Create a Super Cheap and Super Easy DIY Lavalier Microphone
A lavalier microphone is one of those small microphones that you attach to your shirt for capturing audio when a traditional mic isn’t available. It’s a “remote capture” mic of sorts. They are extremely handy to have when, say, you’re in the workshop trying to narrate your build process (just saying). The problem with them is price. Even wired ones that tether you to your camera tend to start at $99 and go sharply up and wireless variants that give you flexibility to move are far more than that.
Well, I’m about to show you a way of creating a wireless lavalier mic that costs only $10; is super easy to do; and sounds a lot better than you’d expect! As a bonus, it works with your smart phone (iPhone definitely) so it’s inherently wireless. Did I say how super easy it is to make? Super easy.
Here’s what it looks like in action:
Want to hear what it sounds like in real-world use? The following video was narrated using it:
The mic is made out of a set of earbuds that have an integrated microphone, like most earbuds do these days. In fact, you can use whatever set of earbuds you have on hand. I’m going to suggest a specific set, though, because of the price, the ease of modification, and the overall not-bad sound quality. It’s these ones:
They are the Panasonic RPTCM125 earbuds that are available for about $10 at Amazon
“>Amazon. Yes, you’ll be permanently altering them but at $10 how can you go wrong?
You’ll also need some sort of wire cutters (a pair of dykes pictured) and a glue gun (not yet pictured):
Making the Cuts
The handy thing about this particular set of earbuds is that each earbud has a dedicated wire going all the way down to the headphone jack. That makes a far cleaner final product.
Choose the wire that does not have the microphone on it and snip it as close to the headphone jack as possible.
Do NOT make this cut!
Yeah, that’s me just about to snip off the side with the microphone. Good thing I paused to take a picture or else I would have wasted my $10. Oops!
Cut the other wire:
That leaves you with a headphone jack hooked up to one wire that has both the microphone and one earbud. We need to get rid of the earbud. Place your wire cutters just above the microphone and snip:
Yeah, it’s safe to make these two cuts. The microphone doesn’t share any wires with either of the earbuds so all we’re doing is snipping away wires that we’re not going to use at all.
This is what it’ll look like after those cuts.
Pretty clean. If you use other headphones then it might be more obvious that you snipped off one of the wires.
Time for Glue
The microphone works as is but you’ll need to hold it to keep it relatively close to your mouth. Commercial lavalier mics have a clip that you can use to attach it to your shirt. I made my own using a binder clip that is about 3/4″ wide and fits the mic pretty well. No, it’s not anywhere near as professional looking as a commercial product but it does work.
To attach it, just heat up your glue gun and apply a dollop of molten glue to the flat part on the “bottom” of the binder (depending on which part you consider the “top” or “bottom”):
I am holding it with a third hand clamp because I needed to glue and take a picture at the same time. You can just hold the binder clip with your other hand if you don’t have that limitation. Also, you don’t need anywhere near that much glue.
The final step is to just press the back of the microphone into the glue and hold it in place for a few seconds. Within maybe 30 seconds it’ll be firmly in place!
Yeah, the construction is really that simple.
To use it, just thread the cord underneath your shirt and attach the mic somewhere on your chest or near your neck using the binder clip:
I make the recording using the Griffin iTalk app for the iPhone because, well, I have an iPhone and the iTalk allows me to sync the clips via Dropbox. Absolutely any voice recording app will work, including the default one on all smartphones. And yeah, all smartphones should work since it’s not depending on the buttons on the mic to work, just the audio.
Who cares if it’s only $10 if the sound is terrible, though, so the proof is in the pudding. Does it sound good? Yes, much better than you’d think!
But don’t take my word for it; watch the video if you want to see it in action or if you want to just hear what it sounds like, here’s a Soundcloud link:
For a point of comparison, here’s the exact same audio clip recording using a Blue Yet USB microphone (I had both microphones recording at the same time)
It’s surprising to me just how close they are! I mean, yeah, the Blue Yeti clearly has a wider dynamic range captured and is also naturally “louder” but the DIY variant doesn’t sound bad at all. In fact, since I don’t have a pop filter for the Blue Yeti, the sound on the DIY mic actually sounds mildly better on the high end since it lacks the “plosives”.
So all in all, this is a fantastic solution for only $10. Super easy to make and with much better sound than you’d expect for this price point. Win win!