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Shure SM81

Condenser Studio Microphone

The Shure SM81 is a high-quality, directed condenser microphone with cardioid directivity designed for studio recording, broadcasting, TV recordings and public addressing. Its very linear, wide frequency range, low inherent noise and low noise sensitivity at high-frequencies, have made the SM81 the standard for recording acoustic instruments such as guitar, piano and drums. This extremely robust microphone operates on phantom power and performs reliably over under extreme temperatures and humidity conditions. The SM81 is equipped with a three-way switchable high-pass filter and 10 dB attenuation. Foam windscreen, and case for carrying and storage are included.

  • Cardioid directivity for maximum isolation of the signal source and reduced background noise
  • High quality, permanently polarised condenser microphone
  • Linear frequency response for precise sound reproduction
  • Low inherent noise and high overdrive protection
  • Distortion-free recordings even at high sound pressure
  • Low sensitivity to interference at high-frequencies
  • 3-Step switchable high-pass filter: Linear, 6 or 18 dB / octave reduction
  • Switchable 10 dB attenuation
  • Phantom power in accordance with DIN 45 596 with voltage from 12 to 48 V
  • Robust steel version
  • Can be used even under extreme temperature and humidity conditions
  • Frequency range: 20 Hz / 20 kHz
  • Output impedance: 85 Ohm
  • Sensitivity: -45 dBV / Pa (5.62 mV)
  • Total Harmonic Distortion (131 dB SPL at 250 Hz, 800 Ohm load): < 0.5 %
  • Maximum sound pressure (at 1 kHz, 800 Ohm load): 136 dB SPL
  • Windshield and microphone clamp included
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Further Information

Battery Powered No
Directional Microphone No
Stereo Pair No
switchable lowcut Yes
switchable pad No
characteristic cardoid

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Shure SM81 2x + K&M 210/9 Black 2x + the sssnake SM10BK 2x +
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starting from £659

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Our most popular Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones
75 Customer Ratings
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If you want a good, neutral mic for affordable price...
Tamáás, 30.12.2017
I like recording acoustic Instruments.

I wanted to buy a pair of quality smal diaphragm cardioid condenser mic what has linear frequency response, and really wide transparency, so what can transmit well also below 100 Hz, and really brings high frequencies (also 15khz-20khz) without annoying colouring. So what can give a neutral and full picture of an instrument in a not distant
mic position where a cardioid characteristic is enough.
And I like its sound.

I listened to a huge amount of records, I read tons of tech spec, user rewiews etc.
Finally I found this Mics: Schoeps mk-4, Neumann km-84,
Shure Sm-81. The Schoeps was the best for me. The Km-84 was the Second, Shure was the third.
I needed more money for the Schoeps. The Neumann firma doesn't produce the Km 84 anymore. I bought the SM 81 stereo pair.
And I'm really satisfied! I have already recorded steel string acoustic guitars, drum overhead, percussion and saxophone. All of the records were really successful!!! This mic brings excellent clarity for the price.
Important: I have high quality audio interface ( RME FF 800)
And: This mic doesn't have high output. (5,6 mV!) If you have a silent sound source, for example a small bodied nylon string guitar, you need an appropriate quality audio interface for good result. (It's actually an elementary thing.)
And! Don't forget: this is a mic with cardioid characteristic!
Cardioids has proximity effect (increased lowend) at nearfield recording situations! If your instrument quiet silent maybe you have to put the mic so close to get a transparent sound, but in this case you may have strong proximity if your instrument has significant lowend. And It can be
annoying, in case of any audio interface!
A silent nylon string guitar can be difficult also because of
the boomy sound of the sound hole.


So if you want to record acoustic instruments with cardioid, you like the neutral character, you have a good audio chain, and your instrument not a silent one with significant lowend, and you don't need the absolute high end and you don't want to sell your car for a pair of sdc, i can recommend this mic!
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Excellent SDC for Percussion and Acoustic Guitar
13.03.2016
The SM81 is an industry standard for high hats. Extremely robust, it really can take the abuse which comes with life on the road, and even the occasional off target attack from an enthusiastic drummer's stick.

I have three of these, as in addition to micing hats, they also make excellent overheads.

On acoustic, they produce a slightly more mellow tone than the KM184, or some other SDCs in the arsenal. I personally find them a useful option for jazz guitar. If you are comparing them to SDCs of a more modern design which follow the trend for a brighter tone, you may find them a little dull on anything stringed, However, they do take EQ well.

The mic comes with a pop shield (essential if using for any vocal recording as this mic is extremely sensitive to plosives), and mic clip. All is contained in a robust, gig-proof plastic case.

All in all, an excellent SDC, which because of its wide industry acceptance and rider-friendly qualities, I enthusiastically recommend particularly as a mainstay for live work.
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Studio classic that goes beyond advertisment
06.03.2017
It is a very well-known acoustic guitar mic, which would beautifully record both nylon and steel strings. But, although it is never advertised as a vocal mic, it can do an amazing job with bass/bass-baritone voices, making frequencies between 1500-2000 hz blend into the mix.
Pad and high-pass filter make it even more practical.
It will be very useful both as a single mic and as a stereo pair (shure says that sm81's "quality of the microphone is such that you can purchase two SM81's at random and know that they will be the equivalent of a matched set.")
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Great Recording Mic!
Broxigar911, 14.03.2019
I use it to record in studio violins and acoustic guitars.
It's perfect of solo instruments, it gives you exactly the clarity which you would need in a mix. The only eq that i use with this mic is just a high pass filter.

It's really sensitive for live envoirment. At my church we use it to mike a cajon and sometimes jembe. The sound outfront is good, but you cant volume it up too much, cause it gets feedback. If you cut the low's it gets better, but if you want to have a bassy sound from the cajon or the jembe you would need a bass drum mic, and this is not what i would recommend for bass.

Pros:
Overall great mic, great clarity of the sound, great for studio purpose for recording acoustic instruments like violin , cello, acoustic guitars and maybe drum overheads.

Cons: Not so great for live playing at high decibels.
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£288
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