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Shure SM61 - Anyone got one or had one?

I watched a Carpenters documentary and Karen Carpenter was using a Shure SM61, and a white one to be accurate. We all know her voice pretty well and looking at the spec, it was advertised as omni, and impervious to pops, blasts and wind noise, and looks good on stage/TV. I wonder how useful they'd be today? It sounded great on her voice so I'm surprised they faded away in the 80s, and haven't been replaced.

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Profile picture for user kmetal

kmetal Wed, 12/30/2020 - 17:15

Never even heard of it, but it could be cool to use. Omni is underrated for vocal mics, in a decent room it can be awesome. Omni on stage might be a nightmare for feedback issues tho. Intersting find Paul.

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bouldersound Wed, 12/30/2020 - 22:17

Flipping through the channels last night (which I sometimes still do on terrestrial TV), I saw an episode of Sanford and Son (Presenting the Three Degrees) where the MC at a club was using a mic that looked like that. I was pretty sure it was a Shure.

I might use an omni on stage for certain things. A close mic on a guitar amp is one possibility, or a shared snare and high hats mic. If the source is loud and close it would be no problem. To be honest, with good quality monitors and reasonable stage volume, I'd be able to use them on vocals.

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paulears Thu, 12/31/2020 - 04:27

I'm happy using omni headsets, once you know what works and what doesn't - like floor wedges, for instance - but now we have lots of IEM quieter stages, and this one intrigues me - AND - it's a very visually nice mic, which many are not! If Richard Carpenter liked it, that's a good recommendation I think. I'm going to add it to my searches for interesting products here.

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paulears Sat, 01/02/2021 - 05:46

They were replaced by the SM63, which shares the same body and design - but is still current, although not remotely common, but radio stations and interviewer still use the long handle versions. The SM61 had an upper limit of 14K, when it took a nose dive, the 63 has a hump at 1.2K and another at 10K, and goes up to 20K. It's a bit lower output than the original 61. Even better is the guy in Norway has a couple of really nice condition 63's so I've got both on the way instead of the vintage one - They sound really nice in the crispness stakes, so I think they can be pretty useful.

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paulears Wed, 01/13/2021 - 07:52

I've done a quick test, and I really am pleased with these. I can think of plenty of things - maybe a Jeklin disk? In the test I started with a known mic - an AKG 414 set to omni, at six inches. I swapped to the SM63L. Output down a little - so I normalised the AKG, then the Shure at the same distance, then did the Shure touching my lips - with all three moninally the same peak level - you can hear the results.

https://www.eastanglianradio.com/SM63L.wav

Profile picture for user Davedog

Davedog Wed, 01/13/2021 - 12:19

Cool. Hardly any proximity effect. That's what I remember from the SM61 I had.

I had found a bundle of mics at an estate sale many years back and in the collection was the SM61, an SM59, an SM81, and an SM87. I bought all four for $100 cash. The SM87 worked for about two weeks and obviously had been abused and when it quit it really quit! Shorted and tried to eat my monitors. (They are condensers in case no one remembers them) The SM59 was an elegant and interesting sounding mic. I saw several TV shows in the late 80's and early 90's that had these as handheld featured singer mics but they almost had too much grill and distracted from the face doing the singing....Maybe thats why they stopped using them. The SM81 I kept for a long time and it went from me as part of an equipment swap. Since I don't remember anything in the swap except the 81, I'd say I got hosed. I think I loaned the 61 out and that was years ago so I think it lives with someone else now. The "white" color on Karen's mic was called "Suedecoat".

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paulears Wed, 01/13/2021 - 12:44

Suedecoat? I'll remember that one. We now have crystal covered radio mics but there are rarely any really nice looking mics - although today on ebay UK there is a red SM7B - somebody has sprayed one bright red!

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Davedog Wed, 01/13/2021 - 13:10

Suedecoat from Shure came in a few finishes. A black...Tan...off white....a couple others I can't remember....which doesn't surprise me these days....That finish took all the shine off the mic....made it "organic" and "Neutral" to the cameras.

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paulears Sat, 01/23/2021 - 06:30

The SM61 has arrived and it's great. It needs a new piece of foam - it disintegrated when I gave it a covid clean! It's actually very similar to the 63, but larger. Same plastic mesh grill. Sound wise it is rather nice - it clearly follows the original spec - the top end starts to dive earlier than the 63, but that's actually quite nice on vocals. It's the same champagne finish as the 63s, and for the age, remarkably unmarked. It's nice to find new useful mics for the mic box, and the 61 and 63 appear to be mics I just never noticed or considered. I can understand why the Carpenters liked this mic - it looks good and works for female, low voices. If you see any for sale for sensible prices, snap them up! I've never bought a mic from the States before and the process worked really well!

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paulears Sat, 01/23/2021 - 13:17

I'm going to make a Jeklin disc - I'm sure I have some old thick acoustic tiles somewhere and I've always fancied having a go, so a couple of omni with decent frequency response should be interesting. 3 mics stands is a bit excessive but I have plenty - so one for the disk, then one each side for the mics. I've never used one, but I'll try it on the first acoustic concert when covid finishes.

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