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Shure SM87A Microphone Review

March 16, 2023

Today we continue our acquaintance with the most popular product line of the Shure company industry-standard professional mics (SM). Our object of review for today is an excellent professional condenser microphone. Meet Shure SM87A, one of the most expensive handheld models in a line. Sophisticated users know that Shure prefers to combine innovations with a classic, but this mic is considered to be more innovative than SM58, for example. And there is no doubt that a lot of users will like it. This model provides such great sound that it is meant to be used in recording studios and broadcasting stations. So let’s start our Shure SM87A review from specs, as always.


Unfortunately at this time the SM87A microphone is no longer manufactured by Shure, and it's very hard to find in stores, only on the aftermarket. We recommend you buy the Shure BETA 87A because the SM87A and BETA 87A are largely identical microphones in terms of specifications. But the Shure BETA 87A has an improved capsule and slightly better sound quality. The Shure BETA87A can be called the reincarnation of the SM87A at the same price.

Best Price on Shure BETA 87A Microphone

The Shure SM87A has been discontinued and replaced by the newer Shure BETA 87A microphone with improved sound quality at the same price.

Shure BETA 87A package Classic Package

Shure SM87A Specifications

  • Microphone Type: Condenser (electret bias)
  • Form Factor: Handheld
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Diaphragm Size: 10mm
  • Frequency Response: from 50Hz up to 20000Hz
  • Impedance: rated at 150Ω (100Ω actual ±20%) recommended minimum load impedance: 800Ω
  • Sensitivity (at 1,000Hz): open circuit voltage: –52.5 dBV/Pa (2.4mV) (1 Pa = 94dB SPL)
  • Output Clipping Level: 1000Ω Load at 1,000Hz: –6 dBV (0.5V)
  • Maximum SPL (at 1,000Hz): 140.5dB (0.25% THD, 1000Ω load)
  • Self-Noise: 24dB typical, A-weighted & 26dB typical, weighted per DIN 45 405
  • Dynamic Range (1000Ω): 116.5dB (maximum SPL to A-weighted noise level)
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 70dB at 94dB SPL (IEC 651) - S/N ratio is the difference between 94dB SPL and equivalent SPL of self–noise A-weighted
  • Connector: 3-pin XLR male
  • Power Requirements: 11 to 52 Vdc, 5.2mA (requires phantom power)
  • Housing: aluminum construction with steel grille and satin black finish
  • Size: L 192mm x W 50mm
  • Net weight: 200 grams (without cable)
Shure SM87A polar pattern

Shure SM87A Overall Build & Features

Speaking the truth, we think that this model is almost perfect (on the same level as the Shure 55SH model) if we are talking about external design. Solid fully metal matt structure looks really beautiful and elegant. No buttons, only nice nice-looking triple-level pop filter with a classic chrome grill. Elegance and professionalism, nothing else. Shure positions this microphone as very lightweight and it is true. Shure SM87A microphone weighs 200 grams, thanks to the light alloy but at the same time very strong aluminum body.

Shure SM87A package

Also, this mic comes with a microphone holder that mounts most of Shure's handheld mics so you can be sure that this solid mic will used even in safer conditions. The mount clip / microphone holder is standard, so most of the mic stands will suit it. In addition, a small transporting bag is included. As an optional accessory, we recommend you buy an A85WS Windscreen, which will help you to reduce unwanted breaths and wind noise stronger than a built-in pop filter.

When we write about the sound performance of Shure mics it is always all about standardly excellent quality and some features which enhance it. So Shure SM87A has a lot of these:

  • As this microphone is condenser you will always have an advantage in the richness and clarity of sound, over the dynamic microphones. It also extends the usage range of this microphone, so you can easily use it for studio recording solutions. In addition, the transducer element has a three-stage shock mount so handling noise and unwanted sounds will reduce stronger.
  • The second awesome feature is the supercardioid polar pattern which means that you will have a brilliant sound that is produced by the source and no unwanted noises.
  • The third one is a wide frequency response from 50Hz to 20kHz with uplift on the distance from 2kHz to 9kHz, which will provide smooth and clear sound for vocals.
  • Controlled low-frequency roll-off, which equalizes the bass frequency, so your sound would not be oversaturated with bass.
  • Build in pop-filter that has three layers so sound will be crystal clear, without unwanted noises and breaths.

Sound Quality

We would like to point out that the Shure SM87A is a rather unique microphone. First of all, it is a condenser microphone, which is not typical for handheld microphones. Usually, handheld microphones are made with a dynamic cartridge. Secondly, the Shure SM87A has a very small electret capsule of 10mm (which is very small) and at the same time excellent sound quality. For example, the Shure SM86 has the exact same 10mm electret condenser capsule - but it sounds slightly worse than the Shure SM87A. Most likely, this result (excellent sound quality) was achieved by Shure due to the clever design of the circuit board in combination with the electret capsule.

Our editorial team rated the sound quality of this microphone at 8.5 / 10. A very good result, but unfortunately the Shure SM87A has been discontinued. Well, let's continue our Shure SM87A review, and let's look at the frequency response.

Shure SM87A Frequency Response

As you can see in the frequency response graph, the Shure SM87A has a controlled low-frequency roll-off. Thanks to this feature, your vocals will never be oversaturated with low-frequency bass. We can also see the classic midrange uplift that is characteristic of most vocal microphones, as the brightest vocal frequencies are in the middle. Accordingly, the Shure SM87A will saturate your vocals with usable frequencies, which will undoubtedly translate to a better recording experience.

Shure SM87A frequency response

Here you can check some audio samples recorded with Shure SM87A

Unfortunately, we found audio examples only in the Japanese language, because there were not any examples in English, but these audio examples were of very good quality.

Shure SM86 - Female Vocal recording
Shure SM86 - Male Vocal recording
Shure SM87A - Karaoke Style Vocal Recording

Shure SM87A vs Shure SM58 vs Shure SM86 vs Shure BETA 87A / 87C

Shure SM87A vs Shure SM58. Unfortunately, we don't see the point of comparing Shure SM87A and Shure SM58 as they are microphones of different classes. Shure SM58 is a classic dynamic microphone at an affordable price, while Shure SM87A is a condenser microphone that costs much more and has a higher sound quality. You can check out the full review of the Shure SM58 at this link on our website and compare their sound (as we have sample recordings of both microphones).

Shure SM87A vs Shure SM86. The Shure SM87A is quite different from its little brother Shure SM86, even though they have the same 10mm capsule size. The microphones also differ in polar pattern, SM87A is supercardioid / Shure SM86 is cardioid. In terms of sound quality Shure SM87A is still a head higher compared to SM86 and SM87A has a larger presence peak compared to SM86. We have a full review with audio examples of the Shure SM86 which you can see at the link and more accurately compare both of these microphones. Overall, the Shure SM87A microphone is a class above and costs $100 dollars more.

Shure SM87A vs Shure BETA 87A. The Shure BETA 87A is a reincarnation of the Shure SM87A microphone (since the SM87A was discontinued). In general, SM87A and BETA 87A microphones are identical in their technical characteristics (they have approximately the same frequency response, both supercardioid & condenser and have the same Output Impedance, SPL, Dynamic Range, Self Noise). The microphones even have similar housing and a weight of 200 grams, they differ only in coloring. The Shure BETA 87A and Shure SM87A have roughly the same board layout, differing only in the microphone capsule (the Shure SM87A has a more modern and larger capsule). As the manufacturer states on the official website, BETA 87A does feature a more consistent supercardioid polar pattern, giving it a slight edge in gain-before-feedback.

We are currently preparing a full review of the Shure BETA 87A and will attach a link to the article as soon as possible.

Our editorial team concluded that the Shure BETA 87A is a reimagining of the discontinued SM87A. We still recommend buying the Shure BETA 87A as it is easier to find on all major markets and costs the same as the Shure SM87A.

Final Verdict

We're a little sad that Shure has discontinued the SM87A, but at the same time, we're very happy that the microphone has found its fulfillment in the Shure BETA 87A. These microphones are a good example of Shure quality and for this money (~279 dollars) you will get an almost fully professional microphone that can be used with professional equipment and for professional purposes. But for an average user, it is not an ideal model because of the price and necessity to have hardware with an option of phantom supply. If you are not scared of these facts this mic is totally good for you.

We hope you enjoyed our Shure SM87A review. Feel free to leave your questions or comments in the comments section and we'll be happy to answer them all.

  • Good Sound Quality
  • Good Price / Quality ratio
  • Condenser microphone in hand-shaped version
  • Supercardioid polar pattern
  • Durable and rugged construction, suitable for live use
  • As we mentioned the Shure SM87A is discontinued and has re-released this microphone in an improved form - Shure BETA 87A
  • Requires +48V phantom power
Our Score

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