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Shure SM81 Cardioid Condenser Microphone
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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.

Overall User Ratings (based on 42 ratings)
Overall:
Sound:
Features:
Ease of Use:
Quality:
Value:
Manufacturer Support:
The Wow Factor:
Overall:
(42)
Submitted October 28, 2008 by a customer from gmail.com
"Save your money for the thing"
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.
Sound
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.
Features
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 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.
Quality
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.
Value
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:
ALL
19 of 20 people (95%) people found this review helpful. Did you?
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Submitted April 24, 2014 by Dusty Rainey in Duck Hill, MS
"The "Real Deal" Acoustic Mic"
Verified Customer zZounds has verified that this reviewer made a purchase from us.
I play fiddle & mandolin in a Bluegrass group. I finally found a Mic that works for me. True acoustic sound without the feedback issues. I see why alot of players use them. Kinda' pricey but worth every cent. Try the pay as you play, helps the pocketbook.
Musical Background:
Been playing all my life. 30+ years. Guitar Fiddle & Mandolin.
Musical Style:
I mainly play fiddle and mandolin in a Bluegrass group. That's my love. Also play fiddle in a country group.
5 of 5 people (100%) people found this review helpful. Did you?
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Submitted October 11, 2006 by a customer from AOL.COM
"SM-81 IS THE MAC-DADDY OF MICS"
This review has been selected by our experts as particularly helpful.
Sound
Our quartet uses it for all four parts. We set all four mic alike except mine is a little hotter because I am the bass singer. JD Sumner & the Stamps and the Master's V used all SM-81. This is the cleanest mic I have ever sang over in my 30+ years in gospel. It give a clean respone when I sing those ultra notes, or the tenor hits that high c to when the lead or baritone sing on e of those tear jerkers I have not found a place it did not sound good
Features
I hate the foam windscreen that come it. We use the Wintech 1200
Quality
Road Rugged I have dropped mine several times it stills works great
Value
Well worth money. but can get expensive when you one for everybody but you get what you pay for.
Musical Background:
Pastor(20 years) Southern Gospel Singer(30+yrs)
Musical Style:
Southern Gospel, Church
31 of 35 people (89%) people found this review helpful. Did you?
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Submitted April 23, 2019 by Steve S in Dallas, TX
"Awesome Small Diaphragm Condenser"
Verified Customer zZounds has verified that this reviewer made a purchase from us.
Great Sound. Great Build Quality. It comes with a nice case and a windscreen, and mic clip. The high pass filter is quite useful. Took my acoustic guitar recordings up to the next level. Through and through it is a professional mic. Only cons are the high pass switch is little odd to move and compared to other condensers it needs a lot of gain, but not as much as a dynamic mic. Overall, I recommend it anyone looking to recording acoustic guitar or other instruments any day. I'm very happy with it. I will be keeping it for a long long time.
Musical Background:
Home Studio Artist
Musical Style:
Alternative Rock
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Submitted October 31, 2019 by Kerry Palanjian in Huntingdon Valley, PA
"SM-81s"
I have two of these. Bought my first in the 80's for around $175, and the next year, Shure raised the price to $250, because they realized they had a winner and had underpriced them. Unlike other products over time that go down in price, you can see what they sell for now. I use with acoustic guitar, and have, upon occasion used two on ONE guitar in stereo for a very unique effect. Wish I had one or two more to be quite honest. Use with my 71 Martin D-28 and have introduced this mic to others. With the negative proximity affect of micing an acoustic guitar and falsely boosting the base, the two position roll off on the mic simply makes this one of the best mics for acoustic instruments, especially guitar. Many performers have no idea their guitars sound so dam boomy due to this typical effect when using other mics. But this roll off simply solves this problem and you can move the mic back from the guitar giving the performer more latitude while performing, without any drop off in sound that can occur with less sensitive mics.
Musical Background:
Started playing when 12, am 67 now. Toured nationally in 1976. House musician at a restaurant in Delaware Ct PA for 10 years.
Musical Style:
James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Gordon Lightfoot.
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