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Shure KSM32 review with sound samples.

February 11, 2012

Last night I had a session where I was finally able to put the KSM32 to some use. It was an acoustic session, so the only sound sources I could try it out on were the acoustic and a vocal. I initially had the KSM32 placed around the bridge of the guitar off-axis facing the sound hole and placed a AKG C451 placed around the twelfth fret off-axis facing towards the sound hole as well. Both mics were about 4 inches away from the acoustic.

When combining these two mics, they didn’t seem to work well together for some reason. Maybe if more time was spent on the placement, I could’ve got a better sound, but the KSM32 just sounded better on its own when repositioned where the C451 was. I had the bass roll-off engaged for this recording:

From this recording, I’ve found that unlike other mics which hype certain frequencies, the KSM32 is pretty flat, it gave a really good representation of the acoustic in the room rather than boosting or cutting frequencies to make it sound better. I personally think the recorded sound is pretty lacklustre, but the acoustic which was being recorded was a pretty cheap Fender, I bet no more than £150. This led me to the conclusion that because this mic is so “honest” it will only sound good if you’re recording a good sound source; due to this “honesty” you can hear the cheapness of the guitar (no offense to the owner of the acoustic – also my mate).

I also recorded a female vocalist in the session, I found that again the sound was very neutral. The top end seems to be well-rounded, the sibilance isn’t at all harsh so the use of a de-esser wouldn’t be entirely necessary. Even with the louder notes, the mic held the sound well and was forgiving with this loudness, whereas other mics which accentuate the high end would’ve made this sound shrill. I also had the low frequency roll-off engaged in this recording:

Overall, the KSM32 is the most neutral sounding mic I’ve heard. It gives a very realistic representation of what’s actually being recorded, so if you want your cheap instrument to sound like a million dollars, this mic definitely isn’t going to do that. I’m particularly impressed with how well the mic handles the top end as noted with the vocal, cheaper mics accentuate the high end to make them sound “better”, but as a result can be quite harsh and shrill sounding on louder sound sources. The transient detail of the mic is also excellent, it really picks up the percussive nature of the acoustic and the pick attack. Due to the flat nature of the microphone, it seems that it would give you more flexibility with EQ in the mix which would let you dictate and tailor the sound rather than other mics with their hyped frequency ranges dictating how something will sound.

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