Lavalier Mics: A Roundup

By Dan Daley

The world may not be getting smaller, but lavalier microphones are. Here’s a look at the latest models and their capabilities.

Sanken
The popular COS-11 ultra-mini series of lavs was extended in January with the arrival of the COS-11D and is designed to address issues regarding digital and hybrid digital/analog wireless transmission. The microphone was tested with Lectrosonics’ UM700 digital modulation transmitter and found to be artifact-free. The omnidirectional transducer self-polarized condenser has a 50-Hz to 20-kHz frequency range. The unit comes in the PT (pigtail) version ($314 for COS-11xPT analog transmitter, $349 for the digital COS-11DPT transmitters) with standard sensitivity. The terminated Red Mark model with reduced sensitivity is $374.

Audio-Technica
AT899 subminiature omnidirectional condenser lavalier ($315) is engineered for extremely intelligible, accurate voice reproduction. Its low-profile design (just 5 mm in diameter) ensures minimum visibility. It offers the option of battery or phantom power; its switchable low-frequency rolloff (80 Hz, 12 dB/octave) reduces popping. Sensitivity using phantom power is -43 dB (7.0 mV) re 1 V at 1 Pa; using battery power, it’s -46 dB (5.0 mV) re 1V at 1 Pa. Maximum inputs sound level: 138 dB SPL, 1 kHz at 1% THD (phantom power); 116 dB SPL, 1 kHz at 1% THD (Battery). S/N ratio is 64 dB, 1 kHz at 1 Pa.

Sony
ECM-88B miniature omnidirectional electret condenser lavalier microphone ($631) is designed for extremely low handling noise in studio broadcast and field production. A flat-and-wide frequency response (20-20,000 Hz) provides natural sound reproduction, and a dual-diaphragm mechanism contributes to high sensitivity and wide dynamic range (99 dB plus). Best suited for wired lav use, it comes with a DC-78 power supply and a cable length of 8.2 ft. Its four-pin connector can also be used with certain Sony wireless body-pack transmitters. The ECM-77B lavalier model ($474) is designed to be inconspicuous in studio and ENG/EFP use, with a frequency response of 40-20,000 Hz, and can run on either AA battery or phantom power.

Sennheiser
MKE1 omnidirectional subminiature lavalier ($750) features a new protective membrane for better resistance against sweat and moisture, a small (3.3-mm) capsule diameter, high maximum sound pressure level at 142 dB, a Kevlar-reinforced cable with anti-kink sleeve, and Teflon coating to minimize handling noise and provide more protection against breaks in the cable. Sensitivity is 5 mV / Pa ±2.5 dB, with a frequency response of 20-20,000 Hz ±2.5 dB.

MKE2 Gold subminiature omnidirectional lavalier’s ($573.30) Umbrella Diaphragm delivers moisture-resistant performance with high audio quality identical to that of the industry-standard MKE 2 lavalier. An extremely thin (0.000014-inch) low-mass diaphragm exhibits transient response yielding high intelligibility. The microphone also comes with two additional sound-inlet caps to tailor the high frequency, affording various mounting positions. Sensitivity is rated 5 mV/Pa ±3 dB, with a frequency response of 20-20,000 Hz ±2.5 dB.

MKE 100 Modular Lavalier Series allows maximum flexibility: capsules for the ME102 omnidirectional, ME104 cardioid, and ME105 supercardioid microphone ($504 each) can be quickly interchanged between straight or right-angle cables terminated with a wide variety of available connectors. It is a cost-effective solution for those who need to use lavaliers in both wired and wireless applications or interface among several different types of wireless transmitters.

Shure
WL51 lavalier microphone series ($316.17) is a small (5.8 mm diameter x 11 mm height) unidirectional electret condenser cardioid with one termination: four-pin mini connector (fits directly into Shure wireless transmitters). High boost equalization caps included for optimal clarity and response provides a 10-dB boost centered at 12 kHz. Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz.

WL50 lavalier microphone series ($316.17) is the omnidirectional version. A silver mesh cap provides a 4-dB boost in the 8- to 18-kHz range; gold mesh cap provides a 10-dB boost centered at 12 kHz. Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz.