SHURE KSM27

Shure KSM27 Cardioid Capacitor Microphone

Published in SOS July 2002
Bookmark and Share

Reviews : Microphone
Photos: Mike Cameron

Cardioid Capacitor Microphone

A versatile, entry-level large-diaphragm condenser mic with a particularly well balanced performance.


Paul White

A few years back, all the big-name mics came at big-name prices, but the influx of ever-cheaper Chinese-made studio mics has forced the manufacturers to change their marketing strategy, at least as far as the project studio market is concerned. Although the cheap imports offer exceptional value and work outrageously well for their price, most still perform noticeably less well than the best mics from the established names, either sounding less tonally smooth and/or being a little noisier than the mics they purport to emulate. This has given companies like AKG, Audio Technica, Neumann, Sennheiser and Shure the opportunity to introduce their own lower-cost models to fill the gap between the entry-level imports and their own classic models, which most would admit are priced beyond the reach of the average project studio owner.

Shure's new KSM27 fits that profile exactly. It is a fixed-pattern cardioid model featuring a one-inch diaphragm capsule protected by a three-stage mesh windshield and perched on top of a shorter-than-average body. Switches are provided for two settings of low cut (flat, 6dB/oc

Shure KSM27 £382
pros
Excellent tonal balance combining low-end weight and high-end detail.
Good-quality shockmount included.
Good build quality.
cons
No hard case supplied.
summary
A genuine step up from the 'me too' budget capacitor mics, but still very affordable.

tave at 115Hz, or 18dB/octave at 80Hz) and for bringing in a 15dB pad. An additional subsonic filter is incorporated into the preamp circuit to attenuate anything below 17Hz, though the response is remarkably flat down to 20Hz.

One unusual aspect of the capsule is the use of a very thin 2.5µm gold-layered mylar diaphragm, and an internal shockmounting system is employed to reduce mechanical noise, in addition to the included elastic suspension mount. Rather than rely on the traditional locking ring system, the mic screws directly into the shockmount. The shockmount bracket can be tightened simply by hand and works well enough provided it is done up tightly. Sadly, no hard case is provided to protect the mic when not in use.

To maintain signal purity, a Class-A transformerless preamp circuit is employed, the main benefit of Class A being that crossover distortion is eliminated by using the same device to handle both positive and negative voltage excursions, rather than having the signal being split between two devices as in Class B or AB. Operation can be from any phantom power source in the range 11 to 52 Volts, though for maximum sensitivity 48V (±4V) operation is specified.

Having no transformer helps produce a more accurate transient response, though the way transformers affect high frequencies is part of what makes them sound 'musical', so it would be wrong to equate transformers wi

The mic is secured to its suspension mount via a screw ring at the base.
th 'bad'. In order to make the mic as versatile as possible, it has been given an extended low-end response (filters switched out), yielding a useful response extending from 20Hz to 20kHz, with a presence lift of around 5dB at 7kHz and another gentle hump between 10 and 15kHz.

The sensitivity and signal-to-noise figures of the mic are a fairly typical -37dBV/Pa and 81dB respectively, while the self noise is definitely better than average at 14dB (EIN, A-weighted). Using the attenuator, the maximum SPL varies slightly depending on what impedance the mic is running into, but it is quoted as not worse than 133dB (148dB pad in), which means you're unlikely to upset it by being too loud.

Studio Test

I checked the KSM27 using my SPL Channel One mic preamp, which I've always felt shows up the differences between mics better than most. For comparison, I picked the Rode NT1 and SuperLux CMH8B at the lower-price end of the market, with an Audio Technica 4033A and a Beyer MC740 representing the higher ground. Being a project studio owner myself, I didn't have anything really esoteric to put the KSM27 up against.

All the mics sounded very different to each other when used to record vocals in a similar situation

The KSM27 has a three-position low-cut filter switch and a selectable 15dB pad.
information
£381.88 including VAT.
, the Rode sounding the warmest and the Beyer MC740 sounding extremely detailed, but slightly thin by comparison. In fact the KSM27 was the only mic of the ones I checked that seemed to combine a very uncoloured, extended top end with the warmth and musicality of the Rode NT1 (still my favourite 'cheapo' mic!). The presence peak lends it clarity, and can exaggerate sibilance in certain performers, but the overall impression is that of listening 'through' the mic to the sound source on the other side, and that's what I feel a good mic should do. I felt all the other mics added more in the way of apparent coloration or flavour to the sound than the KSM27, but at the same time the KSM27 couldn't be accused of sounding in any way tame. I felt it had an extremely good tonal balance and found it to work just as well on instruments as it did on voice, especially acoustic guitar and hand percussion, including small jangly bells.

Summing up, the performance of the KSM27 is closer to that of a high-end model than its UK price might lead you to believe and the standard of engineering is excellent. The combination of warmth and transparency makes the KSM27 useful for situations in which you have to deal with different vocalists and instruments on each session, while the extended bass end means you can use it to record almost anything. If you were stranded on a desert island with nothing but a recording studio and a very long mains lead, this would be a good mic to have with you!

SOS Readers Ads
GRAB A BARGAIN

£471,933

of Second-User Gear for sale now — don't miss out!

Audio-Technica AT4047 MP

Multi-pattern Condenser Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Audio-Technica AT4047 MP

Audio-Technica have added multiple polar patterns to one of their already successful designs, bringing increased versatility in the studio.

Audio-Technica AT4047 MP | Media

Multi-pattern Condenser Microphone

Audio files to accompany the article.

Audio-Technica AT4050 ST

Stereo Condenser Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Audio-Technica AT4050 ST

There's more to this variation on Audio-Technica's flagship microphone than the simple addition of a second capsule...

Peavey Studio Pro M2

Condenser Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Peavey Studio Pro M2

Paul White explores the capabilities of the understated-yet-powerful Studio Pro M2.

Schoeps VSR5

Microphone Preamp

Thumbnail for article: Schoeps VSR5

Schoeps make some of the most revered mics on the planet, so when they release a commercial version of the mic preamp they use for testing, you have to take it seriously...

Schoeps VSR5 Mic Preamp

Test Measurements

Thumbnail for article: Schoeps VSR5 Mic Preamp

The following charts, made using an Audio Precision Analyser, accompany our review of the Schoeps VSR5 microphone preamplifier.

Blue Encore 300

Handheld Condenser Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Blue Encore 300

Designed as a hand-held live vocal mic, this mic has a cardioid pickup pattern, and seems very robustly engineered.

Cartec EQP1A

Mono Valve Equaliser

Thumbnail for article: Cartec EQP1A

British 'boutique' outboard manufacturers seem to be rather thin on the ground these days, but if this Pultec clone is anything to go by, newcomers Cartec look set to make a big impression.

Prodipe TT1

Dynamic Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Prodipe TT1

Prodipe say they wanted to offer a high-quality, live-sound, cardioid-pattern dynamic mic at a very affordable price.

Sontronics Saturn

Multi-pattern Condenser Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Sontronics Saturn

Sontronics mics usually sound as distinctive as they look - and this one looks more distinctive than most!

MXL Revelation

Multi-pattern Valve Microphone

Thumbnail for article: MXL Revelation

Hot on the heels of the impressive Genesis cardioid valve mic, MXL have unveiled their flagship multi-pattern model, the Revelation. Does it live up to its name?

MXL Revelation | Audio Examples

Multi-pattern Valve Microphone

These audio files accompany the SOS September 2010 review of the MXL Revelation microphone.

Samson Go Mic

USB Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Samson Go Mic

USB mics are nothing new, but the Samson Go Mic is probably the smallest and cutest I've seen to date. This metal-bodied mic,...

AKG Perception 820

Valve Microphone

Thumbnail for article: AKG Perception 820

Does AKGs Chinese-made Perception 820 maintain the Austrian companys impressive reputation?

AKG Perception 820 | Audio

Audio Examples

Hear for yourself how this mic performed during the SOS tests.

Audio-Technica AT4080 & AT4081

Ribbon Microphones

Thumbnail for article: Audio-Technica AT4080 & AT4081

A-Ts brand-new transducer technology has produced a robust design intended to deliver high signal levels as well as that prized ribbon character...

Earthworks DP25C & DP30C

Snare & Tom Condenser Microphones

Thumbnail for article: Earthworks DP25C & DP30C

Despite the ubiquity of the SM57 for use on snare, there are other options — and Earthworks aim to help you capture a more natural sound.

MXL Genesis

Cardioid Valve Microphone

Thumbnail for article: MXL Genesis

We put MXLs Genesis through its paces alongside a much pricier model, to find out just how good a tube mic can be at this price.

MXL Genesis Mic | Audio Files

Hear For Yourself

To accompany our July 2010 Genesis review, we recorded a series of standard tests with the review mic alongside a more established mic (in this case, the AKG C12 VR).

WIN Great Prizes in SOS Competitions!

 

Home | Search | News | Current Issue | Tablet Mag | Articles | Forum | Subscribe | Shop | Readers Ads

Advertise | Information | Privacy Policy | Support | Login Help

 

Email: Contact SOS

Telephone: +44 (0)1954 789888

Fax: +44 (0)1954 789895

Registered Office: Media House, Trafalgar Way, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8SQ, United Kingdom.

Sound On Sound Ltd is registered in England and Wales.

Company number: 3015516 VAT number: GB 638 5307 26

         

All contents copyright © SOS Publications Group and/or its licensors, 1985-2014. All rights reserved.
The contents of this article are subject to worldwide copyright protection and reproduction in whole or part, whether mechanical or electronic, is expressly forbidden without the prior written consent of the Publishers. Great care has been taken to ensure accuracy in the preparation of this article but neither Sound On Sound Limited nor the publishers can be held responsible for its contents. The views expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the publishers.

Web site designed & maintained by PB Associates | SOS | Relative Media