How did Lavalier Microphones get their name?

Potted History Lesson

Lavalier or Lavaliere or Lavalliere is a term used by the jewellery trade. It usually refers to a particular type of pendant, consisting of a large jewel hung on a chain around the wearer’s neck, that is said to have been popularised by either:-                                                                                                                                                    a) La  Duchesse de la Vallière (1644-1710), a mistress of King Louis XIV of France,                                                                                                                                                        or                                                                                                                                                             b) the French actress Eve Lavalliere  (1866-1929).

Hence, it is easy to see why the blossoming film and television industries, in the mid 20th century, came to borrow the term and apply it to a small personal microphone hung on a cord around the neck of the actor or presenter.

By the 1950’s American companies such as RCA , Electro-Voice, and Shure made a range of purpose built Lavalier microphones. In Europe, AKG and Sennheiser also manufactured a number of very successful models.

Eventually, with the proliferation of miniature condenser mics in the 80’s and 90’s, the old Lavalier microphone on a cord around the presenter’s neck gradually disappeared. Although the cord has long gone, and the new miniature mics are simply held in place with clips or micropore tape, they have still retained the name Lavalier, although these days it very often  sadly gets abbreviated to ‘Lav’.

End of Lesson

Here is a real gem of a Vintage Lavalier from the late 1960s the AKG D109

AKG D109 - The D109 was designed in the mid 1960’s to meet the demands of high quality speech reproduction on television and in film. It was beautifully made, with a sleek nickel plated brass body, and  ingeniously engineered so that it could be used in a number of different ways :-

  • With the Lavalier collar  removed it makes a very unobtrusive interview microphone. Even today there are few omni dynamic interview mics this small (less than 3 inches).AKG D109 Interview mode
  • With the collar in place it can be used as a classic Lavalier hung around the presenter’s neck.
  • It also has a clip on the back of the collar for fixing to clothing.
  • By raising the collar above the microphone grill the high frequency response can be increased to compensate for the mic being positioned on the performer’s chest below the chin.AKG D109 Lavalier
  • With the collar raised it can also be hidden under light-weight clothing.

TECHNICAL INFO

AKG D-109 Lavalier Dynamic 

CLICK HERE for Short voice clip.

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