Vocal Mic: Shure SM vs Beta

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Motterpaul, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. Motterpaul

    Motterpaul Tone is in the Ears

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    I asked about good vocal mics here awhile back and several people mentioned the Shure Beta 87A.

    I listened to the sound tests on the Shure site, and it seems somewhat dull and bassy - on purpose. I am just asking, Is there something about the unique sound of this mic that translates to live PAs in a good and unexpected way?

    To my ear the SM87A (similar but different) is a far better sounding mic. But I do not have experience using either.

    Does anyone out there have live experience with both mics and can tell me why the Beta 87A seems to be preferred?

    Here is the Mic Listening Lab for Shure: http://www.shure.com/americas/buyers-guide/mic-listening-lab

    Please check out SM87A vs Beta 87A and Beta 87C - to me both sound uncrisp compared the the SM mics.
     
  2. rokpunk

    rokpunk Member

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    dynamic vs condenser mic
    apples and oranges
     
  3. TimmyP

    TimmyP Member

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    How do they expect one to judge the differences when the tracks aren't all the same. The Betas aren't un-crisp, they are flatter on the top and beefier on the bottom - the SMs sound dreadful, even the 86 and 87.

    From my experience, I'd go with the Sennheiser E935, EV PL80a or N/D767a, or Audix OM3/OM6/OM7.
     
  4. n8cjohn

    n8cjohn Member

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    For a handheld condenser - I prefer the Blue enCore 300 over the Beta 87A. Costs less and feels more solid too.

    Either way - try before you buy if at all possible. Find the right mic for you (or whoever is singing).
     
  5. Teleking

    Teleking Supporting Member

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    I disagree with those above, sorry.

    I own a EV767, a Sen 935, 945, 835, Beta 87a, Beta 58, and did own a Blue encore 300, EV 967, Audix OM6 and OM7. As the main vocalist, I've tried about everything there is.

    To me, the Beta 87a is just head and shoulders better. It starts to sound like a studio mic. It's not there, but it's a much better than the others. I do think the Blue Encore 300 is a good mic, but it's so "hot" that it's hard to eq right with the rest of your other mics. The other thing I hated about the Blue was the capsule. It's so small. It has a terrible proximity effect--worse than any other mic I've tried. You have to be very much into the mic to get the best out of it. That works for just singers, but I also play guitar and I'm not always exactly where I need to be in mic proximity. If you're not right up into the Blue the sound gets lost. Same thing with the EV 967, which is a good mic.

    I really want to try the Neumann, but we play so loud on stage I'm sure it wouldn't work for what we do. Might work well for acoustic settings, though.
     
  6. rickenbackerkid

    rickenbackerkid Member

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    The Shure Beta series has an extra presence boost (4K ish) and a stronger low end.
    This is useful, but I don't like it very much. It's fine and even good on a lead vocal, but I just find in our church situation with multiple backing vocals that I need to EQ it out all the time.

    I prefer the SM58 to the Beta 58 in every situation except for a singing drummer, and the SM87 or 86 to the Beta 87A.

    Teleking, glad you found a mic that works for you! That's the most important thing - trying mics out until one seems to fit. I don't sing lead, but I do sing backing vocals, and my SM58 goes everywhere with me. I know how it will sound and it fits in the mix.
     
  7. rokpunk

    rokpunk Member

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    i'm a shure guy though and through when it comes to vocal mics (i've got about a dozen 58's and about the same of beta 58's, and about 20 wireless units all with beta 58 cartridges...slx ulxp and ur4d systems). i've done more than one blind test with my shure rep, who happens to be a good friend of mine, and every time, though my meyer boxes, the beta 58 sounds the best to both me and my A2 tech. every time. doesn't matter if it's wired or wireless, the beta 58 sounded better to us in every test. of course, we then tested the beta 58 wired version vs. everything from sennheiser to audix, to ev, to akg, low end to high end dynamic mics. now, of course, the 87 is a condenser so, it sound "better", right? well, to my ears, and on my system, nothing beats a beta 58. i've tried.
     
  8. RAILhead

    RAILhead (real name is Maury, BTW) Gold Supporting Member

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    I've tried pretty much all of Shure's vocal mics, and settled on an Audix OM7.
     
  9. rokpunk

    rokpunk Member

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    i'm not gonna tell you that my test is better than your test, but i can tell you that mine was in a controlled environment, very consistent from mic to mic. using high end gear. i should have added that to my original post.
     
  10. n8cjohn

    n8cjohn Member

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    Agree. I used the Beta 87A for 14 months thinking it was the best thing going for my voice - then it crapped the bed and I bought the Blue. Sang with it for about 4 or 5 months (lead singer/r. guitarist - rock band) and decided to pay Shure to fix the 87A and keep it as a back up. Shure sent me a brand new replacement for the repair fee ($116 IIRC). As soon as it showed up - I A/B'd it with the enCore 300 and for me and my voice it was no contest. I immediately sold the Shure - as I was never going to use it again.

    This one works for me - that one works for him. Try before you buy.

    With a failure at 14 months - I was not impressed with the reliability of the Shure. I've had the enCore for 8 months now - so the jury is still out. The Blue feels way more stout to me.
     
  11. billfoma

    billfoma Member

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    I have an Audix OM5 and a Beta 58. I prefer The OM5.
     
  12. kentronicus

    kentronicus Member

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    During my road stretch when I was sharing lead vocals in the band I was in, I decided that there had to be something better, something that fit my vocal. I tried everything I could get my hands on, and at that time settled on a Beta 87a. It was ok, but I did have one die on me. While it did sound good, it doesn't like loud stage volume or hot wedges. When it's dialed in right it's awesome on someone with a non-screaming vocal.

    I never was enamored with any of the other betas that much. IMO the best of any of the rest is the 57a as a do anything mic and the 52 is OK but not my fave as a kick/instrument mic. In my rentals I went through a period where I had all betas, and to my ears there's a something there around that presence peak that I don't like in the Beta 58. To my ears I'd almost rather have a regular 58. Let me rephrase that. I'd rather have an old, not worn out USA made 58, not the current hencho en Mexico POS.

    And yes I do have current new production 58s in my rentals for the folks that just have to have 'em or don't care.

    My fave mics FWIW:

    vocals - Audix OM-6 for general purpose, Beta 87 if it is a softer vocal or someone running IEMs
    Honorable mention: old USA SM-58, OM-7 or old USA SM57 (w/windscreen kit) for loud stages and hot wedges

    I currently use an OM-6 for my vocal, it seems to suit me right now until I hear something better.
     
  13. eddie knuckles

    eddie knuckles Member

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    +1 - as above - I have both, and I am glad I do, but the BLUE 300 comes out more often than the Beta 87A
     
  14. Brantleycoker

    Brantleycoker Member

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    I have gone through many different mics trying to find the one that works for me and i have landed on the beta87a I am a worship leader and lead every wednesday. I have had this mic for the past 2 years and it has never let me down never cracked or popped on me. It has a very natural presence i think. We use sm86s in the room I play in and I forgot my beta at home one week and used it and it was no where near the quality and tone of my beta. Ive used e835, sm58, beta58, sm57, beta57 (my second fav) e935, sm86, and many others. If I could get comfortable with it live I would use an sm7b all the time. I used it on my vocal one week and loved its warmth and presence. but I liked it on my amp better so back it went. best of luck!
     
  15. Motterpaul

    Motterpaul Tone is in the Ears

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    Thank you all for the input. I meant to get back to this thread earlier but I forgot to subscribe.

    So - not much love for the SM87a - I am surprised?
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2012
  16. rokpunk

    rokpunk Member

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    don't be too surprised. dynamic mics just work better for some applications.
     
  17. rickenbackerkid

    rickenbackerkid Member

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    The SM87a is a condenser, is it not?
     
  18. Somniferous

    Somniferous Member

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    The 87a makes an awesome mic sometimes purely because it has a tighter polar pattern than the 58. It makes it easier to get higher gain before feedback in certain situations. although monitor placement needs to change a bit as super cardioid mics do have a lobe to the rear of the mic.
     
  19. soulohio

    soulohio Member

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    I always played loud stages and really dug my Beta 57a...I would like to try others... when i get a good soundman my vocals pop like fireworks..
     
  20. rokpunk

    rokpunk Member

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    yes, it is. i was commenting on the post above mine where the poster said that he was surprised that the 87 doesn't get more love. sometimes condenser mics, especially live, are the wrong "go to" mics.
     

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