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Lavalier Mic - Up or Down?

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Josh Smith
Lavalier Mic - Up or Down?
on Mar 17, 2013 at 3:09:49 pm

Hi everyone,

I have a shoot coming up in a couple of days that involves filming a lecturer in a lecture theatre, giving a... well, a lecture.

I have a Sennheiser ME 2 Lavalier Mic (Omni-Directional) wireless system that I plan to use for the audio. My question is - do I place the mic facing towards the speaker's mouth, or downwards instead? What's the real difference? I know the mic is an omni - but surely it makes some difference to the sound quality, as no microphone picks up sound from directly behind it? The speaker has a fairly deep, sort of boomy voice, if that makes any difference.

Any help is greatly received!



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Fernando Mol
Re: Lavalier Mic - Up or Down?
on Mar 17, 2013 at 9:43:12 pm

Do a test!

I'll point any mic towards the mouth, but with an omni you can also point it to any side.

For the deep voice, just don't place it too down in the chest or it will pick up the sound from the body more than from the mouth.

And don't place it over the neck.

I hope this helps

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David Eaks
Re: Lavalier Mic - Up or Down?
on Mar 18, 2013 at 9:44:30 pm

Did a little research and came up with this (though I've never clipped any Lav mic pointing away from the mouth).

-If you don't know the lecturers speaking habits and are in an uncontrolled environment. Or for example they do have a tendency to look down and exhale heavily through the nose or they are very active speakers constantly turning to extreme left/right, engaging all of the audience. Pointing it down and using a clip that creates a loop in the wire can help to eliminate many potential problems.

-If the speaker is very calm and rehearsed. They just look forward and speak in a clear tone. The environment is silent and controlled, then clip on the mic "so it looks nice on video" (with audio still in mind, of course).

In any case, be sure to record sound from another mic as well. If its a one camera shoot, the on-camera shotgun on CH1 and Lav on CH2 will at least give a fail safe in case there is a problem with the wireless. I generally prefer to place my wireless receiver close as close as possible to the speaker, like just off-stage and run XLR back to my setup. It might be preferable to run XLR and place the second mic on a stand closer to the speaker. Then you can mix the two in post to get a good "lecture hall" sound to your liking. As opposed to the dry quality of a lapel only, which I think feels very unnatural in this scenario.

*Edited my post, regardless of the type of mic, I've never placed it upside down pointing away from their mouth.

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Shawn Hughes
Re: Lavalier Mic - Up or Down?
on Mar 19, 2013 at 12:34:05 am

You might also be confused about the name. "Omni" in the case of microphones really only means 180 degrees, or half a sphere on top. For cardoid, imagine the top of a <3 type heart.

Few microphones are designed to capture audio from below/behind the capsule.

Saying that, I have seen mono and stereo lav mikes upside down, so I guess I don't know what I don't know....


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Mark Suszko
Re: Lavalier Mic - Up or Down?
on Mar 19, 2013 at 3:31:01 pm

The first time I saw BBC anchors wearing their lavs pointing downwards, I thought it must be a blooper reel, but you know, if ANYBODY knows sound, its Auntie Beeb.

Pointing it down keeps plosive breath sounds and breathing from rumbling the audio, at only a slight loss of high end and overall level.

One other method used by theatrical types is to put the tiny lav capsule in the crease where the top of the ear joins the head, mounting it with surgical tape and hiding it with the hair and eyeglasses. this has the advantage of keeping the same mouth-to-mic distance no matter where the head is pointing. I like that better than those flesh-colored boom mic things.

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