Lavliers/mic placement

Hey all,

My background is in lighting, however, I just so happen to be the technical go-to-man for our school. The last two years I have had to do sound for the spring musical. Each year we have problems with the school's wireless system. Just so you know, we have Shure UT-1 transmitters and UT-4 receivers. I'm not exactly sure of the lavalier model, but my bet is they are low-end. Traditionally we have just clipped them to the costume below the chin/on the chest. We always seem to have a problem with a mic rubbing up against another actor and getting some very undesirable sound or the mic not picking anything up. I have tried going above the ear with these, but it seems as if the pick up field is too narrow. To get any sound I really have to turn it way up on the mixer and this really makes me nervous as if something rubs it we will get an incredibly loud/awful noise. I don't think going to the hairline will work with these lavs, they look a little big for it (but then again I don't really know enough to make that statement).

Basically I'm looking for tips on mic placement/should I get some new lavaliers? If so what would you recommend?


Wireless Guy
Premium Member
The hairline is by far the best place to put the mic. There are number of techniques to clip it there, including toupee clips, an elastic headband, and other things. Do a search on Google or the theatre-sound list-serv archives at Feel free to ask questions here too!


Active Member
The hairline is a great place if you have the right mic. There are so many factors in addition to the mic to consider, though. Projection, facial structure & head resonance will make one mounting position for all actors impossible. It will take some time and trial & error, but work with each actor to find that spot to give the best results. Sometimes moving the moving a quarter inch will improve the pickup immensely. I've used really inexpensive (Shure WL93) mics on some actors and was able to get great audio when the mic was placed in the edge of the hairline just above the ear, while others had to have the mic virtually mounted at the corner of their mouth to get anything. The absolute worst place to mount a mic is on the lapel or chest, especially if it has a cardioid (diretional) pickup pattern. Good luck!


Active Member
More and more theatres (as well as concert halls, houses of worship, etc...) are switching to the ear worn headsets.....Not the big black bulky things that Madonna wore back in the early 90's.....the thin boom style that comes in colors to match skin tones and can not be seen from about 10 rows back.

They have been out for quite some time now, but it seems that I see them more and more in the theatre. I just did a production where we used all countryman and AKG headsets and it was the best sounding performance that I have been to in quite a while. It picks up the singing so much better than the clip on or hair worn mics. I think that the general public has accepted these more and the technology is really so much better than the old lavs.

The choral director (that's right, we had a total of 7 directors for the show, so everyone had to put their 2 cents in and it was amazing that anything got done) was skeptical and thought that it would look cheap. During a tech rehearsal, she said that she was glad that we didn't use the headset mic's, as the sound quality was great without them. The fact is, we were using them. She had been sitting about 15 rows back and did not even notice them on the actors.

They are more money. um....a lot more money. I have saved some by buying all of my new wireless packs without microphones (usually I buy the instrument version) which is about $70-$100 cheaper. I then buy a countryman or AKG earset mic. I prefer the countryman but am impressed with the AKG as well, and the AKG is about $70 cheaper.

For the old style lav's, I like putting them on the hair line.


Well-Known Member
I'm all for the Countryman E6i. We recently used TWENTY-ONE of them for our production of Urinetown. You do have to be very careful with the wire that runs from the beltpack up to the earset, though, because this is the first thing that will break. It's also good to get wireless systems with the TA4F connectors, because the Sennheiser mini plug screw connectors suck. They were our major issue, two cables broke in the connector housing because they're so bad.


Active Member
I agree about the Sennheiser plug. I am now using nothing but the new Shure beltpacks and have been very happy.

One of the reasons that I like the Countryman more is the cable between the earpiece and the plug is easier to change. AKG does have a terminal of sorts where it can be opened up and changed, but the Countryman is much easier to repair.


Well-Known Member
Over here in "budget-land" we are using the Countryman B3s. I just bought four more to add to the six we already have, and they really work well. Pickup is smooth, very good feedback resistance, and with over-the-ear and some clip-on arrangements I can get pretty clear sound.

Fyi, the scratchiness mentioned in the first post I assume is due to the type of rubber/plastic used for the condensor housing. Our (original) AKG C417's were terrible with rub noise, but the B3s appear to be really quiet.

For under $200 each I think they're a great alternative to the E6 or equivalent.
Another advantage of the Countryman is it can be kept off the face until AFTER hair and make up is done so you don't have to worry about idiots getting make up in their mic (yes, that actually happened during a show, to one of our $300 MKE-2's, it makes me so mad...)


Active Member
Has anyone tried the new "cheaper" mic's made by OSP? They are all over the internet, especially ebay. They claim to be as good as countryman but half the cost. I will believe it when I see (or, in this case, hear) it. I would be interested to know if they are any good.


Active Member
I'll throw out a recommendation for the Shure WL-50 sub-miniature lapel mics. For only $250 each, they give a great sound. All you folks with the B3's should take a look at these and try one out. Very tiny mic capsule, too.
I've used both the B3 and E6 for productions. When I'm singing or acting I prefer the E6 (cause it is lighter).

As for make-up...depending on the actor's make-up, I'd prefer the mics on first. You can use techniques to preven the mic element from getting make-up in it.

As for the cord breaking on the E6 - the do make a thicker cable to go from the ear piece to the pack. It is the same thinkness as the B3. These work great for mics that get used alot.
I like the mic placed in the hairline, especially when I can hide it in a wig and not worry about it. I find the over the ear models make costume changes more difficult. I don't think there is a hard and fast rule. I've changed mic placement during a show when I've needed to go from my face (over the ear) due to hat work and then back to my hairline after the hat work was over. I find that pouches for the belt packs and copius amounts of tape down the back and on the neck REALLY help keep the static of moving cables to a minimum.

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