Hands-On Review:Shure KSM Series
At home in the studio & onstage
By Norman Finley
The thoroughness and effectiveness of Shure's design and engineering are remarkable. NASA could learn a thing or two from them. Shure mics perform beautifully, last forever, and are able to survive in the harshest environments. The time-tested SM58 and SM57 are shining examples, and now a new line of studio condenser mics—the KSM Series—are once again proving Shure's expertise.
KSMs are engineered for the real-world conditions and needs of those who use them. They have the performance specs required by pro studios, but Shure has also designed them to handle the physical demands of home studios, mobile recording, and even some live sound reinforcement applications.
Most studio condenser mics are precise, delicate, and expensive instruments. Engineers handle them with kid gloves. By comparison, KSM mics are built tough for use outside studios. They're not indestructible, but they're not super-delicate either. They'll handle location and live recording situations and survive most accidents and rough handling.
Designed for versatility
Most nonprofessionals don't have a locker full of mics. They need to do a lot with just a few, so versatility is important. KSMs are designed to be all-purpose rather than specialized. The three side-address models work well for voices; acoustic instruments such as piano, guitar, strings, drums, percussion, brass, woodwinds; and low-frequency instruments such as bass and kick drums. They are great for ambient miking, as well as chorus and orchestral overhead miking.
Advanced features enhance their versatility letting you tailor these mics to a wide range of recording and performing situations. For example, the KSM44's switchable cardioid, omni, and bidirectional polar patterns let you choose pickup shapes to match nearly any environment or instrument. Roll-off switches alter frequency ranges so that in live recording, for example, low-end rumble is eliminated. Attenuation switches alter the mic's sensitivity so it doesn't become overloaded by high-volume sources. Our online Microphone Buying Guide explains these advanced features more fully.
Priced to be good deals
All KSM models are moderately priced while their performance compares favorably with much costlier mics. Shure sweetens the deal further by including sturdy cases. Side-address models include excellent suspension mounts—a $100 to $200 extra cost with other mics.
The KSM mics' versatility, durability, and affordability assure they'll become classics. KSMs are perfect for those seeking high-quality recordings on a budget.