The SM63: A Go-To Mic for Outdoor Applications

Shure SM63

From the researcher who wants to record the sound of singing birds in the extreme humidity of the Amazon Rainforest, to the minister who wants the outside bell to be heard at the end of a service, there are plenty of applications that require a microphone to be mounted outdoors—even in inclement weather conditions and extreme temperatures. While all Shure products are manufactured to be durable and long-lasting, we’re often asked which microphone is best suited for outdoor sound capture.

Our answer? Your go-to mic for “environmental” sound applications should be the Shure SM63. A compact and lightweight yet durable handheld microphone, the SM63 offers both a professional sound and an elegant appearance. Wondering what makes it an ideal choice for outdoor use? Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Reason #1: It is a dynamic mic—the dynamic element of the SM63 means it can tolerate extreme temperatures or humidity. It also means phantom power is not required for operation
  • Reason #2: It has an omnidirectional polar pattern and design—the omnidirectional pattern of the SM63 means the mic can respond to sound coming from any direction. The omnidirectional design also substantially reduces the level of wind noise
  • Reason #3: It has an internal shock mount and an internal hum-bucking coil—when mounted outdoors, a mic typically has to endure structural vibration. Fortunately, the SM63’s internal shock mount provides isolation to reduce unwanted noise pick-up. The hum-bucking coil is able to reduce hum interference that often results from overhead power lines

Although it’s extremely rugged, the SM63 must still be sheltered from rain, sleet, snow, and other precipitation when outdoors. In short, it can be damp but it does not like being wet. For added durability, we recommend you cover the small air gap between the female connector and male connector at the XLR connection point with heat-shrink tubing. The supplied foam windscreen should also be installed.

If the mic location has extreme winds, use the A81WS windscreen.  It can be fastened to the SM63 by using self-adhering VELCRO® (the hook portion) on the upper part of the mic. The hooks of the VELCRO will grab the open cells of the A81WS foam. By using the A53M shock mount you’ll also supply additional isolation from structural vibration, if required.

Whether you’re trekking into the depths of the jungle to research the sounds of wildlife, or just sitting inside an insulated beach home wanting to hear the sound of waves crashing, the SM63 will serve you well.

The SM63 is available at Authorised Shure Dealers, find out where (and for more information) on our website: shure.nl / shure.be.

Play for LA..and the Benelux Winners are….

At the beginning of June, Shure announced Play for LA – the guitar competition, which aimed to search out the very best guitarists across Europe. 2 months, and over 150 entries later, we are delighted to announce the lucky winners in the Benelux.

Play for LA Winners Benelux

The Winners of Play for LA (Benelux edition) are….

1st Prize: Bart Planting 

Congratulations on winning the first price! If you haven’t already checked out his entry, it’s well worth a watch!

2nd Prize: Pedro Lopes

Congratulations on winning a Shure GLXD16 Beta Digital Wireless Pedal System, a Shure SM57 and a Shure SM7B!

Thanks and Congratulations

We would like to thank everyone who took part in Play for LA, we have had some great quality entries and making our final decision has certainly been a laborious task. Please join us in congratulating the winners here.

Don’t worry if you haven’t been lucky this time, Shure will be running future competitions in your region. Subscribe to our mailing list and be the first to know about future events.

Newsletter

Making the Right Earphone Choice: What You Need to Know

Earphones, what you need to know

When Apple began packaging earbuds with their iPods in 2001, music lovers abandoned their Walkman®and Discman® portable music players along with whatever headphones they were using at the time and a new consumer market was born.

Soon people wanted better sound from their portable players and that meant something other than ubiquitous white earbuds. Now over a decade later, the explosion of models, styles, features and costs can be a little overwhelming. So many brands, colours, pop stars and prices.

What’s the real difference? Here’s some helpful information that may keep you out of the weeds when you’re trying to decide.

Think about how you will use them

Everyone uses earphones a little differently – listening to music while working out, tuning out background noise on the bus, train or plane, hearing a mix onstage in a personal monitoring system or being able to make and receive calls while listening to music, a podcast or an audio book. The more features you add (onboard volume control, multiple drivers, detachable cable), the more earphones will cost you.

Are you going to use them every day of the week on the way to work, school or on the train? Another consideration is how careful you are. Will you place them back in a carrying case or toss them in the bottom of your gym bag?  Which family members are likely to borrow them from time to time? (And how careful are they likely to be?)

Sound isolation considerations

Sound Isolating earphones, like the ones that Shure makes, work passively the same way that earplugs do. Soft, pliable sleeves fit snugly into the ear and physically block outside noise from entering the ear. Sound isolation works across the entire audible spectrum and in all kinds of environments without the need for batteries.

Let’s say, though, that you’re a runner and like to listen to a playlist on your morning jog or training for your next 10K. Then, safety becomes a factor. You may want to choose non-Sound Isolating earphones that will allow you to hear ambient sound – a person’s voice, traffic noises, car horns or train whistles.

Comfort as a critical factor

For many users, comfort is just as important as audio quality. You’re not going to insert something into your ear that doesn’t feel good. Getting it right can take a little experimentation and patience.

For Sound Isolating earphones especially, the fit is critically important to seal the ear canal. That’s why manufacturers package multiple sizes and styles of sleeves with their earphones. These sets of sleeves – generally foam or silicone – can effectively block most ambient sound. Aftermarket manufacturers also offer custom-fit sleeves for a variety of earphones, including Shure’s.

Earphone sleeves
Also a matter of personal taste is where the cable is located.  Do the earphones tend to fall out during exercise? Does the cable interfere with your sunglasses?

Straight down: The most common type (think of the earbuds that came with your first iPod), these are worn with cable hanging straight down. The cable can be positioned in back or front.

Over the ear: Provides stability for active use. The secure fit is one reason why this type of cable architecture is found on most professional-grade earphones. The cable can be worn in back or front. (With the exception of the SE112, all Shure earphones are optimised to be worn over the ear.)

Sound quality

To produce sound, earphones employ a variety of types and quantities of miniature speakers, more commonly known in the audio industry as drivers. Here are a few considerations that apply to sound quality and determining what’s good for you:

  • Are you listening or working/performing?
  • The type of music you listen to
  • Other audio equipment you own

The quantity of drivers

An earphone with only one driver per side (a single driver earphone) can produce sound throughout the entire audible range (normally between 20Hz and 20kHz). So why would anyone ever use more than one driver? Because there are limitations to what a single driver can do. Here are a few:

  • It might not get very loud before distorting
  • The “curve” of the sound (the relative levels of frequencies from low to high) can be limited
  • Any changes must be applied through EQ or other processing

To counter the limitations of single driver earphones it is common to include multiple drivers in each side. Special filtering is applied to further segregate the range of frequencies, allowing one driver to focus only on a specific range. This can increase efficiency and the overall level that can be reached. It is not unlike the technology used in normal stereo speakers. The incoming audio signal is split into two or more audio paths (depending on the number of drivers) and each path is optimised for a specific frequency range.

It is not guaranteed that a multi-driver earphone will outperform a single driver earphone. In fact, poorly designed multiple driver earphones can cause anomalies or artifacts in the frequency response that may lead to dissatisfaction for a music listener or worse, inaccurate performances or mixes for musicians and sound engineers.

In addition to the quantity of drivers it is important to note the crossover circuitry in a multiple driver earphone.

Two-way and three-way crossovers

A two-way crossover typically splits the audio signal into two separate channels, high and low. The high signal would be routed to a high frequency driver (often called a “tweeter”) and the low signal would be routed to a low frequency driver (often called a “woofer”). The frequency at which the signals split is called the “crossover point”, which is where one range ends and another begins. When designed properly, the resulting sound might be more expansive with a stronger bass response.

A three-way crossover is similar to a two-way but would include another crossover point, making three distinct frequency ranges: Low, mid and high. A three-way design can offer even more sound level at an even higher quality if it is implemented properly.

Frequency range

Like many listening products, earphones usually specify a frequency range that is measured in Hertz (abbreviated as “Hz”). Frequency response is the range of bass, mids and trebles. 20 to 20,000 Hz (or 20 kHz) is generally accepted as the audible frequency range for humans – so it’s the standard for most earphones. But it can be a nearly meaningless metric, since few audio companies measure frequency response in exactly the same way – and – what’s in the center of the response range (human hearing) is what really matters the most.

Durability

Earphones may be relatively small but they face plenty of abuse. Cables get wrapped around our smartphones or MP3 players. They are subjected to all kinds of weather conditions. They end up in the bottom of our gym bags and briefcases. Many of the problems associated with earphones are the result of damaged cables. That makes features like detachable, multi-length and reinforced cables important to the longevity of your earphones.

Now what?

Can you hear the difference between the tangled pair you have laying around the house and your friend’s €200 earphones? That listening experience may tell you how much you should spend. Remember, too, that the shape of your ear canal means that everyone processes sound differently.

Since it’s nearly impossible to live-test earphones in a store you can try other ways to determine what’s best for you. A few examples:

  • Professional audio review websites offer insight and commentary
  • Bulletin boards and other public forums provide comments from actual customers of the products
  • Look up retailers who carry the items you are interested in and determine if you will be able to try them out
  • Test models owned by friends or colleagues

Let’s take a look at Shure’s line of SE earphones, which you can view in detail in the SE Earphones section of shure.be and shure.nl:
Shure Earphone range

This is personal listening, so above all else, trust your ears!

 

Winners of 2014 Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition Announced

Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition

The 12th Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition concluded on July 12th following a close finish in the Petit Théâtre at Montreux Palace, Switzerland, during the shure montreux jazz competitionmiddle weekend of internationally renowned Montreux Jazz Festival. As ever, there were excellent performances by all three finalists, but in the end, after much debate steered by the 2014 leader of the competition jury Sweet Georgia Brown, 20-year-old Alita Moses from Connecticut, USA was announced as the 2014 winner of the competition’s first prize, following compelling renditions of Miles Davis’s ‘Four’, Gershwin’s ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’ and Magda Giannikou’s ‘Amour T’es Lá?’.

Laura Perrudin and Myriam Bouk Moun, both from France, won the second and third prizes respectively. This year’s contest was notable for its collaborative atmosphere: at one point during rehearsals for the semi-finals, the nine supposed competitors broke into a spontaneously improvised circle song, to the delight of everyone watching. Check out the Videos featuring highlights of all of the performances from the three finalists and semi-finalists:

Established to nurture and promote talented young singers from all around the world through its close connection with the internationally renowned annual Montreux Jazz Festival, the Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition has been sponsored since its foundation by microphone manufacturer Shure. Like previous winners of the competition, all three of the 2014 finalists will take home Shure products of their choice to a total value of 2000 Euros, along with other prizes.

Visite the Shure Montreux Jazz Competition Blog for more information and impressions of the competition.

3 Alternative Guitar Mics to the SM57

The Shure SM57 is quite possibly the most popular and widely used microphone to record electric guitars. The frequency response and presence peak help to cut through a mix, while the high SPL handling makes it ideal for loud sound sources such as guitar amps. Great for most applications, granted, but good quality sound is extremely subjective, and there are plenty of occasions that call for something different.

When choosing and mic, you should consider the bigger picture and the desired end result. This might involve trying a number of microphones before you find the one that works best for your application. Here are 3 alternatives to consider:

SM7b – Large Diaphragm Dynamic

For the development of the SM7, Shure engineers were given the SM57 cartridge elements (Unidyne III) and asked, without restrictions on size or cost to essentially make it better. Very subjective perhaps, but thanks to its large diaphragm design and bigger housing, the SM7 has a wider frequency response; particularly in the lower frequency ranges. The optional presence peak or low cut filtering also allow greater control over frequency response, allowing you to tweak the mic to suit different guitar or amplifier combinations. If you like the SM57, but would welcome greater creative control over low and high frequency response, the SM7b could be the mic for you. (Click here for more information on what makes the SM7b different to the SM57)

The SM7b is available from authorised Shure dealers in Belgium and The Netherlands

Beta27 – Large Diaphragm Condenser

The Beta27 is a truly versatile and unique microphone. It is the only side-address supercardioid condenser microphone available on the market, and can be used for a wide variety of applications. Including, but not limited to electric & acoustic guitar. The Beta27 has superior transient response thanks to its ultra-thin diaphragm. If you’re looking for a brighter, more detailed sound the Beta27 delivers, without being overbearing.

Additional advantages include greater control thanks to a 3-position switchable low-frequency filter, which helps reduce unwanted background noise or counteract the proximity effect. The -15 db switch-able attenuator also helps to handle extremely high SPLs – essential when recording electric guitar amps.

The Beta27 is available from select Shure Dealers in Belgium and The Netherlands

Beta27

KSM313 – Ribbon Mic

Ribbon mic’s belong to the dynamic family. However, they have an electrically conductive diaphragm, which moves directly in the magnetic field. By losing the voice coil, you reduce mass and allow the diaphragm to move faster. This produces a microphone with wider frequency response in comparison to regular dynamic microphones. Ribbon microphones have a smoother high end compared with condenser microphones, and are often described as having a warm and full sound. If you’re looking for a fuller and brighter sound than a dynamic, but also prefer a warmer sound than condenser mics, ribbon mics could be the best option.

Where Ribbon mics traditionally fall down, is high SPL handling and durability. A loud sound source alone could be enough to damage the mic. This is not the case with Shure Roswellite™ Ribbon Technology, which replaces traditional foil ribbons with a high tensile strength, toughness, and shape memory. This ultimately results in superior resilience at extreme SPLs.

Voiced for guitar and vocals

The KSM313 has an additional advantage through dual-voice tuning. One side of the mic is warm and full for amplifiers, the other is designed for bright and flattering vocal response. If you’re a singer and guitar player, or just want a microphone than can handle both applications – the KSM313 delivers.

Available from select Shure Dealers in Belgium and The Netherlands 

KSM313

 

Using a professional microphone with a laptop?

If you want to use a professional microphone (like the SM58) with a laptop you may encounter various challenges. Laptops or rather their on board sound cards (external sound cards in fact have a microphone input) – feature a 3,5 mm stereo jack.
So the first challenge is to find the right cable. The microphone’s XLR connection needs to be adapted to the stereo jack.

SM-X2u-58-57-Bundle-Laptop_HR1-Headphone-Update_opti-Web

If this challenge is solved (you often need a soldering iron, because even in a specialist shop it is hard to find the right cable and also the SHURE RP325 adapter cable is not always available in stores) you need to make the next decision: the signal is too low or with too much contact noise. This is up to the sound card’s low input sensitivity. The microphone’s signal is too low and therefore needs to be calculated even higher in the software. This causes even more acoustic noise.

Conclusion: A direct connection is possible, but with heavy sound quality cutbacks.

Our solutions:

  • 1) You can strengthen the signal by 12 dB with a passive transformer like the Shure A96F. But the microphone gets stressed with a low-ohm connection – this influences the sound quality. Therefore you should use this solution just as a “quick and dirty” solution – especially in situations when you don’t have a plug socket around.
  • 2) You can strengthen the signal with a small mixing desk to Line level and then use the soundcard’s Line-in. Here you need an adapter cable too, to get from XLR to 3,5 mm stereo jack. This way the signal can be delivered on an adequate level.
  • 3) You could connect a USB microphone direct with the laptop’s USB port.
    The advantage: The analog-digital conversion takes place in the microphone. This way you can achieve a higher sound quality then with some on board sound cards.
    The disadvantage: The AD converter is inside the microphone. If you want to buy another microphone you need to pay for a new converter, too.
    That’s why you can buy some microphones as all-round microphones, which can be used universally like the Shure PG27USB.
    There is also a model available for especially for speech and voice-over applications, the PG42USB ideal for podcasting too.
  • 4) Use a high quality sound card: You can find them in different types with different prices. If you have something like a small home studio you should use a multi-channel soundcard.

View the product pages of these microphones on our website.
TIP: check out consumer reviews under the review tab.

Visit our website for more information About home recording: Studio & Home Recording (Dutch)

 

Shure SRH1540 vs SRH940

SRH1540 vs. SRH940Recently, Shure released the new SRH1540 premium closed back headphones.
The new model complements our existing closed back range, which includes: SRH240A, SRH440, SRH840, & the SRH940. However, from a price perspective, they’re actually on par with our premium SRH1840 open back model; making them the new top dog closed back model, which might lead you to ask what makes them different from SRH940′s…

Which is the best headphone for you?

As always, the answer to this question depends on what you want to achieve – combined with an element of personal taste. It’s less of a question of ‘which is better’ and more a case of which application you’ll be using them for. In short, the SRH940′s are reference studio headphones, whereas the SRH1540′s are a premium closed back design. So what does this mean?

Essentially, the biggest difference is the sound signature. For the SRH940, the sound is flat, which basically means the sound is not coloured or biased. Hence, they’re referred to as reference models (they reproduce your mix as accurately as possible). The SRH1540 on the other hand actually accentuate certain aspects of your music or mix. Their speaker design drives warm bass and detailed, extended highs. If you’re an audiophile and this is your thing, you’ll no doubt welcome the extra detail and energy. However, if it’s accuracy you’re looking for, the SRH940 is still the best choice as it’s generally advised to have at least one good pair of flat, accurate, studio reference headphones when checking your mix.

Design & Comfort

At Shure we pride ourselves on great design, and the SRH1540 is undoubtedly one of the most comfortable headphones we’ve ever made. The headband is extremely ergonomic and lightweight, which when combined with the ultrasoft Alcantara® earpads makes it a pleasurable listening experience (just another factor in their appeal to audiophiles, where many hours of wear calls for greater comfort).

Conclusion

The frequency response delivered by SRH1540′s makes for a great listening experience and they’re some of the most comfortable headphones you’ll wear. However, despite the cheaper price point, the SRH940′s are still the most accurate model on offer. To summarise, it’s likely you’ll prefer the 940 in your studio, and the 1540 for your Hi-Fi.

Features and more detail available on our website:
BE-FR SRH940 & SRH1540
NL SRH940 & SRH1540

Alternatively, you can try them for yourself at one of our Authorised Shure Dealers:
Dealers in Belgium & Luxembourg
Dealers in the Netherlands