If you're looking for a good LAV Mic, go for the Rode LAV which runs $249 dollars. Doesn't require very much gain, and sounds very clean. The Rode allows you to use an exclusive MiCon adapter that can be swapped to support basic 3.5mm, XLR, and more.
Rode LAV Mic with MiCon Connector
Ok so $250 for a LAV is a hike for many, so on the other end of the spectrum is a few inexpensive LAV mics. One you might have heard about is the Audio Technica ATR3350. The sound is not to be compared to a $250 lav mic, but as long as you have a decent portable audio recorder with enough gain, it works in a pinch. We use this $17 dollar LAV mic quite a bit mainly because of the very very long cord that can be run from the the talent all the way back to the Camera Operator without using a wireless setup.
Audio Technica ATR3350 Lav Microphone
Another cheap LAV with a 4 star review is the Pearstone OLM-10 Omnidirectional Lavalier Microphone. It's also designed with a very long cord that can be worn by the talent and run to the camera a good distance away. Currently it's on sale for the next few days at just over $16 dollars via B&H (click here)
Pearstone OLM-10 Omnidirectional Lavalier Microphone
Another budget LAV mic shared by J Hanna in the comments is the Olympus ME-15. This one does not require batteries like the other two above, and comes with a 3.3ft short cable. You can find this for just over $20 bucks (click here)
Olympus ME-15-LAV Microphone
[Updated Entry 2014]
Recently my new favorite affordable LAV Mic is the Aspen Mic series. These LAV mics require very little gain from your recorder so the sound quality is very comparable to high end lav mics. Priced under $45 dollars, it's by far the best of this lineup if you can't afford the $250 Rode LAV. Check out the Aspen Mics website for their products (click here).
Aspen Lavalier Microphones Mono / Stereo / Sennheiser G3
The Pearstone and the Polsen are one in the same. Apparently a brand name purchase or change.
Thank you very much for sharing the whole list. I own the pearson one. I think it's important to spend a little for long term.
@aaron - Sorry I don't the answer to that.
does the Polsen OLM-10 work with the IPhone?
Nice example of the sound from an Aspen Mic HQ-S Lav
@Kase - Take a close look at my videos. I have been using them for several weeks now with a zoom h1 or my iphone. I will be doing a review soon. Totally worth it.
I'm considering pairing one of the Aspen mics with my Zoom H1 but I can't seem to find any audio samples of them anywhere. Anyone know of any?
@Adali - Great news. Also another tip in case you don't know. Unlike the other lav microphones that only work on plugin power (3.5mm) you can also adapt the Aspen to an XLR with 12V Phantom power. If you are using the Aspen stereo microphone you can get this adapter: Rode XLR 3.5 stereo to Mono XLR. Do not try this on just any lav mic though, only ones that can do both plugin power and phantom power. I will have a review soon on these mics, they seem to be the best option.
I just received the aspen stereo microphone and the sound quality is amazing. Previously with the audio technica I would have to increase the input setting on my recorder very high which introduces noise. The aspen microphone requires little input gain so the sound is very nice. +1 for Aspen! Thanks Emm
This one is great, You can listen to it in the review.
Saying that I was wondering if there's any cheap mic that I can use with my recorder since it looks like the Olympus ME-15 only takes 10v as well.
Been in touch with Darren from GiantSquid. His mics need Plug-in Power (Phantom Power) and they will not handle anything more than 10v.
I have a Tascam DR-40 and it would fry the mics.
One more vote for the Giand Squid mics.
I have one and also bought the Audiotechnica ATR 3350 (for the long cable) which is a piece of crap in comparison and of course I never use it.
I use the Giant Squid lavs pretty frequently. They sound pretty great for the price, I'd say the equivalent of $250 mics I've used. I normally run those into an H1 on the subject and I've got a pretty fool proof setup.
I second the Giant Squid test. Samples on YouTube sound pretty good, and they are only around $40 for the single mono version. The guy hand makes each one, but the wait is like 2 to 3 weeks to get one.
Ok... simply unplug the 1/4 adapter a little bit and you have cleand audio with these cheap mics and the tascam (...)
I received my new tascam dr40 this morning and it's frustrating that these cheap lav mics (I own the audio technica) don't work because the f****g helicopter noise with this recorder when using not balanced cable. ARGH.
Anyony tried the Olympus with a Zoom H2 or straight into a Canon T2i ?
I have 2 audiotechnicas, but would like a backup that doesn't require batteries (since I don't trust batteries and the audiotechnicas seem to drain 'm pretty quickly).
I second the g3 wireless packs. I just upgraded to a pair mke 2 gold lavs. I tried using the atr3350 as a external gopro hd2 mic. Sadly it requires a hotter preamp than the gopro offers. That was my only limited experience. Still better than the internal gopro mic. But...
My vote is on the Olympus Me-15. I use 2 of these paired with Zoom H1 amd the quality is amazing for how cheap these suckers are! Used to have the audio technica but the cord is darn near football field length so i ditched them for the Olympuses!!
@Nate Karamanski - I'm the guy that tries plenty of products, but over the years I haven't had the results from cheaper wireless systems to recommend. The price is high, but I still feel your best value lies in the Sennheiser G3 series (found here).
Interesting, $16-20 lavs! Pearlstone has another one, for about $120 vs the $140 for the Sennheiser ME-2, which B&H actually presents as a cheaper alternative if you go to the ME-2 page. I got one for an ME-2 that died, and I have to say it sounded pretty good. Not a huge price difference over the ME-2, but every little bit helps.
Hey emm, can you do a wireless lav write up? I'm looking for a good wireless setup for my dslr rig and my current boom mic option is becoming a bit cumbersome.
What are your thoughts on the lavs from giant squid?
I've used mine a fair amount with my H1 and love it so far.
Have you ever tried the OST-801 or 802?
I haven't used it, but it seems like people compare it to the Tram and Countryman.
@J Hanna - Great tip, i'll add this to the post.
The olympus ME 15 is a great little lav. Powered by the recorder itself it works with the h1, h4n and the tascam dr-05.
it's great, cheap, and has a short cable.
I bought 2 just for cable conveinance.