Shure SM7B is a widely popular dynamic microphone and you can spot it on the Joe Rogan Experience and its predecessor SM7 in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. In our Shure SM7B review we will take a look at why this microphone is a must-have for music producers and vocalists. When recording vocals I have chosen the SM7B over microphones several times its cost. In today’s review I’m going to explain why it has been used on so many Grammy Award winning recordings!
Shure SM7B is also featured in our list of best podcast microphones!
Shure SM7B is a legendary dynamic cardioid microphone beloved by professional musicians, podcasters and vocalists all around the world.
- Great vocal reproduction
- Wide frequency response
- Designed to reject noise
Our Shure SM7B review includes:
- Who benefits from using the Shure SM7B?
- Things to consider before buying
- Product presentation
- Features and benefits
Who benefits from using the Shure SM7B?
Shure SM7B is a dynamic cardioid microphone and shines while recording in a controlled home studio environment. This is not a microphone for field-recording! So who besides Michael Jackson and Joe Rogan benefits from using the Shure SM7B?
- Vocalists: As a vocalist you are probably used to recording in a controlled studio environment. You can also cycle through the 3 different frequency responses “Flat”, “Bass rolloff” and “Presence boost”. All three frequency responses will add different sound characteristics to your vocal recordings.
- Audio mixers: With the built-in high-pass frequency response professional audio mixers can minimize low-frequency hums from surrounding electronic instruments. Those hums can even occur in professional music studios and they can be time-consuming to edit out.
- Podcasters: You don’t have to be Joe Rogan and talk about DMT to benefit from the Shure SM7B. The vocal reproduction is clear and crisp and even if you don’t record in a controlled studio environment the results are great. The off-axis rejection in the cardioid pattern prevents unwanted background noise from bleeding into the recordings.
Things to consider before buying the Shure SM7B
Shure SM7B is a legendary high-end microphone primarily used on radio stations, podcasting, voice-overs and vocal recordings. If that’s what you need a microphone you probably won’t find a better fit than the Shure SM7B. There are probably better microphones on the market if you want to record drums, guitars, violins, piano or any other instrument.
There are also some things you’ll need or have to buy separately:
- Microphone stand
- Decent audio interface or mixer
- Additional +60dB due to low output signal
The first thing you will notice is Shure’s attention to detail and the premium construction of the SM7B. The mic is heavy and there are no signs of cheap plastics on the construction. It just feels sturdy in your hand. On the back you find two toggles that lets you select Flat Response, Bass Rolloff or Presence Boost Setting depending on what the situation calls for. I recommend using a flat headed screwdriver to slide those switches back and forth. There is a graphic representation so you can see the setting for each switch at a glance!
How to mount?
The SM7B can be mounted on a microphone stand or hung from a boom and the yoke mounting mechanism makes sure that any positioning adjustments are smooth and steady. It’s also very easy to attach or detach the microphone from your favorite mic stand.
The pre-installed pop filter eliminates plosives and fricatives effectively and the external detachable windscreen A7WS feels redundant when we tested the mic in a controlled studio environment. You can talk really close to the microphone and get that nice proximity effect without worrying about plosives and fricatives.
Shure SM7B gives you a rich, deep and smooth sound. If you compare it to any cheaper microphone-models like the AT2020USBi or Samson Q2U you will notice that they give you a lot more crisp, sharpness and brightness to the recordings. Usually that means more post-production-processing like de-essing, de-plosive and noise reduction to get rid of the strong consonants “S” and “T”.
Another feature this microphone is known for is great shielding. It’s built and designed to reject noise, hum, buzz and hiss that comes from other electronic devices and instruments. Shure knows that the most common setup is by having this mic around other mics cables or wires. The Shure SM7B is very well-guarded against those things and prevents unwanted noise getting into the recordings.
With Shure SM7B the post-production-process of getting a clear recording is minimal!
As mentioned before, this is a dynamic microphone which means it can handle stronger signals than a condenser microphone. The output of the Shure SM7B is pretty weak so the best result comes when you combine it with a preamp.
There’s nothing wrong with the low output, that’s just how dynamic microphones work.
The Shure SM7B is packed with useful features:
- Flat response
- Switchable Bass Rolloff – cuts the bass frequencies starting below 350 hz
- Presence Boost that boost frequencies around 800-900 hz
- Internal air suspension that eliminates mechanical noise transmissions
- Excellent rejection of electromagnetic hum
- A7WS windscreen
- Integrated stand adapter for precise mic positioning
- Off-axis sound removal
- Wide frequency response (50-20 000 hz)
SM7B frequency response
Shure SM7B has a flat frequency response. So what does that mean?
A flat frequency response means that the microphone accurately reproduces the input through the output. In other words, what comes in goes out without any enhancements on particular frequencies. A flat response is ideal in post production (mixing/mastering) when shaping the sound with compressors, equalizers or effects.
|Output Impedance||150 ohms|
|Low Cut Filter||Bass Roll off|
How to get the most out of the Shure SM7B
The SM7B is famous (or infamous) for its low output signal. The general rule is that you need a preamp with at least +60dB of gain for best results. For best bass response you also want to be an inch from the microphone while recording. Being very close to the microphone also helps with keeping background noise to a minimum level.
If you want a crisper sound from this microphone you can actually remove the foam windscreen. This will open up the top-end and add a bit more clarity. You may need to use a pop-filter when the foam windscreen is removed.
You can also change the mounting configuration of the Shure SM7B. The way it ships is set up for boom mounting. By unscrewing and reversing the yoke you can actually have it easier mounted on a regular mic stand.
As mentioned before the Shure SM7B is extremely popular for podcasts, voice-overs and broadcasts. To get that big radio voice you should leave the windscreen on and speak around 1 inch from the microphone and take advantage of the proximity effect. Use the Bass rolloff switch flat and use the mid-range enhance switch to make your voice cut through the mix.
If you are recording a singer you could try and remove the windscreen and add an external pop-filter 1-2 inches away from the microphone. Experiment with the proximity effect and have the singer sing around 1-2 inches away from the pop-filter. You want to experiment with distances to take advantage of or reduce the proximity effect. Don’t forget to experiment with all four switch-settings and find the best one for the particular voice and the musical context you are working with.
If Michael Jackson and Joe Rogan wasn’t proof enough for you:
1499 global ratings and an average 5/5 star review on Amazon:
Shure SM7B also get 5 stars on Sweetwater:
Shure SM7B alternatives
Shure SM7B is a great microphone – but it’s pretty pricey. If you are looking for cheaper alternatives I recommend any of these vocal microphones:
Should you buy the Shure SM7B?
If you are looking for a solid dynamic microphone for podcasting, vocal-recordings or broadcasting you can’t really find a better alternative than the Shure SM7B. Shure is a legacy audio company and the SM7B is one of their many legendary products. Their microphones have been used by presidents, pop icons, famous newscasters and podcasters!
This is the best alternative If you can afford both the microphone and a preamp!