What are the Different Types of Microphone Stands?

Caitlin Kenney

Microphone stands are used to hold the microphone so that the performer doesn’t have to. This is especially helpful to mic instruments, for singers who dance, and for singers who play instruments that require two hands. Different microphone stands are usually selected on a basis of their purpose and aesthetics. Some common types used are straight stands, boom stands, and desk stands.

Straight microphone stands usually have a tripod base that folds up.
Straight microphone stands usually have a tripod base that folds up.

Straight microphone stands have a long, straight, vertical shaft that adjusts in height with a microphone clip attached to the top. A microphone clip is usually made of a flexible plastic so it can hold different sized microphones, and should be firmly screwed into the stand to prevent the microphone from tipping or falling out. The microphone clip is usually sold with the microphone, not the stand. Straight microphone stands may be fixed in height or adjust in one to two places, depending on how much height range the performer needs. Straight microphone stands may have a tripod base or a round metal base.

A short microphone stand may be used on a podium.
A short microphone stand may be used on a podium.

A tripod base often folds up, making it easier to store, and is usually of a lighter weight than the round base. A round metal base keeps the stand from tipping with the weight of the microphone. This base may be a better choice if the performer has a heavy microphone, especially when using a boom stand.

A boom stand is similar to a straight stand, with the addition of a boom arm. The microphone clip is located at the end of the boom arm. A boom arm is an extension that attaches perpendicular to shaft of the stand and adjusts its angle from the shaft. This feature allows for more options in microphone placement and easy, quick adjustments. Also, if the performer is playing a piano, drum set, or another large instrument that sits in front of the performer, the boom stand’s ability to swing, extend, and bend over the instrument make it a popular choice.

A desk stand is a short straight stand that is often mounted on a table or other workspace and can be adjustable or fixed in height. Many users build their own desk stands out of wire hangers. Specialized short stands with boom arms are also sometimes used to mic floor instruments, particularly the bass drum. These stands, like many other microphone stands, may have flexible necks attached to the microphone clip to allow greater microphone placement options.

Hanging microphones do not use microphone stands and are typically employed for recording purposes. For solo performer recordings, the hanging microphone prevents the performer from knocking into the microphone stand and causing unwanted noise. Hanging microphones are also used in ambient amplification and recording. In this scenario, each instrument usually has an individual microphone and the hanging microphone picks up the combination of sounds. The hanging microphone does not favor a particular angle and gives more reverberation in a recital hall. Reverberation, or more commonly “reverb,” is the continuation of a sound after the sound’s source has stopped, similar to an echo, but constant.

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