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Shure Beta 87A Condenser Mic Review

Updated on August 30, 2009

I've seen this microphone used many times at various awards shows and I've spotted it on television whilst surprisingly famous (though not necessarily super talented) people sang through it and I've always wondered why it seemed to be preferred over an obviously superior mic like the Neumann KMS 105. In the end, I came to the conclusion that most people simply don't have the range that would make having a better mic necessary. And when I say range, I really mean depth, timbre and low notes. If you've got a soprano voice or if you're a male who sings at the top of his range all the time, you don't need a better mic than the Shure 87a, because it picks the highs up quite well. But if you'd like to sing in a lower register, forget about keeping your natural voice. Fortunately for Shure, most people do not sing as low as I often do (not even men, who tend to go falsetto for some bizarre reason) and therefore they are doing quite well for themselves. All the same, it's not a bad mic really.

The average singer sounds good through it

Most people do sound good with this mic and if you've got a vocal range that doesn't go too low, you will probably be happy with it.

It's quite good at preventing pops

Something I did notice was that this mic is very good about preventing wind popping and the like. The audience will not be able to hear you're consonants popping unless you really, really want them to.

Most engineers know how to use them

If you've got this mic you will probably never have to explain how to use it to an engineer as they are all very familiar with them. In fact, most of them will probably have one there waiting for you, which may make buying your own a bit redundant.

They are durable

Shure is pretty good about making mics that hold up over time and this is a pretty sturdy condenser mic.

They're very affordable

For the quality they produce for the average mid to high-tone voice, this is a decent mic at a decent price. It's not the top of the line, but it's certainly good enough for 7 out of 10 people.

Feedback

This mic will feedback if it's hot (not physically hot but rather turned up quite a bit) and I've yet to be able to touch it whilst singing. This is very annoying for me as I do hold the mic with one hand while it's in the clip and if I can't touch the mic at all I find it very distracting. But it's often less annoying to just let a soundman use one of these on me at a big festival, rather than explain to him how to set my own Neumann up. So I've used this mic a number of times and, as I've said, I've yet to see one not feedback the moment your hand nears the basket.

Real lows get muffled

The lower notes totally lose their fullness, richness, timbre or whatever you'd like to call it. This is probably ok if you only use the lower register once in a blue moon, but when it's your calling card, it makes this mic very disappointing, indeed.

High notes are often too bright

There's an extra boost singers get with this mic in the higher octaves. Most of them think it makes their voices sound more powerful, but I think it sounds way too bright and unnatural. But if you back off the mic considerably you can manage it if you have to. I will say that it thickens these notes quite a bit and makes a singer sound a good deal more robust than they probably are -- but then again, that's what most of them want, so I suppose it's a good thing in most cases.


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