Home Dynamic Microphone Reviews Shure SM7B Review: Is It Truly Worth The Hype?

Shure SM7B Review: Is It Truly Worth The Hype?

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…

In this forthcoming review, we’ll be delving into an in-depth analysis of the SM7B microphone.

Our focus will encompass an exploration of its build quality, sound capabilities, versatility in various use cases, essential requirements for optimal usage, recommended mic positioning techniques, and an assessment of its overall value proposition.

By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of whether the SM7B merits consideration for purchase, and, if not, I will provide an alternative recommendation that is.

Deal? Cool.

Let’s dive in!

Shure SM7B

Price: Check Amazon! | Check Sweetwater! | Check eBay!

In The Box

Shure SM7B Vocal Microphone

Swivel (Yoke Mount) Stand Adapter

Shure A7WS Broadcast-Style Windscreen for SM7, SM7A, and SM7B

Shure RPM602 Switch Cover Plate for SM7A and SM7B Microphones

Specifications

  • Type: Dynamic.
  • Frequency Response: 50 to 20,000 Hz.
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid.
  • Impedance: 150 Ohms.
  • Output level: 59 dB.
  • Switches: Bass roll-off and mid-range emphasis. Slotted response selector switches.
  • Cartridge Shock Mount: Internal air-suspension shock and vibration isolator.
  • Microphone Connector: XLR.
  • Swivel Assembly: Integrated, captive nut for ease of attachment to stand, fits 5/8 in. -27 thread.
  • Polarity: Positive pressure on the diaphragm produces positive voltage on pin 2 relative to pin 3.
  • Case: Dark gray enamel aluminum and steel case with a dark gray foam windscreen.
  • Net Weight: 765.4 grams (1 lb, 11 oz).

What Is It?

A flagship of Shure’s microphone line, The SM7B is a highly acclaimed dynamic microphone that has gained widespread recognition for its exceptional audio quality and versatile applications.

Renowned for its robust build, this microphone is a go-to choice in the professional audio industry.

Its ability to deliver clear and detailed sound across various frequencies makes it a favored tool for recording vocals, podcasts, broadcasting, and more.

Build & Features

The SM7B is crafted with a robust and durable build, designed to withstand the rigors of professional use.

Featuring a rugged construction similar to the SM57, it exudes reliability, ensuring it can endure frequent handling and diverse recording environments.

Its sturdy metal casing not only protects the internal components but also contributes to its longevity, making it a dependable choice for prolonged and demanding recording sessions.

The thoughtful engineering behind its build quality not only enhances its durability but also minimizes external interference, allowing for consistent and high-quality audio capture, even in challenging acoustic settings.

Onboard Features

The SM7B is revered for its simplicity and reliability, boasting a straightforward design that emphasizes functionality.

While it doesn’t boast a multitude of onboard features, its minimalist approach aligns perfectly with its purpose as a professional-grade microphone.

One notable feature of the SM7B is its switchable frequency response settings.

This microphone offers both bass roll-off and presence boost controls, allowing users to tailor the sound to better suit specific recording environments or vocal characteristics.

The bass roll-off switch minimizes low-frequency noise and rumble (approximately -3dB @ 200 Hz), making it an excellent choice for mitigating proximity effect or unwanted vibrations.

Specifically, the bass roll-off switch attenuates low frequencies below 400 Hz.

On the other hand, the presence boost switch accentuates the mid frequencies (approximately +3dB from 2k-4k Hz), offering additional clarity and brightness to vocals or certain instruments, catering to individual preferences or recording scenarios.

Professional Use

And it also really gets around; sort of like the village bicycle.

No really, you may have heard that Michael Jackson used an SM7 (basically the same thing) on his 1982 album “Thriller”, as well as “Off the Wall”, and “Bad.”

Some other notables that have used an SM7 or SM7B include:

  • Willie Nelson
  • Waylon Jennings
  • Johnny Cash
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • James Hetfield from Metallica
  • Joe Rogan
  • Robin Quivers (Co-Host of the Howard Stern Show)
  • Morgan Freeman
  • Jeff Tweedy (Wilco)
  • Thom Yorke (Radiohead)
  • Daniel Negreanu (Professional Poker Player)

and countless others. Just look around on YouTube. It’s almost become a meme at this point.

Sound

The SM7B’s sound signature has stirred a degree of controversy among users, particularly concerning its high-frequency response.

Some individuals have expressed reservations about its tonal characteristics, noting a somewhat smoothed-over quality that lacks the expected level of detail and sparkle.

This outcome can be attributed to its rolled-off high-frequency range, which contributes to a perceived reduction in the microphone’s ability to capture the intricate nuances present in the air regions.

However, beyond this point of contention, the microphone generally presents a neutral and balanced sound profile.

Its ability to deliver a relatively even response across the mid-range and lower frequencies has garnered praise.

This neutrality contributes to its versatility across various recording applications, providing a solid foundation for capturing vocals, instruments, and other audio sources with a natural and transparent tone.

Use Cases

The SM7B stands as a versatile workhorse, finding its niche in a myriad of recording applications, with vocals reigning as its primary forte.

Whether it’s podcasting, voiceovers, spoken word, or singing, the SM7B’s ability to faithfully reproduce the human voice with warmth and precision makes it an indispensable tool for content creators, broadcasters, musicians, and vocal artists alike.

Its prowess extends beyond vocals, catering to a diverse range of needs within the audio landscape.

Rappers and hip-hop artists often gravitate toward the SM7B for its ability to capture the nuances of rhythmic verses and dynamic vocal performances.

Additionally, its versatility shines in recording instruments, offering a balanced and natural sound reproduction for acoustic and amplified sources alike.

However, the microphone’s exceptional performance with vocals remains its standout feature, making it a staple in studios and home setups for those seeking professional-grade vocal recordings across a spectrum of applications.

Who benefits?

Continuing off of the last point, I’ve seen it endorsed for all of the following:

  • Fantastic for Death Metal
  • Singing over sparse/acoustic/clean backgrounds
  • Spoken word. As I mentioned before, it does have a color to it and adds a larger-than-life natural sound to the voice.
  • Announcing, broadcasting, vocal performance and vocal recording, Podcasting, YouTube
  • Male vocals, rock vocals
  • Acoustic Guitar
  • Bass cabs, Kick Drums, Snares
  • Cello, Brass, Woodwind
  • Trombone, Flugelhorn, Unmuted trumpet
  • Tenor or Bari Saxophones
  • Ham Radio
  • Audiobook recording
  • Low voices
  • Female voices
  • Church Choir
  • Hi-hats
  • Electric Guitar
  • Aggressive Rap
  • Nylon String Acoustic

What You Will Need

To optimize the performance of the SM7B, several key accessories and equipment are recommended.

One critical requirement is a high-quality microphone preamplifier or audio interface with sufficient gain capabilities.

If you do go the preamp route, here are some good options:

  • Warm Audio WA12
  • DBX 286S
  • Focusrite ISA One.
  • Great River
  • Apogee Duet
  • Grace Design M101
  • Universal Audio 6176.

The SM7B is known for its relatively low sensitivity, requiring a considerable amount of gain to achieve optimal recording levels.

Hence, a preamp or interface with ample gain (around 60dB or more) is essential to bring out the microphone’s full potential without introducing unwanted noise or compromising its signal-to-noise ratio.

Preamp Options

Shure SM57 Review

If you’re like me and don’t feel like dropping a rent payment or more on a preamp, The Cloudlifter or Triton Audio Fethead are both great options.

I use a Fethead (+27dB of gain) with my SM57 and an A81WS windscreen and it’s connected to a Universal Audio Volt 2 (pictured above).

With this setup, you can comfortably record with the gain around 50% and get a crisp, loud, clean take.

Shure SM57 Review

Shure SM57 ReviewWith the SM7B, the idea is similar.

Like the SM57, the 7B has a very low sensitivity and needs quite a bit of juice to get pumping.

Without the Fethead, I have to jack up the gain on my interface to near maximum and this isn’t ideal as it can introduce excessive noise, distortion, etc.

Remember: the Volt 2 has 55dB of gain. The SM57 needs around 55-56, and the 7B needs at least 60.

Options like the Cloudlifter or Fethead boost the signal before it reaches the audio interface, mitigating the need to crank up the gain excessively and reducing potential background noise.

But what if you went the expensive preamp route? Your final cost would likely be in the thousands.

Mic Stand

A sturdy and adjustable mic stand is an essential accessory for the SM7B, providing stability and flexibility during recording sessions.

Opt for a high-quality stand that offers height adjustment, boom arm extension, and reliable stability to ensure optimal positioning and convenience while using this renowned microphone.

Shockmount & Pop Filter

You won’t need a shock mount, as Shure has designed the SM7B with internal air suspension.

It comes with a fixed mount compatible with many mic stands and boom arms.

Furthermore, the built-in windscreen ensures you won’t have to spend money on a separate pop filter, but you may want to for a separate reason (more on that in a bit).

XLR Cables

Lastly, investing in a good-quality XLR cable is crucial for maintaining a reliable and interference-free connection between the microphone and your audio interface or preamp.

Optional (But still recommended)

Studio Monitors

While not an absolute necessity, incorporating studio monitors into your setup can significantly enhance your overall recording and monitoring experience with the SM7B.

Studio monitors offer a clear and accurate representation of the audio being recorded or mixed, allowing for better judgment of sound quality and finer adjustments during recording sessions or post-production work.

Their flat frequency response and detailed sound reproduction make them valuable tools for assessing audio fidelity, ensuring that what you hear is a faithful representation of your recordings.

Therefore, while not mandatory, investing in quality studio monitors can elevate your recording setup and contribute to achieving more precise and professional results when working with the SM7B.

Put simply, the HS7s were one of the best investments I’ve made for my studio and I highly recommend them.

Other Notes

A lot of folks were saying that they love the SM7B on flat settings, with no effects so they can EQ later.

You should play around with the onboard settings on the mic (mid and presence boost) to see what tickles your fancy!

Mic positioning is important

One reviewer said if you position your grill (mouth) at palm width from the tip of the mic and point it at your upper lip.

This is the supposed sweet spot. If you aim it too high, you may sound nasal.

Aim it too low and you’ll sound like you have a stuffy nose.

Only one reviewer went into this much depth, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Sound

Since this is a dynamic microphone, it won’t sound as open and airy as a condenser.

That said, removing the foam and using a pop filter yields more high-end (treble) but at a slight risk of venturing into sibilant territory.

That said, it never hurts to experiment on your own to see what nets you the best result.

Room Noise

It rejects room noise fairly well, and certainly more so than a condenser.

It rejects what’s behind and to the side, but it’s very sensitive in the front.

It’s always advantageous to treat your studio space well. Check out my post on Acoustic Sound Treatment!

Some foam panels and bass traps go a long way in a studio!

Speech

It accurately articulates speech.

While a large-diaphragm condenser microphone will in essence smooth things over, the SM7B will be enunciated more.

It picks up sound differently than a condenser.

You could in theory EQ the SM7B to sound like a lot of different condensers, but you cannot fully mimic an LDC’s smoothing over response to vocal articulations.

Why? Because the sound field is different. Is that good or bad?

It depends on if you want your vocals to sound more dynamic and upfront (Dynamic mic), or more streamlined and integrated into the mix (Condenser mic).

The differences however are very subtle.

Vocal Tests

Consensus/Conclusion

The SM7B stands as a venerable choice in the realm of dynamic microphones, revered for its robust build, versatile applications, and exceptional sound quality.

While its rolled-off high-frequency response might not appeal to all users, its neutral sound profile across most frequencies, coupled with its ability to capture vocals with clarity and warmth, solidifies its place as a go-to microphone for a myriad of recording needs.

However, its requirement for substantial gain and the necessity of additional accessories might pose initial challenges for some setups.

Nevertheless, for those seeking a reliable and professional-grade microphone, especially for vocal-centric recordings, the SM7B remains a strong contender in its class.

Closing Thoughts

Shure SM57 Review

Well, this is pretty tough because as you’ll see below, you can almost get the same tone out of an SM57/A81WS/Fethead combo for much cheaper.

Because of that, I have to recommend it. I mean, the proof is in the pudding.

If you can honestly tell me that you hear a huge difference in tone between them, more power to you.

As for me?

I just bought an SM57 because of that video alone. Here’s me at checkout:

 

Nah, I received one as a gift, but at $99? I’d buy one in a heartbeat if I were you.

Why spend a boatload of money on a 7B when you can get an almost identical sound for a lot less?

Yes, the SM7B is a great mic, it’s been used by everyone and their Grandma and will continue to be.

But has it become somewhat overhyped?

I lean towards yes, but it’s still a good investment and you can always grow into it later as he points out. 

That said, I love my SM57 and recommend it wholeheartedly. I know you’ll love it too.

Now check out Matt’s awesome video and decide for yourself. As you can see from the above images, he certainly convinced me to get the SM57 + A81WS and I have no ragrets.

Video Comparison

Credit to Matt for a fantastic video!

Ready to invest in an SM57?

Learn More:

 


Well, that’s about it for today my friend. I hope you enjoyed this Shure SM7B Review and came away with some valuable insight.

What are your thoughts on the SM7B? Are you convinced the SM57/Fethead/A81WS combo is a better value? I would love to hear from you…

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

If you love what I do here and want to support the blog and channel in a more personal way, check me out on Patreon and discover all the value I have to offer you.

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

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

 

Save

Shure SM7B

4.9

Sound

5.0/5

Ease of Use

4.5/5

Build Quality

5.0/5

Longevity

5.0/5

Versatility

5.0/5

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Smooth, natural sound
  • Rock Solid
  • Best vocal mic
  • Good features

Cons

  • May get a tad muddy
  • Not 100% quiet

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12 comments

Dave Sweney May 11, 2016 - 3:00 am

An excellent and thorough review of the Shure SM7B Dynamic Microphone. If this mic is good enough for the likes of some of the folks you mentioned in your post, it surely is good enough for my use!

Personally, I use microphones mainly to record voiceovers for my videos, but since I am considering entering the podcast world, I have been searching for he right set up, hence my stopping by here today.

Thanks for letting us know that we will need to consider some ancillary items to make this mic work properly, the solution you have come up with that costs $650 total seems perfect and in my price range.

Reply
Stu May 13, 2016 - 2:10 am

Yup the SM7B is probably about the best option you can go with, granted you also invest in the proper accessories

Thanks for stopping by!

-Stu

Reply
Tiffany November 10, 2016 - 12:58 am

Hi, I recently bought the Shure SM7B, and I’ve been having a lot of trouble with noise. I bought the Scarlett Solo to use with it (which I believe has the same specs as the 2i2 minus some output/inputs) and its picking up a ridiculous amount of noise. The solo itself doesn’t have enough gain to handle the microphone, so I bought the ART Tube MP/C preamp to use alongside it. I found the preamp fixes the problem but also amplifies the noise along with my voice. Is this a problem with my mic, my interface or my preamp?

Thank you!

Reply
Stu November 13, 2016 - 4:08 am

Hey Tiffany!

The Art Tube does provide 70dB of gain, but isn’t the quietest preamp around. So I would say it’s both the interface and preamp. The Solo doesn’t have enough gain, while the Art Tube is just noisy. I would look into a different preamp or try the Cloudlifter or Triton Fet Head in conjunction with your Scarlett Solo. The Cloudlifter provides an extra 25dB of gain while the Fet Head adds 20dB.

Hope that helps! Any other questions just ask or Contact me!

Blessings,
-Stu

Reply
Luce June 25, 2017 - 1:46 am

Hi, thank you for your really helpful article!
Cloudlifters. There’s quite a few different versions… which one would be suitable for the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6? I looked at that higher number of 6 instead of 2, to give me more flexibility should I need it when I’m doing a group interview. Thank you so much for making it easy for me to understand ?

Reply
Stu June 27, 2017 - 12:18 am

Hey Luce!

Yeah it would depend on how many XLR ports you need. You could go with the CL-1 (one port), or CL-2 (two ports). Unfortunately there isn’t one with more, but that should get you started. I would try the CL-1 first. 🙂

Any other questions just ask!

-Stu

Reply
Tommie Secher November 1, 2017 - 1:14 pm

The Behringer UMC404HD is a great alternative and give you 4 XLR ports with MIDAS preamps for a bargain of a price. In my ears it even sounds better than the more expensive Focusrites.

Reply
Stuart Charles Black November 1, 2017 - 2:36 pm

Thanks for your input! I will have to check it out. Looks pretty amazing.

-Stu

Reply
Conor May 28, 2018 - 11:34 am

Fantastic review! I’ll soon be starting a solo podcast and for my equipment I’m considering buying the Shure SM7B and Focusrite Scarlett Solo 2nd Gen. Do you think the cloudlifter CL-1 is also necessary?

Reply
Stuart Charles Black May 31, 2018 - 5:21 pm

Yes the Cloudlifter should be used to add the necessary gain for the SM7B as mentioned in the article.

Thanks for the nice comment man!

Reply
marcos September 29, 2020 - 5:15 am

con el pre amp focusrite isa one , es necesario el cloudlifter?

Reply
Stuart Charles Black September 30, 2020 - 3:38 pm

¡Hey hombre! No, no necesita el Cloudlifter si tiene el ISA. ¿Tiene una interfaz?

Reply

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