For over fifty years, the Shure SM58 has been used by the best and brightest names in the business. During that time, it has become widely regarded as the go-to choice for musicians everywhere. Affordable, reliable, and insanely durable, this staple of the music industry has it all. Perhaps that’s why it’s been the best selling microphone for years.
It’s certainly not perfect, and today’s range of audio processing hardware makes it abundantly obvious that there isn’t a ‘jack of all trades’ option that rests above its competitors. So where does the SM58 succeed, and what isn’t it as strong at?
It’s time we took a good look at this incredible piece of kit, and what has made it stand out for so long.
Famous and amateur vocalists have been using the SM58 since its original release in 1966. Artists such as Paul McCartney, Alice Cooper, and Roger Daltrey all swear by the capabilities of the SM58. With backing by musical legends such as these, the Shure SM58 is always a microphone worth considering. The usefulness and versatility of Shure’s incredible microphone is why it is still the best selling microphone of all time.
Where the SM58 really excels is in its prowess as a live mic. The in-built pop filter means that you’ll easily display smooth vocals while on stage, an absolute must when trying to perform effectively. The cardioid polar pattern design of the SM58 also means that it is exceptional at isolating the source of the sound and tuning out any background noise.
The SM58 has also undergone some incredible tests to prove its endurance. It has survived absurd challenges over the years, ranging from being fully submerged in Guinness, shot with a shotgun, getting both cooked and frozen, and many more. What this goes to prove is that if you own an SM58, you will be doing so for a very long time.
If you do use the SM58 for recording in a studio, you may find the sound to be a little lacklustre. This is because of the SM58’s dynamic design, combined with the fact that the SM58 uses a cardioid polar pattern. What this means is that the SM58 is extremely effective at picking up one voice or instrument, and tuning the rest out.
This is exceptionally useful when performing live on stage, however, when you’re with several bandmates in a recording studio, you may find that the overall playback sound feels quite muddy or dull. You wouldn’t be the only one with this complaint either.
With the development of technology, it turns out that the best type of microphone for recording sound in a recording studio is actually a condenser microphone. This doesn’t mean that the SM58 is bad, simply that its particular style is outdated in this one specific aspect.
Despite this, however, some producers insist on using an SM58 because of the unique sound it can generate. Recording vocals and guitar with this mic can lead to exceptional results, without needing a lot of equalisation in post-production.
Using a Shure SM58 also allows you peace of mind if you do need to replace a microphone. Because each of Shure’s microphones are incredibly well made and consistently designed, there can be no concern that you will receive the same experience from each one.
Overall, the SM58 is an excellent microphone and one I would suggest to anyone starting out in the music industry.
- Nearly Indestructible: The Shure SM58 has undergone a myriad of endurance tests to prove its strength and durability. The sheer resilience it possesses makes it the ideal travelling microphone, as it is unlikely to receive any damage severe enough to stop it from working.
- In-Built Pop Filter: Performing live won’t be an issue with the SM58 thanks to its built-in pop filter. It’ll help to smooth out any pops and plosives that lower quality microphones would’ve easily picked up and transmitted.
- Perfect for Going Live: The SM58 is easily capable of reproducing a range of rich and clear sounds, and thanks to the cardioid pickup, it won’t allow any background noise or interference to distort your sound.
- Produces a Unique Sound: Some producers swear by the SM58, because it is capable of creating excellent sounds when recording vocals or guitar.
- Reliability: No matter how many SM58’s you use, you can rest assured that they’re all going to produce the exact same sound, and have the same quality.
- Not Best at Studio Recording: The SM58 has a dynamic microphone design. What this means of studio recording is that it isn’t as well adapted to recording the myriad of sounds in their intended clarity as a condenser microphone would be.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Shure SM58 used for?
The Shure SM58 is a dynamic mic with a cardioid polar pattern and XLR connectors. It is one of the most commonly used and well-appreciated mics for applications that involve live or on-field sounds. Rock concerts, live TV interviews, reporting, stand-up comedians have all used this mic at some point or the other. See also: What is a Cardioid microphone.
Which is better, Shure SM57 or SM58?
Both are good for their specific purpose. The SM58 was designed to keep vocals in mind, so it has a larger ball grill and a popup filter that removes plosives from the voice.
The SM 57 was designed for use with instruments such as guitars. It has a smaller ball grill and does not need a popup filter to remove the plosive sounds.
Is the Shure SM58 good for recording?
The SM58 was originally designed for live vocals, but it has a good frequency response and low noise, so yes, you can use it for recordings. If your sound matches with the mic, then there is no reason you should shy away from using it at the recording studio.
Did Michael Jackson use SM57?
No. Michael used the SM7 for vocals. SM57 is designed more for instrumentals, and Bruce Swedien, Michael’s drummer, often used this mic for his snare drums.
Can I use a Shure SM57 for vocals?
There’s nothing to stop you from using it, and indeed you will get a quality performance from the SM57 as well. The only thing you will probably miss is a popup filter. But the SM 57 was not designed for this purpose. As long as you are buying, I would suggest you opt for the SM58 instead.
How can you tell a fake SM58?
There are several ways:
• When you unscrew the mics windscreen, you will find a “CAUTION” sign taped around it instead of a Shure sticker.
• The wiring on the inside of the mic when you open the middle portion is yellow and green. For most fake mics, the wiring is red and black.
• The connecting piece between the windscreen and the mic should be contoured.
• Many times you will find a made-in-China tag inside the accompanying bag.
• The original mic would have the Shur cable tie and sticker accompanying the mic. Fake ones will not.
Best Studio Mics was started by a husband and wife team who love the sound and the technicals behind recording it. Both are professional theatre artists, one with a stage management background and one more on stage. One also has experience in film and television work and the different audio requirements of that arena.