Versatility: The BETA®181

How much do I (and many others) love the BETA 181?

Let me count the ways:

1. Toms & Overhead

My first experience with the BETA 181 came at a Percussive Arts Society Convention (PASIC) in 2011 when Shure Artist Simon Phillips was invited to give a clinic.  Simon had been using the KSM137 and wanted to give these a whirl.  We listened to the 137’s to get his normal refference point and then switched to the BETA 181.

Simon Phillips - Beta 181/S

Simon Phillips – Beta 181/S

Notice how high off the drum head Simon likes to place the mics.  If you haven’t heard Simon’s kit before, his tom sounds are very open, in tune, and full of sound.  The BETA 181 mics impressed him just enough to want to switch over from the KSM137’s.  They capture his tom sounds very naturally.

When Pearl Drum Corporation wanted to re-introduce their Export series, they were interested in trying the BETA 181 for both Toms and Overhead.  Here’s the result:

(Oh yeah, I’m digging them too.)

There are many more Pearl videos online with the BETA 181.

When Brad Paisley’s drummer Ben Sesar switch over to Pearl, he stopped by the factory in Nashville and heard the mics.  Brad was getting ready to cut tracks on his new record, and Ben convinced Brad to give them a try on toms.  They both loved the result.  You will be hearing them on Brad’s new record due out this year.

When you walk into the music store to look for that set of cymbals to add to your kit, some of you are listening for different tones or colors that you find will work for your sound.  The BETA 181 will faithfully represent those sounds through the PA.  That’s what I noticed when I heard them on overheads for the first time.  I was very surprised and pleased by the results.

2. Piano

When GRAMMY® Award-winning recording engineer Eric Schilling was tasked with capturing two jazz masters on piano, he requested the BETA 181/C for the project. Pictured below are the pianos of Dave Grusin and Chick Corea.

Chick & Dave Grusin - Beta 181

Chick & Dave Grusin – Beta 181

Following suit, when the GRAMMY Awards were ramping up in January of 2014, Eric called to request them for use in Lang Lang’s piano for a special performance.

Lang Lang - Grammy Awards

Lang Lang – Grammy Awards

(Notice the clamp in both of these pictures above? That’s the Shure A75M Drum Mount!)

3. Leslie HIGH

Longtime Vince Gill FOH engineer Hugh Johnson absolutely loves the BETA 181 for Leslie High.  Here’s a quote from Hugh on their performance:

“We began using the Beta 181 on the top of the Leslie cabinet about 2 years ago and haven’t looked back. The mics are placed on opposite sides, right next to the louvers on the outside of the cabinet. The console eq is flat, the image is wide, and the Leslie sounds in the PA like you are sitting right in front of it. Perfect!” –Hugh Johnson, FOH Engineer for Vince Gill

The next time you are looking to add to your mic collection, give the BETA 181 some serious consideration. Then have fun finding out how many other ways your BETA 181 purchase will benefit your recordings.

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Ryan Smith

Ryan is a Regional Manager of Artist Relations at the Shure office in Nashville, TN. He started at Shure in 1993 in Customer Service and joined the AR team in 1996. Ryan has over 30 years of performance experience playing drums and percussion in various groups and genres. In his spare time he enjoys woodworking, watching movies, videography, and camping with his family. His Twitter handle is @ryan_smith1969.

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