The world of microphones is much like an ice cream store with every flavor you could ever imagine. Throughout 80 years Shure has been a leader in almost all of the categories with a few exceptions. One of those exceptions, in the past few years, has been the high-end vocal condenser category. Well, no longer with the release of Shure’s new KSM9 wired handheld. With this said, the question still remains: “Can Shure compete with all of the others in this highly competitive field?”
Live sound, sound reinforcement, broadcast
Cardioid, condenser supercardioid patterns; dual 3/4-inch Mylar diaphragm; internal shockmount; five-stage grille
Shure | 847-600-2000
The first and foremost feature on the KSM9 is the switchable polar patterns. Under the removable grille is a switch to change the KSM9 from cardioid to supercardioid. This is a feature usually only seen on studio mics; but the KSM9 is built for live touring vocals for use in the varying environments of live sound and for the use of in-ear monitors or floor wedges. The KSM9 is comprised of dual 3/4-inch gold layer, low mass Mylar diaphragms and a Class A, discrete, transformerless preamplifier. There is also a five-stage grille to reduce “pops” and wind noise and an advanced suspension internal shockmount system that isolates the element from handing noise.
Frequency response is rated at 50 Hz to 20 kHz. Output impedance is stated at 150 ohms (actual). Maximum SPL @ 1 kHz is 152 dB and dynamic range at 1 kHz is 130 dB. Signal to noise ratio is rated at 72 dB with common mode rejection at >60 dB (50 Hz-20 kHz). The KSM9 comes in two color choices, champagne or charcoal gray and only weighs 10.6 oz.
Most people know that Shure released this mic first in the wireless market with their UHF-R line. This is the hard-wired version. Shure had to move a quality product in this market because it was being dominated by German manufacturers. Well this mic can really compete with – and beat – the Germans! Over the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to use the KSM9 with multiple artists and events. I have been amazed at the smoothness across the frequency spectrum and “smooth” is the best way to describe this mic. Every engineer I work with has wanted a shot at trying the KSM9 out.
The switchable pattern is very useful for all types of vocalists in every situation. In the cardioid pattern the KSM9 performs very well and airy when having a vocalist on a set of in-ear monitors or with a lower stage volume. In the supercardioid pattern the mic response is beautifully with superb off-axis rejection. There is little difference in the frequency response and character of the mic in either pickup pattern. This is key in providing one consistent sounding mic for a vocalist that is also versatile enough to handle the rigors of the road.
This mic sounds like what you have always wanted a live mic to sound like. That is to say you have the brilliant clarity of a large diaphragm studio microphone in a durable live application. It is crisp without sounding too harsh, but warm and natural for a true reproduction of the human voice. There is a reason that you are seeing it with many singers on reality TV shows nowadays. Every vocalist that I have put in front of this mic has loved it. I haven’t needed to do a lot of EQing, either. Just a standard high pass at 100 Hz -125 Hz and a 2 dB – 3 dB cut at 4 kHz and 12 kHz and sometimes 500 Hz, depending on the voice, and it has worked. It’s not going to give you the old rock/punk sound of an SM57 or SM58, but when you want something clear and intelligible – and added quality to your show that hasn’t been there with your old stand bys -this is the mic you want.
Shure has now provided everyone with a mic that can live up to a higher standard and be a durable, road-worthy touring mic. Since this is a dual-pattern, switchable, live application mic, it is like you walked in to buy an ice cream cone and got two scoops for the price of one. So to answer the previous question – yes, Shure has a microphone that can not only beat the competitors but should blow them out of the proverbial water.
David Rittenhouse is the senior account executive and a live sound engineer at RCI Sound Systems and a regular contributor to Pro Audio Review.
Yamaha O1V and PM5D consoles; EAW KF300, KF730, JF50 speakers and DSAs; QSC, Crown and Lab.gruppen amps; Shure PSM700 with UE10Pro in-ear monitors.