The Next Microphone You Buy Could Be Counterfeit – Spotting Fakes

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The Shure SM58 is the most popular counterfeit microphone on the market.  You might own one.  Sennheiser’s have been faked.  Even rack components are being faked now.  Here’s the kicker, in some cases, the fakes are being sold at the same price or higher than the authentic products!  And the fakes are getting harder to spot.  Consider these ways of spotting a fake microphone.

I’m focusing on the Shure SM58 but the concepts apply to all microphones.

Six Ways of Spotting Fake SM58’s

1. The price is too good to be true.

Shure has a “Minimum Advertised Price” policy.  That’s why SM58’s should NOT be advertised for less than $98.  If you see them for less, they will be used or fakes.  Buying from a local music store, you might haggle them down in price but they can’t advertise it for anything less than $98.  Know the retail price of the microphone you want to buy.

2. It’s listed on eBay.

I’m not saying all SM58’s on eBay are a fake.  But for the affordable price of a new one, why risk it?  New fake Shure SM58’s and even the lower-end Sennheisers are being produced in China.  Those new microphones, albeit fake, will be listed as NEW on eBay.  They might be cheaper, they might be the same price, or they might be more expensive.  Avoid any new microphone on eBay from a non-authorized dealer (if their eBay handle is like “PookieBearLovin” then they aren’t an authorized dealer no matter what they say.)

And before I get a letter from someone, including PookieBearLovin, who sells new authentic microphones on eBay, let me say this; it’s nothing personal, but I don’t want my readers questioning their purchase.  Authorized dealers are the way to go for any new microphone purchase.  Sweetwater.com, CCISolutions.com.  You get the idea.

3. Look inside.

Check out the SM58 differences;

  • On a SM58, unscrew the windscreen.  On a fake SM58, there is a “CAUTION” sticker wrapped around the capsule head.
  • The foamy bit on top of the fake mic is black while on the real one it’s grey.
  • The threading on the microphone housing where the windscreen is screwed on should be shiny silver, not dull black in color.
  • The inside wires connecting the capsule to the body should be green and yellow.

4. Look at the packaging.

The packaging should include a SHURE sticker, a cable tie, and a black microphone bag with a “made in China” tag.

5. Be careful of any microphone sold by a non-authorized retailer because the above points aren’t enough.

Rich, from ProSound Ltd, said, “There are now only 2 ways we know of to identify a genuine mic and it would be stupid if anyone shares those on an open forum like this because the fakers are not dumb, they search the net and find those things out and then just change the fakes to seem more genuine!”

6. Listen.

A fake SM58 sounds bright and harsh when moderate gain is applied. A genuine 58 will sound smooth in the lows and mid-range, with a slightly recessed and pleasant high end.

Beware of counterfeit microphones. A cut-rate price is…worthless.
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The Take Away

It’s a two-pointer.

1. Only buy new microphones from respected authorized dealers.  Wish I could find the photo I saw that showed twenty different fake microphone boxes in the back of a box van.  [sigh]

2. DON’T BE BULLIED INTO MAKING A FAKE MIC PURCHASE.

I’ve read your emails.  I’ve heard your stories.  The situation goes like this; you create a list of gear needs, give it to the church board for approval, then someone on the board decides to look on the internet for a “better price.”  Here comes their email with links to eBay listings of new microphones for a fraction of the price.  Educate them.  Enlighten them.  But whatever you do, don’t give into them.

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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for this Chris. I just found your web. I’ve had a few fake mics cross my stage. Mostly Shure’s. They had me fooled for a short while too, until I held both the fake and the real one at the same time. The fake will be lighter that the real one. The real one has a transformer in the body. Same goes for the fake and the real B52. I had a fake B52 offered to me in Israel recently. The systems tech fessed up before the who and I went with the D112 but asked if I could examine the fake B52 1st. The best way to tell the diff is to compare with one you know is real.

  2. Len says

    Way to go Chris. I believe that if we don’t make a strong stand against fake gear, we are effectively siding with what is no better than organised crime.

  3. Kevin Johnson says

    I’ve found that another common difference with SM58s and possibly other mics is the handling noise. A genuine SM58 usually has less handling noise and at a lower frequency than the knock-offs and other cheaper models. An A-B comparison tapping the body with the gain up a bit might be useful. Also the fakes are usually more prone to feedback and at different frequencies. An A-B test is good to detect this too. 58s also have legendary ruggedness–ask the seller if you can test that ;-p

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