Shure SM81 Reviews4.8/5.0 based on 19 customer reviews
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from East Wenatchee, WA
February 13, 2013Music Background:
Best Acoustic Instrument Mic There IsWe bought one of these for micing my wife's violin for live gigs. She had been using a piezo pickup for years, and her fiddle sounded like it was coming through a 1910 Victorola. Not so with this baby! Now it sounds clean and full...just like it is supposed to. If you play live or record with any type of acoustic instrument, buy this mic. It will be the best $350.00 you ever spent! She even tried using it to record some vocals with it, and was floored listening to the playback! I haven't read a bad review of this mic yet...and there's a reason for that...it is simply the best. Period.
from San Diego, CA
November 30, 2012Music Background:
Home recordist, singer, songwriter, guitarist
I Shure Love ItI bought this mic recently to use in a spaced pair arrangement on acoustic guitar because I’d heard it mentioned often as a great choice on various discussion boards. I typically use a LDC off the picking hand and a SDC aimed at the 12th fret, and I’d used an AKG Perception 170 in the past. This mic, to my ears, is several classes above that one. I tried this mic out with a number of different preamps in either position, and it was really great in every case. With the right preamp, it captures the instrument accurately as it sounds in the room, which is exactly what I wanted. It is detailed and balanced. I will continue to use it in the neck position but I wouldn’t hesitate to use it anywhere really. Just a top quality mic, very happy with the purchase.
from Rudyard, MI
August 10, 2012Music Background:
Musician & Recording Engineer
Clean, Accurate ReproductionLove these mics on acoustic drum overheads!
from Silver Spring, MD
July 10, 2012Music Background:
Live Sound Engineer, Recording Engineer, Hobbyist Keyboard Player
Great Workhorse MicI am the house sound engineer at a very large church. Each week we run a different set up for our worship teams, and run many special events during the year. I have found that these mics always perform and do what I need them to. I LOVE to have a pair of them on the top and bottom of my snare drums, I have also found them to be great overhead drum mics, and great mics for flutes and violins. For harder/metal music where you have two guitar cabs in a stack I like to pair one of these with another mic and then run them together as a matched pair on my PM5D
from Seattle, WA
April 13, 2012Music Background:
Producer / Engineer
Swiss Army KnifeYou rarely ever read a bad review about these mics b/c as long as you have some clue about what you are doing, these mics rarely every give you a bad sound. I often pair a set of these with an A-Designs MP2-A preamp and get nothing but amazing results on acoustic guitar and drum overheads. I also love this mic on percussive sources. Its response is a quicker than most LDCs so you get a little more out of percussion. The 3 position Low Cut filter is always nice and the -10db pad comes in handy when tracking transient rich percussive sources. They also sound stellar on top and bottom snare. This is not designed to be a vocal mic but I have employed them as such several times and I am always pleased.
A bad mic with a good preamp sounds about as awful as a good mic with a bad pre. If you already have a decent pre or two, this mic (especially in pairs) is a studio workhorse that always gives me excellent results.
February 24, 2012Music Background:
Very neutral performerI've owned a pair of these for about 10 years. I also own AT4050's, Shure KSM's and some CAD mics. The Shure is a very very neutral mic that does not color the recording. (What goes in, comes out, with very high fidelity.) The microphone is a small diaphragm design. This typically reduces output a bit but improves linearity. If you need a high quality, very accurate mic for recording acoustic instruments, this is about as good as you will get. It outperforms and outlasts mics that cost a lot more.
February 20, 2012Music Background:
Musician, engineer, hobbyist
A legend in the makingIf you are like me and don't have the means for a pair of KM84s then this is your mic. A pair of these with good converters and you have a stereo kit for acoustic guitar, percussion, and drum over heads. The sound is transparent, clean and with no unwanted fizzle at the top. They're not really colored and they take eq very well if needed.
from cedar lake, in
October 31, 2011Music Background:
great service and micAwesome product. I use 2 of them for overhead drum mics. They are worth every penny. And of coarse, sweetwater came through with great customer service. i wouldn't buy from any other place.
from Baltimore-Washington Metro area
October 14, 2011Music Background:
Musician, Recording Engineer
Shure SM81Stop messing around trying to figure what mics to use on your drum kits and acoustic guitars. Do you want to sound like a real record? Well, then purchase the Shure SM81's. No, they are not "free" :) But they are an industry standard and don't break your bank. One of the best purchases I have ever made.
from Abuja Nigeria
July 27, 2011Music Background:
Live Sound Engineer
You'll find them in every RyderThese mics do not color the sound. What you hear when you play is what you will hear out of the mixer. Fantastic mics.
Also very viable for any rental company..
Steve Hebert MD
from Allen, TX
April 19, 2011Music Background:
Hobbyist, Home Studio Owner
Great mic for acoustic guitar!I use 2 of these to record acoustic guitar in true stereo and I'm blown away by the clarity and detail. This is a truly great studio tool.
from Nashville, TN USA
September 13, 2008Music Background:
Live Sound, Recording Engineer, Music Business Student
A Must Have MicWhether you are in the studio or touring live, this mic is a must have. I always keep a few around because they are so versatile. Great on almost everything. Choir, overhead, acoustic guitar, strings, woodwinds. They are expensive but well worth having a couple.
from Washington University
June 6, 2008Music Background:
T.D. in performance venue
A Swiss Army Mic...We have four SM81's, having just bought two new ones. I've found them great when paired on a Steinway and of course perfect for overhead drums. Tonight, I have all four out on stage working under a variety of high energy Indian drums but just last week we used one with wonderful results on a delicate Flamenco guitar performance; just a truly excellent mic. In my opinion, if you are putting together a mic inventory, make sure to include some SM81's. You will quickly learn to rely on their versatility and great sound.
April 17, 2008Music Background:
Recording Engineer, Live Sound Engineer, Drummer
What a snare mic!I purchased my first SM81 in the mid 80's and I'm about to purchase my 3rd. I was never quite happy with my snare sound and I had an arsenal of drum mics to choose from. A fellow engineer at the studio suggested trying the SM81 on the snare drum. It's not quite as indestructible as an SM57 so you need to pay attention to placement (top mic). The SM81 is awesome, very transparent and the low cut position comes in handy with the snare. Its polar pattern is also very nice for the snare position. You cant go wrong with this mic because you can use elsewhere with great success.
Paul Kemper bass for The Crownsmen Quartet
from Parkersburg, West Virginia
March 1, 2008Music Background:
Sang bass in Gospel Quartet's for 26 years, now with The Crownsmen Quartet
Vocal Bass microphoneOver the years singing in Southern Gospel Quartet's I have used all kinds of Mic's.
To get that rich full low bass in a studio is very easy, but on stage doing a live concert, we all strive to have that same studio quality sound.
After useing The Shure SM81 it gave me the very clean and full bottem double low C note
That why The Crownsmen put there trust in Shure Microphones the other members use Shure Beta 87A.
All of our road equiptment was purchased at Sweetwater Sound,Thru Dan Vanamerongen.
from Pensacola, FL
April 3, 2013Music Background:
Live Sound / Recording Engineer, Tech Director
SM81 is stable and great!Been using SM81s for years and they continue to deliver great sound quality on many applications.
from Byfield, MA
October 8, 2008Music Background:
Musician, Live & Recorded Sound
Acoustic Guitar, Overheads, Ambience ....These have come to be one of my favorite mics for acoustic guitar. One at the sound hole and one on the "sweetspot" of the finger board. I find them to be transparent, which is also why some people don't like them - they don't have a lot of their own character - which leaves the character up to what you are recording! That a good thing when you need it! Also great as overheads, apparently there used to be an omni capsule you could buy for these, but now it's not easy to obtain. I think I would give it higher marks if I could get an omni cap.
from Bellingham, WA
July 15, 2006Music Background:
Semi-pro musician/recording engineer
Solid, reliable, honest & great valueI bought two of these mics and while I have to say I have heard livelier mics, I am impressed with what I got for my money. They are rock solid and massive (would you expect anything less from Shure?). I use them extensively for overheads and acoustic guitar - usually in XY configuration.
from Sabattus, ME
September 12, 2006
Pretty GoodI am impressed with this microphone as a whole, but there are certain things that could make it better. Mainly, I have found the mic to have very low sensativity. There are a few other issues that took a little bit of time for me to overcome, but again I am happy with this purchase.