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Shure 55SH Microphone Review

December 4, 2023

At last, the day has come. And here is a Shure 55SH Series II review - the legend of vocal microphones whose history has already been more than 75 years. The younger brother of the Super 55 in the classical line-up of Shure. This masterpiece is a mixture of good old days style mics that have become iconic in many ways and innovative features that correspond to modern standards and tendencies. The main feature of Shure 55SH Series II is a cardioid polar pattern, which makes it an ideal choice for broadcasting or public speeches when you need clear sound without external noises. But let us start from the very beginning. And by tradition, specs first.

Best Price on Shure 55SH II Microphone

The Shure 55SH Series II Unidyne Microphone is a timeless and iconic piece of audio equipment that combines classic retro design with modern performance.

Shure 55SH Package Classic Package

Shure 55SH Specifications

  • Microphone Type: Dynamic
  • Form Factor: Retro-style housing
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Cartridge: R115
  • Frequency Response: from 50Hz to 15000Hz
  • Output Impedance: EIA rated at 150Ω (270Ω actual)
  • Sensitivity: at 1 kHz, open circuit voltage, −58.0dBV / Pa (1 Pascal = 94dB SPL)
  • Housing: Chrome-plated die casting
  • Net Weight without cable: 624 grams (1.37lb)
  • Size (microphone without switch): 100mm x 55.6mm x 77.8mm
  • Set Includes: Microphone with on/off switch, 5/8" to 3/8" thread adapter
Shure 55SH Polar Pattern

Shure 55 History of Microphone Model

We have decided to add this chapter to our Shure 55SH review to prove this microphone's greatness.

The Unidyne Microphone, model 55 was released in 1939 and from the very beginning, it was considered as the classic of mics due to its great futuristic design and performance specs. Soon the Unidyne series became synonymous with the company name and earned worldwide fame. Many famous people used the 55-mic model (like Elvis Presley, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and others). During War 55 showed its ability to work in extreme circumstances and quickly Unidyne became the symbol of a microphone itself.

ShureBrothers Unidyne 55A 1939

Since 1939 more than 20 versions have been released and there are two reasons why this legend remains iconic even nowadays:

  1. New versions always correspond with world science and music trends.
  2. Overall design always remains the same.

Overall Build & Design

So let’s go back to the 55SH version which was released in 2014. It is rather awkward to describe the design of this microphone but we cannot miss this part. So the fully metal chrome housing looks elegant, and vintage but at the same time it looks modern. This form is out of time comprehension in peoples’ minds, it is above it. When you are going to raise your lips to it you feel more shy than before you first kiss and this ‘grandma’ is better than all these girls.

In general, the construction of the microphone is durable thanks to the cast metal chrome-plated body, which resists wear and mechanical damage. But we still do not recommend abusing this microphone and treat it with care as with all devices

The comfort of using is on a high level. You can tilt this mic 45 degrees forward and 80 back with its swivel mount. Also, there is a built-in on/off switch and shock-mounted cartridge. Likewise, there is the possibility to grab it like a walkie-talkie during the performance to look Elvise-like, go ahead.

To make our Shure 55Sh review objective let's look at the drawbacks of this model.

Unfortunately Shure did not reward this microphone with a good out-of-the-box package (the set includes only the microphone itself and a threaded mic stand adapter). Accordingly, you will need to store it in a case and we recommend buying a good case, as they are not expensive (the cheapest variant is Aurey WMC-100 wide-mouth microphone case).

The XLR connector position of this microphone is in a way a disadvantage. Not every microphone stand will fit the 55SH and Super 55. For example, if you are going to hang the Shure 55SH on a boom arm stand for tabletops, the XLR cable's connector will rest on the arm of the stand and you won't be able to adjust the position of the microphone properly. But with simple floor or table stands the microphone can be adjusted well. + Don't forget that the microphone is made in retro style and not every modern microphone stand will look attractive with it in pair (look at retro style microphone stands).

Also, we have a giant review article on microphone stands for this one. Our editorial team recommends you take a closer look at the Atlas Sound microphone stands, which are also retro in style and will match your microphone perfectly.

Sound Quality & Features

Before writing the Shure 55SH review, our studio ordered 55SH and Super 55 mic models. As our tests showed, we want to emphasize the warm tone of the dynamic mic on recording, but overall the mic is more suitable for stage work. Shure has never skimped on sound quality with their microphones, you can be sure of that.

This particular model has a frequency response from 50 up to 15000 Hz, a cardioid polar pattern, and a special R115 cartridge. These three features mean the clear voice of speaker / singer/ broadcaster without any unwanted noises. Moreover, more and more people have started to use this model for instrumental recordings and they sound great because of its frequency response with uplifts, which gives you saturation on 5000Hz – 9000Hz.

Yes, this mic has similarities in sound to the Shure SM58 and Shure SM7B and their cartridge architecture has slight similarities. At the same time, the Shure 55SH II has a nice unique sound typical of a dynamic microphone.

Shure 55SH frequency response
Shure 55SH SERIES II Frequency Response

It should also be noted that the Shure 55SH Series II does not require phantom power as it is a dynamic microphone. However, if you accidentally connect phantom power you can be sure that it will not damage the microphone as Shure 55SH is a balanced dynamic microphone.

Moreover, you can upgrade your Shure 55SH Series II to Super 55 by installing of R115S Cartridge (you’ll get more clearer frequency response and supercardioid polar pattern). If you want to replace the cartridge then we first recommend visiting the official website of the manufacturer Shure, as they have some articles and guidelines for R115S cartridge replacement. But honestly, it would be easier to buy a new Shure Super 55 microphone than to replace the cartridge. The R115S cartridge costs $100+ and buying a new microphone will save you time while giving you a great new complete unit.

Here you can check out some audio samples recorded with Shure 55SH Series II

Shure 55SH Series II Recording - Male Vocal Clear (audio example)
Shure 55SH Series II Recording - Female Vocal Clear (audio example)
Shure 55SH Series II Recording - Drumkit (audio example)

Who is this microphone good for?

If you're a perfectionist, a nerd, and as picky as possible about sound quality - this mic is not for you. At this price, many condenser microphones produce a better and more reference sound than Shure 55SH II (for example, Rode NT1). This microphone is suitable for stage, live performances, vocalists, podcasts, live broadcasts, collectors, and in general for those who want to demonstrate a device that captures the attention of the audience in the frame. No doubt you'll hear some cheers - "Wow! Check out that old microphone!". But at the same time, it can be used for studio work (again, not for perfect recording because of the short frequency response and frequency uplifts), as Shure has brought a good cartridge and sound quality to this microphone and reimagined the old 55 model in every sense.

Shure 55SH Series II vs Shure Super 55 vs Shure SM58

The Shure 55SH Series II is often compared to the Shure Super 55 and the Shure SM58. We are often asked to compare this mic to the Shure SM7B, but we don't see the point of comparing it to the SM7B as it is a different price category. But SM7B still has some similarities in sound (both mics are dynamic and have some similarities in cartridge architecture).

Shure 55SH Series II vs Shure Super 55

Let's start by comparing from Shure 55SH and Shure Super 55. Both microphones belong to Shure Classic Line and it is worth noting that they differ in almost everything except style design. They have different polar patterns, frequency response, sensitivity, and price + 55SH has On/Off switch while the Shure Super 55 lacks this feature. But the most important thing is that the Super 55 is expensive at 40-70$ (once in a while, the Shure 55SH Series II and the Shure Super 55 cost the same), and it sounds a little bit better than the 55SH Series II. If you want to learn more about Super 55 and compare recorded audio samples – you are welcome to our Shure Super 55 Review.

Shure 55SH Series II vs Shure SM58

At the request of our readers, we have also included Shure SM58 in the comparison. The main similarity of these microphones is in polar pattern, dynamic type, and sensitivity. They are both good for live vocals. But it is worth noting that 55SH sounds better, warmer, and more saturated (also Shure 55SH is a little bit better for studio recordings) than Shure SM58, which is justified by the higher cost of 55SH. Also, these mics have very different overall build & design and it is difficult to compare these two models. The only thing is that the Shure SM58 has a better P-Popping reduction effect due to the spherical metal mesh grille + the microphone itself is designed to be comfortable to hold, while the 55SH can not boast of this.

We have an article about Shure SM58 where you can find detailed mic features and recorded audio examples for comparison.

Final Verdict on Shure 55SH Series II

Our Shure 55SH Series II review has come to an end.

So many years of worldwide popularity can be only a signal of something above greatness. The 55 model connected millions of singers hundreds of music genres and dozens of years. Speaking the truth, there is nothing we can write here. The choice is obvious just because Shure almost 78 years is proving that every person can buy true music legend for only 179 dollars, so what are you waiting for? This microphone needs new Elvises.

We would say that owning this microphone means making compromises, because of its appearance (not every microphone stand will look perfect with it) and awkward XLR connector (also not every stand will fit this microphone - see above). But Shure 55SH Series II will not leave anyone indifferent because of its retro design and at the same time not a reference but good enough sound quality.

Can we safely recommend the 55SH for purchase? - Definitely yes, if you like its retro design and are willing to find a good stand for it. There's a story behind this microphone like almost no other.

SoundGale editorial team hope you enjoyed our Shure 55SH review. Feel free to leave your questions or suggestions in the comments section below and we'll be happy to answer them all.

  • Good sound quality for dynamic microphone
  • Pleasant warm tone
  • Iconic Design. The classic, retro design is visually striking
  • Durability. Built with high-quality materials for long-term use
  • Upgradeable Cartridge. You can replace the built-in R115 cartridge with the R115S supercardiod cartridge
  • Shock-mounted Cartridge. Minimizes handling noise and ensures quiet operation
  • On/Off Switch
  • Not a convenient XLR cable connector. Some boom arm stands will not fit this microphone (use classic floor stands).
  • Don't reduce "P-popping" effect so good as microphones with mesh grille.
  • Not too good for studio work because of the short frequency response. More suitable for live stage performances, vocals, podcasts, live broadcasts and for a good picture in the frame.
  • Heavy. This can be an advantage for some and a disadvantage for others.
  • Poor out-of-the-box equipment. Shure didn't even put a zipped pouch, you'll need a case to store and transport the mic.
Our Score

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