Shure SM7B VS. SM58 – Which is better? (Review 2021)

For podcast hosts and live singers, only the best vocal mics will make the cut. So when we heard of the Shure SM7B and SM58, we just had to test them.

Shure’s mics are renowned for their dynamic range and high versatility. The SM7B and SM58 in particular are too highly capable vocal mics to enhance the mid-tones in your voice. In terms of quality, both offer a smooth response curve and a cardioid polar pattern.

But we’re not here to look at the similarities. Today, we dive headfirst into the Shure SM7B vs. SM58 comparison and decide on a sole winner.

Although both mics have a smooth frequency response, the Shure SM58’s seems to be smoother. In contrast to that, however, the SM7B flaunts a more uniform cardioid pattern. Additionally, the SM7B offers adequate control over the sound and has a more rugged construction.

Sound Quality

Shure SM7B

The Shure SM7B is a wide-band microphone for professional applications in the studio and at concerts. One look at the frequency response diagram shows that the feedback is mostly steady. The range of its frequency response is 50-20,000 Hz, and the curve stays perfectly straight except at the two extremes.

The graph starts low, near -15 dB, then stabilizes after 100-200 Hz, and stays stable up to 10,000 Hz. At that point, the response isn’t as smooth and reaches its lowest point just before 20,000 Hz.

Response curves that stay steady throughout their range are ideal for most studio applications. However, the sudden drop in volume at the two extremes means it won’t work well with heavy bass and high pitches. Hence, the singer who relies on high notes, and musicians who use contrabass equipment won’t benefit from this mic.

As for the polar pattern, it retains a steady cardioid shape up till 2,500 Hz. The patterns start shrinking as it reaches 6,300 Hz, and it’s safe to assume it either continues to shrink, deform in some way, or remain the same size.

Cardioid polar patterns are highly sensitive at the front but reject noise and speech from the rear. As such, they’re an exquisite choice for loud recording rooms and concert stages. They have a pickup angle of 131 degrees and are only 33% sensitive to ambient sound.

Moving on to noise rejection, the Shure SM7B employs a number of technologies to combat ambient feedback. The first is its internal pop filter that eliminates the need for an external one.

The second is the in-house air suspension for counteracting mechanical vibrations. You’ll notice the full force of this feature if you’re singing live with music playing at the back.

Another feature is the included electromagnetic hum rejecter. In this way, the SM7B is able to tackle broadband interference from nearby electronics and computers.

Shure SM58

Shure SM58 is a high-performance microphone kit that shines the brightest in studios and on concert stages. With a frequency response of 50 to 20,000 Hz, the Shure SM58 will mirror your vocals flawlessly.

If you analyze the frequency response graph, you’ll notice how smoothly it flows from 100 to 2000 Hz. However, it slightly dips towards -10 dB at exactly 50 dB, showing its bass response isn’t as smooth as its mid-range response. But the drop is perfectly straight, and it doesn’t go as low as others. So, lower frequencies will still be rendered to some extent.

Its response curve is a lot smoother than similar devices, and even at the extremes, the fluctuations are limited. This means the Shure SM58 can be used effortlessly for vocals and speeches. But for musical instruments that rely on bass or treble, look for a dedicated music mic.

Unfortunately, the polar pattern of the mic stands in stark contrast to the response curve. It’s quite close to a cardioid pattern, but we can’t really say since it fluctuates so much.

It starts as an omnidirectional pattern, inclining slightly to the front, at 125 Hz. Then it gradually deforms into a slightly misshapen cardioid pattern, up till 1,000 Hz. The pattern starts to “leak” towards the rear as the frequency increases. And at 8,000 Hz, the pattern is almost unrecognizable, with an oddly shaped rear pickup and diminished cardioid lobes.

Despite that, the Shure SM58 still has a lower pickup from the back at all frequencies. And it’s not entirely unsuited for studio use. But on the contrary, it may be more susceptible to noise than similar products.

Shure’s SM58 does try to limit its noise pickup, chiefly through its in-built rattle protector. It comes with a shock mount that isolates mechanical vibrations from the pure unadulterated sound. And it features an in-house pop filter that captures small bursts of air from the surroundings. Aspherical stainless-steel grille is also responsible for screening out the undesired air pops.

Build Quality:

Shure SM7B

The quality and type of build can impact the mic’s performance just as much as the sound quality itself. Shure focuses a lot on the quality of build, employing an all-round foam windscreen and a rugged plastic exterior.

When settling down on a suitable microphone mount, stability is crucial. Shure’s mics come with their own mounts to help stabilize the unit and minimize mechanical vibrations from the environment. The key component here is the yoke mount, which clasps the mic from both sides.

Not only does this allow for a wider degree of rotation, but also minimizes physical contact with the mount. What’s more is, the mount can be installed in all positions – from the wall, the ceiling, and even on a mic stand.

The standard windscreen comes pre-installed on the unit and can be swapped out for an included A7WS windscreen. For those of you who don’t know, the A7WS windscreen can be used for close-talk conferences and speeches.

However, if you were to install your own shock mount on the device, you wouldn’t find many compatible options. It’s also quite heavy (at 2.7 pounds), so it may weigh down an overhead mic stand.

Shure SM58:

Shure SM58 is a handy microphone that outlasts generations of users. Since the mic will have to go through years of abuse, it has been equipped with a rugged casing and a steel grille. The body feels smooth and streamlined to the touch and furnishes a solid grip to the user.

The grille is made from stainless steel, which will resist dust, humidity, and saliva. The main body is made from enamel-coated metal that has the same properties and will survive years of use and abuse.

The Shure SM58 comes packaged with a tripod stand and a stand adapter. The adapter provides a 360-degree swivel as well as vertical rotation. Both the stand and the adapter have strong rugged construction that keeps them safe from the elements. To add to that, most, if not all, parts of the mic are replaceable and the replacements are available online.

Controls

Shure SM7B

Unlike most other mics in the range, the Shure SM7B gives you more control over the frequency response and sound output. At the back, two switches can be used to control the bass roll-off and the presence boost.

Both of these controls can be used to highlight the mids and the bass frequencies, and to provide a more dynamic range. This eliminates the need for third-party preamps and amplifiers.

The only output option it offers is the high-speed XLR connector. Luckily, the connection can be made either from the top or the bottom, since the mic can be rotated about the yoke mount.

Shure SM58

Remorsefully, the Shure SM58 doesn’t offer much in terms of controls. It doesn’t feature any specific volume controls or presence boosts or offer a lot of adjustabilities either.

However, this drawback is saved by the fact that the SM58 offers more output options than any other mic. Not only does it have an XLR connection at the back, but it can also be connected to an X2U or an MVi. This allows you to pair it up with a variety of sound interfaces, resulting in more studio options.

You also get a tripod that folds down to 30 inches in length and can be adjusted in several ways. In fact, you can go so far as to say that the mic stand is much more versatile than the mic itself. 

Other Things to Consider

Price:

Shure SM7B:

The Shure SM7B is a high-range that is slightly costlier than most mics. So, do its features justify the high price point? We think yes.

This is a vocal mic, which means the response curve needs to be stable. It should be noted that in drum mics, the response is quite unstable so they only render low frequencies well. But a vocal mic must work suitably in all ranges, with a slight margin of noise at the two extremes. So naturally, a vocal mic with a straight frequency response graph should cost more.

Also, consider the intensely rugged construction. The entire body is of metal, and the head grille features a foam windscreen.

Furthermore, the Shure SM7B has a uniform cardioid pattern that stays in the cardioid range even at higher frequencies. Uniform patterns are hard to come by. And they can make a whole lot of difference in terms of noise rejection.

On that note, the SM7B also houses two additional noise rejection technologies. One technology eliminated mechanical noise and the other electromagnetic hum noise.

Given all that, the price point seems more or less justified. It even has more control than other mics. The only thing it doesn’t have is a comfortable grip. It’s not a handheld mic, which can be a problem when you need to walk around the stage.

Shure SM58:

The Shure SM58 is a dynamic handheld mic that features a smooth frequency response paired with a cardioid polar pattern. It costs significantly lesser than the Shure SM7B, and we can take a few guesses as to why.

Firstly, this mic has a lesser uniform cardioid pattern. It starts to deform too early on in its frequency range and doesn’t even start as a cardioid. This means while the frequency response is perfectly smooth, the pickup can fluctuate.

Speaking of interference, this mic also lacks magnetic hum rejection. And that brings its price down significantly. Besides, there aren’t many controls on the device, though it does have a few more output options.

Given that, this mic does have some features of its own that trump those of other mics. The extremely smooth response curve is unavailable in most mics, especially at the extremes. But you can use it for live performances as well.

Size:

Shure SM7B:

While size may not matter for most people, in a cramped recording studio, it could have some significance. The Shure SM7B is quite a small and boxy microphone with a lightweight windscreen. It measures around 7.5 inches in length and weighs 2.7 pounds.

The weight is not a major problem. But when you consider the short length and wide girth, it becomes evident that this isn’t meant for handheld use.

Shure SM58:

Unlike the SM7B, the Shure SM58 has a more compact and straightforward design. It’s built like a regular handheld mic that can be used in the studio or for live performances. It weighs about 9 pounds, which might be slightly heavier for some individuals. The body measures 38 inches in length and fits comfortably in the hand. The width of the cross-section isn’t too wide.

But before buying it, keep in mind that this is a wired mic that doesn’t work on batteries. So, its portability is limited to the length of your XLR cable. This can become problematic when you’re on a large stage and need to move around and interact with the audience.

Pros and Cons:

Shure SM7B:

Pros:

  • Uniform cardioid pattern.
  • Rejects electromagnetic and mechanical noise.
  • Adjustable presence boost and bass roll-off.
  • Ships with an A7WS windscreen.
  • In-built pop-filter.
  • Good for studio and live applications.

Cons:

  • Too wide for handhold use.
  • Not good for high notes.

Shure SM58:

Pros:

  • Smooth frequency response curve.
  • Multiple output options.
  • Includes stand and stand adapter.
  • Compact enough for handheld use.
  • Stainless steel grille.
  • In-built pop filter and shock mount.

Cons:

  • Unreliable polar pattern.
  • Not many controls.

Conclusion

The Shure SM7B and SM58 are two of Shure’s greatest vocal mics for studio and live use. In terms of quality and performance, both have excellent feedback and generate consistent outputs.

However, the Shure SM7B is more suited for studio use than in concerts. You can’t move around with it, so it will limit your stage performance. The SM58, on the other hand, is a great versatile choice for both on the stage and in the recording studio.

All things considered, Shure’s mics bring out the best in your voice and make every presentation memorable.

About Shawn Shepherd

Hi, I'm the owner of the Hifi Guide and have been an audio lover enthusiast for over 16 years. I have a Bachelor's degree in Sound Engineering and I work on producing content for the Hifi Guide in my spare time. My love for audio stemmed from my Dad who was an audio technician, and now I share my knowledge here on this website!

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