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 of this comprehensive examination, 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.
Let’s dive in!
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
- 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, this microphone 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.
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.
And it also really gets around; sort of like the village bicycle except not 😀
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.”
- Recommended: Shure SM7 vs. SM7B vs. SM58 vs. SM57
Some other notables that have used it or the 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.
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.
The SM7B stands as a versatile workhorse, finding its niche in a myriad of recording applications, with vocals reigning as its primary forte.
Across various genres and professions, this microphone emerges as a go-to choice for capturing vocals in exceptional detail and clarity.
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.
- Recommended: The Best Microphones For Recording Rap Vocals
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.
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, even though it’s not completely transparent and honest. Think of the SM7B like a politician. Lots of fluff, and sounds great, but still kind of a liar. 😀
- Announcing, broad-casting, vocal performance and vocal recording, Pod-casting, 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
- 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.
Additionally, considering its low sensitivity, utilizing a Cloudlifter (+25dB of extra gain) or inline preamp in conjunction with something like the Universal Audio Volt 2 (pictured above) can effectively boost the signal before it reaches the audio interface, mitigating the need to crank up the gain excessively and reducing potential background noise.
While the Scarlett 2i2 that I previously owned only had 46dB of gain, the Volt 2 has 55. So that, in addition to the gain provided by either the Cloudlifter or Fethead is more than enough.
But what if you went the expensive preamp route? Your final cost would likely be in the thousands.
The Cloudlifter/Fethead route enables you to bypass having to blow all of your money and miss this month’s rent payment.
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).
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)
While not an absolute necessity, incorporating studio monitors into your setup can significantly enhance your overall recording and monitoring experience with the SM7B.
- Recommended: Yamaha HS7 Review: Unveiling Studio Precision
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.
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.
Being that this is a dynamic microphone, it won’t sound as open and airy as a condenser.
That said, it never hurts to experiment on your own to see what nets you the best result.
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!
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.
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.
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 an incredible 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 great product 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.
- Recommended: Shure SM57 Review
Credit to Matt for a fantastic video!
Ready to buy it?
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 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!!
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All the best and God bless,
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