Make / Model: Shure KSM32
Purchased: Musician’s Friend, 2001
Price: $549 (new)
This is a natural sounding microphone, which is to say, it doesn’t over accentuate the high end, or the low end, or the mids. It’s all just kind of there. And if you need those areas accentuated, it takes EQ very well, which is to say, it’s not hiding or imparting any bullshit on those parts of your signal.
What I found it great for: Vocals, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Drum Overheads, Snare Drums, Floor Toms, Distant drum mic, Gang vocals
Truth is, I never found an application it didn’t sound good on. If I wanted some sparkle on something, maybe I’d go to a Neumann or a AKG TLII, and if I wanted some gritier guitar, an SM57, but overall, this mic did a great job on everything I ever tried it on.
And here is the thing: This mic was made back in 2001. Back then, Chinese large diaphragm mics did not really exist. So when Shure made this, they weren’t trying to compete with a $49 guitar center blowout 47 clone, with a capsule made from a balloon, and just tweaked ever so that it made a boost around 8k, but sounded like absolute fucking horror everywhere else.
Accordingly, the Shure company decided to make a useful, professional microphone. Not a Neumann. Not the ‘magic’ vocal mike. But a fucking workhorse. Dependable. And they even built it well, because although it only cost $549, which was NOTHING for a professional microphone, they decided you should get a nice velvet mic bag, a fucking shockmount, and a hard locking case for all of that to go in, because your a working man. So the KSM32 was kind of like a Carhartt: highest quality for doing work, with good presentation, and solid construction.
This is why this mic became a huge hit with the live sound folks, because it was solid. Need to mic up the band on TV tonight? This mic will do it for decades. Perhaps the champagne gold finish was less appropriate than say, a matte black, but Shure wanted to treat you to something pretty for your $549.
As a result, and this might seem harsh, I have often found myself judging other engineers by if they have this mic or not. If they have it, welcome to the club! If not, they may not know what they are doing.
A great value, and super useful to have.