Home Dynamic Microphone Reviews Shure SM57 Review: Identical To An SM7B?

Shure SM57 Review: Identical To An SM7B?

by Stuart Charles Black
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Greetings mate and Welcome aboard!

Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions leading to a beautiful audio experience that will make you fall in love with music (NOT gear) all over again, so…

Shure SM57

Price: Check Amazon! | Check Sweetwater! | Check B&H! | Check eBay! 

In The Box

Shure SM57-LC Dynamic Instrument Microphone

Shure A25DM Mic Stand Adapter

Padded Bag

Sticker

Shure SM57 Review

Specifications

  • Type: Dynamic.
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid.
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz-15kHz.
  • Output Impedance: 150 Ohms.
  • Color: Black.
  • Connector: XLR. What is XLR?
  • Weight: 0.63 lbs.
  • Accessories: Carry Case, Mic Clip.
  • Manufacturer Part Number: SM57-LC.

Introduction

What’s left to say about this mic that hasn’t already been re-iterated a million times before?

Well, nothing.

There’s nothing left to say bye. 

Haha. Just kidding.

I actually received this industrial strength hammer I MEAN MIC as a gift and wanted to share my thoughts on it.

Seriously, you could probably use this thing to hammer small nails if you absolutely had nothing else lying around to do the job.

That’s how heavy-duty it is.

And as a side note, how many times have you heard THAT^ before? Probably a lot if you’re into reading things online like I am.

Yeap, it’s true though!

While we’re dancing around the subject, we may as well gush over the build quality first.

Build

Shure SM57 Review

Simply put, this is one of the most durable, robust anvils (excuse me, mics) I’ve ever held in my hands.

If you were nervous about a $99 sledgehammer not quite exceeding expectations, don’t be.

It puts your mind at ease and then some.

In fact,

I like to keep one on my nightstand just in case an intruder breaks in.

That way I can mic-whip with him with it sort of like Henry Hill pistol whips that guy in Goodfellas.

 

Do you know what else is neat?

You won’t have to worry about your grubby paws getting this beastly mic dirtied up with fingerprints and the like.

Even after vigorously rubbing moisturizer on my ashy legs and then handling SM57 without washing my hands, there’s still not a fingerprint in sight.

WOW!

I don’t know about you, but that alone may be worth the price of admission.

If it’s not, don’t fret.

By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to throw cash in the air like confetti.

Sound

Shure SM57 Review

The sound is equally as marvelous and the SM57 is ideal for almost anything though it does perform best in specific instances.

Put another way,

this is primarily a snare/cab mic but also excels in recording spoken word, rap, female hard rock vocals, saxophone, brass/trombone, guitar amps, congas, Ham Radio, horns, dulcimers, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

Perhaps the most well-known tidbit is that it’s been used by the President of the United States dating back to Lyndon B. Johnson.

I’ve been experimenting with it in my compositions and find that the mic works best when speaking directly in front.

This may sound obvious, but I read somewhere that you can also speak into it at a roughly 45-degree angle for good results.

I will share some demos I did in a bit and let you be the judge.

And I’m not talkin’ about Aaron.

SM57 Requirements

It’s essential to keep in mind that because the SM57 is a dynamic mic, it needs quite a bit of gain to reach acceptable levels.

While you can technically use it without some sort of preamp, I wouldn’t advise it. You’ll be jacking up the gain to maximum or near which can introduce distortion and other unwanted artifacts.

For clarification, my old Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 provided around 48dB of gain, while my current Universal Audio Volt 2 provides 55.

The Shure SM57 needs roughly 56dB and 50 at a bare minimum.

To bridge this gap without having to spend a ton of money on a preamp, I decided to invest in a Fethead which provides 27dB of extra gain.

Instead of maxing out my Volt 2, I can comfortably record at 50% gain and get a crisp, clean, loud take.

Shure SM57 Review

Demos

Here I recorded a couple of demos; the first without the A81WS/Fethead combo and the second one with.

Demo #1

Demo #2

Shure SM57 Review

Notice how much better it sounds with the A81WS; in effect providing that warm-ish, broadcast-type sound. More on that in a bit!

Demo #3

Same as above, only at a 45° angle.

Impressions

I think Demo #2 sounds the best, and found that speaking into it at a 45-degree angle (above, Demo #3) kind of just renders it a bit anemic – similar to Demo #1.

What do you think? Let me know in the comment section down below!

Recording Acoustic Guitar

I’m also playing around with the SM57 and my Acoustic and found that it works best pointed at around the 12th-14th fret and angled ever so slightly toward the sound hole.

Experiment with this to find what works best for you and your unique situation. 

One caveat I will mention quickly is that a mic like the SM57 is probably not your go-to for recording acoustic guitar in my opinion.

For that, I would highly recommend a small-diaphragm condenser like the MXL991; a mic whose frequency response is basically tailored to the acoustic guitar. 

The SM57, as good as it sounds, needs a bit more EQ to achieve the same result as the 991 does raw out of the box.

The other problem is that the SM57 is pretty finicky about placement when recording an acoustic – at least per my experience. I fiddled with at least 5 different angles and locations before I got something that sounded decent.

By contrast, the 991 just sounds excellent right away; immediately highlighting the most important aspects of the acoustic: The mid-range and treble.

Before we get off track, just know that the SM57 is not your go-to for acoustic guitar.

Shure SM57 Review

As you can tell from the clips, the sound of the SM57 is pretty excellent and you’ll be really excited to use it for your projects/spoken word/voiceover for video, etc.

Now for what is perhaps the most exciting part about all of this.

Check out Matt’s video where he demonstrates how to make the SM57 sound identical to the SM7B using the same A81WS windscreen that I used. He’s using a different interface/preamp, but the idea is the same.

Video Comparison

Credit to Matt for an incredibly helpful and excellent video.

I would have to agree with Matt, especially when he says he didn’t prefer the native SM57 sound right out of the box.

It’s true, that you will be doing some tinkering/technique work with this mic to get that “ah-ha” moment, but I think it’s well worth it considering the amazing result he achieved with a simple windscreen.

That said, that same tinkering to get a good take with an acoustic guitar is not my cup of tea and I would, again, just get a small diaphragm like the 991 if you value your sanity.

Final Verdict

Shure SM57 Review

The SM7B is by far the more popular microphone these days, but I do think it’s slightly overrated when you can get an almost identical sound in the SM57 for a lot cheaper.

As he mentions, a lot of people see all the great reviews, immediately buy a 7B, and then are disappointed when it doesn’t sound like they anticipated.

In addition to that,

for just the mic you’re spending $400 and still have to buy a good interface/preamp, accessories, etc.

I’d rather you just get an SM57 + A81WS, and decide on an interface.

Either make sure the one you choose has plenty of gain already available (such as the Apogee Duet that Matt uses) or go with a Volt 2/Scarlett 2i2 + Fethead.

Note: The 4th generation Scarlett 2i2 has around 69dB of gain, so you may not even need a Cloudlifter or Fethead.

I also read a review on B&H from a guy that uses a Presonus Studio 2/6 and he says it has plenty of gain for his SM57 without the need for a Fethead.

At the end of the day,

I love the SM57 and will be recommending it a lot from here on out because I don’t plan on ever selling mine.

Why?

Shure SM57 Review

Because the benefits are immense:

Build Quality/Longevity

You’re getting an incredibly robust microphone that will not die. I just read another review from a fella on B&H who said he’s had his for 50 years and just bought another.

Untreated Room? No problem

Because it’s dynamic, even if you’re in an untreated room like me you won’t have to worry about it picking up noise all that much.

High SPL/Price to Performance

It’s an all-purpose mic with HIGH SPL and works incredibly well for an array of applications as mentioned earlier.

The price-to-performance ratio is pretty remarkable.

The fact that the mic has stayed the same price for decades and sounds as good as it does isn’t fair. If there were ever a safe purchase, the SM57 would most certainly be it.

Cheaper alternative to the SM7B

You can essentially make it sound like the venerable SM7B for a fraction of the price according to Matt, and who doesn’t trust a guy named Matt?

Glowing reviews and lots of them. This is a #1 Best Seller and achieves an almost perfect star rating across multiple websites. If it’s good enough for the President, it’s good enough for me.

Learn More:

 

Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Shure SM57 Review and came away with some valuable insight.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!

Which of these are you more likely to go with? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Be sure to check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!

Photo Gallery

Shure SM57

4.95

Build

5.0/5

Sound

4.9/5

Versatility

5.0/5

Value

5.0/5

Pros

  • Incredibly robust. Hank Hill uses one as a hammer.
  • Extremely versatile. Can be used in any circumstance.
  • Fantastic overall value/price to performance
  • Rejects noise very well.

Cons

  • You may have to tinker with it to get the sound you want.

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