It’s been quite a while since I blogged about audio and video production. So, I’ll take advantage of an email I received from Robin Browne to let this one slip in.
In his email, Robin says he’s been using the internal microphones in his Zoom H2 portable digital recorder to capture presentations with good results and hoping to take it to the next level — excellent audio. He asks for recommendations, perhaps a wireless lapel mic, to get a high quality recording of a speaker at a conference or other such event.
While a wireless lapel mic offers freedom for the speaker, remember that it adds complexity for you as an audio engineer. You’ll need an electrical outlet and an out-of-the-way place to put extra equipment (the receiver station for the wireless mic) in addition to the cabling and audio recorder.
A decent quality wireless lapel mic starts around $500. The good quality ones are more than $800. Contrast that with a good wired lapel mic which is about $300. It’s not ideal to tether the speaker to a spot, however you might be able to work with a willing speaker to limit their movements to a specific area within reach of the cables you buy. By the way, I’m partial to Audio-Technica lapel mics, though I have rented Sennheiser and Shure lapel mics with good results.
Remember that no matter which type of mic system you decide on, always buy good quality cables. This is particularly true if you’re connecting to a mini-plug input like on the Zoom H2 recorder, though it remains true for XLR and quarter-inch inputs as well. Another rule of thumb is to go with the shortest possible cables. Of course, if you think you’ll need a 25 foot reach, don’t restrict yourself to a 10 foot cable — just be sure that you invest in a better quality cable to avoid signal loss.