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Shure SM57 Vs Shure SM58: Battle Of Two Legendary Mics

November 20, 2023 
BY DAN SPENCER
Last Updated on November 20, 2023

When it comes to legendary microphones, the Shure SM57 and Shure SM58 are undoubtedly at the top of the list. These iconic microphones are often the subject of heated debates among musicians, producers, and sound engineers with their impeccable quality and differing purposes.

When it comes to comparing microphones, the Shure SM57 vs Shure SM58 debate is among the most prominent and intriguing. This in-depth examination will explore the critical differences and unique attributes of each microphone to help you decide which legendary Shure mic is best suited for your particular needs. Let's dig in!

Introduction: Understanding The Icons In Microphone History

The Shure SM57 and SM58 microphones are iconic in the industry, renowned for their decades-long use in music recording and live performances. The SM57 is celebrated for its instrument capturing abilities, whereas the SM58 excels in vocal miking, especially live. Both mics, known for their robustness and dynamic capsule design, have become industry standards due to their affordability, exceptional sound quality, and reliable performance, continuing to influence microphone selection today.

The following table highlights some key facts and features for these microphones:

MicrophoneYear IntroducedPrimary ApplicationKey Features
Shure SM571965InstrumentsFlat-response grille design, cardioid polar pattern, ability to handle high sound pressure levels
Shure SM581966VocalsBall grille with built-in pop filter, tailored mid-range frequency response, cardioid polar pattern

The 1980s was a pivotal decade for Shure microphones, witnessing their widespread adoption in professional recording studios and live music venues across a variety of genres. As a result, Shure mics became the preferred choice for a multitude of applications, due to their ability to deliver consistent, high-quality audio.

Design And Build: How SM57 And SM58 Mics Compare

Shure SM7 and Shure SM58 microphones.

When comparing the Shure SM57 vs Shure SM58 microphones, a key distinction lies within their respective grille configurations. This difference in microphone design allows for each model to excel in different audio applications.

The Grille Difference: Impact On Performance

The SM58 is designed with a ball grille that includes a pop filter, catering to vocal applications and managing plosives effectively. This microphone grille design offers a smooth frequency response and significantly reduces unwanted noise, making it a go-to choice for vocal performers.

Conversely, the SM57 features a smaller, integral resonator/grille assembly more suitable for instrument miking applications. This structure offers a different acoustical environment for the diaphragm, contributing to its distinct sound character and frequency response.

Ruggedness For Stage And Studio: Durability Examined

Both the SM57 and SM58 models are known for their rugged microphone construction and Shure build quality, ensuring durability and longevity for both studio and live stage performances. This sturdy design has made both microphones a staple choice for sound engineers requiring equipment that can withstand the rigors of touring and intense recording sessions.


Related Article: Shure SM7B Review: A Microphone Worth Every Penny


Frequency Response And Sound Quality

The frequency response and sound quality of the Shure SM57 vs Shure SM58 microphones are essential factors that set them apart from one another. Both microphones have unique sound characteristics and are suited for different purposes, thanks to their frequency response curves. Let's take a look.

Shure SM57

The SM57 features an almost flat frequency response curve until you reach the upper-mids. This boost around 5kHz adds clarity and presence for instruments such as drums and guitar amplifiers. The response starts to gradually roll-off above 10kHz.

Shure SM57 frequency response chart.

Shure SM58

Tailored for vocals, the SM58 has a mid-range emphasis that helps voices cut through in live settings. It also has a steep dip around 7kHz to deal with sibilance. Similar to the SM57, the frequency response rolls off above 10kHz.

Shure SM58 frequency response chart.

For live environments, both the SM57 and SM58 perform exceptionally well. However, they might not be the first choice for capturing the "airy" high frequencies desired in some studio recordings. Engineers might opt for condenser microphones or others with extended high-frequency response for specific studio applications.

Optimal Applications: When To Use SM57 Or SM58

Shure SM58 microphone on a stand above a keyboard.

Both the Shure SM57 and SM58 microphones excel in distinct applications. Understanding each mic's optimal purpose can help you decide which microphone to use to best suit your needs.

Shure SM57 For Instruments And Sound Isolation

The Shure SM57 is renowned for its ability to capture instruments, particularly due to its flat-response grille design and proficiency in handling high sound pressure levels. This microphone is ideal for many types of instruments, including guitar amps, snare drums, and brass instruments. The SM57's cardioid polar pattern helps minimize feedback and focuses on the sound source, providing natural-sounding recordings, even in challenging auditory environments.

  • Recording guitar amps
  • Drums and percussion miking
  • Brass and wind instruments
  • Sound isolation during live performances

Shure SM58 For Vocals And Noise Rejection

On the other hand, the Shure SM58 dominates the realm of vocal performance, predominantly in live settings. Its ball grille with a built-in pop filter and cardioid polar pattern makes for an optimal choice for vocalists. This design efficiently reduces background noise and feedback, and its tailored frequency response brings warmth and clarity to vocal performances.

  1. Live vocal performances
  2. Podcasts and voiceovers
  3. Home recording studios
  4. Noise rejection in crowded environments

To summarize, the Shure SM57 is best suited for capturing instruments and sound isolation, while the Shure SM58 shines in vocal performances and noise rejection applications.

Versatility In Recording And Live Performances

Both the Shure SM57 and Shure SM58 microphones exhibit remarkable versatility, having earned their places as industry standards for various recording situations and live performances. Here is an overview of each microphone in a live versus studio application.

MicrophoneLive Performance MikingStudio Recording
Shure SM57Excellent for instrument miking, adaptable for vocalsIdeal for instrument recording, versatile for vocals
Shure SM58Exceptional vocal clarity, solid performance for instrumentsReliable for home recording, other options might be preferred for studio vocals

Their simple build, lacking switches and extra features, contributes to their reliability as go-to solutions in chaotic live environments and straightforward studio sessions. This reflects their decades-long use by professionals in various contexts. Furthermore, the Shure SM57 versatility and Shure SM58 reliability have solidified their positions as top choices for countless audio professionals around the world.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the main difference between the Shure SM57 and SM58?

The primary difference lies in their grille design. The SM58 is designed for vocals and features a ball grille with a built-in pop filter, while the SM57's grille is part of the cartridge, making it more suited for instrument miking.

Which microphone is better for recording instruments?

The Shure SM57 is considered better for recording instruments due to its flatter frequency response and grille design, making it ideal for capturing guitar amps, drums, and brass instruments.

Is the Shure SM58 suitable for vocal recordings in the studio?

Yes, the SM58 is suitable for vocal recordings in the studio. However, its specific sound characteristics may not be preferred for capturing the "airy" high frequencies desired in professional studio recordings. In this case, other microphones might be recommended.

Can the Shure SM57 be used for vocals?

Yes, the SM57 can also be used for vocals, and many musicians and engineers have used it for this purpose due to its unique sound characteristics.

Are the Shure SM57 and SM58 dependent on phantom power?

No, both the SM57 and SM58 are dynamic microphones and do not rely on phantom power to operate. They can handle high sound pressure levels without sacrificing sound quality, making them simple and reliable.

Final Thoughts: Which Mic Suits Your Sound?

When it comes to selecting the right microphone, considering the context of your sound or performance is crucial. Both the Shure SM57 and SM58 offer remarkable quality performance, thanks to their different strengths and characteristics developed through decades of professional usage.

If you seek a microphone for instrument recording, the Shure SM57's neutrality and flat response make it the ideal choice. However, if live sound equipment for vocal performances lies at the heart of your requirements, the Shure SM58's tailored mid-range response with enhanced clarity perfectly suits the task.

Regardless of your choice, both Shure microphones guarantee durability, reliability, and quality, living up to their legendary reputation!

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"Some of the links within this article are affiliate links. These links are from various companies such as Amazon. This means if you click on any of these links and purchase the item or service, I will receive an affiliate commission. This is at no cost to you and the money gets invested back into Audio Sorcerer LLC."

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