From professional studios to homemade YouTube videos, seeing people hang their microphones upside down is extremely common.
Yet you may be wondering, why is this done? What started it, and why is it so popular to hang your mic upside down?
It turns out, there are valid (and some not-so-valid) reasons this is done.
In this article, let’s look over why microphones are commonly hung upside down, and why you may consider trying out as well.
The Practical Reason For Hanging A Microphone Upside Down
If you’re wondering where this trend started, the answer is quite simple.
Hanging the microphone upside down was originally a form of heat management.
On older tube condenser microphones, the lower part of the microphone would heat up over time. Since heat rises upwards, the heat would then transfer into the sensitive diaphragm of the microphone up at the top, affecting the sound quality or even damaging the microphone as times go on.
Obviously, musicians want to maintain a consistent sound quality throughout the entire recording. Hanging the microphone upside down prevented the entire microphone heating up, as the heat would instead move upwards towards the ceiling of the room.
These days, modern microphones aren’t nearly as susceptible to heat damage, making the practice largely unnecessary. In fact, it’s still common to hang microphones upside down even if they were never at risk of heat damage in the first place.
Now that we’ve gone over a small bit of microphone history, let’s look at some of the other reasons.
It Gets The Microphone Stand Out Of The Way
Another practical reason is that it gets the microphone stand out of the way, as the microphones are instead positioned on a boom arm in front of where you would be singing.
If you’ve ever seen a passionate vocalist recording, you can understand why this would be beneficial.
If you’ll be moving around a lot, using your arms or putting on an animated performance, holding a microphone down from above gives you more room to do your thing.
The last thing you want is to knock the microphone stand over, after all. Even hitting the microphone stand slightly with your hands or feet will come through in the recording or performance.
If you are reading lyrics or cues off of a sheet in front of you, getting the microphone stand out of the way allows you to place a music stand there instead, which is another benefit.
It Positions You For Good Singing Posture
Finally, having the microphone raised slightly above your head makes for good singing posture, and allows you to get more air and power behind your notes.
While you could technically position you microphone stand at the same height, it will heavily obstruct your view which is obviously undesirable.
Pointing your neck downward is a huge no-no when it comes to singing powerfully, and posture can make a huge difference to your tone and even your vocal range.
While handheld microphones for example may start out in the right position, singers may naturally slouch over time without realizing it.
Therefore, keeping your microphone upside down and positioned a little higher – where it can’t move, can force singers to maintain good posture throughout the entire recording. Even a 15-degree difference can lead to a much better and more comfortable performance of the song.
People Like The Way It Looks
If for no other reason, some people put their microphone upside down simply because they like the way it looks.
It may seem more professional, or they may have seen it in one of the music videos they really enjoy.
For most microphones, it won’t affect the sound in any negative way – so if you like the way it looks, why not?
A Few Things To Consider
When determining how and where to place your microphone, there are a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind.
First of all, different types of microphones are best suited for different types of positioning.
While there are less benefits to hanging non-tube microphones upside down, you’ll want to read over the microphone’s manual (and play around with some test recordings) to see what sounds best to your ear.
Also, when hanging a microphone upside down, you’ll want to make sure that you have a strong shock mount that will prevent the microphone from falling onto the floor.
While many microphones are quite durable, you’ll want to avoid the risk of damage – especially if the microphone is high up when it falls.
Finally, ensure the stand is strong enough (or has enough counterweight) to prevent the microphone from drooping or falling. Some large diaphragm condenser mics can be quite heavy and pull the boom arm down, which can be very frustrating!
While hanging your microphone upside down may appear to be simply for aesthetics, there are actually a lot of really practical reasons for doing so.
Most modern microphones can handle heat issues just fine, but the fact that it gives you more freedom to move around while simultaneously positioning your neck at the right angle for proper singing, it’s no wonder this microphone position is so popular with professional vocalists.
And hey, some people like the way it looks too.
It can’t hurt anything, so why not try it out? Experimenting with microphone positioning is an important step to honing in your sound. Play around and you may just find that you like it even more!