Shure KSM137 & KSM141

Capacitor Microphones

Published in SOS March 2003
Bookmark and Share

Reviews : Microphone

The Shure KSM141 dual-pattern capacitor microphone.

Two new small-diaphragm mics from Shure provide solid all-round performance with an extended low-end response.

Paul White

While large-diaphragm mics get all the glamourous press, there are roles better suited to small-diaphragm models, such as the recording of many types of acoustic instrument. There are already numerous excellent mics of this type from the familiar big names in the microphone business, as well as a number of capable budget models using capsules from Russia and the Far East, but Shure have pitched their two new models at the serious end of the market and they are priced accordingly. The simpler of the two models is the KSM137, a fixed cardioid-pattern, 'end address' (which simply means you point the end at the instrument, not the side) back-electret capacitor microphone intended for both live and studio applications. Recommended applications include the close-miking of acoustic and electric instruments, drum overheads, brass/woodwind, ensembles, and even bass instruments such as double bass and kick drum. The KSM141 is similar in most respects, but is switchable between omni and cardioid polar patterns.

The Hardware

The KSM137 features an extremely thin, low-mass gold-sputtered diaphragm (a mere 2.5 microns thick), which helps achieve a good transient response, and this is teamed with a low-noise, low-distortion Class-A transformerless preamp. Quality components have been chosen for the onboard circuitry, and all connectors, both internal and external, are gold plated to maintain low contact resistance.

Shure KSM137/KSM141 £382/£505
Smooth, even tonality.
Good bass extension and SPL handling.
Relatively expensive.
These two new models from Shure are both extremely nice microphones, but they face a lot of strong competition.

A recessed, three-position low-cut switch is provided to counter proximity effect and to reduce the level of low-frequency noise where applicable, though the circuit also includes a subsonic filter to attenuate frequencies below 17Hz, usually caused by mechanical vibration. Although the frequency response starts to roll off below 200Hz, this is very gradual and is only 5dB down at 20Hz, which means there is plenty of sensitivity available for recording low-frequency sources. Other than the low-end roll-off, the response is essentially flat up to 20kHz and beyond, with the gentlest of presence humps centred around 8kHz. A further three-position Pad switch gives 0dB, 15dB or 25db of attenuation for when working with very loud sound sources. As standard, the mic (which measures just 20mm x 122mm) comes with a standmount and a protective plastic case.

The rotating collar of the KSM141 allows you to switch between omni and cardioid polar patterns.

The KSM141 is unusual in that it offers a choice of cardioid or omnidirectional polar patterns, yet it uses a single-diaphragm capsule. Normally a dual-diaphragm arrangement is used for multi-pattern mics, but in this case the designers have developed a mechanical switching system that closes the rear porting vents of the mic, thus changing it from a pressure gradient (cardioid) mic to a pure pressure microphone (omni). I don't know how this is achieved internally, but the mechanism is activated by moving a knurled ring on the mic body between two positions. It is important not to leave the ring set midway between the two settings, as the results will be unpredictable and probably undesirable. Other than that, the low-frequency filter and pad are identical to those fitted to the KSM137 and the same 2.5-micron diaphragm material is also used. In fact looking at the spec sheet, it seems that everything other than the capsule switching system is identical to the KSM137, even the cardioid frequency response and the list of recommended applications. The omni response, by contrast, has a slightly broader and higher presence peak and the low-frequency sensitivity actually rises by a couple of decibels down at 20Hz.

In Use

Both mics sound predictably similar in cardioid mode and have a very neutral character with a smooth top end. The high degree of bass extension means that if you were to try to record vocals through them, you'd have to use a proper pop shield, but, although they work perfectly well with vocals, they're more likely to be used for instrument work. I checked the mics on a number of sources, including using a matched pair of KSM141s as drum overheads — a task they managed with no problems. In some situations, a mic with a more hyped top end may be appropriate, but if you need smoothness and honesty, then both models fit the bill nicely.

The Shure KSM137 fixed-cardioid capacitor microphone.

Used in omni mode, the KSM141 retains its natural, open tonality, but it suffers a noticeable amount of high-end loss when the sound source is behind the mic. This is true of many omni models, but given that this one is relatively expensive I thought it might have fared slightly better in this respect.

It's quite difficult to review this type of mic, as it has no obvious sound to describe, but there's no denying that both models are high-quality products, both in terms of construction and performance. The extended bass end is useful when working with bass instruments, while the smooth high end makes easy work of avoiding harshness or shrillness. The design offers a good balance of low noise, good sensitivity and high SPL handling, but these are fairly expensive mics that have to compete in the UK with established models from companies who are more closely associated with capacitor mic manufacture. Although Shure have been making high-quality capacitor mics for a long time, there's a tendency for people to think of them only as the guys who make SM57s and SM58s! Still, marketing the mics isn't my problem, and I can tell you these are both good general-purpose microphones for those jobs best suited to a smaller-diaphragm model. They have no really outstanding characteristics, but then that may be their outstanding characteristic!

KSM137, £381.88; KSM141 £505.25; KSM137 matched pair,
£752; KSM141 matched pair, £987. Prices include VAT.
HW International +44 (0)20 8808 2222.
+44 (0)20 8808 5599.
Click here to email

SOS Readers Ads


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 | Blog | 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


We accept the following payment methods in our web Shop:

Pay by PayPal - fast and secure  VISA  MasterCard  Solo  Electron  Maestro (used to be Switch)  

All contents copyright © SOS Publications Group and/or its licensors, 1985-2016. 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