The Shure Super 55 has been in production for more than 70 years which makes it the longest-running audio product in history. The first microphone was rolled out in 1939 but the project was underway in 1937. The company used a single capsule technique to produce a high-quality unidirectional mic.
Since then, the mic has been a huge success.
But is it the right option for you to consider? Should you go for a microphone that is the preferred choice for everyone or you should focus your attention on something else? In this in-depth Shure Super 55 Review, we will be finding out what’s the best fit for you.
The Shure Super 55 features a super-cardioid capsule that functions the best when you have your stage monitors positioned slightly towards one side. They need to lob around 120-degree off the axis in position. This is slightly different from the cardioid approach to handling off-axis coloration.
The Super 55 comes with a sensitivity of -53dBV/Pa within an output that is around 5 dB hotter as compared to the 55SH II. You will get an increased gain right before you get the feedback.
In addition to that, the overall frequency response can easily extend to 17 kHz and allows you to gain some additional air along with articulation. However, the mic’s bass response is a lot smoother and you will notice it to be more controlled. It will retain a presence boost of 6kHz to 7 kHz and will allow you to cut your vocals right through the mix.
Handling the proximity effect
The overall sound handling of this classic is pretty well and according to your expectation from a live mic for vocals. It has that cut towards the low end to help you control the proximity effect up to a significant level. Apart from that, it will also allow you to handle plosives and noise.
With the help of the presence boost feature of this microphone, your voice will cut right through the mix and sit on top of it. You won’t have to deal with any blurry effects in your voice mixing with the music. This is a distinct feature that has kept the Super 55 in the run for so long.
Of course, this feature works pretty well with the super-cardioid polar pattern of this mic and help in limiting the bleed from the instruments on the stage. It will also limit any feed from your PA system.
A popular choice for noisy environments
The microphone is a popular choice if you are working in a noisy environment. It is also a good option for close miking and filming. With close miking, it can focus on where you direct it. So you can use it for recording nearby. It will also work well for isolating one particular sound source in a loud environment. But with its rear lobe, you have to direct its position properly to isolate sound sources.
The cone of silence
Of course, if you are working with a super-cardioid mic, you need to understand these mics work in a 3D space. And a mic like Super 55 with null points around 127-degree and 233-degree. You need to understand there is a rear cone of silence you will have to work with and operate the mic correctly. You can either do this by reducing the bleed from any extraneous noise or enhancing the gain right before feedback.
Top-notch sound isolation
One of the best features of the Super 55 is its exceptional sound isolation. It comes with unidirectional patterns that are relatively low as compared to a cardioid mic. It is even better in isolating sound coming out of the source. Hence, Super 55 is an excellent choice for making applications of a single source. And you will get the best performance out of it when working in live stage environments, broadcasts, and studios.
The sound engineers at Shure experimented with the capsule featuring small openings that allowed sound waves to travel in. They blocked any rear openings for yielding a short phase delay, could cancel any sound from the back.
And the most iconic vocal microphone was born. It was an instant hit and remained the same for many decades. In 1996 the company rebooted the Super 55 with a modern SM48 element.
Since then, you can see both these versions across different stages, movies, music videos, television shows, and everywhere else.
The overall construction of this legend features chrome plating and has a brand logo on it right in front. But the overall structure looks pretty elegant as well as solid. However, your purchase of this mic comes with a bag. We strongly recommend you to use that bag when transporting this mic because you don’t want to scratch that legacy.
If you are looking to perform live, this mic would be a suitable choice for you because it comes with a swivel mount. Therefore, you can conveniently tilt it at an angle of 125 degrees. And for that type of mount, every mic arm and stand is 100% suitable. It also comes with an on/off button now so you can conveniently turn your mic on or off during your live performance.
As it has a classic design you are not going to find any buttons or controls on this microphone. So, if you have been using microphones with their controls right on top of them, you will have to get used to this because it doesn’t come with any.
You will only find an on and off switch here and that is the only control you will get with this mic. The rest of the controls are either accessible through software or other connected hardware.
The polar pattern at which this microphone can work is super-cardioid. It means this microphone can not only take the sound from the front, but it is also slightly sensitive to the sound coming from the back.
The Null Points
When you compare it with a cardioid polar pattern you will see an increased directionality over the standard pattern. But with a slightly increased lobe of sensitivity right at the back.
This mic comes with a tighter sensitivity from the front that ranges to 75-degree on both sides over the axis. And as it has a lobe on the back as well. The microphone is going to reject any sound coming from an angle of 127 and 233-degree.
The Super 55 mic’s capsule has both sides of the diaphragm fully exposed to any sound pressure from the outside. And the sound from here will work on the pressure gradient. Hence, you will experience some proximity effect.
As a result, this mic will provide you with an increased bass response as you move closer to the sound source. And that’s not very surprising if you consider the laws of physics associated with amplification.
This is caused by the phase differences between the rear and front sides of the mic’s diaphragm. There is not much difference in frequencies. But the amplitude difference will be visible as the distance between the mic and the sound source is reduced.
Sensitivity yields for the rear lobe are -10 dB
As it is a super-cardioid mic, the sensitivity yields that the rear love of this mic can be around -10 dB. And this result comes at an angle of 180 degrees. It is on-axis sensitivity but it is something that is not overly present within the mic signal.
It is critical to keep in mind this lobe factor into the overall sound production and recording pattern. Knowing this vital information will enable you to make a better choice when you are going to position your Super 55 in front of an instrument.
But you will also have to keep in mind the rear lobe is typically different across the frequency response of Super 55. Therefore, the difference between the frequencies will always be 10 dB.
Shure Super 55 Pros and Cons
- A prop mic.
- Clear and decent tone.
- Excellent choice recording vocals.
- Best in isolating sounds.
- Perfect for single instrument miking.
- Does pick a lot of background.
- It is very sensitive to popping due to the rear lobe.
Here is my review of the AKG P120 which is a great budget microphone.
This mic has been in production for more than 70 years the company has done something right with it. If you have been working with a cardioid mic, you might find this super-cardioid mic by Shure a bit too technical.
But with it, you can be more precise in your sound direction because on the axis it is a bit tighter than any cardioid mic. You will also have to direct your mic properly towards the sound shore and understand how the rear lobe and cone of silence work.
If you know how these aspects can influence the overall recording results, you can get the best out of this mic. It does a pretty fine job in recording vocals and instruments when you place it right.
If you’re after something more premium, check out the AKG C414 review here.