Shure SM57 Instrument Microphone Review

There are a lot of microphones to choose from. One look at the search and you will see different types to choose from and it can be a little overwhelming. However, you need to take it step by step and look at each microphone carefully. In this article, we will take a look at the Shure SM57 in particular and what it offers you as well as its downfalls. 

Design

The Shure SM57 microphone is mainly an instrumental microphone. This means it is great for string instruments and as an overhead mic for drum kits. However, it isn’t designed to be best for vocal performance.

This is also a dynamic microphone. There are actually two types of dynamic microphones and each works slightly different. There is moving coil and moving ribbon dynamic mics. Dynamic moving coil microphones work when a wire is moved within a magnetic field and a current is generated in the wire. This type of microphone functions with 3 major parts; the wire coil, a magnet, and a thin diaphragm.

A moving ribbon dynamic microphone works almost the same way but instead of a wire coil, there is an aluminum ribbon. This aluminum ribbon vibrates to create an electrical current and reports the sound accordingly.

One thing that both these types of dynamic microphones have in common is they are relatively budget-friendly and they are durable. The Shure SM57 is a durable microphone and it is also relatively budget friendly.

This microphone also doesn’t require a phantom power source or batteries, allowing you to use it without worrying about a secondary power source or batteries.

As far as size, this microphone is 1.25 inches (31.75 mm) in diameter and 5.38 inches (136.65 mm) in length. It is also lightweight at only .6 pounds (272.16 grams).

Features

  • Cardioid, directional pattern microphone makes for excellent pickup in front of the microphone but won’t pick up sounds beside or behind it, limiting ambient noise. 
  • 1.25 inches (31.75 mm) in diameter and 5.38 inches (136.65 mm) in length makes for a compact design. 
  • The Shure SM57 weighs in at .6 pounds (272.16 grams), making for a lightweight design. 
  • Frequency response of 20 Hz to 20k Hz
  • Built in pneumatic shock-mount system ensures a clean sound at low frequencies without an issue. 
  • Dynamic microphone build makes for a durable choice paired with an all metal body, so the Shure SM57 will stand up to day to day abuse. 
  • The Shure SM57 has an output impedance of 150 ohms
  • The screen and grille as well as the cartridge are easily removable for cleaning and replacement. 
  • Applications for this mic according to Shure
    • Acoustic guitar
    • Bass amp
    • Brass/saxophone
    • Congas
    • Guitar amp
    • Harmonicas
    • Kick and snare drums
    • Percussion
    • Rack and floor toms

Sound Quality

The overall sound quality of the Shure SM57 is fantastic. It is made to capture the delicate sounds of string instruments and drums. It can be used for vocal performance as well, but it isn’t made for it so it won’t pick up and project as well as its intended uses.

This is also a dynamic microphone as we have already gone over. This means a couple things. First, it means that it will cover a high range of frequencies from low range to high range without blips or hiccups in the sound in between.  Next, it can handle loud, high pressure sounds like the deep thump of a kick drum.

However, compared to condenser microphones, you are going to have trouble with high-pitched sounds such as violins.

All in all, the sound of the Shure SM57 gives off a mellow and well-rounded sound. It has a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20k Hz, allowing for an all encompassing sound from low pitches to high pitches with little to no problem, in theory.

The Shure SM57 is also built with a cardioid pickup pattern. This means that it picks up the sound directly in front of it but not to the side or behind it. This helps to cancel out ambient noises in the background, only capturing the sound right in front of it.

Ease of Use

The Shure SM57 is made to be easy to set up and use. It doesn’t require a phantom power source or batteries to set up. In addition, you don’t have to worry about filtering your microphone to get a clear sound.

Aside from setup, using this microphone is a breeze. All you need to do is to set it up and your ready to go. It will capture anything right in front of it, especially string instruments with clarity that is impressive. 

Pros

  • Rugged design made to handle day by day use and wear and tear without breaking down
  • Dynamic microphone design allows you to capture a high range of frequencies. 
  • Cardioid pickup design helps to reduce feedback and cancel out ambient noises.
  • Compact in size, making it easy to move around. 
  • Since it doesn’t need a phantom power source, this dynamic microphone is easy to set up and use. 
  • This microphone is generally budget-friendly, so it is perfect for beginners and musicians on a budget. 
  • Filters out wind noise and other ambient noises that could get in the way of a good sound.

Cons

  • Trouble with higher pitched sounds, such as violins
  • Won’t capture vocals well as it is an instrumental microphone. 

Overall

Overall, the Shure SM57 is a fantastic instrumental microphone, especially when it comes to recording. Its cardioid design helps it to pick up even delicate sounds right in front of the microphone while blocking out the ambient noises behind the microphone.

It is also rather budget-friendly. This makes it perfect for beginners or musicians on a budget. In addition, it is rugged for its price. That being said, it can handle the day to day abuse that other, cheaper microphones can’t.

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