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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Reasoning Behind The Hanging Microphone

The Hanging Microphone image
Here's an excerpt from my Recording Engineer's Handbook that explains why those old vintage tube mics are frequently seen hanging upside down.

"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 the mic is out of the way.
Now you can see that hanging the microphone was more than a random design. It was indeed a well thought out placement technique used by our engineering forefathers."



2 comments:

Tim Flanagan said...

Similar to the reasons broadcast studio mics are generally suspended:
It's up and out of the way, and the speaker's natural desire to maintain eye contact with something (a script, the console) or somebody (an interviewee) necessitates positioning the mic slightly off-axis to maintain clear sight-lines. ACCIDENTAL good mic technique!

Adam Kagan said...

Remember that the polar pattern extends above most mics - even in cardiod mode. To avoid reflections from above (or below if upside down), decide if the singer's mouth is closer to the floor or ceiling and point the mic away fro that boundary. Modern mics are not affected by heat - neither capsule performance of lifespan will be affected by the very minimal heat- so go for the sonics!

Especially true for acoustic guitar mics with seated guitatist...

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