The Story

In my humble opinion, just like a guitarist or most any other musician has their own instrument, I believe that a vocalist should have their own mic. Why is that? Because everyone’s voice is different and it’s important to have a mic that complements your voice. The wrong mic can make your voice sound nasaly/harsh/brittle/muddy etc etc… Granted, there are mics (like an SM58) that any decent engineer can make work on pretty much any voice, but why not get something that requires no work to get sounding right and even enhances or complements your voice? It’s also disgusting to put your lips on a mic that’s lived at any sort of venue for more than 5 minutes as you have no idea whose lips have been on it!

So, with all that in mind, I was looking for my own vocal mic. I have what I would say is a “unique” voice and I don’t necessarily mean that in the best way possible. I’m sure we all love our voices in our head much better than when we hear them played back to us. I was looking for a mic that took a bit of mud out of my voice and added a bit more sparkle. In comes the Beta 87A.

The Beta 87A is a Supercardioid Condensor microphone. For those of you who know all your mic stuff, skip this paragraph. Supercardioid is in reference to the polar pattern or the pattern in which the microphone picks up sound. You can google some images of what the difference between cardioid, supercardioid, omni, and figure-8 are, but a supercardioid mic is great at rejecting off-axis (as in not straight on) noise which is really handy when you’re on a stage and not wanting to pick up other noise. This is even more important because this is a condensor microphone which is more sensitive and prone to feedback (Generally speaking. This one is pretty darn good at rejecting it when a monitor is placed properly). Condensors have a great frequency response and often are a bit more “sparkly”. However, one thing to note about condensors is that they require phantom power from either a board or a separate power supply to work.

The Good

This mic in particular has a good bass roll-off and a presence bump in the higher frequencies to add some air and make it shine. For me that is a plus. For you, it could be a bad thing. I just blogged about how reading stuff on the internet can lead you to bad purchases as it totally depends on you, your voice, and your ears. If that’s what you’re looking for, then this mic has it.

It is a super clear mic that translates voices really, really well. Also, it doesn’t drop off so much if you move back like a lot of dynamic vocal mics do. I like this for me because it gives me a bit more space to control my volume.

In typical Shure quality, this mic is built very, very well. I haven’t dropped it, but if feels solid even though very light. These mics don’t generally break down (as compared to say…a Neumann KMS105…which I still want anyway).

The Bad

The mic picks up everything behind you. This can be a positive or a negative. When I’m playing with in-ears, I like it because I hear a bit more of what’s going on around me. The sound-man may not appreciate it as much, but it’s not as bad. Also, being that is a supercardioid pattern, it picks up stuff directly behind it so you have to be careful not to put a monitor right there. Place it 120 degrees offset and you can crank on your monitor without feedback.

It’s pricey. At about $300 here in Canada, it’s a lot more than something like a 58. I think it sounds a lot better (for me) and I like the feel of a condensor. However, you may not need it or like it.

Other Thoughts

I love this mic. It’s mine so that helps. My wife told me to stop spending money on the studio and buy something for myself when I was doing a hardwood install for her parents. I didn’t think she meant something like this, but I don’t regret it.