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Shure SM86 Handheld Condenser Microphone Reviews

5.0 stars based on 18 customer reviews
Questions about the Shure SM86 Handheld Condenser Microphone?

Questions about the Shure SM86 Handheld Condenser Microphone?

Or call us at (800) 222-4700

  • from Mississippi November 27, 2016

    Shure is sweet!

    I've been a musician for over 40 years and have tried almost every mic there is. I always come back to the SM-57 to mic my amps and the SM-beta 58 for vocals. The closest contender vocally (in my opinion) is the Audix OM-5. I read a ton of reviews on the SM-86 and decided to give it a shot. As always the guys at Sweetwater are incredible (Aric Brenner is my guy), and the mic arrived in 2 days perfectly packaged. I'll keep the rest short. This is a dream mic for my vocal range. It has the tonal characteristics of the beta 58 but for lack of a better term, it has more "punch". Highs are brilliant and lows have rich tone. But it doesn't stop there. I hooked it to my home studio and it blew away my Rode NT1. Being honest, it didn't quite measure up to my Neumann but I'd still record with it all day! The last test is to mic my Taylor acoustic but I already know what the result will be. I'd highly recommend this product for a wide variety of applications.

  • from Texas August 22, 2016Music Background:
    Voice, guitar, sound systems

    Stellar Vocal Mic Much More Versatile Than Expected

    I bought this mic primarily for my own use; I don't like to swallow the mic when singing, plus I'm usually playing guitar and looking cross-eyed at a music stand, so creating some space without riding the gain too high is a requirement. However, the first uses were on other musicians, and as the result of a couple of happy accidents, I realized how great this mic can perform at a series of shows featuring world and alt-folk music.

    On the first night, one of our guest artists -- a violinist -- needed a vocal mic for speaking to the audience. Not a problem, I'll put out the SM86 for him, since I wouldn't be able to mic him close. However, he left his violin's DI setup at the hotel, so the mic ended up on violin as well. Beautiful, rich tone and no feedback.

    On the second night, I instructed the sound crew to place the SM86 for the riq (like a Middle Eastern tambourine) and SM57s on the three doumbeks for the first act. When I see that they have rearranged themselves so that the lead drummer, an internationally reknown player, was now sitting in front of the SM86, I held my breath and the gain on the mixer, having never run this type of percussion through this mic, until he played his first licks. Holy smokes! The SM86 made the performance jump to life; by comparison, the SM57 sounded dull and honky on the other drums. The mic never complained no matter how hard he slapped the drum head. All of the playing on the rim of the drum sounded crisp and detailed. I expect this from a condenser mic, but I was blown away at the discovery of this "off-label" use. I little bit of EQ to bring out the rim never made the sound harsh. So...I instructed the sound crew to use the SM86 on all lead drummers for the rest of the show.

    In summary: this is a stellar vocal mic, but after this past weekend, I now consider this to be the most versatile mic in my kit.

  • from April 20, 2016

    Great mic!

    I'm quite happy with this. I needed a condenser for my vocal and never really liked the Beta 87A. This seems much more even on the highs with somewhat of a reduced proximity effect. I'd be really interested to put it up beside a Neumann KMS series, I can't imagine liking a stage mic more. Great deal for the $.

  • from Maine June 29, 2015Music Background:
    Semi-Pro, solo, acoustic trio, and 6 piece rock band

    Amazing Mic

    This is an awesome live mic. Condenser gives you great range of sound that is crisp and clear in the high and the low range. Different from your typical SM58 or other "regular" mics, it produces such great tone that I bought a second one to use and have my older one as a backup! So worth it.

  • from Harvard, MA January 30, 2015Music Background:
    Amateur - been picking around since the early 60's

    SM86 - Great Mic

    I have a 12 year old SM58 that I use on a Roland AC-60 and Fishman Loudbox for vocals and it is a good mic. Then after reading recommendations here I bought the SM86 and it's a big WOW. Crystal clear with great response and for vocals, I need all the help I can get. :^) One caution: cardioid condenser mic's are more fragile than the SM58 type of mic which is pretty bullet proof, so when I have the SM86 on the mic stand, I use the enclosed Velcro loop strap to go around the cable should the mic ever slip thus avoiding it hitting the floor. Great mic.

  • from Anaheim CA September 11, 2014Music Background:
    Songwriter, Producer, Multi-Instrumentalist


    Wow. What can I say that hasn't already been said. This mic is extremely clear and present - very natural sounding. If you are used to SM58's, you will sing better because you will hear yourself a lot better. You can set all your EQ to flat, and if you want that warm, up close sound, you can take the low-cut filter off of your mic channel too! In other words, the response curve is perfectly tailored for vocals, and it sounds great on male and female voices.
    I would rate the SM86 an outstanding value for the money - so much so that I'm getting 4 of these for my acoustic vocal group!
    Shure's best kept secret? Indeed.

  • from Lake Tahoe NV June 21, 2014Music Background:
    Working bass player

    Ready for a clear mic?

    Love my new Shure SM86. I got the package deal with the boom stand and 20' cable. Smokin' deal!
    OK, the mic. CLEAR. Brings out details in your voice that at first take a little getting used to. But I hear my pitch more clearly, especially in the lower range. My voice needs a little boost in the low frequencies. I used to rely on the proximity effect to get that from the SM 58, and Beta 58s that I own. So the big difference there is you can sing low parts right on your 86 and the clarity is outstanding. If you miss the bottom, just boost it a hair. I am usually not the lead singer in the bands that I play bass for. But I am gearing up to start doing more, and maybe even front my own band sometimes. This mic will really help a lot. I'm glad that I discovered how good it made me sound one night at sound check when I compared our lead singers SM86 to my Beta 58. Bought it right away.
    BTW the stand is great quality and so is the mic cable. Sweetwater rocks!! Buy it.

  • from North Dakota June 17, 2014Music Background:
    Event Coordinator

    University approval!

    This mic was recommended to us for use in our auditoriums and for large groups at our University. We have been greatly impressed by the quality of sound it produces. I also appreciate the clean look- very sharp and professional!

  • from Redding, CA December 6, 2013Music Background:
    Pro Musician, Songwriter

    Love this Microphone!

    The difference between this microphone and my old Shure SM58 was so obvious that even the non-musicians in the room could tell the difference. The sound is clear - and I love what it does for my low voice - either live or recorded!

  • from Palmdale CA USA July 19, 2013Music Background:
    live performer, guitarist/vocalist

    totally satisfied

    been using beta 58 for a while. decided to take it up a notch since using a Behringer monitor with phantom power. all these years i've been shorting myself. the SM86 not only sounds great, but my vocals have improved because i can hear my actual voice with such clarity without working so hard. best money i've spent on gear lately

  • from April 20, 2013Music Background:
    Pro vocalist, songwriter, performer, producer.

    Shure's best kept secret!

    The detail and clarity of this mic is impressive...nothing in this price range compares. Makes a Beta 58 sound muffled. The bottoms are rolled off nicely so the little proximity that is there is pleasantly warm and not boomy.
    I'm running it through an ART Voice Channel now and it sounds rich and beautiful

  • from London Uk July 16, 2012Music Background:

    The Daddy of all Condenser Mics

    As a singer/songwriter I love experimenting with different mics, when i tried this one at home and at a gig i was simply blown away.

    The clarity was what impressed me plus the warmth, Fantastic for close miking. really makes your voice shine, plus i can't believe the price. This is way worth the money that it is.
    I actually prefer this to the beta 87a, and that mic is also brilliant. This mic suits my voice & style more.

    I am so excited about using this mic and now after every gig , i have so many great responses. i would definaly reccomend this mic.

  • from Bellingham, WA September 8, 2011Music Background:
    Hobbyist, Home Recordist, Producer, Gigging Musician

    Extremely versatile!

    I have used this mic for 4 years every week as my vocal mic and it's good for ANY kind of vocal if you know how to use it. Just recently, in my home studio, I also tried it on my acoustic guitar and it was incredible. No EQ required, it just sounded good. Not too shimmery and not too low-mid either, just a straight flat but warm sound. So I bought a second one that now lives as a goto mic in my studio.

  • from WI November 15, 2008Music Background:
    Professional audio engineer and composer since 1978

    As Good or Better Than Lrg Studio Mics

    First off, Sweetwater's service is exemplary!

    As for the Shure SM86... to be honest I've been recording professionally off and on since the 1970's in both live and studio situations. I have used a lot of $600+ mics including the more expensive Neumann U87. Oh and I'm not being paid to write this review.

    These days the market is flooded with cheap mics in the ($50 to $300 price range or there abouts) all competing fiercely for your wallet, but what do they all have in common?... apparently crystal clear sound but most are a little thin sounding in the final mix, some are harsh in the top-end, some have too much sibilance issues, and the proximity effect isn't that great and certainly not as great compared to the Shure SM86 considering it's meant to be for live use (but surprisingly good for recording too). If you insist on having a decent large studio condenser mic then don't get less than for example: AKG C 414 B-XL II, Neumann U 87 or Shure-KSM44.

    You can use the Shure SM86 to record vocals in the same room with the TV on and the dog snoring loudly. OK! A slight exaggeration hehehehe but you get the picture.

    Having said all that! The point is, a lot of home studio music producers insist that you should get a large studio condenser mic to rec vocals but the point they miss most is that almost all and possibly all of those cheap ($50 to $300 or there abouts) larger studio condenser mics falls short of excellence no matter how good the mic positioning is, no matter how good the mic pre is, no matter how good the Waves L2 is, no matter how good the room treatment is, or whatever is used to help sweeten up the sound!

    The Shure SM86 has a warm, rich, up-close in-your-face sound that is specifically designed to make vocals sound great and has incredible proximity that is very smooth, not harsh at all and perfect for both male and female vocals and makes the vocals stand out in the mix, whatever mix that may be, be it a flood of screaming guitars, bass, drums and orchestra.

    Honestly the Shure SM86 is absolutely outstanding.

    But hey, it's your money to be spent, it's your choice.

  • from virginia August 14, 2007Music Background:
    active musician/singer

    shure sm86

    This mic really brings vocals to the front. clear and crisp with perfect balance. I've been using sm58's and 57's, and those are good mics, but the sm 86 takes it to a new level. I highly recomend!

  • from December 30, 2016

    Shure SM86

    I love the mic, great sonics, but I have to increase the gain more than I do with my audio-technica mics.

  • from Taylors SC USA March 8, 2015Music Background:
    Part time pro


    Its a great microphone I would recommend it to anyone who wants to sound good. I would also recommend Sweetwater music to anyone who wants excellent service. Thanks Sweetwater

  • from Kentucky April 11, 2014Music Background:
    Musicain 40 years

    SM 86

    Really great sounding mic for the money. No feedback issues Blows away my old SM 58. They shiiped really fast as Sweetwater always does. I like these guys

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