Shure PG81 Condenser Cable Microphone Reviews

Shure PG81 Condenser Cable Microphone

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Sep 17, 2007 (Updated Mar 13, 2008)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:This is an excellent microphone for the price.


The Bottom Line: This is an excellent microphone for the price.


Finding a good condenser microphone at a reasonable price is no easy task. The engineers at Shure have been making professional microphones for years, and they are one of the leading names in microphone manufacture. The engineers at Shure have come up with a good condenser microphone that is affordable in price, and yet delivers the sound quality and craftsmanship that that buying public has come to expect from Shure over the years. The Shure PG81 is a microphone that has a list price of $181.45, but it can be had for a mere $129.95 from most of the top music department stores or online musical instrument vendors. The price also includes a 15 foot XLR to XLR cable.

A good place to being in reviewing the Shure PG81 Professional Instrument Microphone is to describe exactly what it is. The PG81 is a “Condenser Microphone.” A condenser microphone is a type of microphone that consists of a capacitor, or as it is more commonly called a “condenser” with one fixed plate, and the other being a moveable plate, or as it is typically referred to as the diaphragm, which is moved by sound waves, which emanate from a sound source such as a musical instrument. A condenser microphone requires the use of a power supply, which is required in order to maintain an electrical charge across the two plates. This electrical power can be supplied from either a battery or from a phantom source. The casing that holds the diaphragm and the back plate of a condenser microphone holds the electrical charge from the power source. The movement or pressure of the sound waves of a sound source (i.e., musical instrument) causes the diaphragm of the microphone to move, which results in a variation or modulation in the voltage between the plates when the distances between them changes, and this in effect serves to convert the sound into an electrical signal. In general, a condenser microphone is more sensitive to sound pressure levels than a dynamic microphone, and as a result a condenser microphone is often preferable to use when one is recording soft vocal passages or particular instruments that have a low sound pressure level, such as a flute or an acoustic guitar.

As noted above, the Shure PG81 is a condenser microphone, and as such it requires an electrical power source. This can come from either an AA battery or from a phantom power supply. One 1.5 volt AA alkaline battery can power the PG81 for up to 10,000 hours. The PG81 is also a microphone with a “Cardioid Polar Pattern,” which means that it is a unidirectional microphone that picks up sounds most efficiently from sound sources that are directly in front of it, and therefore it is less able to pick up sounds that come from the sides or back of the microphone. This makes the PG81 less susceptible to feedback in live situations, and it is also less likely to pick up unwanted sounds coming from the sides of the microphone (i.e., which might be coming from other musical sound sources on the stage) or from the back of the microphone (i.e., the audience).

The frequency response of the Shure PG81 is from 40 to 18,000 Hz, and the frequency response is wide, flat, and consistently even in its sensitivity throughout the entire frequency range. This makes it ideally suitable for capturing and reproducing the subtle nuances in sounds of acoustic instruments with a wide frequency range, such as an acoustic guitar or even a piano.

The Shure PG81 uses a male XLR professional audio connector. It has a handy On/Off switch, which extends battery life when the microphone is not being used, and this feature also comes in handy in live performances as well. As you might expect from Shure, the PG81 is a very strong and durable microphone, and the outer case is made of steel and brass construction, with a long sleek appearance. It is also very light, and weighs in at 8.8 ounces. In cases where there might be vibrations coming from the stage or from moving of the microphone stand when performing, there is also an internal shock mount to cut down on unwanted noise.

What is the best way to use this microphone? There are many potential applications, as this is a very useful and versatile microphone for the price. For example, it works very well for recording a chorus of singers. For instance, let us say that the chorus is about 40 people in number. For this situation, I would use two PG81’s. I would place one to the left half in the middle of this part of the chorus, and one to the right half in the middle of that side of the chorus, and I would position each of the microphones about 8 feet back from the front singers. For playback of the recording, I would separate each sound source captured by each of the microphones, and the effect would be to make the sonic panorama of the chorus sound large and full. The PG81 is also great for recording musical instruments. For instance, in recording an acoustic guitar, positioning is crucial to the sound that you want to capture. For a bright crisp sound, position the PG81 about 6 to 8 inches away from the guitar, and point it at the bridge. For a warm bassy full sound, position the PG81 about 3 inches from the guitar, and point it at the sound hole. The further away the PG81 is from the guitar, and the less it is aimed at the center of the sound hole of the guitar, the thinner and less detailed the sound that is captured and recorded will be. Of course there are many other applications and methods of using or recording with the PG81, and these are just a couple of examples. Obviously, there are many more.

Well how does this microphone sound? When used for the right purposes, it is a great sounding microphone for the price. It works great for acoustic guitar, piano, strings, woodwinds, soft vocals, and as an overhead for recording symbols on a drum kit. I would not recommend the PG81 for situations with high sound pressure levels and volumes, such as for recording of a bass amp cabinet at high volumes, and I would not recommend it for loud vocals, or for people who like to get on top of the microphone and sing loudly. Remember, this is a condenser microphone with a sensitive diaphragm, and as such, loud and/or close micing of the voice can result in wind pops, even in some cases where a windscreen is used.

Well thank you for taking the time to read my review of the Shure PG81 Professional Instrument Microphone. But now if you will excuse me, I must get back to my practicing.

Recommend this product? Yes

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