THE 55S: LONG LIVE THE KING
Some matches are made in heaven. The Shure 55S and Elvis was one of them. Think of Elvis on stage and you think hip gyrations, foot slides…and a 55S. It’s impossible to picture the king without that sleek metal mic in his hand.
Elvis used a 55S whenever possible. That’s why it’s nicknamed the Elvis mic. But it’s not just Elvis – the various versions of the legendary microphone count Metallica, Billie Eilish, Frank Sinatra and Chuck Berry among its millions of fans.
Before the 55S came along microphones were big – sometimes almost the size of your head. That was fine for the recording studio, but when television became the place to be in the 1950s a new, smaller microphone was needed. Enter the Shure 55S – a smaller version (S) of Shure’s revolutionary Unidyne I Model 55.
Featuring Shure’s Unidyne II cartridge, the 55S was a natural sounding vocal microphone that didn’t obscure your entire face. And as rock and roll hit the small screen, the genre’s new stars Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Bill Haley all used it. Heck, even country music legends like Hank Williams loved the 55S.
The mic doesn’t just sound great: it also looks the part. A classic piece of art deco design, it fit right into the 1950s world of skyscrapers, jukeboxes and cars with fins. In fact, the Shure 55S took its original inspiration from the front grill of a 1937 Oldsmobile Coupe Six. Stick the two side by side and it’s easy to see the similarities.
That classic look has made the mic popular not only with musicians, but also visual artists. That’s why you see it so often in music videos – including the new James Bond song – because it just looks right.
It’s also likely the most popular tattoo out there: Google “microphone tattoo” and you’ll quickly realize that not only do millions of people sing into it, but millions more are willing to wear it for life. Now that’s dedication.
THE CHOICE IS YOURS
The mic has come in a number of configurations over the years, but these days there are two great options.
The first is the 55SH Series II, with a look like The King himself used. With an improved Unidyne II cartridge inside, this mic gently rolls off the bass and gives a slight boost through the mids. That means it sounds smooth yet punchy, clear yet creamy. No wonder the master crooner himself Frank Sinatra loved it.
The second option is the Super 55, which uses similar tech found in the Beta 58A. You still get the sleek aesthetic, but this time with a super cardioid pattern and ultra-stylish electric blue foam. This mic is perfect for noisier concerts where you don’t want to pick up unwanted sounds. Plus, it looks unbelievably cool.
Every time you sing into one of these mics, you’re working with a living legend. The 55S was there when Martin Luther King Jr gave his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. This is the mic that Elvis sang into when he recorded That's All Right at Sun Studios in 1954 and changed music forever. This mic was there when Robin Williams screamed good morning a million times into on Good Morning Vietnam changing his career and the history of cinema.
Most of the time you can’t own a piece of history. But with a 55SH or Super 55, you can. Maybe you’re the next one to change history with it… Who knows?