How Can I Make My Lav Mic Sound Better? 7 Tips You Will Love

A lavalier is my dream microphone. It’s so cute I can simply attach the mic to my clothing. It’s also light, handy, easy to use, and elegant. However, it leaves me wondering how can I make my lav mic sound better? So lucky I learned how lavaliers work. Now let’s talk about how to make them excel.

lav mic

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What Exactly is a Lavalier Mic?

Lavalier mics are small microphones but they are compact in size. The instrument collects audio both in an omnidirectional (specific direction) or cardioid (everywhere) pickup pattern. It also transmits audio feeds via radio frequencies straight to a receiver.

The reason why it looks smart is that the design is closely patterned to jewelry or ornament that is fastened to clothing. This type of microphone has its history back in the 1930s when one way to use a microphone is to hang it from the neck. There are lav microphones of different designs and features that rival a standard boom mic in the market.

How Can I Make My Lav Mic Sound Better

Lavalier microphones are extraordinarily versatile. But they have a special level of sensitivity that you need to understand and consider to get the best sound out of it. I found these tips:

Tip # 1: Type of Lav

Lavalier microphones in general have two types: the “omnidirectional” which picks up sound from every direction regardless of which way the mic is pointing, and the “directional,” the one with a higher wind resistance due to their concentration on a specific direction.

The close proximity of a lavalier microphone to the mouth allows for broadcast-quality audio, which is one benefit of utilizing one. You can select a lav mic for documentary recording, classroom instruction, business meetings and conferences, conducting interviews, or filming movies depending on where you’ll utilize it. When buying a lavalier, you have a lot of options, so figuring out which one best suits your requirements can help you select one.

Image by Andri Koolme via Flickr under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Tip # 2: Optimum Positioning

Position your lav perfectly centered on the chest. Too high makes your voice sound wrapped up or as if you’re speaking with a scarf over your mouth. The reason is that the mic is shadowed by your chin. Place it too far down and your voice will sound thinner and less clear. So balance the placement and figure out at least a foot or less from the mouth.

The biggest advantage of lapel microphones is the feature that they can be clipped to a collar or tie and that they can be concealed. Once you’ve got it in the right place, it’s not too difficult to use and lets you operate it without using your hands. You may easily use your microphone to communicate, record, make presentations, participate in online meetings, and more.

If the lav mic is not positioned correctly, it can cause your audio to sound thin, squeaky, or distorted. Plus, the crunching of your clothing can worsen the background noise as it leaks into the track. Look for the best placement for your lav.

Tips:

  1. Place the lav in the center of the chest to get a nice balance of closeness and reproduction of natural sound.
  2. It should not have clothing rubbing against it. Wear cotton and wool clothing as these materials are less prone to noise compared to silk and other synthetic fabrics.

Tip # 3: Keeping It Hidden

You can either expose your lav slightly or completely hidden – you decide. Hiding the lav is a good idea when in a windy environment to block wind noise. When using a tie-clip mount, windscreen protection can also help put off the vibration of microphone membranes due to wind turbulence around the microphone inlets.

When lavaliers are hidden, it may require you to pass the cable wire under the clothing. In this case, shirts and tight-fitting clothes may be uncomfortable. Learn how to run the cable yourself so you don’t have to keep asking someone else for assistance.

Tip # 4: Keep Experimenting

Asking your subject or listeners if they can hear you, and vice versa is the greatest approach to determine if you are being heard from the other side. Ask them a question that will start them chatting organically, such as “How was your day,” rather than just saying “mic check… check… check.” It won’t be evident that you’re running a mic test this way.

Keep in mind that lavaliers are sensitive. The sound of the mic will fluctuate significantly depending on where it is placed in relation to your mouth, even by a few inches. Think about the mic positioning for a few seconds. Once you’ve located the ideal location, securely clip or install your microphone and enjoy the authentic sound you’ve been searching for.

Tips:

If you’re having issues with vocal pauses or the hums of breathing, change the position of the mic. You can mount your lav upside down to further guard against this. 

women placing lav mic

Image by Allisa Richardson via Flickr under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Tip # 5: Prevent Cable Noise

Speaking of how delicately sensitive lavaliers are, even small motions can generate a lot of noise. An audible hissing sound might be heard if the wire is not correctly seated. Pulling the cord by mistake can also damage the lav microphone. Your recording may be completely ruined, or the mic may be completely removed.

There are a few simple tricks that can reduce or avoid these issues before they come up:

  1. Wrap a few inches of the top portion of the cable into the clip to create a broadcast loop. The tightness will control the cable from getting displaced when there is thorough movement or a slight tug. You will also get a neat profile of the mic.
  2. Another is to create a loop below the mic itself then loosely fasten it with tape (the sticky portion out) or a piece of string so the cable moves freely within the loop.
  3. Tapes help a lot to secure the cable underneath the clothing or on the skin. Two strips of 3 to 4 inches of tape can hold the cable and prevent them from moving.
  4. There are lavalier cable management tools that you can find to help you securely mount the cable to your clothing or find ways to ensure it stays in place and prevent unnecessary noise.

Tip # 6: Establishing a Connection

After getting a nice position and testing of sound, it’s time to connect your mic to your device. Are you plugging it into your camera, phone, or laptop? Do you need to connect it wirelessly or not? Here, it’s important to determine the kind of equipment you need.

To be able to get the best results, get the right kind of connectors to suitably plug your mic into your device. There are tools that connect directly without the need for an adaptor. In choosing a connector, one hint is the color of the cable connector. Grey connectors are typically for mobile devices, and black is for regular audio and camera equipment.

Don’t forget to set the audio levels of your lavalier mic. Your purpose in this step is to prevent overloading the input and a terrible sound. To ensure that your lav’s sound will not distort, get your absolute peak. While the meters are just one tool, your ears are the best meter tools to check if your signal sounds good.

lavalier microphone

Tip # 7: Storage and Care

Lavaliers are tiny, delicate, and can be expensive. This is the reason why they often fail when not given proper handling and care. Avoid wrapping the cable tightly – this is the most mistake lavalier users often commit. Wrapping the small cables tightly forcibly strains the delicate connectors. Instead, wrap the cables loosely. If you have small storage, gently wrap but keep the cables loose.

Get a dedicated case for your lavaliers. Don’t hesitate to invest in one to prevent damage or malfunction on your lavalier buddy. Make sure every essential you need to ensure your lav will function smoothly is in your bag. Being lax and unprepared slows you down and wastes your time.

FAQ

1) How does a lavalier microphone work?

Lav mics connect to a transmitter pack that’s typically attached to the belt of a user. Wireless lavalier mics send their audio feeds directly to a receiver that a sound mixer can control and tune via radio frequencies. There are different types of lav microphones, but the best ones will generate audio that is comparable to that of a normal boom mic.

2) When should I use a lavalier mic?

Lavalier microphones are the best choice for capturing dialogues, and speeches in public, filming, and on television since the mic may be tucked away someplace around the collar or chest. The user is relieved of holding a microphone because of its hands-free operation.

3) How do I reduce the noise generated by clothing rubbing against a lav mic?

Other than ensuring a good mic placement,

Overcovers are effective for most lav placement, you can use overcovers which are small microphone covers designed to mount over lav mics to prevent them from rubbing against clothing or skin. Overcovers have foam pads or fur-covered disks that you can simply stick on the mics.

4) What is the downside of using a lavalier mic?

The fact that lavalier mics can only record audio from one person at a time is their main drawback. To ensure that everyone who has to talk has their own microphone, you will either need to purchase several lavalier microphones. Of course, you can set the lav mic in the midst of your subjects, but the audio quality will suffer.
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To Sum It Up

What else is your lav mic for if you don’t want it to give you a wonderful performance? The absolute maximum I would suggest you need to have all the time is extra windscreens. Small as they are, they get lost easily and without them, your sound will suffer. Of course, don’t forget extra mic clips, medical tape (for securing your lavalier), and extra batteries.

I  hope the tips above will enlighten and help you make the most out of your lav mic, lapel mic, collar mic, body mic, clip mic…. whew… whatever you call it.

You might want to read about wireless headphones with microphones. Click here.

Do you have something to add to these tips? How lovely it would be to hear your comments.