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…
In The Box
Shure SM57-LC Dynamic Instrument Microphone
Shure A25DM Mic Stand Adapter
- 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.
What’s left to say about this mic that hasn’t already been re-iterated a million times before?
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.
While we’re dancing around the subject, we may as well gush over the build quality first.
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 (Ok I’ll stop xD) not quite exceeding expectations, don’t be.
It really puts your mind at ease and then some.
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.
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.
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.
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, acoustic guitar, 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, in conjunction with an A81WS windscreen, by the President of the United States dating all the way back to Lyndon B. Johnson.
I’ve been experimenting with it in my own 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 no I’m not talkin’ about Aaron.
I also recorded some rap lyrics that I will share.
The composition isn’t completely done, but I found that the SM57 sounds excellent, and will update this article when it’s finished.
I have yet to invest in an A81WS but plan to very soon.
Also, keep in mind that I’m recording straight out of a Universal Audio Volt 2 without a Cloudlifter/Fethead.
Even despite this,
I can still get a pretty good take though I would highly recommend you go ahead and invest in one of these to ensure you have some clean gain available as the SM57 requires a minimum of 50dB and in reality around 65.
My Volt 2 provides about 55 so you can see how close it is.
For reference, I owned a first-generation Scarlett 2i2 and it has around 48.
A Fethead delivers up to 27dB of clean gain which is needed for standard audio interfaces like the Focusrite Scarlett Solo/2i2 as well as my Universal Audio Volt 2.
A Cloudlifter provides around 25dB.
Keep in mind you can still use the SM57 without it, but in terms of gain on my interface, I have it turned up to around 11.
Haha just kidding, it’s at about 85-90%. I don’t like to max it out as you can really start to hear a lot of white noise.
Even at 85-90%, you will start to hear some noise/artifacts depending on the environment you’re recording in.
This is why I will most certainly be investing in a Fethead to mitigate that issue.
The good news is that because the SM57 is a dynamic microphone, the noise issue isn’t nearly as bad as it would be if you jacked the gain up on a condenser.
This is because condensers typically pick up a lot more ambient sounds, fans, traffic, dogs, your neighbor’s explosive diarrhea, etc.
A dynamic like the SM57 is very good at rejecting outside noise even with the gain turned up considerably.
the SM57 is perfect for the beginner to the advanced, and records clean as a whistle.
The highs are particularly noteworthy here and come through with startling clarity.
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.
Definitely experiment with this to find what works best for you and your own unique situation.
The SM7B contains an internal, built-in shock mount that reduces vibrations.
The SM57’s shock mount reduces noise in handheld instances.
Even despite this, I would absolutely plan to invest in an A81WS and you’ll learn more about why I’ve been talking about it so much in a bit!
In case you were wondering, this is the windscreen I used. Again, not quite ideal but it’s what I have at the moment.
Demo #1 – Speaking at a 45-degree angle, windscreen used, gain around 85-90%
Demo #2 – Speaking at a 45-degree angle, no windscreen, gain around 85-90%
Demo #3 – Speaking at a 45-degree angle, windscreen used, gain around 85-90%
Demo #4 – Speaking at a 45-degree angle, windscreen used, gain at around 75%
For these last 3, I was speaking into the front of the mic with a windscreen and gain back to around 85-90%.
A bit closer to the mic
A bit farther away from the mic
Very close to the mic
So as you can probably tell, it sounds fuller when you’re speaking straight on, but the absence of a Fethead is problematic.
This is because when you turn up the volume to hear, there’s some obvious noise, artifacts, and slight distortion present due to how high the gain has to be.
There’s also this metallic “tinny” character that I can’t quite reconcile.
It could be my specific voice, but I think the tone is slightly off and this is most certainly due to the gain being basically maxed out.
That said, the general sound of the SM57 is 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 on how to, with the A81WS windscreen that I’ve been yammering on and on about, make the SM57 sound basically identical to an SM7B.
That’s right you heard me correctly!
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, 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.
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, 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 get something like a Volt 2/Scarlett 2i2 and buy a 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.
Because the benefits are immense:
- 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.
- Noise rejecter. 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.
- It’s an all-purpose mic with HIGH SPL and works incredibly well for an array of applications as mentioned earlier.
- Price to performance ratio is astounding. Think about the fact that this mic has stayed the same price for decades and it becomes clear how well-loved and regarded it is. If there were ever a safe purchase, the SM57 is most certainly it.
- You can essentially make it sound like the venerable SM7B for a fraction of the price. Enough said. The proof is right there in the video above from a guy who is using top-notch gear.
- 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. And you!
Ready to purchase one?
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,
- 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.
- You may have to tinker with it to get the sound you want.