Shure SM57 Microphone

Shure SM57 Review 2023 – Still a Top Choice for Home Studios?

The Shure SM57 Microphone: A Versatile Gem for Audio Enthusiasts, We find out if this iconic microphone still holds its own in the modern audio landscape. Explore its performance, features, and more.

When it comes to the world of audio equipment, few names stand out as prominently as Shure. With a history dating back to 1925, Shure has earned a well-deserved reputation for producing high-quality microphones and other audio gear. Among their extensive lineup, the Shure SM57 microphone has achieved legendary status in the industry. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of the Shure SM57, exploring its history, design, applications, and what makes it an enduring favorite among musicians, audio engineers, and podcasters alike.

The Origin Story: A Snapshot of Shure

Before we delve into the specifics of the Shure SM57, it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate the company behind this iconic microphone. Shure was founded by Sidney N. Shure in Chicago, and it’s one of the few audio equipment manufacturers that have been around for nearly a century. The company’s enduring success is a testament to their commitment to quality and innovation.

Shure has consistently strived to stay at the forefront of the audio industry. They have designed and manufactured a wide range of products, from wireless microphones to in-ear monitoring systems. However, one product that has undoubtedly left an indelible mark is the Shure SM57 microphone. Its story is as fascinating as the company’s own journey.

The Shure SM57 Microphone: A Time-Tested Classic

Shure SM57 Dynamic Microphone Box

The Shure SM57, often referred to simply as the “SM57,” is a dynamic microphone that first graced the audio scene in 1965. It was designed as a successor to the Shure Unidyne III microphone, the SM56. While the SM56 was an excellent microphone in its own right, the SM57 aimed to improve upon its predecessor’s design and performance.

Design and Build Quality

One of the first things that capture your attention when you look at the Shure SM57 is its iconic, no-nonsense design. It features a classic cylindrical shape with a mesh grille protecting the internal components. This design is not just about aesthetics; it serves a practical purpose too.

The ruggedness of the SM57 is one of its defining features. The microphone is built to withstand the rigors of live sound applications and studio use. Musicians love it for its durability, as it can take a beating and still deliver exceptional performance. This robust construction is why the SM57 has become a staple in live sound reinforcement for decades.

Transducer and Sound Quality

At the heart of the Shure SM57’s exceptional audio quality is its transducer. This dynamic microphone uses a diaphragm attached to a coil of wire that moves within a magnetic field when sound waves hit it. This basic yet effective design results in a clean, natural sound reproduction with a strong focus on midrange frequencies.

Shure SM57 Dynamic Microphone Polar Pattern

The SM57’s frequency response, typically ranging from 40 Hz to 15 kHz, makes it ideal for capturing a wide range of sound sources. It is particularly well-suited for capturing the midrange frequencies that are crucial in reproducing the nuances of instruments and vocals.

Shure SM57 Dynamic Microphone Frequency Chart

Musicians and audio engineers often rave about the SM57’s ability to handle high sound pressure levels (SPL). This means it can handle loud instruments like guitar amplifiers and drums without distorting the sound. This capability is a significant reason for its popularity in live sound settings.

Versatility in Applications

The versatility of the Shure SM57 is perhaps its most celebrated aspect. This microphone can do it all, making it a favorite choice for a wide range of applications.

Shure SM57 Dynamic Microphone Head Shot

1. Musical Instruments

Musicians love the SM57 for its ability to capture the essence of musical instruments. It’s a go-to microphone for miking guitar amplifiers, snare drums, and toms. Its tight pickup pattern ensures that it captures the sound source while minimizing background noise, making it a staple in many studio and live recording scenarios.

2. Vocal Applications

While the SM57 is primarily known for instrument miking, it also finds its way onto many vocal tracks. Many renowned artists have used the SM57 for live performances, delivering crisp and clear vocal renditions. Its reliability and durability make it an excellent choice for singers who prefer to perform with handheld microphones.

3. Podcasting and Broadcasting

In the era of podcasting and online content creation, the Shure SM57 continues to shine. Its versatility extends to spoken-word applications, where it’s used for podcasting, radio broadcasting, and voiceovers. The SM57’s ability to handle plosives (popping sounds) and its natural tone make it an excellent choice for spoken-word content.

4. Sound Reinforcement

In the world of live sound, where durability and reliability are paramount, the SM57 excels. It’s often used for miking instruments in a live setting, delivering consistent results night after night. Whether you’re at a small local gig or a massive arena concert, you’re likely to spot an SM57 on stage.

The SM57’s Impact on Music and Pop Culture

Shure SM57 Dynamic Microphone Handheld

The Shure SM57 is not just a microphone; it’s a cultural icon in the music industry. Countless legendary recordings and live performances have featured this microphone. Here are a few notable examples of how the SM57 has left an indelible mark on the world of music:

The Electric Guitar’s Best Friend

The SM57 has an almost magical connection with electric guitars. It’s the go-to microphone for miking guitar amplifiers, capturing the nuances of the instrument’s tone. If you’ve ever seen a classic rock concert, there’s a good chance the guitar amps were miked with SM57s. Its contribution to shaping the sound of rock ‘n’ roll and other guitar-centric genres is immeasurable.

The “President’s Microphone”

The Shure SM57 is perhaps best known for its role as the “President’s microphone.” It’s the microphone used by United States presidents during their speeches and addresses. Its reliability and consistent performance are essential when the world is watching. It’s a symbol of trust and quality that extends beyond the music world.

Studio Staple

In recording studios worldwide, the SM57 is a common sight. Its versatility and durability make it a valuable asset for recording engineers. Whether it’s capturing the snare drum’s crack, the warmth of a vocal performance, or the subtleties of acoustic instruments, the SM57 is a tool that helps create timeless recordings.

Notable Alternatives and Comparisons

While the Shure SM57 is a highly regarded microphone, it’s essential to recognize that it’s not the only option out there. Depending on your specific needs, there are a few alternatives and comparisons worth considering:

Shure SM58

The Shure SM58 is often considered the vocal counterpart to the SM57. It shares the same durability and reliability but is optimized for vocals. The SM58 has a built-in pop filter and a slightly different frequency response, making it a favorite for singers.

Sennheiser e609

The Sennheiser e609 is another dynamic microphone designed for instrument miking, particularly guitar amplifiers. It features a unique side-address design that simplifies positioning. It’s a great alternative to the SM57 for guitarists seeking a different flavor.

Audio-Technica ATM450

If you need a condenser microphone for instrument miking, the Audio-Technica ATM450 is an excellent choice. While it’s a different microphone category, it provides a brighter and more detailed sound, which can be ideal for certain applications.

We also recommend taking a look at our additional article about ‘Choosing the right microphone for your home studio‘ which will give further explanation on things to consider for an informed buying decision.

Tips for Getting the Best Out of Your Shure SM57

If you’re lucky enough to own a Shure SM57 or plan to invest in one, here are some tips to ensure you get the best results from this versatile microphone:

Experiment with Placement

The SM57’s tight cardioid pickup pattern means that placement is crucial. When miking instruments, take the time to experiment with different positions to find the sweet spot. For guitar amplifiers, try various positions near the speaker cone to capture different tonal characteristics.

Use a Pop Filter

When using the SM57 for vocals or spoken-word content, consider using a pop filter. While the SM57 is relatively good at handling plosives, a pop filter can further reduce unwanted wind noise and plosive sounds.

Invest in Quality Cables

The quality of your microphone cable can significantly impact your sound. Invest in good-quality XLR cables to ensure that the signal from your SM57 reaches your recording or sound reinforcement equipment without any degradation.

Protect Against Feedback

In live sound applications, be mindful of feedback issues. The SM57’s tight pickup pattern helps, but it’s still important to position the microphone carefully and use appropriate monitoring techniques to prevent feedback.

Conclusion: The Shure SM57 – A Timeless Classic

Shure SM57 Dynamic Microphone

In the ever-evolving world of audio equipment, the Shure SM57 stands as a testament to enduring quality and design. With a history spanning several decades, this iconic microphone has found its way onto countless stages and into numerous renowned studios, and into many of today’s home digital studios, capturing the essence of music and spoken word with unwavering reliability.

From the raucous roar of electric guitars to the eloquent speeches of world leaders, the SM57 has played a crucial role in shaping sound and culture. Its versatile nature, remarkable durability, and consistent performance make it a go-to choice for musicians, audio engineers, and content creators around the world.

So, whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting your audio journey, the Shure SM57 microphone is a trusty companion that will continue to shape the sonic landscape for generations to come. In a world of fleeting trends, the SM57 is a timeless classic, and its legacy shows no sign of fading.