Shure Beta 52A Review (2020)

Picking out the right recording mic for your kick drum can be quite the challenge. For one thing, you may end up buying a regular mic when you needed a bass-enhancing mic.

Shure offers an all-round solution to your kick drum problems: the Shure BETA 52A. Most drummers are already familiar with it. Small metal body, big diaphragm, and wavering frequency response.

Despite this, even the best drummers don’t know the true potential of this mic. And that’s what we’re here to clarify. Take a look at our Shure Beta 52A review and bear witness to its brilliance.

Sound Quality

Frequency Range and Response:

The Shure Beta 52A uses a special frequency response tuned for kick drums and similar instruments that operate on low bass. If you take a look at its frequency response diagram, you’ll notice how irregular it seems.

Starting at below 50 Hz, the graph is divided into 4 different segments, each representing a different size of diaphragm. The smaller diaphragm you have, the louder lower frequencies will be. Nevertheless, all these lines converge at one point: around 2,000 to 3,000 Hz. Here’s when the frequency response gets more chaotic. It suddenly rises to around 10 dB, then gradually falls to -5 dB at 10,000 Hz.

This pattern testifies that the Shure Beta 52A is a kick drum mic. It only has a semi-steady response at lower frequencies, and won’t be as consistent near the treble side. In fact, even in the bass half of the graph, the volume is quite unstable, which might not produce a stable output.

Noise Attenuation:

For noise rejection, the Shure Beta 52A employs a super-cardioid polar pattern. This pattern can suppress noise and feedback from both the circuit and the surroundings.

Additionally, the Shure Beta 52A uses an advanced pneumatic suspension. What this does is that it minimizes mechanical vibrations caused by shaking and by the heavy bass itself.

As a result, you’re left with a kick drum mic that produces studio-level sound, even when the noise is too high. The sound, being tuned for kick drums, has more bass. So it’s not a good choice if you want a more balanced output.

The Shure Beta 57a is another great mic for recording instruments and is a bit more versatile.

SPL and Impedance Sensitivity:

SPL stands for sound pressure level and refers to how loud your speaker can get. The Shure Beta 52A has a peak SPL of 174 dB at 1,000 Hz. This is essentially close to the recommended 105-110 dB for studios. Remember that the SPL can drop or increase by 6 dB if you move away or closer to the mic by 1 meter. So in reality, the number can fluctuate given the surrounding.

Along with that, the Beta 52A has a special resistance to change in load impedance. The mic will be able to pick up sounds from low impedance sources. And its sound output is more or less consistent.

It has a rated impedance of about 150 ohms, with an actual impedance of 45 ohms. This is considered as a relatively low impedance, which fits the extreme bass applications that kick drummers need.

Build Quality:

Grille Material:

Like many newer Shure mics, the Beta 52A also employs a full stainless steel body. The metal grille at the front of the mic is made from hardened stainless steel. Steel is known for its immense strength and resistance to wear and tear. However, it can be quite heavy. And with time, if the protective coatings chip off, it can become susceptible to water damage in a humid environment.

It is due to this stainless steel construction that the Shure maintains a weight of 22 ounces, which isn’t light. So carrying it in your hand will most certainly hurt your wrists. However, the good thing is, you get a stand to go along with it, which has its own suspension system.

Aside from the grille, its main body also uses steel which is die-cast. A solid blue-silver enamel coating lends the product its shine and merit. It also helps preserve the inner steel layer and protect it from general corrosion and dust.

This is essentially what renders this the best microphone for use on touring. The mesh grille in combination with the metal body will keep it safe from the harsh environment encountered on tours.

Coil:

The Shure Beta 52A is a dynamic microphone. This type of mic uses a transducer and a coil that generates a magnetic field. Being a unidirectional mic, it uses a moving coil configuration, which detects sound whenever it strikes the diaphragm. Such a microphone is best used for amplification scenarios. This is when the sound needs to be amplified and reinforced a lot before it is sent to the speakers.

The design and size of the coil allow for handling larger sound pressures. This is essentially what increases its SPL to well above the studio standard. And it allows for clear and much more precise sound on a larger set. The coil has been designed to specifically target lower frequency response. And it is this feature that enables your kick drum to achieve a more natural bass.

Magnet:

Much like every other microphone, the Beta 52A also uses a neodymium magnet. These magnets are responsible for generating a high signal-to-noise ratio. It helps keep noise at an all-time low. When you combine that with the other noise attenuating mechanisms, you get yourself a Shure mic with crystal clear sound.

Ease of Use:

While mics can get complicated to set up, especially for a kick drum, the Shure Beat 52A does a lot of the hard work for you. For one thing, it features an in-built locking stand adapter that’s adjustable up to 180 degrees. This lets you set up the product in as little time as possible. And it ensures the mic won’t fall off when you’re drumming, enabling you to strike heavier notes.

An integral XLR connector is also included, which is the most common type of connector used for A/V equipment. And it’s the best type to use for placing the mic inside of a kick drum. To be more specific, you get a 3-pin audio connector made for professional use.

Controls:

Adjustment Knob:

You don’t get much in terms of controls when you buy the Shure Beta 52A. It’s a very simple design with a plain metal body and no controls. The only control you do get is an adjustment knob that really just lets you adjust the angle of the mic’s head.

This will come in handy when we discuss the polar pattern. It lets you adjust the angle so you can direct the mic straight at the sound source. For kick drummers, this means facing the mic directly where you strike the drum.

Mic Stand:

The Shure Beta 52A also features a special mic stand that makes mounting and installation quicker. The stand has two main features: its locking mechanism, and its shock-absorbance. To begin with, the locking mechanism is very simple to use and prevents the mic from falling off from hard drum strokes. You can beat to your heart’s content without worrying about the mic.

The second feature is its pneumatic shock-absorbing capability. It’s designed to minimize the microscopic vibrations caused by your strokes or by other instruments. This will eventually lead to clearer sound will lesser distortion and static.

Polar Patterns:

Pattern Type:

The Shure Beta 52A features a super-cardioid polar pattern. Polar patterns depict all the directions in which the mic will pick up sound. The way to read them is to picture the mic in the center of the graph and to picture the curve as the boundary of the mic’s pickup.

A super or hyper-cardioid is an inverted heart shape, with a slightly tighter pickup boundary. Additionally, this shape has some pickup from the back as well, but usually not too much. This type of polar pattern is well-known for rejecting sound and noise from the sides and back. However, they have a tighter boundary so they are more sensitive and require careful placement.

Uses of The Super-Cardioid Pattern:

The super-cardioid shape is mostly for musicians whose instruments produce lighter sounds. So for barely noticeable bass instruments, a super-cardioid polar pattern will benefit you. But remember to keep your instrument directly in front of your mic. This pattern is also notorious for having a lot of amplification capabilities. And it is best used in professional concert stages.

The best position to stand in would be directly in front of the mic, like so:

The bidirectional rear sensitivity is not of much use, and in fact, it might result in more noise getting picked up. Putting a monitor or any other equipment directly behind the mic is a bad idea. The acceptance angle is approximately 100 degrees from either side, and the null point is about 150 degrees.

Pattern Inconsistency:

Now the pattern of the Beta 52A remains pretty much consistent from 250 to 1,000 Hz. But it will start to progress further into the back of the mic the more you increase the frequency. At 2,500 Hz, the pattern completely changes, extending towards the rear, with a quite irregular shape. This is therefore evident that the Shure Beta 52A should only be used for bass instruments.

After a great microphone for a vocalist? I recommend the Neuman KMS 105 which I reviewed recently here.

Shure Beta 52A Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Lower frequency response for kick drums.
  • Suppresses noise from the sides.
  • Rejects mechanical vibrations and feedback.
  • Sturdy stainless-steel grille.
  • Solid metal body with a silver-blue finish.
  • High-gain neodymium magnet.
  • SPL is slightly above studio standards.
  • Includes an advanced locking stand adapter.
  • Comes with a male-type XLR connector.

Cons:

  • Absorbs some sound from the back.
  • The frequency response is inconsistent.
  • Maybe prone to damage by humidity.

Conclusion:

The Shure Beta 52A is a universal mic for kick drums and bass instruments. With a low-frequency response and super-cardioid pattern, this mic is specifically for professional drummers.

It has excellent construction, made from high-grade materials that will last you for years to come. And its high SPL lets it survive extreme studio and stage conditions. It has quite a lot of noise suppression, both from the environment and from its own metal body.

However, it does lack in a few areas. Its super-cardioid pattern means it will absorb some noise from the rear. And its frequency response, even in the lower frequencies, is quite inconsistent and fluctuates. And the stainless-steel construction isn’t exactly waterproof.

All in all, this is a great choice for beginners and professionals who want to play the kick drum. You can use it for other bass instruments too, such as contrabass violins or guitars.

If you’re in the market for a bass drum microphone, I can personally vouch for the AKG D112 which I reviewed here.

About Shawn Shepherd

Hi, I'm the owner of the Hifi Guide and have been an audio lover enthusiast for over 16 years. I have a Bachelor's degree in Sound Engineering and I work on producing content for the Hifi Guide in my spare time. My love for audio stemmed from my Dad who was an audio technician, and now I share my knowledge here on this website!

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