I have to squawk about one thing. The mic’s XLR connector is positioned so close to the threaded hole in the base of the mic, that there cannot be any threaded washers usually found on stands and booms.
You’ll have to remove them so the mic cable’s XLR connector will plug in. I didn’t try them but I’m betting that Atlas quick disconnect mic hardware will not work with the Super 55—and that’s OK with me as I never trust them with heavier mics.
On electric guitars, I played through my ZT Amps LunchBox 2 guitar amp and the venerable SM57 won only by a nose with its overall thicker midrange sound.
As with most guitar amps, the SM57 has a way increasing the midrange “guts” of the sound.
On the same amp the Super 55 was brighter with very slighter more low end. It worked better when I moved it further off center and towards the edge of the amp’s speaker. Both the 55 and 57 were pushed right into the amp’s grill cloth.
On voiceovers, the Super 55 delivers a radio-ready vocal sound. I preferred having the voice talent aim right into the front of the mic, as the mic’s supercardioid pattern does not allow for any free ranging around the mic. If you talk into the side of the mic, you’re gone—not heard!
I got nearly no room tone with this mic even when recording in a medium live space. I liked the amount of proximity effect of this mic too: it’s not exaggerated allowing some forward/back head movement without a huge increase/decrease in bass.
U.S. Postage Stamp feature Elvis and the 55
The great proximity sound might explain the many pictures taken of Elvis Presley on stage leaning over and erotically caressing a 55 in front of his band.
He holds the 55 so close to his mouth that it looks like he was about to take a bite of a forbidden fruit. When that close, I’m betting he could hear and liked the bass build up while singing in the lower registers.
In truth he probably was leaning over straining to hear himself over the anemic sound systems of those days.
Around drum kits, the Super 55 is physically bigger than most dynamics normally used on kits and will preclude using it in tight spots such as close to snare drums.
Boomy bass drums benefit from its bright attack sound and if you can get it close enough to a snare drum (to get enough proximity) you’ll get a sound that won’t require any EQ.
I found the Super 55 a refreshing new/old tool in the studio that just works so well in many applications. Its look is an immediate conversation starter that’s backed up by its impressive sonic qualities.
The Shure Classic Collection (click to enlarge)
The Super 55 Deluxe Vocal Microphone is part of Shure’s Classic Collection along with the 55SH Series II, the 520DX Green Bullet, 545SD Classic Unidyne Instrument mic, and the 565SD Classic Unisphere Vocal mic.
There is also the R115S Cartridge kit that includes the cartridge, mounting plate, and detailed instructions.
When properly installed in the Super 55 Microphone, the R115S will provide performance equal to that of the original cartridge.
More information on the Shure Super 55 available here
Barry Rudolph is a veteran L.A.-based recording engineer as well as a noted writer on recording topics. Visit his website at barryrudolph.com