Homemade iPhone Lavalier Wireless Microphone System
What does lavalier mean? Wikipedia explains that it is a piece of jewelry or pendant popularized by the Duchesse de la Vallière, a mistress of King Louis XIV of France. In this article, however, we are speaking of the small personal microphone usually clipped on the lapel or under the clothing. They are usually used on TV, theater, for public speaking and any time when a hands free microphone is needed. I am sure everyone has seen these microphones used one time or another on television.
A lavalier mic can be purchased at various levels of quality and price. Take the Shure SM93 for example. It's an amazing, and very small lavalier microphone, but your looking at somewhere in the range of $150. This will hold true through many of the wireless lavalier microphones. Why not save a little money and turn those old iPhone headphones into a simple homemade lavalier mic in minutes.
Things You Will Need
- iPhone headphones w/ mic
- Wire cutters
- Alligator clip
- Black electrical tape
This is an extremely easy project that will supply you with a great, low cost tool for wireless audio recording at a quality that a little editing can make go a long way.
Dig up that old pair of iPhone headphones that you blew the speakers on. The microphone more than likely still works perfectly fine. With just a few minor modifications these will be re-purposed for the perfect addition to your audio/visual arsenal.
Use the wire cutters to snip the Right headphone just above the volume control/microphone. Be sure to cut the wire on the side of the microphone closest to the Right headphone. Do not cut the wire closest to the jack.
- If you don't have wire cutters nearby you can try using a pair of fingernail clippers.
Now cut the wire for the Left headphone at the point where the Right and Left headphone meet. Be sure to cut it on the Left headphone side and not the Right headphone or jack side of the wire.
Now you should have only the volume control/microphone on the end of the eighth inch jack. This is the end of the hardest parts. From here on out the steps are to create a way to attach the microphone to your lapel.
With the remainder of the headphones plugged into your iPhone like it normally would be you will still be able to record while not being able to use the headphones anymore. This is exactly what we need. These combined with a proper audio recording ap and your on your way. Now we need to hide this little lavalier power house.
Most of the white microphone and wire will be hidden by black tape applied in the next step. Unfortunately the tape cannot get close to the microphones hole or it will affect the quality of the sound. To solve this issue you can use a black permanent marker and fill in the areas that will not be covered by the tape. If you would like you can do this step after you tape, but I prefer to do it before. I cover more than the assumed taped area and achieve complete coverage. This allows me to get very close to the microphone hole and not cover it with tape.
Important Features For Audio Editor
There are a few features you will want to have included in a good audio editor:
- Microphone input levels (sensitivity)
- Unrestricted file size (for long recordings)
- Export formats (WAV, AIFF)
Now we need to attach the alligator clip to the microphone. This allows us to attach the microphone in the best location for a clear signal. The best material I have found for this is black electrical tape. The tape is perfect for attaching the clip, as well as a good color for hiding this mic out of site during production.
Now that we have the microphone hidden well we can start recording away. Of course that raw signal will leave a lot to be desired. Don't get me wrong. It is a great signal for as cheap and easy as it is to make. It will just need a little editing to get it sounding professional. That takes us to our next section.
There are plenty of great apps out there for editing your audio. I will give you a small list of a few that I am familiar with for a stepping stone to get you started.
- VC Audio Pro - multi-track recording, sound mixer, clip arranger, volume curve - $6.99
- Voxie Pro - designed for dictation, touchable waveform, unrestricted file size - $4.99
- Hindenburg Field Recorder - non-destructive editing, trimming, lot of features - $29.99
- Voice Recorder HD - high quality, audio wave visualizer, trimming - $1.99
Recorder & Editor ~ iSaidWhat?! - cutting, arranging, sharing, mic sensitivity - $2.99
There You Have It
There you go! An inexpensive lavalier mic out of materials that you probably have laying around the house. It is extremely easy to make and will give you a pretty darn good quality for a quick solution.
I have used this lavalier mic in many situations. It is easy to hide under clothing for street production or movie production where you may want the microphone out of sight. Or just simply clip it onto your lapel for interviews or television style productions.