Getting the Most out of Your Lavaliere Mics

Whether tethered to a cord or tied to a transmitter, the little lav captures clean dialogue without casting shadows or cluttering the shot.
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One of the most undersized and under-appreciated tools in every videographer’s kit is the lavaliere microphone. Whether tethered to a cord or tied to a transmitter, the little lav captures clean dialogue without casting shadows or cluttering the shot.

Here are a few ways to make sure you get the most from your mini-mic.

Choose sides carefully. The preferred mounting location for most situations is the subject’s lapel, where a lav can be clipped quickly in place and the cord tucked out of sight under a coat or sweater. Always consider which way the subject is going to be looking and flip the clip, if necessary, to ensure that the mic is on the same side of the body that the person will be facing.

Dress up. Always make a tiny loop and route the mic cable up just outside the hinge on the mic clip and then back down behind the clothing so the spring clip clamps it in place. This helps keep the cable neatly out of sight.

Clear the field. Scarves, necklaces and unbuttoned overcoats are all potential problems if they can make intermittent contact with the mic when the subject walks or becomes animated while speaking. Always make sure that clothing and jewelry can't move far enough to touch the mic. Shoulder-length hair is another potential “gotcha” when it flips over a shoulder and onto the mic the first time the subject turns her head.

Break the wind. Lav mics are highly susceptible to wind noise. And those tiny windscreens are easy to lose. Store windscreens in an old film canister or pill bottle when not in use. BTW, most pro-audio stores stock tiny foam screens that are inexpensive replacements for the fancy metal one that came with the mic.

Don’t get kinky. Gently coil a lav mic cable when not in use. Wrapping these tiny wires snugly around their companion body-pack transmitters causes permanent kinks which deform the cables and make them much harder to conceal under someone’s clothing.