Friday, August 24, 2012

Shure Beta 52A Microphone Review


Like many others, I am a big fan of Shure microphones, and they build them for almost every application you can imagine. Today we are going to take a look at the Shure Beta 52A, which is one of the most popular microphones on the market for kick drums and bass instruments. I have used a cheap set of drums microphones for a long time and finally decided to upgrade my kick drum mic and this one has worked out very well.

For starters, the Beta 52A is a big, gnarly dynamic microphone with a large diaphragm. It was designed with a focus on low low-frequency characteristics and with an ability to handle very high pressure levels (up to 174db at 1000Hz), which makes it perfect for picking up a kick drum. You could actually mount this microphone inside the drum, but I have found my best sound by positioning it just outside the port.

The frequency response is rated from 20Hz to 10kHz, with boosts in the lows and high-mids. Positioning the microphone very close to the sound source, the Beta 52A provides around +6dB per octave from 700Hz down to around 50Hz where it plateaus. Of course, you will not see as much bass boost if the microphone is moved further away. And the Shure Beta 52A has a supercardioid polar pattern that is rotationally symmetrical about the microphone axis. This provides high gain (before feedback) and excellent isolation from unwanted sounds.

This is a stout unit, coming in at around 22 ounces. It has a hardened steel grill and a pretty silver blue enamel finish over its die cast metal body. No plastic here. The Beta 52 uses a neodymium magnet for high signal–to–noise ratio output, and it has a pneumatic shock mount to minimize transmission of mechanical noise.

There is a neat built-in stand adapter that locks into place and does not move by itself even when subjected to the intense vibration s that a loud kick drum will produce. In the stand adapter is an integrated male XLR connector that positions the microphone cable so it does not stick out too far, which is nice if stage real estate is at a premium.

When using this microphone, I have found that it can provide as much bass output as anybody would ever want, so some modifications to your equalizer settings may be needed. This will help it to not drown out the bass guitar. It is particularly nice with smaller kick drums, as it can really bring them to life.

The Shure Beta 52A is not the world’s cheapest microphone. In fact, you can buy a set of 5 cheap drum microphones with crummy mounts for half the price of this mic, but this one is worth the money and it is the best drum microphone in its price range. It has a list price of $236, and a street price of $189. If you are going to purchase one of these I would stick with a major retailer, and avoid craigslist or eBay deals that are too good to be true. Due to the popularity of Shure products, they are being counterfeited like there is no tomorrow, and you don’t want to get burned.


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