Shure PG56-XLR Dynamic Drum Microphone
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Hands-On Review: Shure Performance Microphones

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Entry level, Shure style.

Let it be known from the get-go that I’m a Shure believer. I’ve used an SM58 on stage for many years. The same SM58. I could write a book about the times it has flown through the air and smashed onto the floor. It’s dented and battle worn, but it still works great, just like it did when it was new.

Shure SM58

In my experience, Shure has always delivered quality and durability at prices that never seem inflated. This is true of the old standbys and the newest Shure mics. The SMs, the Betas, and the new KSMs are performers onstage and in the studio. Track record talks, so I was especially keen to find out the scoop on Shure’s new application-specific Performance Gear mics.

I first got wind of them at the Winter NAMM Show, but amid the general hubbub, all I got was a quick look. Still, I was impressed by these new Shure mics. They have the expected heft and apparent ruggedness for which Shure is famous. Their affordable price tags make them immediately attractive. They also come with cords, clips, and bags, which add to the deal. So if their performance lived up to the Shure name, the Performance Gear mics would have to be among the best microphone deals around.

The big test

My approach for this review was simply to plug ’em in and try ’em out. The two vocal mics were the first I tried. Both the PG48 and PG58 seemed immediately credible. The 48 is described as suitable for karaoke and speech applications, but I found it to be a mic that could acquit itself quite nicely for backup vocals! It’s the kind of mic you keep one or two of around just in case. The PG58 is noticeably cooler, quite close to an SM58 in sound quality and character. The choice for anyone serious about vocals is an easy one. Go for the 58.

The PG58 will probably be the most popular mic in the series, because of its purpose and because of its similarity to the legendary SM58. I compared them side by side with the same channel settings and found the differences between them to not be radical at all. The SM is a little smoother and probably better at maintaining its cool at higher volumes, but the PG58 has that wonderful mid presence that has made the SM58 so popular with vocalists.

Considering that it costs half as much as the SM58, the PG58 has to be one of the all-time microphone values and should easily kick the butt of any other $50 dollar mic out there. Another bonus is that both the PG48 and PG58 have on/off switches. I think this is really important for a vocal mic, so you can switch it off at break time.

The other mics

The PG57 benefits from all the Shure know-how that went into the legendary SM57, perhaps the most widely used mic in the world. Like its big brother, the PG57 is contoured for guitar amps and to serve as a horn mic for brass or reeds. Like the SM57, I suspect that it will do double-duty as an emergency vocal mic. As I did with the PG58, I compared the PG57 with an SM57, and again, found it to be surprisingly similar to its big brother. The SM is a little smoother but the tonalities and outputs of the two mics are close. Once again, it measures up, being much better sounding than you’d expect from its low price.

The PG81 also lives up to Shure’s reputation. It’s a condenser mic, battery or phantom powered, and could do good work in the project studio as well as onstage. Sensitive and crisp response make it ideal for overhead applications, or for miking complex acoustic instruments. Its flat response and 40Hz-18kHz frequency range provide full, rich sound without coloration. Like the other Performance Gear mics, it has a hefty, durable feel and the internal shock mounting will keep it quiet when the stage floor is vibrating. I tested it out on an acoustic guitar and found it quite responsive to different placements. It has a usable amount of proximity effect, so you can move it close to accentuate the bass or away for a brighter sound.

Miking the drums

The last two of the series are the PG52 and the PG56, the former for bass drums, the latter for snares and toms. Like the other mics, their design follows their functions. These are short, bullet-shaped mics that fit amid drums easily. The PG56 includes a drum mount for attaching it to snares, toms, or stands. Both have a tightening knob so they will hold firmly when placed at any angle.

The PG52 and PG56 make miking drums easy. If you’ve ever tried miking a kit with gear not really designed for the purpose, you know how hard it is to get the true drum tones and the right levels. You usually get a thuddy or boomy bass, and snares that sound like a generalized whap. The 52 and 56 are designed for dealing with high SPLs and shaped for drum frequencies. They let you get defined drum tones without radical EQing. The PG52 would also be a good choice for miking a bass guitar amp.

Nice price

The Performance Gear mics are serious microphones that will serve aspiring bands well. There are models to cover just about every application onstage, from lead singer to bass drum. And their low prices make equipping the entire band an affordable proposition. Check them out. Read the reviews on the net. Then equip yourself with affordable mics that’ll do you for years.

Performance Gear Models

PG48

  • Dynamic cardioid mic
  • For speech and karaoke use
  • Frequency range: 70Hz-15kHz
  • Includes cables, clip, and mic bag PG57
  • Dynamic cardioid mic
  • For miking guitar amps, brass, saxophones
  • Frequency range: 50Hz-15kHz
  • Includes cables, clip, and mic bag

PG58

  • Dynamic cardioid mic
  • For stage vocals
  • Frequency range: 60Hz-15kHz
  • Includes cables, clip, and mic bag

PG81

  • Condenser cardioid mic
  • For stage or studio miking of acoustic guitars, pianos, or cymbals
  • Frequency range: 40Hz-18kHz
  • Includes cable, clip, mic bag, thread adapter, and battery

PG52

  • Dynamic cardioid mic
  • For miking bass drums and bass guitar amps
  • Frequency range: 30Hz-13kHz
  • Includes cable, mic bag, and thread adapter

PG56

  • Dynamic cardioid mic
  • For miking snares, toms, and percussion
  • Frequency range: 50Hz-15kHz
  • Includes cable, mic bag, drum mount, and thread adapter

Tags: Microphones Shure

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