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Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Hanging Microphone

Everyone has seen the photos of the vintage large diaphragm tube mic hanging upside down in front of the vocalist. Many engineers think that it’s a fashion statement or some sort of convenience, but there really are several good reasons for placing a mic this way. Here are just a few things to consider;
  • Much of the reason for hanging a mic upside down is because many of the early studio microphones used tube electronics. The heat rising from the tube can cause the diaphragm to change temperature over time, which will change the sound of the mic. Placing the tube above the capsule will let the heat rise without passing over the diaphragm.
  • An excellent byproduct of singing slightly upward into a mic because it’s positioned upside down is that it forces the singer’s airway open and encourages a full body voice. Take a deep breath and sing a low note. Start with your chin to your chest and slowly lift your head until your chin is about 15 degrees above level. Hear any difference?
  • Maybe even more important, the mic can be positioned so the singer is less likely to direct popping air blasts into the mic
  • It’s easier for the singer to read any music or lyrics since it’s out of the way.
Now you can see that hanging the microphone was more than a random design, it was indeed well thought out placement by our engineering forefathers.

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