In 1925 in Chicago, a company was set up to manufacture parts for radios, the man that set it up was Sidney Shure. His name now reverberates around the audio world like few others.
They came from humble beginnings, avoiding Al Capone and his associates, to be one of the most recognized names in the audio world. Today they produce a complete range of mics for all situations. Whatever you might need from the stage to the studio, Shure will provide it.
A certain quality
With reason, and considering the price, they are not the best mics on the market. In the studio, Neumann, AKG, and Sennheiser are at the top of the stack. But you can argue that, in fact, Shure may just be the best mics you can buy by looking at the price tag, which is a fraction of the other mics. Therefore, as an affordable all-rounder, Shure is easily one of the best.
They have a certain quality that excels. A quality that has made them consistently one of the most used microphones in the world. In the studio, they provide solutions and options. But on stage, it is a different matter.
Some would say that for the live performance, the Shure does the business. For live vocals, they may be unbeatable. And not just for the way they sound, great as they are. You don’t need to question the strength of any mic that has had the “Roger Daltrey treatment” and survived.
I am going to take a look at one of these mics in this in-depth Shure Beta 58A Review. Before that, what are the Beta mics from Shure?
Shure Beta Series Mics
The Beta series were introduced by Shure in 1989. The first Beta 58s came with a chrome grille. The 58C and the 58M had a matte grille.
The Beta 58A arrived in 1996 with a different cartridge. It had a similar frequency response and output level, but the new cartridge gave it a slightly different sound. Shure also added an output transformer and removed the humbucker coil. Since then, the Beta series has become one of the mainstays of the Shure range. So, let’s take a look at the Beta 58A…
The Shure Beta 58A is a dynamic mic that is going to give you top performance every time you use it. It is renowned for its vocal performances in live situations and is no slouch in the studio either.
For many, the Shure Beta 58A is the go-to mic. It has that legendary Shure toughness and reliability, while its Supercardioid pattern keeps unwanted sounds out of the way. We shall look at that later. Put the name of Shure with the number 58, and you know what you are going to get. Let’s take a closer look.
It’s one thing to build a great mic. It is another to build a great mic that can handle anything you can physically throw at it, literally. Shure is well-known for punishing its microphones during design and testing.
Some of the tests seem a little extreme. It has been dropped from a height onto a concrete floor and submerged in water. Then buried in the ground and even run over by a truck. And if all that fails to damage it, they give it to Roger Daltrey of The Who. If it survives being used by him, it will survive anything.
Surviving life on the road…
And that is what Shure had in their mind with the design of this mic. Singers can punish mics in live shows. The mic has to be able to stand up to it. Beta 58A has gone through all of that. As a result, it’s the most durable and reliable microphone you can buy.
On the Outside
This has a tough metal casing that is enameled and has a mesh grille made of hardened steel. This is known to be able to be dropped and, on occasions, thrown, and still, it carries on. The grille itself is exceptionally strong.
Around the circular mesh grille is a thin blue band. Always check the color of this band. If it is not a light blue, ask questions because it should be; if not, it could be a copy.
While on that subject, Shure SM58’s and Beta 58A’s, as well as a number of other Shure microphones, are counterfeited on mass in the Far East. Therefore always buy from a reputable dealer and be incredibly careful if you get offered a second-hand model; if the deal is too good to be true, it usually is.
On the Inside
There is a Neodymium magnet that gives you a high signal to noise output. To withstand knocks and movement, there is a built-in pneumatic shock mount system built-in. This reduces mechanical noise or vibrations if it is being used handheld.
It is six and a half inches long and just over two inches wide at its widest point. It weighs only 9.9 ounces. There is an XLR socket for the mic cable. Like many mics, it does not come with the cable.
As I have already mentioned in this Shure BETA 58A Review, this mic was designed with the vocalist very much in mind. The basic SM58 was always a good mic, but this has taken a few steps forward. The Neodymium magnet, instead of the Alnico in the SM58, is a stronger magnet and gives it a hotter signal. You certainly need less gain to get a great sound.
The super-cardioid pattern, which we discuss in the next section, improves the rejection of off-axis sounds. It also reduces the potential for feedback. Shure actually haven’t done that much to make this mic superior to the standard SM58. The basis of the design was already there and had been for decades. But the small changes they have made, move it up a gear.
We have already mentioned that the Shure BETA 58A is arguably the best microphone for vocals. So, let’s find out why?
A performance tailored for vocals
This is a mic that singers are going to appreciate. The vocals sit in the middle of the frequency range and are brightened a little. Plus, there is a built-in bass roll-off to control the proximity effect.
Proximity effect can cause problems because as you sing closer to the mic, there is a marked increase in low-frequency response. The closer that you get, the more the bass end is accentuated. The roll-off, attenuated below 500Hz, will help to control that.
The high-frequency presence boosts at 4kHz and again at 9kHz. This provides an edge that helps the vocal to cut right through the mix.
Frequency response and SPL
The Beta 58A has a decent frequency response extending from 50-16,000 Hz. This seems to work well on all voice types, and the response between frequencies is smooth. The transient response has also been improved, comparing it to previous models. The result is that the Beta 58A will give you more subtlety and detail.
The original SM58 often had problems with its comparatively low SPL. This made it unsuitable in the studio for certain types of recording. The kick drum being the prime example.
It seemed to struggle a little with sudden bursts of sound. Thankfully, the Sound Pressure level on the Beta 58A has been increased to 150 SPL, which now covers far more options.
The Supercardioid pattern
As we are aware, the majority of mics carry a cardioid pattern. Good for most applications, it has always suited vocal recording. The Supercardioid, however, is as it says. A Cardioid with a bit more.
The bit more is a much tighter sound collection angle when at the front. This allows the mic to concentrate even tighter on the target source of the sound. It also helps to reduce or completely reject even the loudest unwanted sounds from the sides. However, it will sometimes collect sound from the rear.
The internal shock-mount system we have already mentioned added to the performance levels makes this one of the greatest live microphones. Its rugged build, effective polar pattern, and built-in shock absorption all contribute. And when all lined up together, make this another great performance mic from Shure.
Where is it Best Used?
After what we have discussed, you might think that this question answers itself. But it might be worth looking a bit closer rather than just say anywhere.
On The Stage
The Shure SM58 has long been one of the best microphones for stage performance. The reasons for that are well-cataloged. However, while the SM58 remains a favorite, the Beta 58A is challenging its position.
There is nothing to choose between them for their rugged and tough build. But the Beta 58, with its higher SPL and overall sound, has gained a solid reputation, especially with female singers. The more powerful magnet and the super-cardioid pattern have given it an extra level to its performance on stage.
Small and Home Studios
It is likely it will be used in multiple ways, from vocals to instruments. At this level, it is hard to imagine buying a better mic at this price point than the Beta 58A.
In this environment, it might be best suited for certain vocalists, especially anyone with less studio experience who feels more comfortable singing with a mic in their hand. However, that will depend on the actual voice; if the studio has high-level Neumann, AKG, or Sennheiser mics, they may be more suitable for a lot of voices, but not all.
But the basic SM58 has been used in pro studios as a workhorse for years. In fact, it is the go-to studio (as well as live) microphone of Bono from U2 and Chris Martin from Coldplay, also being often used by Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails in the studio.
Taking that into account, it has been able to cope with most things. And, the Beta 58A is a better mic in some ways and will do the job as well as an SM58, if not better.
These days people use mics for a variety of reasons. If you are recording podcasts, voice-overs narration for videos, etc., it will give an exceptional performance. So the answer to the question “Where is it best used?”, is as you may have guessed, just about anywhere.
Most top-line manufacturers tend not to give away too much in the way of extras. For instance, you don’t get an XLR cable with this mic, so you have to buy one. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best XLR Cables for Microphones that you can buy for some superb options.
But you do get some modest extras supplied. There is an adjustable stand adapter and a ⅝-inch to 3/8-inch thread adapter. Also, a storage bag for transportation.
Shure BETA 58A Review – Pros and Cons
As we said at the beginning, put Shure in the same sentence as 58, and you get a good idea of what you are going to get. This is a mic that has been designed and built for a purpose. And it does what you might expect.
- Just about the toughest build quality, you will find.
- Versatility gives you plenty of options for use.
- Improved Cartridge.
- A Neodymium magnet for high signal-to-noise output.
- Delivers crisp and clean vocals.
- Supercardioid pattern for tight sound collection and unwanted noise rejection.
- Good gain before feedback issues arise.
- Frequency response of 50-16,000Hz.
- SPL of 150dB.
- Internal built-in shock mount system.
- Bass roll-off to reduce the proximity effect.
- High-frequency presence boosts at 4kHz and 9kHz.
- A very attractive price point.
- It may not suit some vocal styles that include a lot of shouting or screaming due to its sensitivity.
- Some may prefer the sound of the original SM58.
Looking for a Great Microphone?
Then we have the reviews that will help you find what you need. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Microphones For Gaming, the Best External Android Microphones, the Best Condenser Microphones, the Best External Microphones For iPhone, the Best Condenser Mics Under $200, and the Best Shure Microphones you can buy in 2021.
You might also like our comprehensive reviews of the Best XLR Microphones, the Best iOS Microphones, the Best Microphones For Recording Electric Guitar, the Best Live Vocal Mics, the Best Computer Microphones, the Best Microphones For Recording Vocals, and the Best USB Microphones currently on the market.
Shure BETA 58A Review – The Bottom Line
It would be easy to argue that it cannot compete with the best, but that is an unrealistic viewpoint. I agree that it can’t, but at its price point, it is an exceptional mic that has just about everything. Tailored for vocal performances, it would be hard to find a better mic for the money.
Until next time, speak freely.