Review: Shure Beta 87A, Live Condenser Mic

Can this mic produce a studio-like vocal sound on stage?

Item: Shure Beta 87A, Hand-Held Supercardioid Condenser Microphone

Price: $249, ÂŁ229

Mic Rating:

At A Glance: The Beta 87A is a premium quality, hand-held condenser vocal microphone from Shure. It is designed for professional lead or backing vocalists on stage and offers a smooth frequency response and high sound pressure level capabilities. It has a tight supercardioid pattern to provide excellent isolation from other instruments as well as helping to minimise feedback from stage monitors. It comes with a storage bag and stand adaptor and, like most condenser microphones, it operates on phantom power (between 12-52v).

High Notes: The Beta 87A is designed with a low-frequency roll-off that helps to compensate for the microphone’s proximity effect (the boomy sound often associated with singing close to the mic). It has a tailored frequency response that features a presence rise that brightens the upper midrange and helps the vocals cut through the mix. Like the dynamic mics from Shure, the mic has a robust capsule suspension system to minimise handling noise. When comparing to similar dynamic microphones, the Beta 87A produces a similar punchy sound in the mid-range, but with the added warmth and open top-end that you would expect from a condenser microphone.

Off Pitch:
Although feedback rejection is good, if you accidently cup your hands over the grille at a gig it becomes quite prone to feeding back on stage. Also, although ideal for live vocals, its close pickup pattern reduces its usefulness as a microphone for other instruments such as acoustic guitar (like you might expect from a studio condenser mic).

VoiceCouncil Reviewer Says: Overall the Shure Beta 87A is an excellent vocal microphone that is well worth the investment if you are looking for top audio quality on stage. It produces a much more full and studio-like sound than dynamic microphones such as an SM58 and remains clear and undistorted. Saying this, its crystal clear sound may not make it the first choice for heavy rock singers, and rappers who like to cup their hands over the mic’s grille should probably look elsewhere too. At this level there is plenty of competition from other manufactures, however the Beta 87A holds its own against similarly priced alternatives such as the Audix VX-5 and Rode S1, as well as competing favourably against more expensive competition such as the Neumann KMS 105 and Sennheiser E965. If you are looking at upgrading your microphone; the Shure Beta 87A is definitely worth checking out.

Manufactutres’ Website: http://www.shure.co.uk

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  • I have been using this mic for several years now and it is by far the best on stage vocal mic I have ever used…highly recommend…

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  • Griff

    I purchased the SM85 back in 1983, the precursor to the 87, very similar in look and other attrributes. I still use it today!! Great live mic and not bad in the studio either. I’m sure there are some improvements to the 87 but if it’s anything like the 85 it’ll be an awesome mic.

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  • Bob Arndt

    I use a Beta 87 Wireless mic. At clubs with bigger systems, my sounds unbelievable. However, when using smaller systems it tend to not be as powerful as an inexpensive mic. I’ve been told by sound guys and the dealer who I bought my mic from what the problem is. My mic needs to have different EQ settings then the rest of the mics. That’s almost impossible to do with a smaller system. Any suggestions? Should I buy a better mixer?

  • At a guess I would have thought that either the PA or the EQ on the mixer is the problem. The Beta 87 is a fairly bright mic and would need different eq’ing than something like a SM58. It features a low cut to minimise a overly boomy proximity effect – on a big PA system that has a full-range bass response this balances out nicely, however if you are using a small system that is lacking in low frequencies then the mic could sound a little thin.