Shure SM81 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

A classic small-diaphragm cardioid condenser microphone, the Shure SM81 captures drum overheads, piano, and any acoustic source with detailed accuracy.

A studio and stage standard small-diapghram condenser, the Shure SM81's detailed, flat response will give you an accurate sonic picture of acoustic sources and more. This workhorse mic has a switchable low cut and 10 dB pad, and of course, includes a clip, windscreen, and case.

The Shure SM81 has long been a must-have microphone for capturing the unique timbre and characteristics of acoustic instruments. Whether you're trying to record that 100-year-old Steinway grand piano you found in your grandpa's attic, or the vintage parlor guitar that's been passed down for generations, you want a mic that can capture every last nuance. The Shure SM81 is that microphone. It's also plenty tough enough for the stage, which is why you'll often see a pair of SM81s hanging over a drum kit.

The SM81 is a cardioid condenser with a wide frequency response and low RF susceptibility that makes it perfect for guitars, pianos, cymbals, mandolins and any other acoustic instruments. Thanks to its extremely low-noise characteristics, you can be sure that the SM81 only picks up the tones you're after.


- Guitar
- Piano
- Cymbals
- Broadcasting
- Sound Reinforcement
WARNING: Cancer and Reproductive Harm -

- Type: Condenser (electret bias)
- Frequency Response: 20 to 20,000 Hz
- Polar Pattern: Cardioid (unidirectional) response
- SM81LC Version: With windscreen, no cable. Phantom power required.
Dimensions and Weight in Packaging
Base Item
Shipping Weight: 1.75 lbs
Shipping Dimensions: 12 x 6 x 3 in
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): SM81LC
Warehouse Resealed
Shipping Weight: 1.75 lbs
Shipping Dimensions: 12 x 6 x 3 in
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): SM81LC

For support or warranty questions, please contact the manufacturer:
Phone: 800-516-2525

Shure SM81 Cardioid Condenser Mic

The Shure SM81 is a high-quality, unidirectional 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.


- 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
- 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

About Shure

S.N. Shure began his company's relationship with the products of personal sound by launching a one-man operation in 1925 that sold radio parts kits. Since then, Shure microphones and audio electronics have been the tools of choice for politicians, musicians, corporations, churches, and broadcasters across the world. Anyone who considers sound to be an important part of his or her self-expression has probably used one of Shure's microphones, phonograph needles, or other professional audio products.

Reviewers gave this product an overall rating of 5 out of 5 stars. (42 ratings)
Submitted October 28, 2008 by a customer from

"Save your money for the thing"

Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
(see rating details)
This review has been selected by our experts as particularly helpful.
I need to purchase two more because I know that someday the two I have had for 20+ years are just going to die. I have played with many other fine microphones, but none are a substitute. it's kinda like your favorite pizza. there's all kinds but you know exactly the one that satisfies you every time.

If your looking for an absolutely true sounding mic you'll be thrilled with the SM81. It is clean and transparent thanks to its proven rugged construction and Flat 20-20khz capability.

I have used this mic for drum overheads (outstanding imaging). One of the few condensers that I would use on Snare (on top or underneath). It's Low Freq. roll-off switch is very smooth sounding and makes it an extremely versatile mic. If you do Live recordings, just pop two of these babies up in the room (I prefer using a Near-coincident pair technique) and wait till you hear the spacial realism. Also great for acoustic guitars. No self respecting studio should be without a pair of these. They once came in matched sets, but these mics are so consistent that is not necessary. Sure has some outstanding good mics over the year but the SM81 is in my opinion a Hall of Fame mic.

Ease of Use
Even if your technical mic skills are lacking, the SM81 is very simple just point it at what you want to hear. The Unidirectional nature of this mic helps to reject sounds from the side and from read more in back. With that in mind you can use your creativity to either focus what your recording or depending on proximity capture an area of sound. Shure includes very useful specifications and you can find micing tips on-line.

The SM81 is supremely reliable and the product meets the specifications that accompany the mic. I purchased my first SM81 in 1985 after years of on-the-road and in studio use it is still operational today.

This is a microphone worth saving your money for. The SM81 is a classic great. I other condenser mics that cost more than double the price of the SM81 and in certain applications, it my mic of choice.

Manufacturer Support
I once knew some of the folks at Shure and I can tell you they are passionate about their mics, and their customer's satisfaction. I have not used their customer support channel though.

The Wow Factor
In my opinion the SM81 is one of my favorite condensers for drum, live and acoustic micing period. It reliable and true. How much more sexy could you get when making music.

Musical Background:
Active Musician, Recording Engineer, Producer

Musical Style:
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