Shure SM58 microphone

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Shure SM58

If you asked a bunch of kids to draw a microphone chances are it would look like a Shure SM58 and that's because it probably is the most used and seen microphone in the world. It's a great workhorse mic that can pretty well be used to record anything fairly well and like most recording engineers, I have a couple in my mic box. It's a dynamic mic with a fairly low output and a deliberate presence peak in the upper mid range, they are fairly cheap and almost bullet proof and for live vocals they are pretty much standard. I recorded the fantastic Black Mfelosi 5 in Beverley Minster using the mighty Soundfield as the ambience mic but guess what each of the singers had a SM58 and when you mix it all together hey presto!


You could write reams about the use of the 58 but I came across this on the web and I think it pretty well sums up the mic. It's by Justin Miller who runs a PA hire firm in Bedford
The Shure SM58 is one of the most recognisable microphones in the world, and for good reason. It is the main stay of many a hire companies microphone hire stock, including mine. Practically unbreakable, and if you do manage to drop it from a high stage / skyscraper, you can also buy a replacement pop shield. Very suited to rock, or other musical styles that need powerful vocals. Make sure your singers lips are touching the pop shield to get the best results, though, unless they have very good mic technique. The proximity effect (increase in bass when you sing or talk close to the mic) makes this important. If the singer is a foot away from an SM58, the chances are they will sound thin, and you will also have gain before feedback issues...
Sonically the response has a nice presence peak in the upper mid range, but the top end rolls off quickly after that. Opinion is split about whether that is a good or a bad thing but it helps keep a lid on feedback, though it doesnt sound as hi-fi as some other mics. I have had some singers complain that their vocal top end is not quite right - sometimes asking for more top end. I guess they are used to the sound of expensive condenser mics on their recordings. My solution is normally to give them another mic, like a Beta 58, or Beta 87a maybe, rather than use EQ. If you A/B test an SM58 verses these mics it will always lose. But it can still be a better mic in some cases, such as when you are looking for a cardioid rather than hyper-cardioid response (the SM58 has a cardioid response, which means it has a wider pickup pattern at the front). But most vocalists will be more than happy with the sound the SM58 gives. The SM58 also does a pretty good job on drums (not really bass drum), and other loud things like guitar cabs. It uses the same capsule as the SM57, one of the best mics for guitar cabs.

In conclusion, yes there are a lot of mics that sound better, and some of these are quite a bit cheaper but ask yourself the question, are they as durable as an SM58, and if you are a professional, will your clients want to use a mic they have never heard of?
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Hear the Shure SM58
Fabulous Ducks session: Vocals
Microphones and recording 2008. Shure SM58 Microphones