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Shure SM81 Condenser Mic

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The Shure SM81 Condenser Mic is a unidirectional cardioid mic with studio, broadcast, and sound reinforcement versatility. Its wide frequency response, low noise, low RF susceptibility, and rugged con... Read More

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The Shure SM81 Condenser Mic is a unidirectional cardioid mic with studio, broadcast, and sound reinforcement versatility. Its wide frequency response, low noise, low RF susceptibility, and rugged construction allow it to excel in all applications. It is furnished with a swivel adapter, 10dB attenuator with locking switch, a 3-position low-cut filter, foam windscreen, and a case for carrying and storage.

The SM81 requires phantom power.

  • 20Hz-20kHz frequency response
  • Flat response curve for accurate reproduction of sound sources
  • Low noise and high output clipping level
  • Low distortion over a wide range of load impedances
  • Cardioid polar pattern with maximum rejection and minimum coloration of off-axis sounds
  • Low RF susceptibility
  • Selectable low-frequency response: flat, 6, or 18dB/octave roll-off
  • Phantom powering
  • Rugged steel construction
  • Type: Condenser (electret bias)
  • Frequency Response: 20 to 20,000Hz
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid (unidirectional) response-uniform with frequency, symmetrical about axis
  • Output Impedance: Rated at 150Ω (85Ω actual)
  • Recommended minimum load impedance: 800Ω (May be used with loads as low as 150Ω with reduced clipping level)
  • Output Configuration and Connector: Balanced, transformer-coupLED output; male XLR connector
  • Sensitivity (at 1,000Hz): Open Circuit Voltage: -45dBV/Pascal (5.6 mV), (1 Pascal = 94dB SPL)
  • Clipping Level (at 1,000Hz): 800Ω Load: -4dBV (0.63 V), 150Ω Load: -15dBV (0.18 V)
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 0.5% (131dB SPL at 250Hz into 800Ω load)
  • Maximum SPL: (at 1,000Hz): 800Ω load: 136dB (attenuator at 0) 146dB (attenuator at -10), 150Ω load: 128dB (attenuator at 0) 138dB (attenuator at -10)
  • Hum Pickup: -3dB equivalent SPL in a 1 mOe field (60Hz)
  • Self-Noise (equivalent sound pressure levels; measured with true rms voltmeter) 16dB typical, A-weighted, 19dB typical, weighted per DIN 45 405
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 78dB (IEC 651)* at 94dB SPL, *S/N ratio is difference between 94dB SPL and product's equivalent self noise (SPL A-weighted)
  • Overvoltage and Reverse Polarity Protection: Max. external voltage applied to pins 2 and 3 with respect to pin 1: +52 VDC, Reverse polarity protection: 200 mA max. (diode-clamped)
  • Polarity: Positive pressure on diaphragm produces positive voltage on pin 2 relative to pin 3
  • Cartridge Capacitance: 54 pF
  • Low Frequency Response Switch Positions: Flat; -6dB/octave below 100Hz; -18dB/octave below 80Hz
  • Attenuator Switch Positions (Lockable): 0 or -10dB
  • Power: Supply Voltage: 11 to 52 VDC, positive, pins 2 and 3, Current Drain: 1.2 mA max
  • Environmental Conditions:
  • Temperature:
  • Storage: -29° to 74° C (-20° to 165° F)
  • Operating: -6.7° to 49° C (20° to 120° F)
  • Humidity:
  • Storage 0 to 95% relative humidity at room temperature (72° to 80° F, 22° to 27° C)
  • Case: Steel construction with vinyl metallic paint finish and stainless steel screens
  • Dimensions (D x W): 212mm x 23.5mm, 8.3" x .93"
  • Weight Net: 230g (8oz.)
One year warranty on wireless mics, mixers, and circuitry products.
2 year warranty on wired mics.
Warranty terms vary. Check with manufacturer for specific product warranty.

Pro Coverage gives you added warranty protection for your new gear. Stepping in where the manufacturer's "normal wear and tear" coverage ends, our Pro Coverage program offers you upgraded coverage if your product ever fails Read More.

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  • Expedited repair
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  • 100% coverage for commercial use
  • Extended return period
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  • Free transfer of coverage to a new owner
  • Repair costs covered for up to three years from date of purchase
  • Repair authorization-toll-free by phone or via the web
  • Customer Reviews


by PowerReviews

(based on 7 reviews)

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Reviewed by 7 customers

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By Ed Pigan

from Murrysville, PA

I have used 2 SM81's in the studio and when I play live for about 6 years now. As others have said, these Mic's pick up the Toms very well, but in my opinion, excel on the cymbals. They pick up every cymbal ping and handle the wash as well. These Mic's also pick up my HI-Hat (open and closed) very well. I believe in keeping things simple, I use an AKG D 112 for my Bass Drum and a SHURE SM57 for the Snare in combination with these 2 SM81 Condensers running through a Peavey Mixer (so I can control Mix, Panning, Tone and Volume right at the set) and the sound is consistent, very clear and powerful. I highly recommend these Microphones.

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Perfect for acoustic instruments

By Wyatt Counterman

from Kalamazoo, MI

This mic is great!! Not disappointed at all. You get a nice quality condenser mic without sacrificing price. It records almost any acoustic instrument well. I've used it on piano, drum overheads, marimba, ukulele, and all sorts of other instruments and it works great. I highly recommend it for any home studio

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(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)


Throw away all other drum mics

By Jim

from Lancaster PA

Just got 2 81s to use as drum overheads in the studio....if you have 2 of these and a kick mick (I have an AKG D112) you are set. The 81s give you a true acoustic drum sound and even more importantly when EQing them on an analog board, you can easily separate cymbals, toms and snare to give your mix an outstanding sound. You may never close mic again.

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(3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)



By TomD

from DFW

I own a number of pairs of high quality condenser mics. The Shure SM 81 is extremely neutral in its sound. It is quiet, has extremely fast transient response and reproduces acoustic guitar, drum cymbals, and violins more naturally than any other mic I've tried.

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(3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)


Fantastic and Versatile

By Sheridan

from Austin, TX

This microphone has been an absolute pleasure to work with. Our church owns 4 and has used them for everything from miking the piano (which we don't do anymore) to miking women's ensemble to children's choir. We've been amazed how one mic can project 8 women. These mics work well with the stereo mic clip too.

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(3 of 4 customers found this review helpful)


great in double

By Aaron

from moorpark ca.

I've been recording for about two years now...mainly large big band jazz band live gigs. I've been using these mics as stereo pairs in front of the horn section roughly 20feet in front of the section and about 8 feet up centered. I was astonished when i went to master the sound, expecting huge amounts of clipping from the trumpets and completely hidden trombones, and found that i had to do nothing to get the correct balance. Best investment in mics i've made!!!

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(14 of 17 customers found this review helpful)


Great Microphone

By duder744

from Peoria, IL

I have this microphone and use it frequently on Acoustic Guitars and cymbals, usually in stereo with an AKG C414B. Alone, the microphone records my acoustic guitar brilliantly, and it also serves as a great overhead drum mic, and it's great for cymbals (recording or live sound). It would probably sound good on vocals, but I've never used it for that.

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