Home Microphone Comparisons Shure SM7 vs. SM7B vs. SM58 vs. SM57

Shure SM7 vs. SM7B vs. SM58 vs. SM57

by Stuart Charles Black
Published: Last Updated on
>AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.<

Don't forget to share if you found it helpful!

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…

This article will cover all 4 mics in detail, discussing everything from build, sound, features, versatility, some hacks to unlock the SM57’s true capabilities, and much more.

By the end of this article, you should have a clear idea of which is best suited for your needs.

With that, let’s dive in!

Introduction

All of these mics have a long history.

The SM58 came out in 1966, just a year after the SM57.

The original SM7 came out in 1976, and was perhaps most famously used by Michael Jackson on his best-selling album “Thriller.”

The Sm7B was the last to emerge in 2001 and is a very popular mic today.

Aside from that, both the SM7 and SM7B are rather similar.

SM7 vs. SM7B

Both need around 60dB of clean gain and fortunately for us, a Fethead in conjunction with an Audio Interface like my Universal Audio Volt 2 will do the trick.

I’ve seen varying numbers around the internet, but anything around 55-65 seems to be the general ballpark figure for all 4 of these.

The Fethead provides +27dB of clean gain and can be had for under $100. I just purchased one for my SM57 and couldn’t be happier.

With it, I can comfortably record with the gain on my Volt 2 at 50% and get a loud, clean take with no hassle.

Triton Audio Fethead ReviewWithout a Fethead, I have to turn the gain up to near maximum.

As far as the SM7 and SM7B, both are excellent as voice-over mics and have a very forgiving proximity field.

This means that you don’t have to be in one specific spot to speak into the mic and achieve great results.

It’s versatile as far as where your mouth is, what angle you’re at, etc.

Think of the space as a basketball size rather than a golf ball size.

Differences

There are only a few marked differences between the Shure SM7 & SM7B.

I will also include the SM7A for clarity’s sake. 🙂

  1. SM7 – Introduced in 1973 or 1976 (some discrepancy), with a U.S. retail price of $256.80. Used by Michael Jackson on his hit album “Thriller.”
  2. SM7A – Humbucking coil improved; the design of the mic mounting yoke also improved. Introduced in 1999.
  3. SM7B – Larger foam windscreen added. Introduced in 2001.

From Shure’s website:

“The mic element is based on the Unidyne III design and has not changed.”

SM57 vs. SM7B

Both the SM7B and SM57 are dynamic mics, contain their own internal shock mounts, need plenty of gain, can handle extremely loud SPL levels (upwards of 160-190dB), and are very versatile, but the SM57 is more suited towards cabs and snare drums.

Check out Sweetwater’s article on the SM57’s SPL capability.

Both are also built very well, and the SM57 is famous for being nearly indestructible which I can certainly vouch for. It’s one of the first things that jumped out at me.

You start to understand why it’s been around for so long when holding it in your hand.

As it turns out, Shure was actually a contractor for the United States Military in WWII and made an array of military-grade items for the U.S. Army.

Put another way, if your mom needs a dumbbell for home workouts, this thing will most certainly do the trick.

In addition to that, the sound is remarkable.

It’s even used in most presidential speeches and addresses!

That’s right, the president of the United States of America has relied on an SM57 since Lyndon B. Johnson was in office.

Who?!

Exactly.

Shure SM57 Review

I’ve seen it endorsed for nearly everything, but it’s most notably famous for recording the snare drum – working well in the studio and/or live on stage.

Because it has a high SPL (sound pressure level), you’re able to scream into it with no problem. Just make sure to at least invest in a Fethead or you’ll be jacking up the gain on your interface to around 11.

This isn’t ideal as it can lead to distortion and introduce other unwanted ambiance, artifacts, etc.

The good news is that because it’s dynamic, 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, and so forth.

A dynamic like the SM57 is very good at rejecting outside noise even with the gain turned up considerably.

Overall,

it’s great for the beginner to the advanced, and records clean as a whistle.

The highs are particularly noteworthy here and come through with excellent clarity.

Differences

Shure SM57 Review

Price

Despite the SM7B costing around $400, with only a few tricks you can make the $100 SM57 sound identical. More on that later so definitely hang tight.

Application & Features

To make it simple, the SM57 is primarily used for guitar cabinets and snares, while the SM7B works best with the human voice; excelling in podcasts, vocals, and typically anything voiceover-related.

That said, it could be argued that, because of the SM57’s more prominent upper-mid/lower treble, it sounds crisper and clearer than the somewhat subdued/veiled nature of the SM7B.

While the 7B has a more prominent, extended, and better low-end response, the SM57’s bass is fairly rolled off below 200Hz.

Additionally, the SM7B comes with a High Pass Filter and Presence boost switches; enhancing versatility and allowing for a leaner, more rolled-off bass + a presence boost in the mid-range, or a flatter sound across the entirety of the spectrum.

Shure SM57 Review

Proximity effect

There’s a clear variation in tone based on the SM57’s proximity to its source.

It does well with stuff that remains at a fixed distance, while the SM7B is more flexible.

With the 7B, you’re able to move around more and still get a consistent volume and tone. It’s a lot like the RE20 in this regard.

I’ve read people saying that speaking into the SM57 at a 45-degree angle can work, but I find it works best straight on. I’ll share some recordings of this in a bit.

Shure SM57 Review

Before we get into the SM58, check out some of these funny quotes about the SM7B from Gearslutz.com:

“You know that voice in your head that tells you right from wrong? Well, it was recorded with an SM7B.”

“My SM7B automatically doubled and then quadrupled my vocal takes, translating them into Spanish and Mandarin versions, enabling me to deliver international releases.”

“They say with careful positioning, you can use an SM7B to record the future.”

How the SM58 Compares

Summary

To start, there are 4 different versions of the SM58, but they come with subtle differences.

  1. SM58-CN (Cable included).
  2. SM58-LC (Cable not included).
  3. SM58S (On/Off Switch included).
  4. SM58-X2U (XLR to USB signal adapter, same as with SM57).

If the SM7B and SM57 are industry standards for in-studio recordings, The SM58 is the industry standard for live, on-stage sound and, like the SM57, doesn’t come equipped with any onboard features.

Like the SM57, the 58 is about as durable as it gets and both seem to do very well in miking guitar cabinets.

Need a hammer for your next DIY project?

Use the SM58.

Frustrated with your drummer? Throw the SM58 at him.

Need a tool for self-defense after live gigs in back alleys?

Get an SM58. It won’t fail! Just know that its primary use will be with vocals, backing vocals, etc.

Same important note as with the SM57: Beware of counterfeits. Use extreme caution when buying, and only buy from reputable, authorized Amazon sellers!

Like the SM57 and SM7B, the SM58 is a dynamic microphone that some say shares the same capsule as the 7B and is also based on the Unidyne III cartridge.

In addition, the 57 and 58 look very close on graphs, and again, make sure you have plenty of clean gain if you’re going to record with an SM58 in the studio.

Like the others, it needs anywhere from 55-65dB at a minimum.

Shure SM57 Review

Other Differences between the SM57 and SM58

  • The polar pattern on the SM57 is uni-directional in contrast to the omnidirectional pattern on the 58.
  • The SM57 is said to be more versatile than the 58; being endorsed for nearly everything while the 58 is mostly for singing/vocals.
  • The SM57’s upper mid-range/lower treble is a bit more prominent, but this distinction can be subtle.
  • The look of each is vastly different, from the grille, shape, color, etc.
  • The SM57 sounds best a few inches away from your mouth, while the 58 can be shoved in your mouth and sound fine.
  • In general, the SM58 is more suited for live vocal performances while the SM57 is best with instruments, amp cabinets, and in-studio vocals.

Video Comparison

Credit to GLB Productions!

Shure SM58:

Sounds good with the ball and standard windscreen, though a bit boomy. The clarity isn’t quite there. Here’s a video showing the difference.

SM7B vs. SM58 Sound Test

Credit to Podcastage for the video!

Closing Thoughts

I will try and make this as simple as possible because I hate being confused myself!

Shure SM58:

Sounds a lot better without the ball (unscrewed), with a windscreen or pop-filter.

Holds its own to the SM7B in this case, but still not quite the same. 

SM57:

Sounds remarkably similar to the SM7B with the A81WS windscreen.

It’s pretty scary actually, and Matt is one of the main reasons I have an SM57/A81WS now. 

Check it out! Note: he is using an Apogee Duet preamp.

Video Comparison

Credit to Matt!

So in a nutshell what do I recommend?

If you’re doing any live recording, definitely go with an SM58.

Between the SM57 and SM7B?

Wow, that’s tough, but if you’re on a budget, how could you go wrong with the SM57/Fethead/A81WS Windscreen combo?

You can’t.

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.

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!

I’ll be the first to tell you that purchasing an SM57 and having some money leftover for rent is always a plus.

So the combination of A81WS + Fethead + SM57 will run you around $220, while the SM7B, as Matt mentioned in the video above, is $400 for just the mic and way less forgiving of your preamp.

Because of that, I went the SM57 route and couldn’t be happier. Try it out, you won’t be sorry.

Learn More:

 

Shure SM57

Price: Also Check Sweetwater and eBay

In The Box

Shure SM57-LC Dynamic Instrument Microphone

Shure A25DM Mic Stand Adapter

Padded Bag

Sticker

Shure SM57 ReviewSpecifications

  • 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.

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. The difference between a USB microphone and an XLR microphone.
  • 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).

Shure SM58

Images coming soon!

Price: Check Amazon | Check Sweetwater | Check eBay

In The Box

Shure SM58-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

Zippered Pouch

Microphone Clip

Specifications

  • Type: Dynamic.
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid.
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz-15kHz.
  • Output Impedance: 150 Ohms.
  • Color: Black.
  • Connector: XLR.
  • Weight: 0.66 lbs.
  • Accessories: Carry Case, Mic Clip.
  • Manufacturer Part Number: SM58-LC.

Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Shure SM7 vs. SM7B vs. SM58 vs. SM57 Shootout.

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!

Don't forget to share if you found it helpful!

You may also like

4 comments

David Keller April 4, 2017 - 3:56 pm

You need to re-read the history a bit more closely because the Sm58 and Sm7b do not share the same capsule.

The Sm58 and Sm57 do share the same capsule and are identical (including wiring) except for their windscreen. The Sm7 (all versions) share elements of the unidyne III but IS very different than the 57 and 58. Being “based on” the same capsule is very different from being the same. Read the article again.

Reply
Stu April 5, 2017 - 2:01 am

Thank you for your thoughts. I linked the forum thread that I had read regarding the capsules of the SM58 and SM7/SM7B. I also re-worded the sentence in question. I don’t think there is a definitive answer, unless you have a source that you can provide. Again, I appreciate your bringing the matter to my attention, and for stopping by.

Regards,
-Stu

Reply
John April 29, 2021 - 4:06 pm

For the money, which would you go for: 4x SM58s or 1x SM7B?

Reply
Stuart Charles Black May 3, 2021 - 5:12 pm

Hey man probably the Sm58s for value. What kind of work are you doing though?

Reply

Leave a Comment