Shure may be specifically marketing the Beta 27 -- the company’s new side-address, supercardioid, large diaphragm condenser (LDC) -- for live use, but it is a standout bargain of a microphone for a variety of applications, and in numerous ways. The Beta 27 features an externally biased, one-inch Mylar diaphragm with a 24 Karat gold layer at a thickness of 2.5 micrometers; a discrete transformerless Class A preamplifier; gold-plated internal and external connectors; subsonic filter to eliminate vibrations below 17 Hz; a three-position low frequency adjustment switch (flat, 18 dB per octave cutoff at 80 Hz, or 6 dB per octave rolloff filter at 115 Hz); and a switchable 15dB pad, allowing a maximum SPL handling of 154 dB (!). Frequency response is 20 Hz - 20kHz, signal-to-noise ratio is 86 dB (referenced at 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz), and self-noise is 8.5 dB (typical, equivalent SPL, A-weighted). The Beta 27 comes in a rectangular, padded vinyl case with a sturdy ShureLock black swivel stand mount.
Everything about the Beta 27’s construction is solid and hefty (weighing in at 15 oz.), giving it a truly “road worthy” feel, much like its ubiquitous dynamic cousin, the SM 57. Speaking of, when paired with a SM 57 (or similar instrument dynamic) on electric guitar cabinet, the Beta 27 presents a broad, new palette of aural detail for both sound reinforcement and recording engineers to utilize. Plugging in the Beta 27 for the first time, I was overjoyed with it in front of a Fender combo amp to record some high SPL guitar solos in a “live tracking” configuration. The mic captured the sound without coloration or overt character, overwhelmingly rejected other sound sources, and translated the full detail only a condenser microphone can provide (without the worry of sticking one in front of what can be a loud, ragged sound source). Also notable is the Beta 27’s ability to zero in on very specific sounds, thanks to its highly directional nature; small, careful mic moves can offer a big sonic difference (especially when compared with many conventional cardioid LDCs, which I did). The Beta 27 similarly shined on acoustic guitar; close-miked solo saxophone; percussion; as a pair on drum overheads, dual tom mics, and stereo room mics -- and more applications than I can even remember. When used purely as sound reinforcement mics, the same qualities were evident with the added plus of high gain capabilities before feedback; feedback problems that may normally deter LDC use in live settings just didn’t happen for me, regardless of size of room or positioning of speaker cabinets, sound sources, etc.
Best of all, the Beta 27 is priced at $399 street: a real bargain for its performance, build quality, and flexibility. For that reason, I’d recommend buying a pair; if you don’t, you’ll quickly wish you did. And remember: don’t be afraid to try them on anything!Strother Bullins is the reviews and features editor for
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