Noisy environments are always a challenge
when it comes to picking up
good audio. This is particularly true
when the noise seems to come from everywhere.
Convention floors full of talking people,
noisy restaurants, industrial locations
with machinery, even TV studios with loud
HVAC systems can raise the noise floor. And
when that audio gets compressed and limited
for broadcasting, the noise isn’t on the
floor anymore, it’s unpleasantly up around
Live events that require a public address
system to amplify voices can also be a challenge.
With omni lavalier microphones, you
can only turn up the p.a. so far before the
mics start picking up p.a. audio, making the
sound diffuse and echoey. And if the p.a.
gain is increased a little more you’re into
If you don’t want to go handheld or head/
ear-worn mics, one solution might be the
low-profile Countryman B2D hypercardioid
lav. At just 2.5mm in diameter (about the size
of a No. 2 pencil lead), it’s smaller than many
omni lavs. Video producers like that.
The Countryman B2D is available in
five different colors; white, black and three
shades of light to dark skin tones. It also
comes in three sensitivities: B2DW4 (grey
band), B2DW5 (red band) and B2DW6 (blue
band). The standard B2DW4 is the most sensitive
at 6.0 mV/Pascal. The overload sound
level is 120 dB SPL. This mic is the choice for
The mid-sensitivity B2DW5 (red band)
sports a lower sensitivity (2.0 mV/Pascal)
and an overload sound level point of 130 dB
SPL. It’s more useful when worn closer to
the face where the voice would be louder.
(This could be on a pair of tricked out spectacles
or in the hairline of a
The B2DW6 (blue band)
is the least sensitive (0.6
mV/Pascal) and its overload
sound level is 140 dB SPL.
It’s probably the way to go if
you’re mic-ing opera singers
or South American soccer
All small diaphragm lavs
have more self-noise than
lavs with larger diaphragms.
If you’re in a really quiet environment,
you’ll hear this as
hiss. However, if your ambient
noise is high enough, it
will mask the self-noise.
The Countryman microphone people
have designed their five-foot mic cables to
end with a threaded fitting, and this fitting
mates with a large variety of optional connectors:
XLR, Hirose 4-pin, Switchcraft TA3F/
TA4F/TA5F, 3.5 mm locking plug, LEMO
3-pin, and the like, allowing it to work with a
variety of popular wireless transmitters and
Connectors may also be ordered that
feed just one channel through a 1/8-inch
miniature TRS plug.
As these terminations are simple screw
on/off, you can use the same mic with different
terminations for different setups—hardwired
one day or wireless the next.
These cables are thicker and more robust
than the Countryman B6 mic cabling, which
claims that they can withstand a tug of 45
pounds. They look and feel as if they will last
a long time and are also flexible and easy to
As the mic is directional, making sure that
it’s placed correctly is absolutely essential.
There are three different clips: single mic,
double mic and single magnetic backmount.
Common to all is a swivel that allows the
mic or mics to be properly aimed at the talent’s
face after the clip has been secured.
Without this feature, the B2D would be difficult
to use as it’s possible that the mic may
not be aimed properly. All of the B2D mics
come with the standard single clip.
These clips also have a small cable hanger
that acts as a strain relief and a sound block
to dampen vibrations that might attempt to
make their way up the cable to the microphone.
The mics also have small sections
of plastic tubing surrounding the cable that
help snug the cable into the hanger without
causing wear to the cable itself.
Clips for the dual lav and magnetic single
lav units are optional. All of the clips come in
five different colors.
In addition to not picking up as much
ambient noise and reducing the possibility
of feedback, the hypercardioid response pattern
results in less spill or bleed from other
voices when mic-ing multiple talent. Some
consideration, though must be made as to
where the unwanted sound is coming from.
For example, using a B2D with a noisy HVAC
duct directly above the talent will probably
not provide the best results, as the mic will
hear the talent’s voice and anything else it’s
pointed at (in this case, airflow and duct
I found that the Countryman B2D performed
as expected. I tried it out in a local
eatery and it noticeably reduced the din, including
the low frequency hum from nearby
refrigerators that my omni lav picked up
very well. And while I didn’t get the chance
to check, I suspect the BD2 mic may reduce
desk bounce noise as well.
With the microphone clipped onto a talent’s
tie or centered about two buttons on
his or her shirtfront, I found the falloff from
head turns to be tolerable to about the 60
degree point. When the speaker’s head was
turned beyond that (70 to 90 degrees) there
was noticably more level falloff, but in fairness
you’d certainly experience some fall off
from an omni lav as well. I was surprised on
one of my tests, however, where I had the
mic mounted at tee-shirt collar height, just
under the speaker’s chin. In that particular
setup, the B2D’s pickup and sound were
very good. Maybe I got lucky.
If noise is the problem, then with an intelligent
application, the Countryman B2D can
improve your studio or field audio. It’s built
tougher than some other lavs that I’ve used
and it’s definitely worth a listen.
Ty Ford has been reviewing professional
audio gear for over 20 years. Find out
more about him at www.tyford.com.
Small, directional, hypercardioid
response pattern, available in five
colors and three sensitivities