I've recently found myself doing more recording on the move, but I've also had to rely on "plant" microphones - microphones attached to their own local recorder, rather than connected wirelessly.
Pro Tools Expert's Technical Editor James Ivey recently reviewed the Tascam DR-10X, and I was very tempted to pair up my DPA 4071 lavalier mic with one of these, but I was stumped by two things - firstly there's actually very low availability of the DR-10X at the moment, but also I wasn't especially keen on sending my £450 DPA microphone "into the wild" as it were.
At BVE 2017, I happened across the RØDE section of the HHB stand, and was instantly drawn to the smartLav+ system. This is a lavalier microphone specifically designed for use with "Smart" devices, and comes with the correct TRRS 3.5mm jack connector as used on most smart devices.
They had it connected via a SC6 adpater that allows you to connect two smartLav+ microphones and your headphones to your smartphone or tablet and still be able to have headphone monitoring.
For devices such as my small but ultra reliable Olympus LS14 SD card recorder, I needed the SC3 TRRS (tip, ring, ring, sleeve) to TRS (tip, ring, sleeve) adapter.
When using with devices like the LS14, you also have to enable mic powering, which sends power for the mic down one of the 3.5mm jack pins.
Of course, this product is mainly aimed at the self-shooting smartphone brigade. As an upgrade over a phone's or camera's built in microphone it's already light years ahead. It also comes with a nifty soft bag for all the bits.
So It's Cheap. But Is It Cheerful?
Have a listen for yourself. In my video I've taken some video using my normal camcorder rig, but alongside my LS14 connected to the smartLav+, I've also recorded a Sennheiser E815S handheld dynamic mic, into my Zoom H5 recorder.
Lavalier Vs Handheld
Because of their small size and mounting proximity to your chest cavity, lavalier microphones will never produce a sound that could be described as "broadcast ready". However, many other factors more than make up for this. Firstly they deliver a consistent sound, which means that you can easily cut together alternate takes safe in the knowledge that the sound will be consistent enough to make the edit believable. If you are relying on the presenter's or the boom swinger's ability to keep the microphone proximity entirely consistent, then you'll find yourself having matching issues in post. As you'll hear in the video, the handheld's noise rejection is only superior to the lavalier when it is very close to the performer's mouth. This is understandable, as this style of mic is designed for close proximity capture. These properties swiftly turn from a positive in to a negative as soon as the handheld mic gets any distance from the source.
I like the smartLav+. As a cost effective way to get reasonable quality location sound into whatever you decide to use for capture, value for money wise it really can't be beaten. The only downside as far I can see is that if you are using the SC6 breakout box to record two separate smartLav+ microphones, then the leads are not really long enough to make this viable. Similarly if you were self shooting, and recording the audio straight in to the camera, then the lead isn't really long enough either.