sm58-vs-d5You may remember a shoot-out I did between the Shure SM58 and its big brother the SM7B. It was interesting to hear some of the similarities between the mics, especially since one costs almost three times more than the other.

Ever since then, I’ve wanted to compare the 58 to a microphone I use quite a bit both in my studio and when I play out live – the AKG D5.

I’ve loved the sounds I’ve been able to get out of the D5, but I’ve never compared it directly to the SM58, which dominates the live sound market.

The D5 is a pretty stylish mic, with its black grill and body and nice big AKG logo. It’s also a super-cardioid microphone, as opposed to the standard cardioid pattern on the SM58.

Aside from these differences, the microphones are fairly similar. They’re both dynamic mics, and they both sell for right at $100.

So…does one sound better than the other? Let’s hear.

Shure SM58

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AKG D5

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If you’re having trouble playing these, you can download them here: SM58 and D5. (Right-click and save.)

How It Was Recorded

Here’s a quick run-down of how I recorded these. I left the grill on both, and simply stood about four inches from the front of the grill. I recorded directly through a Focusrite preamp into my 003, and I didn’t use any processing on either take.

My Thoughts

Both mics sound good, but I think the D5 has a good bit more high-end content to it. It doesn’t seem hyped to me necessarily. It just seems like the highs aren’t as rolled off as with the SM58.

Also, the bass of the D5 seems to reach a little bit lower. Sadly, this is only really heard when the mic “pops” from my breath, but still, it was something I noticed. This may make the D5 a better choice for bass amps, for example.

All in all, while it definitely depends on how well each microphone sits in the mix, I’m pretty impressed with my D5. It gives some of the benefits of a dynamic microphone, in that it doesn’t pick up as much room noise and is a bit “aggressive,” but it doesn’t sound as much like a dynamic as the Shure SM58 did, particularly in the high frequencies.

What do you think? Which do you like better?

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  • Metalisours

    I found that the bumps and thumps on the D5 make it better for a quiet studio. SM58 is meant for live studio, or the stage. Sure I could put the D5 in a bad light. But that would be dishonest, because it excels when used for its purpose. And I could to the do same thing with the Shure. But let’s pretend that neither of us has a DAW with a low-pass switch and an adjustable treble.

    What’s the point? About 99% (guessing?) of Internet “reviews” show zero mic technique and improper acoustics. Compression has pretty much supplanted voice skill. And just about every mic “review” is really just a sample recording of the room. Why buy a top-end interface when it’s for recording bookshelves?

    • I don’t really follow you, but thanks for the comment!

  • Mark Wesse

    I totally agree with source being the issue…we just did a shootout with e935, 835, sm58, sm57, sm57 mercenary audio tranny, AT 6100, ev 767a, Rode M1, Rodes s1, etc etc and I am amazed at how important it is to search for a natural fit to the source first before any tweaking. I have a deep voice, quiet etc. The 6100 with distance was absolutely chalk and cheese yet for other vocalist (as mentioned below) it was not so good. My friend loved the 767 and is thinking of buying one he liked it so much and it was a great fit. Its like a photo…to get sharp focus, the point will be sharp, there will be midground and background. The 58 is still the best mic by far for the backing vocalist as choosing the right lead mic makes it effortless to set the sound stage with some ‘blur’ to create depth of field. Feedback rejection is an issue with some but a good RTA and ringout makes it a level playing field. BTW, we couldnt believe the diff between a stock 57 and the MA version…night and day.

  • Quan Chi

    Hey, Joe. Have you ever used the Shure SM58 for lead vocals in a song before? If you did, how did that turn out for you? I am thinking of getting the Shure Beta58a which is pretty much a SM58 but more transparent. It isn’t as clean and crisp as the AKG D5 but there is a definitely a transparency difference. I slick want to try using a stage mic as my main vocal mic in my home studio because I prefer the sound of the shure over just about every other mic. It’s something about it. Also, if I pull it off, everybody will be WOWed if they hear a great mix with vocals done by a $100-200 stage mic.

    I guess what I really am asking for is your opinion on using a shure stage mic as a lead vocal mic in a home studio setting and whether or not you believe it can produce desirable results. I would love to have your honest opinion on this.

    • Hey Quan,

      The best answer is to try it and see if you like how it sounds. Plenty of hit records have been done with an SM58. And plenty have been done with $10,000 microphones. What matters most is how it sounds.

  • Quan Chi

    I happened to own both a shure sm58 and a d5. I looove the warmth on the sm58. In fact, I prefer it for a stage mic more than the d5 in most cases because of it’s versatility. Whether you sing or rap loud or quiet on a sm58, you’ll get a decent sound out of it regardless. May not be the best sound but it’s a good and useful sound. It isn’t as present sounding as the d5 which makes it great for backup vocals and perhaps if you have a screaming vocalist or you got a heavy metal song going on, you might prefer them to sit IN the mix rather than on top of the mix like a condenser mic or the d5 would be good for. The d5 definitely sounds clearer but it can be a bit harsh sounding for a loud source. Otherwise, it’s great. It sounds really good on calmer voices to me. And using the proximity effect can really give you a clear warm sound while being upfront sounding in the mix with that thing. If I had the choice between a cheap $100 condenser mic and the d5, I would choose the d5

  • Mikestech

    Can anyone speak to the build quality and reliability of the D5? I have always loved the SM58 not really for it’s sonic qualities but for the fact that someone can drop it, step on it or use a couple as drum sticks and it will still work just as well as it ever did. It’s true, they also don’t sound too bad. Could you do the same with a D5?

    • I honestly don’t know. I prefer to just be careful with β€˜em. πŸ˜‰

      • samsonyuri

        Yap, not only that, you can use them as a spare kick for the bass drum lol!! Am holding one now and the grille feels stronger than the 58t’s

  • Herman Wolf

    Reading all these comments I feel compelled to chime in and underscore the point that no one mic will sound good on every source.
    We have seven or eight D5s in our broadcast studio. I have listened to hundreds of people speaking through this mic and can attest that It sounds just brilliant on certain voices and absolutely horrid on others. Same with our RE20s, which, while considerably more expensive (and smoother-sounding) than the D5, are subject to the same kinds of variations.

    There’s just no telling how it (or any mic) will perform on a given source until the moment of transduction.

  • Grace

    i’m a young singer with a high female voice. i have this microphone but have not tested it yet. i also have a pop screen and an interface that plugs into my computer. does this mic work well with not-very-loud, high voices? and also with guitar, piano, and violin?

  • Adam Mishan

    I just want to say that I think your voice is awesome! I would love to hear your music. You have an amazing tone and great control. The D5 definitely sounds better for your voice, however, you need to get a better pop filter because plosives were a problem in both clips.

  • May Hemm

    Thanks I use the AKG and it’s got to have the high end turned down on some mixers in some band rooms and I like this mic for VOICE ACTING most, it’s got every breath in it, both are good but yes this was a chat when someone said the AKG sucked compared to SHURE..I was like…mmmmkay, why not Play your instrument..I’ll play MINE. thanks man!

  • Sanjeev

    Hi buddy… Its a nice eye opener. I would like to know whether AKG D5 would work better with focusrite scarlet 2i2?

  • I was working the break outs at Winter NAMM in Anaheim this year. The breakout rooms ALL need to have 250hz pulled out of the EQ’s for room resonance, but the 58s were still squealing all over the place at various freqs. I chopped so much out of the EQ out of necessity that it sounded nasty. Someone came in with D5s, I zeroed the board and EQ, and aside from pulling the 250, I only had to make small dips at 500hz, 1.5K and 2K. Unless someone needed drastic EQ on their voice I was mostly able to keep my channel strips at unity. Oh, and did I mention they sounded freaking GREAT?

    • Haha. NICE. I wonder how much was the hypercardioid pattern?

  • Willem the Dutchman

    no doubt: the AKG D5 sounds much better, more open, more details, more dynamic and a cleaner sound. Why is everyone still buying a shure SM 58? trust your ears!

    • It’s a good mic. But on some sources it might be too bright, hence the 58 still being popular. πŸ™‚

    • JGat

      People DO trust their ears. Also, different people have different ears.

  • allergone

    Nice test, thanks! I managed to convince the band I’m in to change our battered Sm58’s for D5’s instead, never looked back. Solid mic’s with a lovely bite, crisp unhyped top end. Very good for live work I feel. However the test really demonstrates that if you do serious vocal work you should probably own both.

    • That’s a great perspective. No one mic can do everything well. πŸ™‚

  • thanks for this very useful test.
    I use SM58 a lot (stage, rehearsal) but I can’t stand its sound anymore. I find its sound too “thick” with a clear lack of definition, and too common. I liked my SM57 a little better.
    But I really like what I hear with this AKG D5. It is what I’m looking for.
    πŸ™‚

    • Yeah, it’s definitely a more detailed sound, which can be a cool alternative to the Shures.

  • Nate McCooey

    Wow, the D5 sounds amazing! Thank you for testing it out. πŸ™‚ I just purchased one a few days ago to replace an Audix OM2 that I have been using in a church band, which I am thus far less than satisfied with, and can’t wait to use it tomorrow morning. I was considering the SM58 since it’s basically the gold standard of dynamics, but a bunch of reviews for the D5 on Musician’s Friend convinced me otherwise. I had about a $100 budget for a dynamic, and that’s what the SM58 and D5 cost about everywhere…but I got lucky and found a brand new D5 on eBay for $57.74! Can’t complain there. (Plus, the D5 just looks cooler, lol.) Thanks again for this test. πŸ™‚

    • +1 It definitely looks nicer, and I love the sound. I use it for all my voiceover/videos too.

  • singen_for_you

    Like to see a shoot out. The akg D5 And the. Sm58 against. The samson Q8. Will you do this?

    • Great idea, but I don’t have any interest in doing it right now. You should do one! πŸ™‚

      • Crankcase08

        And maybe even do a comparison of the SM58 against a Behringer XM8500. That would definitely prove to be a shock for diehard SM58 fanatics, especially as the Behringer is only a quarter of the price.

  • singen_for_you

    well more a/b testing to day challengers the ev re-20 the shure sm7b and the sen 421 all 3 of these were tinny had no fullness and got tromped on by the q8 so far the q8 is rock en more shootouts to come if you don’t believe me go to SAM ash and you can a/b the same mics against the samson q8 and hear for yourself…

  • singen_for_you

    i feel that in a A/B TEST the samson Q8 MICROPHONE WILL DOMINATE THE AKG D5 AND MOST OTHER MICS. TO IT MAY NOT BE KNOWN YET BUT IN TIME I SEE IT BECOMING THE NEW INDUSTRY STANDARD HOW ABOUT A AUDIO TEST THE SAMSON Q8 THE SHURE SM58 AND THE AKG D5 WHAT DO YOU THINK GUYS?

    • Sounds like the Q8 is great. I love my D5, though, so I have no reason to change for now. πŸ™‚

  • singen_for_you

    i had sang on house mics and even my own audix om2 but something was missing so i went to my local sam ash and said i need to find a new mic id like to a/b some mics he set me up with 5 mics on a mixer the first i was handed a shure sm58 which made me sound like i was on helium we both looked at each other and couldn’t believe are ears next then came the sen, and it mad me sound like i was under water then the ev did the same so i kept trying and the first day was a total waist of time i went home with nothing so i was ready to fork over close to $200.00 for a sen 935e when i gave it one last shot so off i went in search of the “ONE” again it was a/b time it was Saturday now and again the store guy pulled his mics out the ones that were i tried were omitted after a hour of this i said do you have anything else he went on the wall and took down the samson q8 i looked at it took it out and tried it and again the water sound but i did notice something special a “fullness” and it was Christal clear on a flat eq i requested no effects flat eq for my tests so i DIDENT give up on the Q8 i tried 2 more and “BAM” ” THERE IT WAS HOW I REALLY SOUNDED” the guy in the store agreed “THAT’S YOU” i talked in it sang in it got mouth to grill SCREAMED in it “NO DISTORTION” I THEN SANG A BIT MORE “SOFT” this time pulled mic away apox “6” inches from it i did not loose clarity and my vocal like with so many other mics. i sang to the side of the mic and couldn’t hear my self hardly then so i new it was true about Samsons clame on feedback i then did the “PLOSIVES” test the S” was present but the “pu” sound was almost gone i also noticed how solid this mic is in my hand then came the final test “mic handling” taping the mic and raping my hand around it was almost no noise at all i will not say it was perfect no mic is! but to me seemed better then most the result was a $130.00 well spent i intend to take this mic to any singing i do ” and promote it! i took it home sang on it and all said “WOW ” i even took it to my favorite KARAOKE BARS hooked it up sang in it and the KJ GOT BLASTED BY THE CLARITY AND POWER of THIS MIC!! saying ” WOW ” after my song was finished many asked what was that??? i told them my SAMSON Q8 “NOW THEY ALL WANT ONE” …LOL

    • Aerg

      Your written English is absolutely atrocious.

  • colin preston

    hi, heard for the very first time a d5 live last week. have to say the Singer (an Elvis tribute singer) made it shine. I have been using 58’s for over 20 years now and for the very first time I felt that at long last those men at shure have got their competition…at last!

  • mike

    Thank you for the comparison. Just ordered the d5. Youve helped to make the decision.

    • You’re welcome!! Enjoy it. Great mic.

  • Does anyone have any comments or experience with the SAMSON Q7 or Q8?

    • I’ve not used those mics, but Samson mics are decent little mics for the price.

      • john oriettas

        Thanks Joe, and thank you for that informative article and videos.

        • No problem, John. Thanks for the visit!

    • singen_for_you

      THE Q7 HASS MORE OF A BASS LOW END WAS TO MUCH FOR MY TAIST BUT PERFECT FOR A BARITONE SINGER THE Q8 HAS MORE OF HOW YOU REALLY SOUND NO COLORING NOT TO TINY BUT NOT TO BASSY EATHER SO I WOUD GO WITH THE Q8 BEST TO A/B BOTH MICS ON A MIXER WITH A FLAT EQ AND EFFECTS OFF THATS WHAT I DID HOPE THIS HELPS.

  • md khalequzzaman rony

    really amazing device.i am enjoying this very much.Sound quality is making me so funny.Just you also buy from akg-microphones.com

  • Pingback: Ervaringen met AKG C5 - homerecording.be forum()

  • Euxine

    AKG D5 rules definitely!

  • I chose the D5 from AKG, the SM58 is a good rock male rock microphone for my standards, but as a good all rounder the D5 just pops out in the high end region of the mix. I used the microphone several months now. And i’m very pleased with the live performance of the mic. Although i think the construction of the SM58 is more robust then the D5, If you’re planning to use the D5 the drive nails into the the stage there wont be any problem I think…

    http://www.productiehuisblacksnow.tk

  • shock977

    Just Great! It helped me with a really fast buying i had to do today. Sorry fot my english, saludos desde Ecuador!

  • Bruce

    No two takes sound exactly alike. Better to record one take with both mics. Without you in person to compare, these recordings shed little light. However, I have NEVER liked the SM58, and have always liked the AKG line. The D5 I believe is a descendant of the venerable D2000, and the supercardioid will give much higher gain before feedback. We just bought one – time will tell, but my expectations are high. What are you doing using dynamic mics in a studio anyway? Dynamics are for PA, condensers are for recording.

    • “Dynamics are for PA, condensers are for recording.” I would have to disagree with this, as would probably every recording engineer I know. LOTS of professionals use dynamic mics on vocals in the studio. Bono, for example, of that tiny little group called U2, uses an SM58 in the studio (or so I’ve heard).

  • Alvane

    thank you for the post!=)
    I think D5’s highs really sound better. I think I’ll buy D5..))

  • Yeah, I love my D5.
    On Tuesday, December 28, 2010, Disqus

  • REnoun MC

    I haven’t personally used the 58 but I do own akg d5 and I love it. Brilliant in and out of studio, it look swish aswell. Safe. If you Want to hear a few tracks of ours using akg Look up Verb Allies on Facebook.

  • I was listening to both of them over and over and its kinda tough to pick out the best one, I think that the SM58 seems to have less bite to it, the D5 seems to sound alot crisper on the vocal.

    But I’m not sure whats best, because the SM58 seems to be the vocal sound I’m use to, it seems to sound very similar to alot of todays recordings, and the D5 seems to sound more, I don’t really know how to but it, but it just seems to have a much more in-your-face sound, and my ears seem to be more used to hearing the sound the SM58 uses, however the D5 is cheaper, but its tough working out weither that outweighs the sound of the SM58.

  • I have tested them both for live use (in my studio I prefer to use a condenser) and I think the D5 sounds alot better, less feedback (for example: I could lay my mic in front of the stage monitor and I didn’t had feedback at all)
    But the sm58 is nicer to hold in your hands, the D5 seems a bit large. That’s the only negative point I can mention about the D5.

    So my conclusion of what would be the best mic.: the inside of the D5 with the outside of the sm58

  • Pingback: Review: AKG’s D5 Mic | VoiceCouncil Magazine()

  • Jimmy

    The D5 was too crisp on the highs. The bass was not full to me, it was more a lack of mids and more high crispness that made the bass stand out. The 58 provided a full, rich sound with no edges. I prefer the 58. However, in a live situation I prefer the beta 58 a.

  • Chris

    in my opinion the d5 sounds better. it sounds brighter and seems to have a little bit more output than the sm58. i think i’m going to get me one.

    thanks for this shootout. very well sung!

  • Mat

    Is the microphone or the singer is really good? πŸ˜‰
    It seems that D5 has less problem with sudden sound of breath and providing a voice slightly more bright (or clear…).
    Very nice demo! Thanks.

  • JoJoDC

    the main thing is–>> in d5 high frequencies sound more chirp but in sm58 high frequencies sound quite smoother….so sm58 works fine

  • ScottInTheATL

    An interesting comparison. I think the 58 has a more natural sound. I also think that if there were 4 or 5 vocal mics active on a live stage, the AKG's would be harder to keep under control.

  • akg sounds awesome, , the voice is rich

  • Marc C

    I tried a lot of mics, SM58 Beta58, SM87, EV’s ND267AS, Shure Classic H55… and then the D5. While the SM58 and Beta58 both are great mics, for my money and my singing range and style, the D5 worked out better, both live and in studio.

    Plus, the fact that it cost me less did hurt one bit!

  • Eric G

    I walked into a music store ready to purchase a Shure Beta 57A & the salesman grabbed the D5 and 4-5 other mics, I did not see what they were – found out later that where higher end Shure mics that cost 3-4x as much as the D5, including the SM87A. He hooked me up to a testing area & the clear winner in my book was the D5. More clarity, more natural sounding, nothing artificial sounding about it. It was what I like to call “musical” and performed/sounded just as good as mics costing 3-4x times as much. No mics in this price range could touch the D5, and other much higher in price where only marginally “better”. A clear winner.

  • I am an Auctioneer and I work in cattle sale barns. I needed a mic that would not pick up all the things that happen like people on the block talking, gates shuting, cattle making noise and our own feed back. I have 20 plus mic’s. I only use the D5.

    • That’s really cool, Paul. Thanks!

    • singen_for_you

      paul give the SAMSON Q8 A TRY IT MIGHT BE YOUR NEXT GO TO MIC… AT THE CATTLE SALE BARNS.

  • Juan Carlos

    I think the D5 sounds better but everything sounds very good with the SM58.

  • WILLIAM JONES

    I like the D5 better.

  • yes there is more Air, but to my ears it sounds honky in the low mid, not as natural as the 58. the 58 has that magic midrange bite that sounds like a mixed vocal, the D5 gives the vocal more of a hissy kinda vibe, thinner in the middle and big at both ends,
    I have the D880 and would say its sound almost the same as the D5 , Thanks for comparisons, good to hear i wanted to know how it stood up to the 58.
    I found in live situations my akg D880 is amazing, but not so good when trying to dull down all that air in the mix. Great on acoustic guitar though. From this test it also sounds like D5 has quiet a lot of plosives, 58 is still the best for that. i stuck some metal mesh filter in my D880 and that helps, would like to hear these both side by side. I would think the D5 sounds better on a female vocal. I used the D880 on this track for the vocal
    http://www.last.fm/music/Aaron+Owen+Smith/_/Calling++You?autostart
    and you can hear its still very airy,