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What is a Lapel Microphone?

By David White
Updated May 16, 2024
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A lapel microphone is a very handy tool for those speaking in public. It attaches to clothing and takes the place of a more static-position microphone. The small mic can amplify a voice and ensure quality communication with very little extra equipment.

By its very nature, a lapel microphone is quite small. It has a powerful reach and yet is small enough to be held between two fingers. It doesn’t have an unlimited range, however, and must be attached to clothing within a foot or two of the mouth. The microphone is most often placed on the flap of a button-down or polo shirt or to the top part of a blouse or other kind of shirt or top.

Often, the microphone is plugged into a console clipped to the belt or otherwise attached to clothing. As long as the lapel microphone is plugged into the console, the person’s words are transmitted outward so that others can hear. In this way, the user is dependent on that console, which must be switched on and have a fully charged battery.

A wireless option is available for the lapel microphone as well. The microphone is attached to clothing near the mouth, as usual, but the wired connection between it and the transmitting console is severed in favor of wireless transmission. A wireless mic can take advantage of cutting-edge technology such as Bluetooth®, but the transmission is commonly powered using older technologies. Common users of wireless microphones include those giving public speeches or public music concerts.

A lapel microphone can be used for public speaking, as described above. It can also be used for more private conversations. Those who use a two-way radio find these microphones very useful because they can eliminate the need for using hands at all in order to use the two-way radio. The receiving console can be clipped to the belt or waist, and the mic can be attached to upper-body clothing.

One thing that is common to every lapel microphone is that they need to be in range of the transmitter in order to work. If you have a wired version, then you are naturally in range. Having a wireless version still requires you to stay within range, even if you don’t always remember it.

Frequency ranges are getting wider all the time, but reception still requires diligence. In addition, a lapel microphone sometimes operates on a frequency shared by other broadcasters, either audio or video. In a few metropolitan areas in the U.S., HDTV broadcasts interfere with the transmissions.

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Discussion Comments
By anon153066 — On Feb 16, 2011

To make presentations using laptops to small groups of people (say 15 to 20) can't I get a lapel / collar mike wirelessly connecting to the laptop which then can transmit to small speakers connected through cable to laptop.

By anon85296 — On May 19, 2010

Hey anon80731, you could try and find a little speaker to hang on each child, but that would cost you more than finding a small powered sound system.

The signal from each lapel microphone would transmit to a channel on a mixer then to a loud speaker.

My recommendation is to contact sweetwater sound. I don't work for them. They are good at giving you advice and helping you stay in your budget.

By anon80731 — On Apr 28, 2010

I know this sounds ignorant, but let's say my students are using lapel mics for a play. What do I need for the sound to be projected to the audience? Can the sound come from something attached to the kids or do I need some sort of wireless speaker for the audience?

By felicial — On Mar 23, 2009

I need a wireless lapel mic system for occasional lectures. Please let me know what the entire system is composed of and if it can be used with your computer instead of a music system or if there are small transmitters available. The largest room used will be no more than 30 feet square.

I also need prices and shipping charges to the Caribbean.

By mnlelz — On Jul 29, 2007

i would like to ask how much would the total package costs - the microphone, transmitter/transmmitting device and any other hard ware needed.

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