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Looking and sounding professional usually meant spending professional level money. Rode has a selection of Lavalier microphones that prove that quality doesn’t have to be expensive.
Starting off with the RODE Smartlav+; this is TINY, the mic itself is smaller than a standard size guitar pick, with a 2.5mm diaphragm the omnidirectional unit is even dwarfed by the included lapel clip. The frequency response covers 20Hz to 20kHz with a max SPL of 110dB. With an included pop filter, it’s quite minimal, visually speaking, on camera.
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The only downside is the cable length, at 44” inches, the user has a pretty short tether. Depending upon what kind of video that’s being desired, the user may be dominating the frame.
Rode’s Lavalier GO has the same physical design of the SmartLav +, however it has a longer, Kevlar reinforced cable. It could be used with a smartphone, or other audio devices. However, it was meant as a companion to Rode’s Wireless GO II Wireless Microphone System that we reviewed in September 2021. Like the Smartlav+, the frequency response is 20Hz to 20kHz with a max SPL of 110dB. Using it with their wireless system makes sense and gives a lot more control in mic placement, as the GO system now acts like a typical wireless transmitter and can be tucked away, letting the lavalier do the heavy lifting.
Finally, the RODE Lavalier II comes in, with a different and flatter omnidirectional capsule that helps eliminate proximity effects. With a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz and a max SPL of 106dB, it has a flatter EQ profile which means it works great, regardless of the voice timbre. The kit included a foam pop filter, a mini furry version for recording outdoors in high-wind conditions, a set of colored identification clips for keeping track in multi-mic setups, and a case for keeping everything in one place.
Connecting each to a smartphone, you get an “on-the-go” mobile reporting unit, featuring quality audio without all the hassles. The typical iOS apps worked great and function well with Rode’s Rec app. They can also work on Android platforms as well.
Sound wise, these deliver what Rode’s known for: clear audio. Background noise was minimal across the board and to keep things straight we had Rode’s mic drop weighted end to keep the tangles, and those associated noise issues at bay. A user with a selfie stick or some kind of handheld mount for a smartphone can add high level audio to their videos with no issues at all, however the Smartlav+’s shorter cable could be problematic, as it will be a lot closer to the user, compared to the other versions.
With these three options, which is the best one for the budget? Well, the SmartLav+ is well priced, but with the shorter, Kevlar cable, it might make sense to just jump to the Lavalier GO. Between the Lavalier GO and the Lavalier 2, the latter came across a bit better for more broadcast fidelity, and did feel a bit more “even” in some noisier environments. Rode has items that fit each budget and application, the one thing that does not vary is the overall quality sound.
All great sounding, small formats, easy to use
cable is kind of short on SmartLav+
$79 (Lavalier Go)
$99 (Lavalier 2)