Condenser microphones usually find a home within a studio setting due to their high sensitivity, but the large diaphragm Shure SM27 aims to buck this trend by being just as effective in a live sound environment as it is in a studio setting. Does it achieve this lofty ambition? In short, yes.
The Shure SM27 offers robust construction and an engaging, relatively neutral sound profile without sounding uninspiring. Let’s dive deeper into what this attractive microphone offers.
Shure has an established reputation in the microphone space, with the previous KSM27 proving a popular choice. But this latest iteration ups the ante with better performance and impressive specs.
The Shure SM27 is an impressive microphone with a delightful sound profile that retains neutrality without sounding brittle or bland. There is an element of vibrancy and definition that will make it an appealing choice, especially for vocal performances. The ever-so-slight bump towards the upper end isn’t harsh and helps accentuate the performer’s voice.
Its distinct yet uncolored capability harmonizes perfectly with recorded vocal applications, and its Cardioid polar pattern makes it a compelling choice for any side address application, including podcasting and voice-over work.
But where the SM27 differs from other options is its impressive ability to be a functional microphone for live vocals and not just be relegated to a studio setting. The high signal-to-noise ratio of 84.5dB allows a broad capture range while keeping other noise out.
Highly consistent polar pattern and versatile application potential.
Would I pick it over a dedicated live vocal microphone? Probably not, but as a jack of all trades, this is about as close to perfect as it gets.
The versatility doesn’t end there, either. The SM27 is a solid choice as a microphone for recording drums, especially as an overhead. With a high Max SPL (up to 147dB with the Pad activated), it also holds up reasonably with kick drums though it might not be my first choice.
Like with vocals, the rich mid-range and defined highs make the SM27 an excellent choice for acoustic instrumentation recordings. The accuracy is high, with distinct detail-capturing capabilities. But more importantly, nothing is overtly sharp or shrill.
The SM27 can handle various applications in both studio and live settings.
The high MAX SPL also means it is a viable choice for electric guitars and serviceable for bass amps. While it is a decent choice, you’ll need to play around a bit to find optimal positioning.
This positioning juggle might be a little frustrating if you don’t have much time up your sleeve for setup. But for a dedicated studio space, once you find the sweet spot, you can get some incredible recordings from the Shure SM27.
The Shure SM27 is one of the leading options in this price range. It is a superb upgrade from some of the popular entry-level condenser microphones. It can be a risky endeavor to try and revamp an existing classic, but the SM27 improves over the previous and now discontinued KSM27 in nearly every way, and its increased versatility cement it as among the best jack-of-all-trades mics on the market.
Digging into the specifications also highlights some impressive features. The most notable is the ultra-low self-noise of just 9.5dB. This is very low and ensures you’ll be able to capture clean and crisp recordings with ease. Usually, anything under 15dB is ideal, so to reach this low is superb.
The SM27 also features a large 1-inch (25.4mm) diaphragm with a standard 20Hz-20kHz frequency response. The response is relatively flat, with only a smooth minimal bump towards the upper end.
Very low self-noise and high SPL capability.
You’ll have access to a three-position switch to further refine the microphone to your needs. The Flat Response setting is ideal for well-treated environments and is a catch-all for most applications. If you find yourself in a windier space or an area where floor rumble is problematic, the 18dB low-frequency cutoff can be a lifesaver. But if the cutoff is too aggressive, the 6dB low-frequency roll-off might be the ideal middle ground to prevent dull or muddy recordings.
The base Max SPL is 133dB, which jumps to 147dB if you activate the Pad. This is enough to handle various instruments, from brass and woodwind to kick drums.
The impedance of 150 ohms is a little higher than some other choices, but most preamps should be more than able to handle the SM27. Likewise, you’ll need phantom power for optimum performance. Once again, any decent-quality preamp should have this as an option.
The Shure SM27 features a stylish and modern design that departs from some of the bland and uninspired choices out there. Its sweeping curvature and restrained aesthetics are perfect for a professional setting.
From a technical design standpoint, the Shure SM17 features an integral pop filter within the grille. Three separate mesh layers help diffuse plosives, making it an appealing choice for vocal work. But I still recommend a pop filter or shield for close micing applications for maximum peace of mind.
The SM27 features flexible inclusions like low-frequency switches, a pad, and an integrated pop filter.
As with any high-quality microphone, the Shure SM27 features an XLR connection point, so you’ll need a balanced cable. Either an XLR to XLR or XLR to TRS. Microphones like the Shure SM27 need access to quality cables, so don’t skimp out and buy cheap ones.
The positioning of switches is also ideally situated at the rear of the microphone. The switches are easy to use and help guide you to which side is the front, which can be especially useful when setting up in darker environments.
Attractive and functional, the Shure SM27 ticks all the right boxes in the design department.
The SM27 from Shure strikes an excellent balance between performance, features, and build quality. This professional microphone is up to the rigors of frequent use.
The rounded case is scratch resistant, and the three-layer mesh grille is also superb. I have complete confidence that this microphone will last the distance. If long-term user reviews are anything to go by, my impressions align with reality.
Excellent internal components.
The internal components match the visible quality with an ultra-thin 24-Karat gold-layered low-mass Mylar diaphragm. The gold plating extends to the rest of the internal and external connectors.
The transformerless Class A preamplifier adds to the package by delivering a fast transient response and no crossover distortion. Combining all these elements adds up to one of the most rugged, precise, and dependable offerings available today.
Despite the larger diaphragm, the Shure SM27 retains a modest size with a diameter of 2.08″ (53mm) and a length of 6.15″ (156mm). The sleek curvature also helps to minimize bulkiness.
The SM27 does lean on the heavier side.
While it might look slender and sleek, the Shure SM27 is a little hefty at 1.41 lbs. (642 grams). This is noticeably heavier than some other choices but equally not overly cumbersome. Ensure you have a solid stand or boom arm, and you should have any issues. But this is not the mic for you if you prefer lightweight microphones.
The Shure SM17 is far from the cheapest option on the market but also miles away from some of the more expensive premium choices. I firmly believe in getting maximum value for money, and there is a level of diminishing returns as you start creeping into the upper end of the spectrum in audio gear.
The included stand mount is fantastic.
Within the package, you’ll also find a great microphone pouch for storage. Still, I much prefer a dedicated hard case for condenser microphones as they are inherently a bit fragile. You’ll also find a stand mount that is high quality and durable.
At its price point, the Shure SM27 balances price and quality well. It might not be budget-friendly, but the extra features and impressive performance set it up perfectly as a dependable and worthwhile choice and a great stepping stone from beginner options.
The Shure SM27 is a popular choice for large condenser microphones. Most people highlight the impressive sound capabilities along with the rock-solid construction. It’s also notable for providing good value considering how expensive microphones can get.
Large Vs. Small Diaphragm Microphones
As you explore different microphones, you’ll likely question whether a small or large diaphragm microphone is the right choice for you. As with many studio decisions, there is never a clear-cut right or wrong answer.
Large-diaphragm condensers were the first type of condenser microphones and became necessary to overcome the noise of tube electronics. They have a higher signal voltage and better noise performance than small diaphragm condensers.
Large-diaphragm condensers are excellent for vocals and spoken word, as they shape the sound in a pleasing way. They are also the better choice for solo instruments to make them sound vibrant and larger than life.
Both small and large diaphragm microphones serve a purpose in a studio setting.
On the other hand, small diaphragm condensers became feasible with the availability of dedicated microphone tubes and low-noise transistors. They offer an excellent transient response, extended high-frequency response, and a consistent pickup pattern.
Small diaphragm condensers provide a pure and natural sound without added flavors. They are an excellent choice for piano, acoustic guitar, drums, and percussion in pop music. Classical music recording engineers exclusively use small-diaphragm condensers due to their consistent pickup patterns.
Ultimately, both types of microphones are great recording tools, and the choice depends on your needs and the desired sound you want to achieve.
As you move beyond entry-level mics, some excellent large diaphragm microphones open up once you have more to spend. Below are some top alternatives to the Shure SM27 which are worth exploring.
Sennheiser MK 4 Review
The MK 4 from Sennheiser is perhaps the biggest competitor to the SM27. It comes at a similar price point and offers excellent performance, albeit a bit more colored than the SM27.
- Superb dynamics while retaining a good level of authenticity.
- Ultra-tough construction from one of the leading audio brands in the world.
- No access to low pass switches or Pad like the SM27.
Sennheiser MK 4
Audio-Technica AT2050 Review
If you are not quite ready to move into this price category, the Audio-Technica AT2050 is an excellent step up from beginner microphones while retaining a reasonable price point.
- Engaging sound profile that is lively with a forgiving presence.
- Switchable polar patterns for added versatility.
- The colored response might not be ideal for purists.
AKG P420 Review
The AKG P420 is another affordable all-rounder that performs well for its price point. While appearances are not everything, the combination of silver and black might not appeal to everyone.
- Extensive features include three pickup patterns, bass roll-off, and a 20dB Pad.
- Rock solid build quality and fantastic included accessories.
- Higher self-noise but still within an acceptable level.
Should You Buy?
Shure has nailed the execution of this update to the popular KSM27. It’s a worthy successor and, in many ways, far superior. Considering how popular the previous model was, there is no denying that this will become a staple for years.
The generous sound profile and the built-in pop filter will instantly make this a go-to choice for vocal work, whether that is singing, voice-overs, or podcasting. Its flexibility to be more than a voice mic makes it one of the best choices for people who want a quality mic that can pull off multiple tasks.
When you combine that with high build quality and a reasonable price, there is a lot to love. A fantastic microphone that I can comfortably recommend for both beginners and experienced veterans.