Shure SM81 Instrument Condenser Microphone

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MSRP: $665.00
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Product Description

The Shure SM81 Instrument Condenser Microphone is perfect for acoustic guitarists and Instrumentalists. The SM81 lets you reproduce your instrument with the highest fidelity.
The razor flat 20 to 20K frequency response of this low impedance, unidirectional, cardioid condenser mic is faithful to every nuance of your expression. Built-in 10Db attenuator. Requires phantom power from board or external source.

The Shure SM81 is a high-quality, unidirectional condenser microphone designed for studio recording, broadcasting, and sound reinforcement. Its wide frequency response, low noise characteristics, and low RF susceptibility have made it a standard for applications involving acoustic instruments, especially guitar, piano, and cymbals.

The SM81 is ruggedly constructed. It operates on phantom power and performs over a wide range of temperatures and humidity conditions. It is furnished with a swivel adapter, attenuator-switch lock, foam windscreen, and case for carrying and storage. Other accessories are available.

Shure SM81Features
  • A standard for acoustic instruments, including guitar and cymbals
  • 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response
  • Flat response curve for accurate reproduction of sound sources
  • Low noise and high output clipping level
  • Low distortion over a wide range of load impedances
  • Cardioid polar pattern, uniform with frequency and symmetric about axis, providing maximum rejection and minimum coloration of off-axis sounds
  • Low RF susceptibility
  • Selectable low-frequency response: flat, 6 or 18 dB/octave rolloff
  • 0 dB/10 dB lockable attenuator switch
  • Phantom powering (DIN 45 596 voltages of 12 to 48 Vdc)
  • Rugged steel construction for durability
  • Field-usable over wide range of temperature and humidity conditions
  • Windscreen included

warning WARNING: Cancer and Reproductive Harm -

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Helpful Info about the Manufacturer
Phone:  800-257-4873 Warranty:  2 Years

Product Specifications

Product Specifications
Shure Shure SM81 Specifications:
  • Type: Condenser (electret bias)
  • Frequency Response: 20 to 20,000 Hz
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid (unidirectional) response—uniform with frequency, symmetrical about axis
  • Output Impedance:
    • Rated at 150 ohms (85 Ohms actual)
    • Recommended minimum load impedance: 800 Ohms (May be used with loads as low as 150 Ohms with reduced clipping level)
  • Output Configuration and Connector: Balanced, transformer-coupled output; male XLR connector
  • Output Level (at 1,000 Hz):
    • Open Circuit Voltage:
      • –45 dBV/Pascal (5.6 mV) –65 dBV/mbar
  • Clipping Level (at 1,000 Hz):
    • 800 Ohm Load .......... –4 dBV (0.63 V)
    • 150 Ohm Load .......... -15 dBV (0.18 V)
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 0.5% (131 dB SPL at 250 Hz into 800 Ohm load)
  • Maximum SPL (at 1,000 Hz):
    • 800 Ohm load .......... 136 dB (attenuator at 0), 146 dB (attenuator at –10)
    • 150 Ohm load .......... 128 dB (attenuator at ), 138 dB (attenuator art -10)
  • Hum Pickup: -3 dB equivalent SPL in a 1 mOe field (60 Hz)
  • Self Noise (equivalent sound pressure levels; measured with true rms voltmeter):
    • 16 dB typical, A-weighted
    • 19 dB typical, weighted per DIN 45 405
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 78 dB (IEC 651)* at 94 dB SPL
    *S/N ratio is difference between microphone output at 94 dB SPL and microphone self-noise A-weighted.
  • Overvoltage and Reverse Polarity Protection:
    • Max. external voltage applied to pins 2 and 3 with respect to pin 1: + 52 Vdc
    • Reverse polarity protection: 200 mA max (diode-clamped)
  • Polarity: Positive pressure on diaphragm produces positive voltage on pin 2 relative to pin 3.
  • Cartridge Capacitance: 54 pF
  • Low Frequency Response Switch Positions: Flat; –6 dB/octave below 100 Hz; –18 dB/octave below 80 Hz
  • Attenuator Switch Positions (Lockable): 0 or -10 dB
  • Power:
    • Supply Voltage: 11 to 52 Vdc, positive, pins 2 and 3
    • Current Drain: 1.2 mA max
  • Environmental Conditions:
    • Storage Temperature: -29 to 74 degrees C (-20 to 165 degrees F)
    • Operating Temperature: -6.7 to 49 degrees C (20 to 120 degrees F)
    • Storage Humidity: 0-95% relative humidity at room temperature (72 to 80 degrees F, 22 to 27 degrees C)
  • Case: Steel construction with vinyl metallic paint finish and stainless steel screens
  • Overall Dimensions: 212 mm x 23.5 mm
  • Weight:
    • Net: 230 grams (8 oz.)
    • Packaged: 740 grams (1 lb. 10 oz.)

Customer Reviews

Erickson Smith Submitted: 11/14/2018
Product Rating
This mic is the Bum
Product Rating
What is your opinion of this product?
A mus have. Any musician or sound engineer should have this mic in there collection. Great versatile mic for hi hats an overhead cymbals. Clean ,crisp sound.
Paul from Vermont, Submitted: 6/5/2011
Product Rating

Great lil Mic
like all there mics real well built
play in a bluegrass band and have always had problems getting a good sound from any mic's including the SM-57 so a friend of ine had one and I used it for my mandolin I have more sound than I could ever need or use so it may cost a little bit more but I am getting one forsure and you should too
dont get any easier plug in and use!!!!
cjs102460 from San Diego, CA USA Submitted: 5/10/2010
Product Rating

Don't compromise - buy quality
Weight, heft, solid feeling, and beautiful finish are all incorporated into this mic. This is a Shure mic we're talking about here.
The features meet my requirements. I trust a company with the history and experience of Shure to choose appropriate features for a mic.
Connecting, turning on and off - these are simple tasks and Shure has not made them difficult. As with any mic, complexity comes with learning mic placement. Shure is available to help with that.
This is a mic which "hears" everything that my Taylor acoustic wants to "say", and reproduces it with integrity and clarity. In other words, it does its job exceedingly well. For tone, color and character, I look to my various preamps, eq settings, and effects. I choose my instruments for their unique sound. I choose my instrument mic for its ability to capture every nuance of that sound. For my money the SM81 fits the bill.
alex from Santa Fe, NM Submitted: 2/5/2008
Product Rating

Your general opinion of this product.



I've had a pair of these for years and I've ended up using them for nearly everything. I record an enormous variety of instruments and sounds. These always sound great: live recording, drums, strings, speech, any accoustic sound. Properly EQed they will get exactly the sound you want. I've bought lots of other flavor of the month mikes, but I end up using these all the time. These have been around for ages, so they don't get much hype, but they're the real thing. I wouldn't use them for close-miking vocals or kick drums, nor would I take them on the road. I've banged them and dropped them a few times with no ill effects, but I wouldn't want to make a habit of it.
AW from Nashville Submitted: 2/5/2008
Product Rating

A Studio Standard
Your general opinion of this product.


Put it on your source and record.

Worth double the price

A great mic and is perfect for over heads and guitars. I love this mic and wish I had a 100 of them. Don't think about it, GET IT!!!!



Buy 2 so you can have them for multiple mic set ups. You won't be let down!
Dave Schenck from Portland Oregon. USA Submitted: 2/5/2008
Product Rating

Great, Period! I own a pair, my roommate owns the
Your general opinion of this product.

I give it a ten on quality, features & performance

Db cut & high pass filter. New rubber clip is much better although the old spring clip was o.k.

Some pro studios use these as overheads, as I do. The semi-famous fusion/jazz drummer Dave Weckl uses them as his overheads for live & studio work and they sound great. Check out his bands album "Synergy" to hear how well they record.

Rock, bluesy stuff, Trippy stuff.....

Drumming since 1978, recording since 1986.
AMS Customer from USA Submitted: 2/5/2008
Product Rating

The best mic I know of
Your general opinion of this product.
The Shure SM81 is the best microphone available for instrumental pick-up. Very well suited for the violin, as well as most other stringed instruments


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