Part 1: Unique Features
Shure expands their KSM studio condenser microphone line with the KSM44, an excellent first choice for a general purpose, "workhorse" condenser microphone that is specifically tailored for vocals but excels at any recording task.
Shure's initial foray into studio condenser microphones began with the KSM32, a side-address, cardioid microphone that uses Class A transformerless preamp circuitry. The KSM44 is a new multi-pattern microphone that expands on the established qualities of the KSM32.
Like the KSM32, the KSM44 has an extended frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz and retains the Class A transformerless head preamp. A look at the published cardioid frequency response measurement shows the KSM44 to be smooth up to about 3kHz, with a presence bump centered at about 6kHz. The curve then returns flat to about 10kHz for a slight lift and then on to a smooth roll-off out to 20kHz. The KSM32, on the other hand, has a slight rise at 3.5kHz and then another an octave higher at 7kHz. A slight dip in response at 9kHz is followed by a rise at 10kHz. KSM44's smoother frequency response is where the two microphones part company.
Two Diaphragms, Three Patterns
The KSM44 offers three pickup patterns: cardioid, bi-directional (figure-of-eight), and omni-directional. Again, published response curves show that in omni, the KSM44 has a very slight rise in the bass; otherwise it is ruler-flat to about 8kHz and then ascends to a lift at 10kHz. Omni-directional microphones exhibit no proximity effect (a bump in bass frequencies as the sound source gets closer to the capsule). The response in bi-directional shows essentially flat to 2.5kHz --where a long presence lift starts and culminates at a 4dB boost at 6.5kHz. This mic should sound great for two opposite-facing singers or musicians sharing and balancing their sound on one mic.
A Complete Package
Two mounts are included: a simple hard mount, and one of the best elastic suspension mounts I've seen. Both have a single, captive nut at their base that threads into the end of the mic's body. The mic's XLR connector is accessed through the center of this nut. With the shock mount, the mic's body is cradled in a precision-shaped basket suspension system. I like that -- unlike some other suspension mounts -- once the mic is in the basket, there's no way it can fall out no matter how the mic is positioned, even upside down. Furthermore, the microphone can be rotated freely along its vertical axis without having to undo the mount. This is a very successful mount: Shure should market them to fit other manufacturers' mics.
There are two low frequency roll-off choices. The steepest is the 18dB per octave starting at 80Hz. This is great for eliminating stage or floor rumble and A/C noise. The pad also helped tame some unwanted proximity effect I encountered when close-miking a narrator in the cardioid pattern. The gentler low frequency roll-off -- 6dB per octave curve beginning at 115Hz -- could almost be left in all the time for most close-miking jobs.
The KSM44 is a very warm and fat sounding microphone that needs little help in giving singers a big thick sound. Singers often eat the mic to add low frequencies to their sound. If you have a singer with this habit, you may have to use one of these filters to compensate. For the most part I used the mic in the flat position since the shock mount isolates it from floor noise or any other mechanical coupling. I also use an electrified pop screen to keep those mic-eating singers at bay. (Just kidding!!)