Shure Super 55 Deluxe – supercardioid prop mic review

Shure Super 55 Deluxe is a supercardioid prop mic for live sound. It may certainly look cool on camera while sparing you from having to procure an expensive and delicate Neumann or some other signature microphone in order to impress your audience. You have to understand it doesn’t have anything to do with the old mic other than having the similarly styled body. Those times are long gone and we have a small cylinder-shaped capsule here, fitted into a large square box, which to put it politely does not contribute anything at all to the sound quality. In fact, it is quite ‘picky’ and may be difficult to use on stage.

Frequency response

sm57-vs-super-55-deluxe_V2

Here is a frequency response but don’t get too excited because I actually posted a comparison and the one on the left is none other than Shure SM57, and the “Super Deluxe” is the one on the right. Yeah, the SM57’s response surprisingly looks better, whereas the Super 55 has a disgusting cliff into abyss right at the point of 10 kHz. But I mean, if a hundred dollar SM57 were to be considered the golden standard of quality (to begin with), if this was the case… I should probably give up on reviewing them anymore. So, here we have it, our precious “Super” 55 beaten by a ‘trash-tier’ instrument mic from the same manufacturer.

If you remember that old SM58 sound as if someone wrapped a blanket all over it, you are going to love this! (No way). Shure Super 55 Deluxe does have a seemingly bright response but still it sounds muffled and lacks transparency, which is just unacceptable for a modern mic of this price. On the good side, it doesn’t have this muddy taste, so the lyrics sound more intelligible. Yet, it’s hard to get excited over this type of sound after trying out the modern Sennheiser or even Electro-Voice mics that are better in every respect. I find that this mic also needs quite a bit of gain in order to be heard, which could sometimes be an issue.

Performance

55-Deluxe-squareThe above said wouldn’t be as bad if it hasn’t been exhibiting a nasty behavior on stage. The mic appears too hot and picks up way too much background, as if it was a condenser mic, which it is not. Yes, and it has a special affinity for cymbals from a drum set, so this wash bleeding into lead vocalist mic can actually affect the whole band performance this way, without providing any benefits such as improved clarity and extended response that you would get from a condenser. Another issue is constant popping: Shure Super 55 Deluxe is very sensitive to popping and there is no way to resolve it without replacing the mic altogether.

55-comparison

On this picture, I have compared the vintage 55S on the left and the modern version of the mic on the right. As you can see, the old mic had a huge capsule with suspensions all around it, some of the mics also had transformer in there. They were big and that was a necessity of the design. The capsule was also significantly recessed inside in order to provide a uniform response. The newer versions honestly look like rip-off. They took a tip of a mic, and simply fitted it in there, duh. As a result, you must always maintain the exact position, singing right in the middle of the mic, otherwise you will not be heard. Do you love challenges?…

Verdict

Shure Super 55 Deluxe is all about the looks whereas performance is only secondary. The sound is still pretty good, and it definitely surpasses that of the 55SH, its century old cardioid brother. Nevertheless, it barely stands up to other modern mics; take even the Beta 58A of their own making – at the time of writing it is actually both much cheaper and more reliable for live performance (doesn’t sound pristine but at least unaffected by popping). Unfortunately, the attempts to imitate the old school design inevitably affect the performance and also make it more difficult to use. Consider this another attempt by Shure to fill their pockets, feeding on the fame of the older 55S, popularized by Elvis Presley.

- Reviewed at $249

Cons

  • High price
  • Sensitive to popping
  • Hot, picks up a lot of background
  • Muffled high-end, lacks transparency
  • Difficult to use on stage

Pros

  • Cool looks for a prop mic
  • Not muddy, decent tone
Best Price on Shure Super 55 Deluxe
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Review score
  • Good - 6/10
    6/10

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