mics?

A: To minimize interference, choose a wireless lavalier microphone system that operates on a less crowded frequency band. Additionally, ensure that the transmitter and receiver are in close proximity and have a clear line of sight between them.

In summary, as technology continues to advance, lavalier microphones remain relevant and in high demand. Their compact size, portability, and ability to capture clear audio make them invaluable tools for professionals, content creators, and performers alike. Whether you're recording interviews, delivering presentations, or hosting live events, a lavalier mic can greatly enhance your overall audio experience.

One interesting aspect to note about lavalier microphones is their historical significance. Lavalier microphones, also known as lapel microphones, were first introduced in the 1950s. They were initially used primarily in television broadcasting and theater productions, allowing actors and presenters to move freely while still maintaining clear audio quality. Over the years, advancements in technology have made lavalier microphones more accessible and versatile, leading to their widespread use in various industries today.

Wireless, wired, and USB lavalier microphones are available at Maplin. 

Evolution: Lavalier microphones, developed in the 1950s, have evolved from bulky designs to compact wireless models with improved sound quality and noise-cancelling features.

Functionality: They convert sound waves into electrical signals, offering discreetness and omnidirectional pickup patterns suitable for various recording environments.

Types: Wired, wireless, and USB lavalier microphones cater to different needs, with wired options favoured for reliability and wireless ones for mobility.

Benefits: Portability, discreetness, improved sound quality, and hands-free operation make lavalier mics indispensable in live performances, interviews, and presentations.

Techniques: Proper positioning, cable management, audio monitoring, and environmental considerations enhance audio quality when using lavalier mics.

About the author

Pete Luckhurst is a Website Manager at Maplin.

After getting an early start in the world of computing with C64 & Amiga computers, Pete now spends much of his spare time in PC VR and dabbling in game development. He also has a strong interest in film, photography and music.

Among other endeavours, he previously worked in a Maplin store, so it was a no-brainer when the opportunity arose to work on the modern incarnation of Maplin online. Besides writing for the blog, Pete works alongside the Maplin team to help keep the online store running smoothly.