Expanding your microphone locker with Shure

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Expanding your microphone locker with Shure

Shure KSM
Words by Rob Gee

It goes without saying that many vocalists, engineers and producers end up with a Shure SM58 as one of the first microphones in the set.

Shure microphones

Shure microphones are some of the most widely across all facets of audio: live, studio, install, entertainment and more. Just as guitarists keep buying guitars, drummers keep buying kits and bass players keep buying friends, it’s all too easy for engineers, producers and vocalists to keep buying microphones. Let’s face it, you can always have a different tool to capture a sound with a different flavour. One microphone will not do it all, no matter how good, or how expensive it may be. That said, it’s a fallacy to think that the perfect microphone doesn’t exist. It very much does, and usually in the form of the next one you want to add to your collection. Having a wider variety of capsules at your disposal gives you a greater sound palette to work with, so it goes without saying that your recordings, production and live performances will no doubt benefit from expanding your microphone locker.

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The humble Shure SM58

It can be a bit daunting at the beginning when you start putting together a microphone collection. “Where to start” is usually governed by budget, availability and familiarity. So it goes without saying that many vocalists, engineers and producers end up with a Shure SM58 as one of the first microphones in the set. It’s the world renowned vocal microphone, with a sound that may not be ideal for many situations, but it certainly holds its own in a wide variety of applications. Plus, you can throw it, drop it, dunk it in a pint glass and even leave it with the drummer and expect it to keep on delivering a good sound. But, there comes a time when you’re looking to grow your range of options, and adding an SM57 for instrument use just isn’t really giving you a wider variety of tonal options. So, a greater kit is needed to cover drums, wind instruments, strings, environmental sounds, varying vocal performances and even talkback applications. It starts to get a bit out of control, and you can end up with too wide a range of tonal differences. Here’s a thought for those of you looking to increase your range of sounds, yet keep a certain conformity to the overall aural image, add to your microphone kit with some new tools from the range.

With that in mind, and given that we already know the SM58 does the job it was designed to so well, it makes sense to expand your microphone locker with that brand you know will deliver. With the holiday season upon us, it’s pertinent to note that the best gifts are the ones you give yourself. So, some new toys from the Shure KSM and Beta microphone ranges could be just what you need to improve both your studio and live microphone setups. And it’s the perfect time to do this, with Shure and Jands running their Shure holiday promotion for the 7th year running now. With this, they are offering discounts on selected models in both the KSM and Beta range of microphones from authorised Australian Shure dealers. This runs through until the 2nd of January next year, so it’s ideal timing to use the gift idea as an excuse to buy a few new microphones for yourself. Let’s look at some of the possibilities that could improve your kit.

BETA 58A and BETA 87A

Obviously, a staple on any stage is the Shure BETA 58A, the upgraded version of the SM58 with a higher output, more headroom and a smoother bottom end. This is the ‘go-to’ microphone for many professionals on stage and one microphone that should be in every microphone kit, several, in fact. For those very special vocal performances, the BETA 87A brings a condenser capsule into a similar housing with a super cardioid pickup pattern for defined side cancellation on any stage. This has always been a favourite microphone of mine, especially when working with a fixed microphone position, in relation to foldbacks. The BETA 87C is another option worth considering for roving vocals, when a standard cardioid pickup pattern is the better option.

Of course, a new Shure microphone can’t improve your drummer’s timing, but it can make the drums sound more lush. A BETA 52A will give the kick drum a big, punchy bottom end, and can double up on acoustic and upright bass too. If you want to get even more out of the kick drum, a BETA 91A boundary microphone placed inside the shell will give added dimension to the mix, especially when combined with the BETA 52A right up against the drumhead. These two working in unison will make you wonder why you’d ever bothered with any other option for your kick drum sound. While you’re at it, a few BETA 56A microphones scattered around the toms will add definitions to your entire kit’s sound, both on stage and in the studio.

Shure KSM microphones

Speaking of the studio, the Shure KSM range has a full host of options for improving your home recording. If you’re looking for a ‘live take’ in the studio to capture the mood for your vocalist, the KSM 8B is an ideal option, delivering astounding vocal sound with the rich Dualdyne design. It’s a dual dynamic capsule concept that adds more detail and depth to the sound, without the added frailty of a condenser, all in a handheld format. It’s like bringing the stage to the studio, and improving the sound quality in the process. 

If you want something a little more controlled and defined, then something like the KSM32 offers a traditional side-address cardioid condenser design for clear, crisp vocal takes that have a natural warmth to them. This is a great all-rounder that is equally at home with stringed instruments, especially guitars, and is an ideal workhorse in any home studio. But, of course, it’s always nice to have the better model for special occasions, or just everyday use! If that’s the case, the KSM44A is the kit you want to put under your Christmas tree for yourself this year. It’s a multi-pattern condenser microphone, with unbelievably low self-noise, allowing you to record at lower than usual gain levels, to keep environmental noise to a minimum.

These, and many other microphones in the BETA and KSM range are part of the 2023 Shure Holiday Promotion. So, get on down to your local Shure dealer right away and pick up a new microphone, or two, for that someone special in your life. Or, like me, a few for yourself so you can expand your microphone locker and finish the year with a smile, and a new microphone.

For local enquiries and to shop the current promotion, visit Jands.