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Miniature microphones, as used in theater and TV news

Minature microphones, sometimes known as personal microphones, are used when the mic must be unobtrusive, or even invisible...

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This is sometimes known as a personal microphone or a 'tie-clip’ mic, although it is rarely ever clipped to the tie these days.

It is also sometimes known as a 'Lavalier microphone' after the Frenchwoman Madame Lavalier who was famous for her big boobies. Sorry, the big ruby she wore round her neck.

The original Lavalier microphone, in similar fashion, was hung round the neck rather than clipped on.

The modern miniature microphone is usually of the electret design, which lends itself to very compact dimensions, and is almost always omnidirectional.

Miniature microphones are used in television and in theater, where there is a requirement for microphones to be unobtrusive.

Since the diaphragm is small and not in contact with many air molecules, compared to a conventional mic, the random vibration of the air molecules does not cancel out as effectively as it does in a microphone with a larger diaphragm.

Miniature microphones therefore have to be used close to the sound source; otherwise noise will be evident.

The reason why, in TV news, the miniature microphone is often clipped to the clothing with the diaphragm away from the presenter's mouth is to avoid the slight risk of popping due to P and B sounds. Since the microphone is omnidirectional, it doesn't matter which way it points.

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By David Mellor Sunday April 27, 2003
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