In this guide, we’ll cover five of the best lavalier mics for film. A lavalier microphone is a must-have in the filmmaker toolkit. Especially for entry-level videographers, lav mics work wonders on production value and are ideal audio solutions for a one-person crew. Read more about lavs and how to use them here.

The following lavalier mics are in the budget category, and geared towards beginners. Keep in mind that these mics were picked out because they are all well-reviewed. Rather than a first to worst ranking, this guide will cover under which circumstances each of these affordable mics shine. If at some point reading through the minutiae of comparison and tech specs becomes overwhelming, remember that any one of the following mics are sure to improve the life of the everyday videographer.

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Short on Time? Here’s Our Top 3

Best Lavalier for Tight Budgets

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Best Value Wired Lavalier

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Best Value Wireless Lavalier

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5 of the Best Lavalier Mics for Film (Entry-level)

XLR Lavalier Microphone MAONO AU-XLR10 6.39ft Phantom Power High Sensitivity and Flat Frequency Metal Omnidirectional Lapel Mic for Zoom, Camcorders, Canon, Sony, Panasonic, Tascam

Maono AU-XLR10

Maono Technology Co. was established in 2014 in Shengzen, China. Maono’s website emphasizes their focus on the new generation “who like to podcast themselves and [share] their moments on the internet.” For being a relatively young company, Maono has had pretty rapid success, establishing a wide range of audio products with a strong foothold in global distribution.

Just try to beat the Maono AU-XLR10 price tag. The fact that you can get a very inexpensive microphone with a strong output, low self-noise and durable metal construction is crazy. If you need a cheap XLR output mic, this is a great place to start. 

At this cost, the Maono takes the pressure out of pinching pennies. If this mic doesn’t end up fitting your needs, your wallet may not even notice. It might actually feel pretty good to turn around and gift this mic in support of your niece’s YouTube unboxing channel aspirations.

Features & Specs

  • Output: XLR
  • Pickup pattern: omni-directional
  • Power requirements: 48V phantom power
  • Cable length: 10 ft (6 m)
  • Accessories: two foam windscreens, alligator clip, carrying pouch 
  • Warranty: 12 months
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Deity V.Lav

Deity’s company attitude is unabashed. “We just want to make really cool gear for people who get excited about creating content… We make microphones; damn-good microphones.” Another relatively recent startup, Deity Microphones has broken into the audio gear industry with about a dozen well-received products. Deity also has a huge social media presence on YouTube and Facebook with a neat pop-culture approach to teaching their users professional audio technique. 

Deity V.Lav Pre-Polarized Lavalier Lapel Microphone Omnidirectional Condenser Mic for DSLRs,Camcorders,Smartphones,Handy Recorders, Laptop, Bodypack Transmitters,Tablets

Deity hails the V.Lav as the world’s first real smart lav. The feature they’re highlighting is a built-in microprocessor that automatically adapts the TRRS plug to work with most 3.5mm jack devices. This means that you don’t have to worry about the V.Lav not being compatible with your camera, camcorder, smartphone, audio recorder, laptop, wireless transmitters, or tablets. The microprocessor does require 2 LR41 cell batteries but they are included. Unless you’re running this mic every day and night for a month, I don’t expect you’d ever have to replace them. This feature may or may not be a big deal to you if you are only using a phone as a recorder. But, if you plan on using this mic with a wide variety of 3.5mm jack devices like your camera or audio recorder, the V.Lav is a great choice. 

As far as sound quality, you will obviously get cleaner, clearer quality from pro-level mics ranging from $100-$400, but for the money the V.Lav is a good value. Noise floor tests are low and a little audio editing with high pass filters will take it even lower. Some users don’t love the excess cable length, but maybe your cat will let you borrow a couple twist ties.

Features & Specs

  • Output: TRRS 3.5mm
  • Pickup pattern: omni-directional
  • Power requirements: LR41 cell batteries x 2 (800+ hours) and device power
  • Cable length: 16 ft (5 m)
  • Accessories: faux fur windscreen, alligator clip, LR41 batteries, carrying pouch, cleaning cloth
  • Warranty: 18 months
View & Check Price at Amazon!

Rode SmartLav+ Omnidirectional Lavalier Microphone for iPhone and Smartphones, Black

Rode smartLav+

You’d be hard-pressed to find an audio gear blog post that doesn’t mention at least one Rode product. A giant in the microphone industry, Rode is an Australian company that’s been around since 1990. Rode really took off around 2008 with the advent of DSLR camera’s increasing capacity for cinema-quality video. Since then Rode has been a constant audio companion to a new breed of filmmaker and a self-described “global powerhouse in pro audio.” It’s no surprise that one of their mics qualifies as one of the best entry-level lavalier mics for film.

Built specifically to work with Apple and Android mobile devices, the Rode smartLav+ used to be the 3.5 mm output mic to own. But in case you haven’t noticed, more and more smartphones have traded out the 3.5mm input in favor of USB-C and lightning cable inputs. If you have an iPhone 8 and managed not to lose that little 3.5mm adapter included with your phone, the mic will still work great. If not, prepare to adapt. In addition to needing a phone adapter, the TRRS plug will not work with standard TRS 3.5mm inputs on most cameras and audio recorders. If you’re planning on using the smartLav+ with them, a TRRS to TRS adapter is also required. 

If you’re able to stomach a couple more adapters in your life, the smartLav+ has excellent sound quality with the backing of a reputable brand. But after all the adaptation, I wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to pick a mic that has a little worse audio quality (that you may not even notice), that does the job more efficiently, and that does it at half the cost.

Features & Specs

  • Output: TRRS 3.5 mm
  • Pickup pattern: omni-directional
  • Power requirements: device power
  • Cable length: 4 ft (1 m)
  • Accessories: foam windscreen, alligator clip, carrying pouch
  • Warranty: 12 months
View & Check Price at Amazon!

Fifine Wireless Microphone System

Fifine Microphone was established in 2009 and is a US based company. Fifine sells a range of USB and wireless microphones all of which are listed under $100. For several years, their USB mic has sat comfortably as the best-selling computer microphone online.

FIFINE Wireless Microphone System, Wireless Microphone set with Headset and Lavalier Lapel Mics, Beltpack Transmitter and Receiver,Ideal for Teaching, Preaching and Public Speaking Applications-K037B

Unfortunately, the convenience that wireless gear affords is generally unaffordable. Some of the top-of-line systems used on set in Hollywood productions easily tap out at several thousand dollars. The fact that any wireless system qualifies in the budget mic category makes the Fifine Wireless Microphone System all the more interesting.

While the sound quality of the actual mic isn’t amazing, Fifine transmitters have a decent range and the ability to hop between 20 different frequencies. This is actually fairly impressive considering that $300+ systems like the RodeLink Filmmaker Kit are limited to one channel. The Fifine system comes with two mics, one traditional clip-on mic and one headset mic. In my opinion, the headset mic would probably get more use as a movie prop than as a mic I would actually use during a shoot, but for somebody’s purposes it might be nice to have. 

If you are ready to upgrade to an affordable lav mic but don’t have the time or patience to mess around with cables, but also don’t mind spending a few minutes cleaning up the audio in post, then the Fifine wireless system should be a great fit. 

Features & Specs

  • Output: ¼” TRS plug with ¼” to ⅛” adapter
  • Pickup pattern: omni-directional
  • Power requirements: 4 x AA batteries (two for transmitter, two for receiver)
  • Wireless range: 40-65ft (12-18m)
  • Accessories: clip-on microphone, headset microphone, body pack transmitter, receiver with ¼” plug, alligator clip, windscreen, ¼” to ⅛” TRS adapter, ¼” to ⅛” TRRS adapter
  • Warranty: N/A
View & Check Price at Amazon!

Movo WMIC50 2.4GHz Wireless Lavalier Microphone System with Integrated 164-foot Range Antenna (Includes Transmitter with Belt Clip, Receiver with Camera Shoe, Lapel Mic and 2 Earphones)

MOVO WMIC50 Wireless Lavalier Microphone System

Movo is based in Los Angeles, a location they warmly embrace. Their website talks a lot about enabling more creators to do what they do best by providing quality products at accessible prices. For better or worse, Movo has diversified their product portfolio across audio, video, photography, and smartphone gear more widely than any other company on this list.

Okay, now here’s a product where you can truly appreciate the companies who are willing to take a chance being seen as selling “budget-friendly” gear while still delivering truly quality products. 

Honestly, I’m such a big fan of going wireless that I’d just stop here and suggest you buy yourself the Movo WMIC 50. The audio quality is good and self-noise is low, easily as good or better than the wired mics we’ve reviewed up to this point. Movo undersells their wireless range at 200 ft, but I’ve seen tests with the audio still coming in strong up to 600 ft. Pairing the transmitter and receiver is simple and battery life is long enough to last for 4-hour shoots. The only feature I wish was included is some sort of display on the receiver that indicates a signal and volume, but again– price.

If you are able to jump the gap between the Fifine and Movo systems, I would definitely spend more for the perks of the Movo WMIC 50. All of things make this one one of the best lavalier mics for film if you’re a beginner.

Features & Specs

  • Output: 3.5mm TRS plug
  • Pickup pattern: omni-directional
  • Power requirements: 4 x AAA batteries (two for transmitter, two for receiver)
  • Wireless range: 200 ft (60 m)
  • Accessories: transmitter w/ belt clip, receiver w/ camera shoe and tripod mount, lav microphone, and two earphones, 3.5mm and TRS audio signal cable receiver with ¼” plug, and alligator clip
  • Warranty: 12 months
View & Check Price at Amazon!

How to Pick the Best Lavalier Mic for Film (Entry-level)

Microphones can be tricky to work with and purchasing the right one for you can also present a challenge, especially when shopping online. Let’s take a look at what factors you should consider when searching for the best lavalier mics for film production.

Audio quality

The most feature-rich mic is still pretty worthless if at the end of the day it doesn’t sound better than your camera’s built-in microphone. That’s why you’re here, taking another step up in production value, right?

The irony is that the most important feature about lav mics is something with which they all come standard. They are all going to sound better than the built-in microphone by virtue of being closer to the source.

Sure, there are differences in noise-floors and self-noise, but those differences are slight. If you can’t immediately notice the difference between a $20, $100 and $400 mic, don’t sweat it. You probably aren’t a pro audio engineer, so you don’t really need to.

Chances are that as you level up your filmmaking you’ll start to work with those people whose passion it is to detect those slight differences and make sure you don’t have to worry about them. For now, put your money towards the other features/accessories that come bundled with lav mics that will make your life easier and your next job more fun. 

Microphone head size

Depending on the nature of the assignment, the size of the microphone head can make your job quite easy or quite difficult. The smaller the mic the easier it is to hide and the less likely it is to become a distraction in your productions.

This is actually one of the most dramatic differences between budget mics and pro-tier mics. Mics under $100 tend to be about the size of a dime, where the best industry standard lavalier mics for film are small enough to fit inside the hole of a button.

If you anticipate being on a lot of shoots where the atmosphere is more professional, you’ll probably want to look into mic heads with smaller profiles. This is especially true if you need to shoot outdoors and the fuzz ball of a windscreen looks like a small animal is nesting on your subject’s chest. 

Accessories

Some people may tell you that the little bits and bobs that companies throw together with their mic bundles aren’t important.

But little technicalities like a camera’s incompatibility with a TRRS plug kind of throws a wrench in your ability to record audio. This makes those “tossed-in” cable adapters quite essential pieces of gear in your toolbox.

Sure, a bonus microfiber cloth probably isn’t going to be that helpful to a lav. But discovering you have to go back online, spend extra bucks, and wait for an accessory that wasn’t included in the first place is worse than being over-accessorized. Just remember to do your homework, find out what you need, and save the supplier the extra packaging.

Build quality

The best lavalier mics for film can handle being dropped by talent who’ve forgotten they are wearing it just as readily as you (the professional) will let it slip through your greasy fingers. It happens to the best of us, but maybe lay off the reception buffet breadsticks, huh?

Kevlar reinforced cables may seem like overkill but you wouldn’t send a pre-Iron Man Tony Stark into a warzone without a bulletproof vest, would you? Don’t underestimate how much abuse lavalier mics are subject to.

Wireless range/transmission

Much like the Force, RF (radio frequency) energy is a field created by all powered things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the modern world together.

More often than not, you will find yourself in RF-rich environments like office spaces, households, and other public spaces. Computers, phones, lightbulbs, pretty much anything powered, and even cosmic radiation are responsible for our environmental noise.

While a wireless system can change your life and give you more mobility than you ever dreamed, you have to keep RF interruptions in mind. Physical barriers like buildings and walls can cut your range shorter than your range would be if you were out on an open country road.

Don’t let yourself be driven mad by the persistent buzz in your audio made possible by the nearby “snakehole_lounge” wifi router.  The best lavalier mics for film will have quality circuitry and a thoughtful design to reduce the noise. If you are going wireless, choose a system that has a good reputation for compensating and adapting to the RF activity that is all around us. 

Wrap-Up: Best Lavalier Mic for Film (Entry-level)

If this is your first lav mic purchase, feel free to get excited that this leap in audio quality will open up more doors to more jobs and better pay. Nine of out ten clients won’t care which mic you picked but that your work sounds professional. Good lav mics do that.

If you’re like me maybe you’re asking, “well then shouldn’t I just spring for that $600 Sony wireless system and rest knowing I’ve got the best thing out there? Or why not even a high-end shotgun mic?”

While I understand that thinking, just consider that when you skip over the entry-level gear you actually rob yourself of the opportunity to fully appreciate that pro-tier equipment when you really need it.

In the lyrical wisdom of Lucius’ “Dusty Trails”: “If we skipped ahead to our pre-fulfilled dreams we’d be lost without our own advice.”