Before we dive into the Shure SM7B vs. SM57 comparison, grab a snack, sit back and relax because..
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this review
Because I have discussed these mics before, I will quickly outline the similarities & differences and then point you to some separate reviews of each. 🙂
Similarities & Differences
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!
I’ve done extensive research on both of these, but the SM57 speaks for itself. The fact that the President of the United States uses two on his podium says it all in my opinion.
The SM57 was introduced in 1965 and subsequently became the official go to for all presidential addresses and most speeches. The original SM7 came about in 1976, and was most famously used on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album. This is not to be confused with the SM7B which came later. Both mics are very similar however. Shure SM7 vs. SM7B.
Both are pretty versatile, but the 57 is most suited for cabs and snare drums.
Both the SM57 are built like a hammer. “Don’t you know what a hammer is?” -Hank Hill. The SM57 might be tougher overall, but the difference is negligible.
Price. You may want to go with an SM57 if you’re just starting out, since it is a workhorse for all applications at only around $100.
The SM7B contains an internal, built in shock mount which reduces vibrations. The SM57’s shock mount reduces noise in hand held instances.
Application. The SM57 does better with the upper mid-range, and has a smoother, less gritty sound. While the SM7B has a more prominent, extended, and better low end response, the SM57 is crunchier. It does well with crunchy guitars and snares, as mentioned above. The SM7B is a lot better for vocals, specifically loud voices, soft voices, screamo, male rock, sibilant female vocals, and spoken word. What does Sibilant mean?
Proximity effect. There’s a clear variation in tone based on how far the 57 is away from it’s source. It does well with stuff that remains at a fixed distance. The SM7B by contrast has a more flexible proximity effect. You can move around more and still get a consistent volume and tone. It’s a lot like the RE20 in this regard.
SPL. The SM7 will handle a louder SPL.
Juice. The SM7B requires more gain to run efficiently. About 60dB. Most entry level audio interfaces don’t supply that much. For instance the Scarlett 2i2 that I have only goes up to around 48-50dB. So you would either need to bypass the interface and get a preamp, or get a cloud-lifter in conjunction with an interface. More on that in the actual SM7B review. The link will be at the bottom. 🙂
Detail. The 7B picks up more detail than the 57. The 57 sounds tighter and brighter overall.
Response. The SM7B has a flatter frequency response than the SM57.
Features. The SM7B has a bass roll off (low cut) and mid-range emphasis, as well as slotted response selector switches. This just basically means that the SM7B has been crafted to achieve a similar result to that of a bare bones SM57.
The SM57 is most famous for being a guitar cab and snare drum mic, while the SM7B’s wider frequency response make it a phenomenal solution for a plethora of different applications. The filters only enhance it’s flexibility.
The SM57 is better for snares, while the SM7 excels more with toms.
I would say if you need a mic for instruments, snares, and guitar cabs, the SM57 is the mic for you. It is an all around monster, but isn’t as good for vocals as the SM7B. In fact, to hear how much better the 57 is on guitar, check out this link. The samples are from Aaron Miller. If you’re interested in learning more about the 57, check out:
If you need the solution to your vocal and voice over needs, look no further than the SM7B. It’s been called the best in the business, and has an impressive track record to back that up. Interested in learning more? Check out:
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.