How to Use a Lavalier Microphone When Shooting a Marketing Video - dummies

How to Use a Lavalier Microphone When Shooting a Marketing Video

By Kevin Daum, Bettina Hein, Matt Scott, Andreas Goeldi

If your marketing video features a sit-down interview or a (mostly) stationary speaker, one mic makes the perfect accessory for your subject’s business attire: the lavalier microphone. This clip-on mic attaches easily to a tie or collar or lapel for close-up sound with hands-free operation. Placing the mic properly is important for the best sound quality.


The lavalier (or “lav” or body mic) is a popular choice for segments featuring “talking heads.” Roughly the size of a paper clip, and sporting a small alligator clip, it can be attached close to the subject’s mouth to produce clear, uniform sound without picking up background noise.

You can make the lavalier invisible by nestling it among the subject’s clothing and then easily shoot on your own, without other crew members present. If you’re traveling and have your camera and lavalier with you, you can easily set up a professional-looking — and professional-sounding — interview. The lavalier truly makes for a pocket-size video studio.

You have two lavalier choices:

  • Wired: A wired lavalier is the most affordable and the easiest type to use. A thin cable is typically attached to a 1/8-inch miniplug. After you attach the mic, simply run the cable to your camera and plug the cable into the mic jack. Most available cables are long enough to accommodate the correct distance between your camera and your subject. If not, extension cables are available from your local electronics store.

  • Wireless: The mic itself is the same as the wired version, except that the cable runs into a small transmitter pack. The pack can be hidden on the subject, either in a pocket or attached to a belt. The transmitter sends the audio to a small receiver, which has a miniplug that connects to your camera.

A wireless lavalier gives you more freedom from cables running across the floor but has its share of challenges also. The sound it provides isn’t always as good as sound from a wired lavalier, and sometimes the transmitter picks up outside interference, such as radio signals. Also, you should charge the transmitter batteries before every shooting day because the transmitter eats up battery power fast.

Here’s the best way to place a lavalier mic:

  1. Place the subject where you want him positioned in the camera frame.

  2. Position the mic about six to eight inches from the subject’s mouth.

    A spot on the person’s chest usually works best.

  3. Attach the mic clip to an article of clothing.

    Make sure that the mic has a clear line to the subject’s mouth — that’s where the sound is coming from, after all.

  4. Check the audio level by having the subject speak normally while you’re using headphones.

    Check the volume level, and make sure that you hear no unwanted sound, such as the subject’s breathing or the rustle of clothing.

  5. Readjust the mic’s position, if necessary.