SM7B-and-SM58Thanks to everybody for listening to the mic shoot-out I posted on Thursday between the Shure SM7B and SM58.

A lot of people joined in the discussion, and things got pretty interesting! There were several comments here on the blog. Also, I published a link to the post over at Harmony Central, which got a few responses.

However, the biggest discussion is happening over at Gearslutz. Somebody posted a link to the shoot-out there, and a lot of folks joined in the discussion. Be sure to check them out. Pretty interesting reading.

The Results

Here are the results of the shoot-out:

  • Mic #1 – SM7B
  • Mic #2 – SM58

I was very impressed with how the majority of people guessed correctly! The general consensus is that the SM7B had a bit more low end to it and was a good bit smoother in the highs, whereas the the 58 didn’t have quite the the bass response and was a bit harsh or hyped in the upper mids.

A few quick points about listening tests and shootouts. As I mentioned in my email newsletter yesterday, I wanted to simply record the two mics, post the results, and let you decide for yourself. I didn’t want to comment on the sound quality and thus affect your perception.

Also, keep in mind that this shoot-out is only meant to be a little taste of these two mics. To do a proper A/B comparison, there need to be multiple singers, both male and female, singing various different styles of music.

However, I must say I’m terribly pleased with how well the SM58 holds its own against a mic that is considered to be one of the go-to professional dynamic vocal microphones. As somebody over at Gearslutz pointed out, these shoot-outs are great, but what really matters it how the microphone sounds in the context of a mix.

If you’ve got an old 58 lying around, try it out on vocals next time you record. It may work, it may not, but it’s a lot of fun to experiment.

  • Matt Rygelski

    I found this video really helpful towards settling the debate/discussion. There is a small difference, mostly in bass response, but is it enough of a difference to justify $250 more if all you’re doing is voice work? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E14ujrt5bQQ

  • brandon

    Looking for the “SM58 to SM7b” MEqualizer preset but the link from the YouTube info is dead, please help.

  • chris

    hey guys! a week ago we´ve recorded the vocals for our new album (metalcore, lots of screaming and also clean vox). We used the SM58 in a normal room. I was really impressed that the sound is so powerfull.

  • I definitely prefer the 58 over the 7B, although I’ve never tried ABing them like this. Putting aside an tonal differences in the voice, I’ve always found sm7b seems to add a strange almost muffled sound between words, like it’s affecting the breath noise somehow. It’s really hard to describe but it’s almost like a muffled crunching sound. If anyone could shed some light on this it’d be great!

  • mike

    my monitors aren’t plugged in so i was using my laptop speakers that are located under the table and i could immediately tell.

    • Nice! There’s definitely a difference, but I was pleasantly surprised that the difference wasn’t HUGE.

      • CameronN

         I couldn’t really tell, but I was using my laptop speakers. Not ideal.

        • Yeah, you’ll have a hard time hearing a difference. 🙂

  • Sam

    Wow, I am inspired to dig out my sm57 now and stick it behind the pop filter with the other mics! what new possibilities await?

    • SM57’s can sound killer on vocals, my friend Giles Lavery in the power metal band Dragon’s claw always uses one for his vox…and I’m talking about in the studio. Myself? Not usually, I tend to go for either a AKG C-3000 or sometimes my vintage RCA DX-66 (killer!!). But for the extreme black metal vocals nothing beats the cheapest, crappiest mic you can find. And that is a HELL ov a lot ov fun!!

    • Curtis

      Do you still have the sm7b?? If you can “dig it out” i’d like to talk to you about it..

  • Minor correction: I said the SM-58a was overrated. I meant that you don’t need it in most cases, but it is excellent for voice over work.

    Great site!

    -Don

  • Hi,

    I just want to point out that, when an SM-58 is EQ’d correctly, it is excellent for just about any sound you want to record. I’m not kidding. I’ve used it on three music projects, several short films, and even put the BETA 58a aside as an overrated voice over mic.

    At the moment I’m tackling foley for someone’s short film, and using the 58 on everything, even room tone (in conjunction with an SP-303 sampler to get the mic out of the studio and do some field recording).

    This is only opinion, but here’s how it boils down for me:

    SM-58: Vocals, foley effects, guitar cabs, acoustic instruments
    SM-57: Vocals that require screaming directly into the microphone, guitar cabs.
    SM-58a: Voice overs, DJ work.

    If you plug any of these into a guitar FX processor, then you have EQ’s, reverbs, delays, noise reduction, gates, and other DSP effects right in one unit. I use a Zoom G2. For close-micing vocals, if you cut the bass on the 3 band EQ, you can eliminate the proximity effect (the thumpy poppy sound you hear on transients).

    If you crank the bass with the SM-58a, you’ve got a better-than-decent DJ mic; I’ve had people on Skype say that it sounded like I was on the radio.

    Don’t have to spend a lot of money, just use your equipment creatively. 🙂

    Don Carlson
    sound designer

  • Thanks for the shootout!
    Be sure to give at least the sm58 1,5-3,5ohm impedance on the preamp. Big difference..

  • Batman

    Can't help thinking that this test is slightly flawed in that the character of these two mics is affected by the grille and built in windshield. Nobody who uses an SM7 takes the grille off first… the whole point of the big grille is to make it near enough impossible to make breath noises into the mic, which is one reason why it's so much better for some vocalists.

    I agree that the capsules may be more or less the same, but the capsule only constitutes part of the mic. I'd be interested to hear the difference between the two while they are still intact.

  • Shin

    Hi Joe,

    Have you tried using any external preamps with the sm-58 on your 003? (Although I think the 003 preamps seem to be pretty decent)

    I’m a newbie to recording and was just wondering what the difference of sound may be if a external preamp like a Grace 101 was used on your 003 with an sm-58.

    Regards,

    Shin

    • I have, and the Seventh Circle Audio pre-amps are way ahead of the 002 pre’s.
      I’d recommend them highly.

      Still trying to book my sm7/57/57mod shotout. Time is time.
      xR

  • Hey there Joe,

    Stumbled Upon you just today and must say I really get on with your writing and your thoughts. “The Importance of Pre-Production” and “How Do You Record Takes?” in particular will be forwarded to bands I work with and producers I know respectively.

    As regards the SM7b/SM58 shootout, I thought you may be interested to try the SM7b versus a Shure SM57 with the transformer removed or replaced. I’ve done the removal mod – http://bit.ly/TpLGW – and used the modded version in recordings, though I’ve yet to get round to a direct comparison.

    The argument is that it’s the cheap transformer in the SM57 that gives it that mid-range hump, so, if you’ve got a spare… boil your microphone.

    I’ve followed on Twitter too, so I’ll keep my peepers peeled for future posts. Hopefully I’ll have an A/B of the mics soon for your delectation.
    Stay well, keep fighting the good fight, and death to false metal.
    xR

  • Hmm…That’s what I get for guessing with earbuds! I think I was the only one who guessed wrong!

  • JP

    Thanks again for doing this Joe. Much fun!

    I might point out a technical note; that when you leave the SM7’s presence boost switch “off”, the SM7 actually engages a mid-cut filter, and it MAY be that this filter circuit which is largely be responsible for the “smoother” tone most everyone associates with the SM7. I’m betting had you turned the presence boost “on”, thus removing the additional circuitry from the signal path, the differences between the mics may not have been as noticeable.

    My takeaway from this: If you can’t get a good sound from and SM58, then stepping up to the “magical” SM7 is probably not going to make nearly as much difference as web forum “chatter” may suggest.

    Cheers!