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Shure ksm32- so does this mean they just stop working?
Old 26th March 2012
  #1
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Shure ksm32- so does this mean they just stop working?

Not all that familiar with electret condenser technology. The KSM32 has it although is also be powered by phantom 48v. Here's something from an sos review that caught my eye and raises a question....

......."the capsules do have a finite life because the static charge must, eventually, leak away. When I first started in this business, a five-year working life was not untypical, but now the manufacturers are predicting well in excess of 15 or 20 years..."

So what does this mean? What happens when you buy a ksm32? Does it simply die after about 20 years? Gradually get worse with the sound quality? Require a trip back to Shure to have the capsule replaced? At what cost?

I'm not used to these concepts.

Most of my mics are dynamics or condensers, some well over 20-30 years old. I've been looking at the great reviews of the ksm32, but certainly don't want to deal with a mic that has a lifespan that is counting down.
Old 26th March 2012
  #2
I have wondered the same thing. I never read a good explanation on that one.
Old 26th March 2012
  #3
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audiogeek's Avatar
 

Can you post a link to the review?

My understanding is that it's a traditional condenser, not an electret, so I don't know in what way it "has" electret condenser technology.

It's also my understanding that conventional electret mics maintain their charge for something like hundreds of years. But maybe I'm misinformed.

I suppose you could just send an email to the author for clarification.
Old 26th March 2012
  #4
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Electret condensers are charged "for live" which is 10 to whatever years...depending on quality I guess...
as a big real condenser uses phantom power to power the condenser, with electrets phantom power is needed for the preamp built in (there's much less power coming out of an "precharged" electret ....therefore you need the preamp....
When you drop an electret it can loose its charge and die sooner....
Old 26th March 2012
  #5
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Silent Sound's Avatar
Funny this came up. I recently bought an AT4033a the other day and it too is an electret condenser. I read up on this started to get worried about it's lifespan, but then thought in ten years I'll either be out of the game, or have enough money to buy another one should it stop working and I feel the need to replace it.
Old 26th March 2012
  #6
PMF
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silent Sound View Post
Funny this came up. I recently bought an AT4033a the other day and it too is an electret condenser. I read up on this started to get worried about it's lifespan, but then thought in ten years I'll either be out of the game, or have enough money to buy another one should it stop working and I feel the need to replace it.
my two are like 15yrs old... and still going strong..
Old 26th March 2012
  #7
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Unclenny's Avatar
11 years on mine and still going strong.
Old 26th March 2012
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenny View Post
11 years on mine and still going strong.
Ah, but how do you know? Do you have a brand new one to put next to yours to see if yours is starting to degrade in some way?

Just asking questions. I don't know how electrets "lose" whatever it is they lose. Is it something gradual?

The sos review guy said...
-------------------------------------------------------------
"It seems I have been repeating myself in recent mic reviews, but since most of the manufacturers appear to be playing the same marketing game.....

The marketing literature for the KSM32 states that it is a condenser microphone and, strictly speaking, that's true.

However, the capsule is of the 'permanently-biased condenser' type, otherwise known as a back-electret.

Of course, modern electret microphones are often of astonishingly good quality .... However, they do have a finite life because the static charge must, eventually, leak away..... "
-------------------------------------------------------------

Like I say, I'm just asking questions and good ol Gearslutz is the place to bring these types of questions up, right?
I could take the view that I'll probably not be using the mic (if I buy one) 20 years from now... but you know what... that may not be true. I have mics now that are way older than that and I still use them.

Here by the way is the sos link with the comments in the third or so paragraph-
Shure KSM32
Old 27th March 2012
  #9
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoodle View Post
Ah, but how do you know? Do you have a brand new one to put next to yours to see if yours is starting to degrade in some way?
Excellent point and well taken.

I did just track an acoustic guitar with it and I was smiling as usual.

I think I'll do some very unscientific testing tomorrow and see if I can notice any degradation of the signal.
Old 27th March 2012
  #10
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20-25 years.

Making Music - Computer Music Software and Hardware - Microphones Part 1


The back-electret is a condenser microphone but the back-plate features an electret material (hence the name) which is permanently charged. This electric charge will eventually wear off, although manufacturers typically claim a life expectancy of 20-25 years.
Old 21st May 2012
  #11
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I'm guessing it should be pretty affordable to get it serviced when it does run out?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
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I found this thread a few days ago and I started to panic, seeing as how my KSM137 and KSM32 pairs are electret mics and I want them to last...

I contacted Shure and this is the response I got:

"This is a good question. The answer is somewhat vague as it depends on a lot of factors for a electret condenser capsule to diminish in performance.
AES says: The life expectancy of the electret is determined by the type of high polymer material, method of forming electret, density of surface static charge, physical construction of the capsule, etc. In actual cases it is estimated that it takes as much as 30 to 100 years for a well designed electret microphone capsule to loose its sensitivity by 3dB.
If your KSM32 needs servicing` and capsule replacement, Shure will have the replacement capsules available for many years. I cant say for 100 years though."


The SM81 is an electret mic as well and even the oldest ones are still going strong. So my takeaway is that the oldest Shure electrets have not started to fail yet, so all this talk of failure is still in the realm of the hypothetical. These mics might very well last throughout our lifetime if well taken care of, otherwise normal wear might kill them off before the charge runs out.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
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shatz's Avatar
I have one I bought 20 years ago, and then another one I bought about 5 years ago. No noticeable difference between them.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shatz View Post
I have one I bought 20 years ago, and then another one I bought about 5 years ago. No noticeable difference between them.
Good to hear!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenny View Post
11 years on mine and still going strong.
I used my KSM32 last week for scratch vocals while I was waiting for a new NOS tube for my Peluso. It sounded great.....18 years now. With a little EQ work I had that track sounding very usable.

I was glad to get the Peluso back in the game though.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenny View Post
I used my KSM32 last week for scratch vocals while I was waiting for a new NOS tube for my Peluso. It sounded great.....18 years now. With a little EQ work I had that track sounding very usable.

I was glad to get the Peluso back in the game though.
Funny that the most expensive mic in my arsenal is an entry level mic in another man’s arsenal. Oh well
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