Lavalier Microphone Comparison
Published on January 7, 2013
Today I'm answering another common question I've received. This one has to do with low-cost audio for video. Here it is:
"What is a good low-cost wireless lavalier microphone for a video beginner?"
There are many, many wireless lavalier microphone options out there, but this video will show you one: the Azden WLX-Pro.
(By the way, I got this video from the membership library. If you're not already a member, you're missing out on lots of great info.)
Why Did I Choose This Wireless Lavalier Microphone System?
Choices are hard. There are zillions of options out there. So why did I land on the Azden WLX-Pro system? A few reasons:
- It has a very, very low cost (about $150).
- It has mostly positive reviews from buyers.
- I'm under the impression that many people in my audience are beginners with video, so I thought this might be a viable possibility for newer video shooters (because of the low cost).
What factors did I compare?
There's a lot that goes into getting great audio for video.
While I looked at several things, the most important factors to me are sound quality and wireless transmission distance.
In the video you'll hear there's a big difference in audio quality between the low-cost Azden system and the mid-range Sennheiser system (Note: I'm shortening the mid-range system to "Sennheiser" even though just the transmitter and receiver were from Sennheiser and the microphone was from DPA).
Even though you can understand what I'm saying with the Azden system, the quality isn't nearly as good as the mid-range Sennheiser system. I would describe the quality as "flat" or "lifeless" with the low-cost Azden system.
There are two quality issues here. First, the Azden microphone capsule itself is lower quality, so that affects the audio of course. But also, the wireless system reduces the audio quality as well. My guess is part of the quality problem is the mic pre-amp in the Azden.
I know the quality of the wireless equipment is lower because I tested using the DPA microphone attached to the Azden wireless sytem, and the quality was still much lower than the mid-range Sennheiser system.
However, even though the quality is lower, you can understand every word of what I'm saying. In other words, it might be a good option for a video beginner.
In the video you'll see that the wireless distance was only 10-20 feet away from the camera with the Azden system. (Naturally this could vary for you depending on your environment, especially other wireless signals creating interference.)
The mid-range Sennheiser system, meanwhile, had a much greater wireless distance. This gives you more flexibility in the kind of content you can shoot successfully.
Is it fair to compare these two wireless lavalier systems?
Is it fair to compare a $150 system with a $1,000 system? Probably not, because they're two very different solutions in two very different price ranges. But if you are someone looking at camcorder microphone options, and you're wondering if the difference is worth it to go mid-range, then hopefully this video will help answer that question.
I think the Azden system might be good for someone who is getting started with video, but it should be used for practicing and personal use. I definitely don't think it should be used for any professional purpose.
This would include any application where you need something reliable. For example, maybe you're shooting your little sister's wedding as a favor (not professionally), but I still wouldn't use this system for the wedding because it's not reliable enough.
You wouldn't want the audio to fail in the middle of the vows. That would be disastrous. For important subjects, use reliable equipment.
This article was last updated on October 6, 2020
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