Shure SM81 Condenser Microphone
The Shure SM81 Condenser Microphone is a high-quality, unidirectional classic electret condenser microphone designed for studio recording, broadcasting, and sound reinforcement.
Its wide frequency response, low noise characteristics, and low RF susceptibility have made it a standard for applications involving acoustic instruments, especially guitar, piano, and cymbals. The SM81 is ruggedly constructed. It operates on phantom power and performs over a wide range of temperatures and humidity conditions. It is furnished with a swivel adapter, attenuator-switch lock, foam windscreen, and case for carrying and storage. Other accessories are available.
Shure SM81 Condenser Microphone Features
- 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response
- Flat response curve for accurate reproduction of sound sources
- Low noise and high output clipping level
- Low distortion over a wide range of load impedances
- Cardioid polar pattern, uniform with frequency and symmetric about axis, providing maximum rejection and minimum coloration of off-axis sounds
- Low RF susceptibility
- Selectable low-frequency response: flat, 6 or 18 dB/octave rolloff
- 0 dB/10 dB lockable attenuator switch
- Phantom powering (DIN 45 596 voltages of 12 to 48 Vdc)
- Rugged steel construction for durability
- Field-usable over wide range of temperature and humidity conditions
Shure SM81 Condenser Microphone Specifications
- Type Condenser (electret bias)
- Frequency Response 20 to 20,000 Hz
- Polar Pattern Cardioid (unidirectional) responseâ?"uniform with frequency, symmetrical about axis
- Impedance Output Impedance Rated at 150 ohms (85 ohms actual) Recommended minimum load impedance: 800 ohms (May be used with loads as low as 150 ohms with reduced clipping level)
- Output Level Sensitivity (at 1,000 Hz) Open Circuit Voltage 45 dBV/Pascal (5.6 mV) (1 Pascal = 94 dB SPL) Clipping Level (at 1,000 Hz) 800 - Load .4 dBV (0.63 V) 150 - Load .15 dBV (0.18 V)
- Total Harmonic Distortion Less than 0.5% (131 dB SPL at 250 Hz into 800 . load )
- Connector Output Configuration and Connector Balanced, transformer-coupled output; male XLR connector
- Polarity Positive pressure produces positive voltage on pin 2 relative to pin 3
- Dimensions 212 mm / 8.34 in./ in length, and 23 1/2 mm / 0.92 in./ in diameter. ( Handle diameter: 20.1 mm / 5/32 in. )
- Weight 230 grams (8 oz)
- Power Requirements Supply Voltage 11 to 52 Vdc, positive, pins 2 and 3 / Current Drain 1.2 mA max. The SM81 requires phantom power. This may be supplied to the microphone by a mixer, preamplifier or console with built-in phantom power or from an external power supply (such as the Shure model PS1A). Phantom power sources providing between 11 and 52 Vdc are suitable.
Shure SM81 Condenser Microphone Applications
- Acoustic Guitar
- Acoustic Bass
- Live Recording
- Ensemble Vocals
Shure SM81 Condenser Microphone Downloads
What We Think - Shure SM81 Review
"The Shure SM81 is a classic microphone that finds new relevance and necessity in the modern digital recording world. It's smooth response and non-hyped top-end make the SM81 a go-to mic for classic sounding acoustic guitars, drums and percussion recording. Feed the SM81 into a nice preamp, point it at an acoustic guitar, press record, and sit back and enjoy. It's really that simple. Live sound engineers have known for years that the SM81 is a flat out killer on drum overheads. My experience with them in that context is that they show the steely body of the cymbals, again, without the annoyingly bright over-emphasized top-end that a lot of modern condenser mics do. There's a kind of 'meaty-air' of the kit that comes across. All in all, the SM81 is required equipment."
- Front End Audio
8 Reviews Hide Reviews Show Reviews
I'm using this as a Hi-Hat mic for live band recordings...
What can I say? It excels!
Sound more natural compre to cad e70 which I used previously
I have an old pair ('80's) of SM81's that work; but one of them has an 8 Hz oscillation (I just need to fix it). Since they are a favorite of mine for many situations, I wanted to get a new pair while my others were awaiting repair. I gotta say that I prefer the smooth clarity of the new ones compared to the old ones. Thanks to Alan for making this happen.
So far have been very satisfied using a a pair of these as overheads for acoustic ensembles at wedding ceremonies in outside environments. My consumers have been very complimentary on the quality of sound. My partner said " they were a good purchase", I very much agree.
The title says it all! This is the best mic for the price that I've ever used on acoustic instruments. This works great on acoustic guitar, cymbals and piano! Don't even hesitate to buy this microphone.
I own one and use it mostly for recording acoustic instruments. The frequency response is very flat, so that you don't get as much "air" (or harshness) that you might get with another mic, but for some applications this is perfect. For instance, I'll use the SM81 just after I've changed strings because IMO it tames some of the brightness.
I've heard that a pair of these are excellent for overheads, but I haven't tried that myself.
Really, the next step up is a KM184 at more than twice the price. However, I also own one of those but find myself reaching for the SM81 more often than not. For $350 it's a bargain, and I plan on picking up a twin soon for stereo recording. Couple it with a nice pre and you won't be disappointed.
For the price, you can’t beat this microphone! It sounds great on almost all acoustic instruments especially acoustic guitar. You can easily compare this microphone to high end microphones and you won’t even notice a big difference in the quality of the recordings.
If you must use more than a couple of mics to record your drums, then I think a pair of SM81s is a great choice for overheads... I've also used this mic for acoustic guitar (on its own, and as a complement to other mics), and I think it shines there as well - adds a shimmery presence without causing that nasty overwhelming high-end kind of sound...