Product Review: SHURE MICROPHONES’ KSM9

In Uncategorized by tfwm

ALL MICROPHONES ARE THE SAME. WHY SHOULDN’T I JUST GET THE MOST COST EFFECTIVE MODEL AND BE DONE WITH IT?”

Well the answer to that question is this. If you have a speaker system still left over from the cold war with a frequency response of outdoor paging horns used to keep the cows from getting lonely, then you probably can use whatever you want. However, if you are looking for a microphone for your performance audio system that will make your worship leader and praise team stand out and be heard, you probably want to be a little more choosy.

Shure Brothers microphones have had the standard in touring and live performance microphones for many years. The SM 57, 58 and 87 are used by more professional sound companies than any other makes and models I can think of. They have proven themselves over the years to know what the traveling singer needs and wants. Performance is everything when it comes to reinforcing live vocals. There are many things you need to consider when choosing a microphone for your singer.

Let’s start with the pattern. Most good microphones for stage are either a cardioid or hyper cardioid type. This means it will pick up the voice very well at the business end of the device while rejecting what is coming from the back, and even in some cases the sides. The pattern of course is the first place to start, but now you must go to the sound of that device.

While there are many microphones to choose from, you will quickly find out which sounds the best on you particular artist. You should also consider what the artist thinks of the feel, and the look as well as the weight.

Is it a comfortable microphone to hold? How far do I need to hold this microphone from my face? Did you know that every microphone has a different proximity affect? This means that each microphone’s frequency response changes with how close or far from the singers mouth the diaphragm is. This also relates to how much “sound pressure level” your particular artist can generate. OK now you know where I’m going with this.

In my over thirty years of doing shows on three different continents and all fifty states, I am just a little jaded when it comes to new products. Engineers of my era are very opinionated and hate change.

The joke is true… (Question: How many sound men does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Ten; one to actually do it and nine to talk about how good the old one was.)

This makes me just a little skeptical when a manufacturer hands me a new microphone to try. However, I am always glad when a microphone does what the literature says it will do. (I know, I’m a little complicated.)

I am also equally excited when a manufacturer explores new territory in live performance microphones. The new KSM9 is truly a step ahead in microphone technology and it has been a long time coming.

This microphone acts and feels a lot like Shure’s legendary SM87 yet has some unique characteristics of its own.

Shure advertises this microphone as uniting the best of studio and stage. The KSM9 incorporates a dual diaphragm design consisting of dual gold layered, low-mass Mylar diaphragms, with switchable polar patterns (cardioid and super-cardioid) and electronic components that include Class A transformerless preamplifier circuitry, and gold-plated internal and external connectors.

It is available in wired and wireless versions with champagne and charcoal grey finishes, and comes with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty.

They included a carrying case (a la Neumann) and it is first rate. My first thought was: “I love this case. Even if this microphone is just another average mic on my shelf, I have to have this case.”

This of course is not just another microphone. The KSM9 continues Shure’s design philosophy of live performance microphones. It has a solid feel, with the Shure legendary endurance standards that have made the SM stage microphones such reliable performers. Of course I haven’t used it as a “hammer mic” yet like my trusty old 58s but, trust me I’ll get around to it and let you know.

I did however use this microphone on one of my favorite Worship leaders in a church setting. He sounded like he was in the studio. The upper mids and highs are extremely accurate. The high end response was great and did not bite my head off. The microphone was smooth and well-behaved, even at high stage SPLs. These levels really surprised me and I do not surprise easily. I felt like I could bite somebody’s head off, if I wanted to.

The down side of this microphone is also its accuracy. It is not a particularly warm sounding microphone, with it’s noticeable close proximity response.

I may not be able to use this on everyone.

I did however get a chance to put this microphone through one of my favorite tube preamps and it warmed it right up.

This also may not be the choice for a singer who can’t keep a microphone in front of their face. Yet, in my opinion this is also what makes this the perfect large venue touring microphone.

This is the microphone you want to cut through 10,000,000 cubic feet of air right to the audience’s ears like a hot knife through butter. Be wary of something else too- this microphone will show all of the flaws in your singer’s voice. This thing hides nothing.

The KSM9 is a very controllable microphone, and I think it should be in every touring company’s arsenal of must-have microphones. It belongs right next to the best microphones in your special drawer of your favorite vocal mics.

If you are looking for an accurate, controllable, onstage condenser microphone, you would be well advised to give this microphone an audition. Even if you are an old crusty engineer like me, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Yes, I like this microphone a lot.