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World Betas?

Shure Beta Green

Rumour has it that the BG prefix on this complete new range from Shure stands for Bloody Good. Our reviewer thinks so.


Shure is almost certainly the world's most famous name in live microphones, but their new Beta Green range seems to offer something for everyone, across a wide price range. Paul White puts the BGs through their paces.

Since the success of their Beta 57 and 58 dynamic microphones, Shure have been working behind the scenes to produce a brand new series of Beta microphones that span the price range from budget to professional. Though designed foremost as live mics, the Beta series are equally adept in the studio, where they can be used not only for recording vocals but also to handle instruments such as drums and percussion, electric guitar and brass.

The BG 1.0, BG 2.0 and BG 3.0 are dynamic cardioids, while the BG 4.0 and BG 5.0 make use of back-electret capacitor technology; with the exception of the BG 4.0, which is based on the 'stick mic' design, all feature a cast handle and removable wire basket lined with a thin foam sheath. The foam sheath may be removed for washing in Listerine which is, I believe, the pro's preferred method of cleaning pop shields! All models have on-off switches, and the new range is cosmetically identifiable by its new black livery with turquoise legend and its similarly coloured band around the pop shield basket.

The capsules in all the models are shock mounted to reduce handling noise and the on/off switch is recessed to reduce the risk of inadvertent operation. As with all cardioid pattern mics, these models exhibit a marked degree of bass boost when used very close to the mouth because of the proximity effect. To prevent this getting out of hand, all the mics have a deliberate low frequency roll off which starts at around 200Hz.

Summary



Shure have produced a comprehensive series of mics under the BG banner, covering a range of costs and a choice of dynamic or back-electret types. All perform very well within their price ranges and the standard of construction is excellent, even on the budget BG 1.0. For the home studio owner or the musician wanting a mic that will work well in both studio and stage environments, there's certain to a be a model in the range that fits the bill.

Though the mics cover a price range of roughly 4:1, the cheaper BG 1.0 still sounds surprisingly competent, even when auditioned alongside the most expensive models. All these mics have a quality sound, and though there are quite clearly differences between the models, I was impressed at the lack of obvious coloration in the cheaper mics, where some harshness or boxiness might be expected. Both the BG 2.0 and 3.0 are excellent dynamic stage mics, while the BG 1.0 won't disappoint anyone working on a tight budget. The two back-electret capacitor models are good all-rounders and would be ideal for quality home recording. Handling noise across the range is adequately low, though no lower than we've come to expect from this type of microphone. This presents no problem live, and in the studio, stand mounting is always preferred.

Shure Beta Green Mics

PROS
  • Good quality at all price levels.
  • Cosmetically and mechanically impressive.
  • Case and clip included.

CONS
  • No serious cons.

Shure have plenty of tough competition in this sector of the market, with the AKG TriPower series, the Sennheiser Black Fire range, and other attractive models from the likes of ElectroVoice, Beyer and Audio Technica, but given the performance of this new range and Shure's reputation in the world of live sound mics, I don't think they'll have too much trouble hanging on to their market share.

Further Information
HW International, (Contact Details).

BG 1.0 £56.40

MAIN USE: Live Vocals
OTHER USES: Home studio vocals, electric guitar and bass miking, horns, drums and percussion.

PERFORMANCE 8/10
VALUE FOR MONEY 9.5/10

BG 1.0

The BG 1.0 is the budget model in the range and is a conventional dynamic vocal microphone with selectable high or low output impedance (available impedances are 600 ohms or 10 kohms), so it can be used with low cost MI equipment as well as with more serious mixers. Like the other mics in the range, the signal outlet is a balanced XLR socket and the package includes a carrying case and a stand clip. Leads are not included.

The frequency response of this mic is limited to 80Hz- 12kHz — which is not surprising, given its low cost. The frequency response has a pronounced presence peak providing in excess of 5dB of boost over the 4-9kHz region, which helps maintain clarity of diction in live situations. The response shows a generally broad presence peak with two lesser humps superimposed upon it. Overall, the sound of the 1.0 is best described as warm rather than dull, though it still has plenty of definition. Though it is to some degree overshadowed when placed in direct comparison with the more expensive mics in the series, it still turns in a surprisingly good performance that belies its budget price tag. On the whole, a very nicely built and competent budget mic which would make an excellent choice for those working with limited resources.


BG 2.0 £84.00

MAIN USE: Live Vocals
OTHER USES: Home studio vocals, electric guitar and bass miking, horns, drums and percussion.

PERFORMANCE 8.5/10
VALUE FOR MONEY 9/10

BG 2.0

Moving up in cost, the low-impedance 2.0 has a flat-topped basket hiding a Neodymium-driven, cardioid dynamic capsule which boasts a 70Hz-13kHz frequency response and a presence peak very similar to that of the BG 1.0. Though the paper spec may look only slightly better than that of the BG 1.0, the 2.0's frequency response is only 10dB down at 20kHz, whereas on the BG 1.0, there's nothing measurable happening up there at all. The mic is also a little more sensitive than the BG 1.0, and the result is a rather more open and natural vocal sound than from its less costly sibling, though the family sound from the whole range of mics displays a certain consistency of character. Given that this is still a relatively inexpensive microphone, it really does perform well.


BG 3.0 £123.38

MAIN USE: Live Vocals
OTHER USES: Home studio vocals, electric guitar and bass miking, horns, drums and percussion.

PERFORMANCE 9/10
VALUE FOR MONEY 9/10

BG 3.0

Like the BG 1.0, the 3.0 has a spherical basket which makes it look very similar to the original SM58 on which so many mics have been modelled. Again fitted with a low impedance, Neodymium, cardioid-pattern capsule, the BG 3.0 manages a 60Hz-14kHz frequency response, again with a broad, double-humped presence peak to aid clarity. The mic produces a very solid vocal sound that cuts through a live mix fairly well but without being at all abrasive. This is a very nice mid-range vocal mic that compares well with Shure's original (and ubiquitous) SM58 both in terms of price and performance. Set against the two cheaper mics, this one exhibits a little more 'openness' at the top end and would suit someone looking for an intimate vocal sound.


BG 4.0 £200.80

MAIN USES: Acoustic guitar, percussion, general acoustic instrument miking. OTHER USES: Electric guitar, studio vocals (with pop shield).

PERFORMANCE 8.5/10
VALUE FOR MONEY 8/10

BG 4.0

Unlike the previous mics, the BG 4.0 is a back-electret model, which makes it more sensitive than the other mics in the series, and it also has a wider frequency response, making it suitable for miking more delicate instruments as well as vocals. Having said that, its frequency response isn't as wide as some dedicated instrument mics working on the back-electret principle. The quoted frequency response is from 40Hz-18kHz and as with the other mics in the series, there is a presence peak, though not so pronounced. It is suitable for recording acoustic guitar, ethnic percussion and works well as a drum kit overhead mic, where its wide frequency response faithfully reproduces the sounds of cymbals and hi-hats. Because back-electret mics require power for their preamps, the mic can run from either an AA battery or from conventional phantom power. The mic has a neutral, open sound, but a pop shield is essential for vocal work, as it is very prone to popping, though, in fairness the 4.0 is not primarily a vocal mic, so this is to be expected. In terms of price and performance as an instrument mic, this model is comparable to the popular AKG C1000S, though each has its own unique tonal character.


BG 5.0 £204.80

MAIN USES: Live and studio vocals.
OTHER USES: Acoustic guitar, percussion, general acoustic instrument miking, electric guitar.

PERFORMANCE 9/10
VALUE FOR MONEY 8/10

BG 5.0

Also a low impedance, back-electret cardioid model, the BG 5.0 follows the same 'basket on a stick' construction as the dynamic mics in the series. Again tailored for vocal use, the mic features a controlled bass rolloff to counter the proximity effect and a frequency response extending from 70Hz to 16kHz. The presence peak is less pronounced than on the dynamic models and forms a broad peak which rises steadily from around 2kHz to a high point at around 9kHz, before falling away to around -10dB at 20kHz. The sound is generally more open than that of the dynamic models but is tailored to work well in a live mix. A studio capacitor microphone can sound rather thin in this application but the BG 5.0 retains a degree of warmth to underpin its clarity. Considering its still modest cost, this is a very attractive mic for the small studio owner who wants a back-electret capacitor model for lead vocal and general purpose applications.



Previous Article in this issue

Sting & Hugh Padgham

Next article in this issue

Gates


Recording Musician - Copyright: SOS Publications Ltd.
The contents of this magazine are re-published here with the kind permission of SOS Publications Ltd.

 

Recording Musician - May 1993

Review by Paul White

Previous article in this issue:

> Sting & Hugh Padgham

Next article in this issue:

> Gates


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