Let’s Get Small
Lavalier mics, usually feeding a wireless body pack, present a wealth of additional options. In recent years headworn and earworn designs have really come on, but lavs aren’t on their way out any time soon.
Theatrical productions like to conceal miniature lavs in costumes, hairlines and even beards, where they’re virtually invisible. Lavs also make for quick and easy changes between presenters, and some presenters simply don’t like wearing a mic on their head.
Many models also offer the ability to place two mics in a double clip so there is in place, at the ready. These dual setups are most commonly found in theater and broadcast.
As to application guidelines for lavs, I encourage you to check out ProSoundWeb, which offers numerous in-depth articles on the subject, including several that I’ve authored.
Lavs are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, with the trend being as small as possible. Despite shrinking in stature, however, performance is bigger and better than ever. Here’s a look at some interesting models.
Let’s start with Shure WL183 omni, WL184 supercardioid and WL185 cardioid lavs, which folks who work in audio see often at shows (although the audiences barely see them).
These workhorses are rugged, have adjustable clips and snap-fit windscreens, and pick up quite well. Both cardioid types are popular for live presentations, while the omni type is deployed for recording applications.
Another predominant choice is the Sennheiser MKE2, which has been around almost as long as I have yet delivers thoroughly modern performance. It’s compact and rugged with a wide frequency response (20 Hz to 20 kHz, +/-3 dB) and comes with a stated SPL rating of 142 dB.
More recent is the ME2, a very small omni clip-on lav with a mini jack for body pack transmitters from the company’s evolution wireless series.
The DPA d:screet line of omni types provides a deep palette of options, including models with high sensitivity, low sensitivity, presence boost and more. A range of wireless system adapters ups the flexibility quotient even further.
And the Slim 4061 really lives up to its name, so small (and very flat) as to be virtually invisible in many situations.
The LC81 MD from AKG’s recently released MicroLite Series is a miniscule cardioid design with a diameter of 4.8 mm, while the LC82 MD omni lav is even smaller at a diameter of just 3 mm. Both are available in four colors.
Audio-Technica offers an impressive range of lav choices, including the AT898 (cardioid) and AT899 (omni), the latter measuring just 0.2-inch (5 mm) in diameter (and the former is not much larger).
Both have a switchable low-frequency roll-off that reduces popping, with an array of accessories making it easy to meet virtually every application.
Countryman makes what’s easily one of smallest directional lavs available in the form of the B2D.
It can be ordered wired to an XLR or terminated for most popular wireless systems.
There are two sensitivity ratings: standard, for most uses; and mid gain, optimized for head miking that’s common in theatre.
A lav I’ve been referred to by colleagues several times is the CO-8WL from Point Source Audio, which is IP57 waterproof rated so it’s built to withstand moisture (sweat, make-up, etc.) that can be quite harmful.
An omni type, it’s really low-profile (just 4 mm in diameter) and thus is easy to hide while being rated to handle SPL of up to 148 dB.
Senior contributing editor Craig Leerman is the owner of Tech Works, a production company based in Las Vegas.