There are iconic designs that define an entire product category: Ray-Ban Wayfarer shades, the classic Coke bottle, the Model 302 Western Electric telephone. And, of course, the Shure Model 55 microphone – seen everywhere from classic newsreels to the famous Elvis stamp issued by the US Post Office in 1994.
Within a few years of its introduction in 1939, Shure advertising called it “the most recognizable microphone in the world.” It’s a claim few could argue with even more than 75 years later.
With its Streamline Moderne stylings, the Model 55 instantly became a design icon. But the mic’s timeless good looks were far from its only virtue. Shure microphone engineer Ben Bauer revolutionized the pro audio world with what we called at the time “the first high-quality, low-cost dynamic mic with true cardioid unidirectional characteristics.” Built to address problems created by feedback, background noise and reverberation, the Model 55 was a runaway success for broadcast, PA and live performance applications. Never out of production, the current 55SH vocal and speech microphone is direct descendant of Bauer’s original Model 55.
Going Super Deluxe
To honor such an important part of our heritage, Shure in 2009 introduced the Super 55 Deluxe. Designed for live vocal performance, it combined the familiar retro style of the original in a modern supercardioid mic.
“The better feedback rejection, removal of the on/off switch and the more modern sound of the Beta 58 cartridge made it stage-friendlier version of the Model 55,” says Product Manager Soren Pedersen. With its evocative visual presence and great sound, the update to the legendary mic created a whole new generation of 55 fans: Cabaret performers. Sound engineers. Singer-songwriters. Jazz crooners. Bluegrass musicians. Broadcasters. And more recently, podcasters.
Pitch Black Limited Edition
Over the years, Shure has offered several special editions of the Super 55 Deluxe. This year, the Super 55-BLK mic sports an exclusive matte black finish. Like the traditional Super 55 Deluxe, the Pitch Black edition is designed for vocals or speech with a supercardioid cartridge providing a frequency response range of 60 Hz to 17 kHz. Supplies are limited.
Pedersen sees this year’s special edition as a natural evolution in the Super 55’s history of holiday makeovers. “Our customers demand mics that have premium sound quality. In live performance, these mics need to look as good as they sound,” he explains. “The Super 55 Deluxe more than meets those criteria, plus there’s the indisputable reputation that Shure has for durability. The Super 55 Deluxe Pitch Black Edition is a tour-proven, dynamic microphone delivering world-class performance with a modern take on our classic design. We’re excited to be able to offer this dramatic, new design for the holiday season.”
Where to Get One
For a limited time, the Super 55-BLK will be available online and through certified Shure retailers. It comes with an integrated swivel stand mount and a zippered storage bag.
For more information about the history of the 55 Series microphones, download The Unidyne Story, a 48-page publication created by Shure Historian Michael Pettersen.