Lavalier Microphone Comparison

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:

  1. It has a very, very low cost (about $150).
  2. It has mostly positive reviews from buyers.
  3. 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.

Audio Quality

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.

Wireless Distance

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.

28 thoughts on “Lavalier Microphone Comparison

  1. Can you show me the difference between video cameras (3) 1/2″ chip and (3) 1/4″ chips? I am
    going to buy a sony HDR AX 2000. I work for an other company and in order to stay employeed
    I need to purchas a new camera.

    1. Hmm… that’s very specific and not a common request. I guess if I get it a lot in the future I could look into it, but right now I have more pressing subjects to cover. Good luck with the job.

  2. Hi Izzy, 
    Can I use Sennheiser system with my JVC HM150E for recording a group of performers (singers?) at the distance of say 30 metres without iterference please? You would know I have 2 XLR inputs. Thanks, Vic.

  3. early in my carreer i traded sound quality for wireless, but the more i shoot the more I wish I had a wired option, even though I own a Sennheiser g3 wireless. I’d like to know uour thoughts on a reasonable prices wired lav that out performs the low end Azden but isn’t as expensive as the Sennheiser. Maybe a under 100 wired option and a 150-200 option. Thoughts?

    1. I like the Sennheiser MKE2 which runs about $400. And the ME2 for around $150 isn’t too bad. But the DPA 4061 for about $450 is currently my favorite (for my voice).

      Nearly all of the lav mics can be wired as well. You simply detach them from the transmitter and attach an XLR adapter to the mic cable. Sennheiser, DPA, and other manufacturers usually have adapters for this.I prefer wired wherever possible too — unless somebody is doing a lot of walking around. Wired is a lot more predictable and reliable, for sure.

    2. I use Audio-Technica’s wired system with Countryman’s B3 lav’s. Both on location and in the studio. Works really well.

    1. It could be your speakers too. If you listen with even low quality headphones, you should hear a big difference. I definitely hear a big difference, even when I play it on my laptop (which has pretty poor speakers).

  4. Its great that you are touching on the Audio side as it is just as important

    as the video side but most people don’t quite see it yet . The sennhisers G2/G3 are good money for value but the mics  need upgrading to something a little  better. Do you plan on doing any more about audio ?

    1. The reviews are definitely mixed, but you’re not the first person to report you’re getting good results from the Azden system. My personal experience wasn’t amazing, which is why I recommended against using it for professional purposes. Totally okay to disagree. :)

  5. Izzy, I recently bought a H4N, but I also have the Azden system that you demonstrated. My question is, when using the H4N should I run it through the Azden system. Part 2 to my question is-when hooking up the H4N to my 5D Mark II, does it record the audio on camera card and the H4N card?-Thanks-Ron (Lebanon Ohio)

    1. Maybe I’m not 100% clear on your question, but…

      … If you hook the mic receiver to your camera, then yes it will record on your camera’s card.

      … If you hook it to your H4N, then you’ll be recording to the H4N card.

      Sorry if I misunderstood the question.

      I hope that helps.

  6. In a controlled environment, and as a hobbyist, I can not justify the $1,000 price tag.  The Azden has served well.  I have always wanted a Sennheiser set up, but… I have other things that I need to spend my money on.  The Azden works well for my needs.  The fun I could have with about $10k to spend on toys.

  7. Hi again Izzy, I have placed a question (Vilko….) to you on 01.07.2013 and am still waiting for your answer please. Need a good quality sound recording using wireless Sennheiser (or DPA4061) system. Yours or anybodys answer with experience would be welcomed.
    Thanks again, Vilko.

      1. Thanks Izzy,
        As recomended by Sennheiser’s agent (2 x ew 100 ENG G3, 2 x K6 + ME64s, 2 x MZW64s plus some other minor items) the whole system would cost me about 3800 dolars, not a small amount, it’s worth asking the questions.
        Yours, Vilko Terebuh. 

  8. Hello Izzy,
    I’d like to know if there is anyway to download video from a DVD into FCE or iMovie in order to make edit changes.  Then burn onto another DVD.  I made the original DVD using FCE and iDVD

  9. Could you please tell me which Sennheiser kit you purchased for use in this demonstration video? The two sets which are about $600 and look like the Sennheiser system you demonstrated are the ew 112 p G3 set and the ew 122 p G3 set, which are different only because they include different lav mics. Did you not like the included lav mic in the Sennheiser kit your purchased? Which Sennheiser lav did you get, the ME 2 or the ME 4? Why didn’t you like the mic?

    1. The kit I purchased is no longer available. I got it several years ago. It’s an evolution wireless system, and it came (I believe) with the ME2 microphone. That mic was okay, but I didn’t love the sound from it, so I tried a few others and finally settled on the DPA lav mic. I had to also get adapters to attach the DPA mic to the wireless system, but it was worth it for me.

      Anyway, I hope that helps…

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