I can’t recall ever using a Shure mic I thought was poor. My tastes and tendencies seem to prefer the expensive European classic mics, but my wallet will steer me toward anything that works. Shure mics are always better than “anything that works” level, and not only is the Beta 27 up to that task, it has some qualities that make it an alluring addition to any mic closet.
For those of you with your finger on the mouse button: Click “Buy.”
This is your basic XLR-connected, side-address, 1-inch diaphragm condenser mic package. As with all mics of this type, it requires 48V phantom power to operate. It ships with a mic pouch and a ring mount mic stand adapter. You will probably want to use this mic with a basket-style isolation mount, but with two levels of low-frequency cut on board, you can switch out a fair amount of rumble. Since the Beta 27 is marketed as much as for live use as for studio, its internal shock mounts seem up to the task of supporting the low cut switch.
This mic is described as having a super cardioid polar pattern. There is an in-depth description of the cardioid pattern in the Rode NT1000 review. Super cardioid – AKA hyper-cardioid – is basically a squished-at-the-sides version of the cardioid. It is sensitive in a narrow band in front of the mic, not very sensitive to the sides and it has a little lobe of sensitivity at the back. This aids the mic in isolating the sound source in both studio and live situations. It’s also helpful to use super-cardioids to reduce feedback. Singers rarely have much trouble singing into the front of a mic, but if you’re using the Beta 27 on an acoustic guitar – excellent choice, by the way – mic placement may take more effort to get the sound you want.
Once you’ve had an experience with a large diaphragm condenser mic, you understand what the hoopla is about. Most give a quality to voices in particular described often as “larger-than-life,” or “that studio sound.” With the advent of Chinese-made diaphragms and microphones, this style became vastly more affordable. Sure, build quality is not always there, but the sound can be worlds away from a dynamic stage mic.
Affordable large cap condensers often tend to hype higher frequencies and where clarity is often defined in vocals, some mics get harsh and strident, described sometimes as “brittle.”
This is a trait the Beta 27 avoids and it may be its strongest selling feature. This mic has a flat frequency response from about 75 Hz to 3,000 Hz. Below 75 Hz there is a climb of +2 dB down to 40 Hz, so that means you will likely use that low-cut filter a lot.
Where the Beta 27 departs from typical large cap mic sound is up high. There’s a mild peak around 5,500 Hz and another rounded emphasis topping out at 10,000 Hz. Say it like that to impress family and amuse friends, but what it means is that this mic will seem warm to you. Thinner voices will be fatter, but they will also maintain clarity. Sort of a kinder, gentler large cap experience.
Given the recommended use as drum mic overheads, this trait would be wonderful in taming harsh cymbal swish. It also makes this mic a good bet for brass and violins, both of which can exhibit stridency that detracts from the essential instrument sounds.
Bottom line: if you plan to record other voices in your studio, the Beta 27 presents a different sonic palette than most mics of its type and so may give spectacular results where other mics are just ordinary.
I presume that, at some point, Shure provided microphones to the military. Weighing just under a pound, the Beta 27 has heft and gravitas. It’s the sort of mic that looks like money, that I’d leave set up if I was showing a client my studio. When a mic looks good and sounds great, that’s win-win for sure.
As mentioned, this is not a mic that everyone is raving about in user reviews. Nor are they dismissing it. There simply aren’t many reviews. That’s a bit of a shame, since this mic does give a bit of a different experience. The reviews there are speak about the Beta 27’s warmth and tight directionality. Placing this mic close to an electric guitar amp produced better-than-expected results, not “fizzy” as other mics may be in the same spot.
One curiosity popped up as I searched the net for information on the Beta 27. Amazon lists the mic as $283.55 and, further down, $279.42 in the same ad, same supplier, Japan Brand HGC. When I make the rounds of the big-name online music stores, I see a street price of $399, a hundred bucks off the $499 list price. I’m sorry, but the additional $120 off the Amazon price concerns me. Maybe there is a reason, old stock, bulk purchase, whatever. I recommend this mic if it seems to fit your needs. I also recommend a tight background check if you attempt a purchase from this particular vendor.
Have you bought a Beta 27 through Japan Brand HGC? Leave a note in the Comments and tell the Hear the Music community about your experience. While you’re at it, sign up for Hear the Music email delivered directly to your door. As always, 100% spam-free.