Monday, January 16, 2012

Shure 55SH Series II Microphone Review


Today we are looking at the direct descendent of the founding father of modern stage microphones: the Shure 55SH Series II Unidyne vocal microphone. I think everybody that does live sound work should have of these in their mic case.

The original Shure 55 was introduced in 1939, and was downsized to its current appearance in 1951. The model 55H was revolutionary for its time as it used a cardioid polar pickup pattern that made it less susceptible to feedback when used around loudspeakers. Other microphones of the era had omnidirectional patterns that would pick up all kinds of stage noise. This made the 55H popular for stage applications, and they became the iconic microphones that you would see entertainers such as Elvis using n the 1950s.

I remember that a Shure 55H was this was the only microphone that they had at my grade school, and the janitor set it up on a stand with a cast iron base for assemblies and programs. These microphones only look good on simple stands like that. But I digress…

The Shure 55SH Series II maintains the cool features of the original microphone. This includes the pretty and polished yet still rugged die-cast body. There is the also the self-tensioning swivel mount with a built-in ON/OFF switch. The mount accepts a standard XLR microphone cable, and there is also a threaded microphone stand socket as well. You will need to remove the star washer on most microphone stands as it will interfere with fitting a microphone cable into the mount.

The 55SH retains the classic looks and charm of the original, but its guts are thoroughly modern. It is a low-impedance (150 ohm) balanced output dynamic microphone that is compatible with microphone inputs that are rated from 75 to 300 ohms. The cartridge is shock-mounted, making it less susceptible to stand-transmitted noises. Its frequency response is rated from 50 to 15,000 Hz.

This is foremost a vocal microphone that was designed for broadcasting and live performance, so Shure incorporated a presence peak on the original microphones, and this feature carries over to the current production models. This means that it is a bright microphone that is very clear and not terribly compressed. Despite its inherent brightness the 55SH is still a warm-sounding microphone. In fact, I find it to be a bit warmer than my trusty Shure SM57.

The Shure 55SH Series II is a great microphone for live shows, particularly if you are looking for a classy and easy to use microphone for an emcee to use. As long as the ON/OFF switch doesn’t confuse him…



  1. I sent a very old, nonworking 55SH back to Shure for repair. They wrote me, saying they no longer had repair parts and wondered if they could have mine for their museum. In return, they sent me the newer version, brand new. Wish I hadn't done the swap. The new one basically has the innards of their SM58 (a factory rep told me over the phone), thus the warmer sound over the SM57. I used it for a year or two, but since I no longer do covers of oldies, it didn't make sense to continue with it.
    BTW- I'm born on Oahu (1949) and wondered why the Hawaiian lingo on your site. I like it!
    My blog here is Mike's Boomer Blog, but I don't contribute to it much anymore. Nobody really reads it. LOL

  2. When I was a student engineering intern at Shure Bros. in Evanston during 1746-1976 I bought some blemished 57s and 58s. They're all I've ever used on stage, and have been completely bullet-proof, of course.

  3. @Mike -- I love Hawaii, so a mahalo at the end of each post seems a fitting tribute.

    @Paul -- you can never go wrong with a Shure microphone.

  4. Do you know what tipe of stand I need for that microphone?