Whether you’re into live vocal performances or studio recordings, the musical and audio gear and accessories you use count a lot when it comes to the sonic results delivered to your audience. In case your needs call for a new microphone to help you cater to such needs, this review might be of help as it showcases one of the most popular items in this line.
Considered a legend among dynamic microphone users, the SM58 from Shure has gained a top place in this line of products thanks to the features it is packed with and, of course, the results ensured. The way it works has turned it into an item many studios include.
What makes this product stand out is the very sound quality delivered, which holds great importance when it comes to live performances, studio recordings, and other such applications. This dynamic microphone was built for professional vocal use and thus comes with the required features to perform admirably from a sonic point of view.
To deliver such results, the unit has a spherical filter that is bound to reduce “pop” noises and wind. What’s more, the unidirectional (cardioid) pickup pattern featured further minimizes background noises while isolating the main sound source.
Since the item was designed with vocalists in mind, the frequency response has been optimized to eliminate low-end rumble and ensure brightened mids. This is what makes the microphone capable of delivering clear and warm sounds. Even if the unit was built with vocals in mind, it can also work well with a variety of sources, such as brass, guitar cabinets, and other instruments.
Remember that this is a dynamic vocal microphone and, as its name suggests, it works best when used for performances and applications that involve vocals; therefore, it might not be suitable for recording musical instruments.
While it might work decently for such applications, it might not provide professional-grade results; therefore, if you want a microphone that would do a great job of recording instruments as well, checking out other items is an inspired thing to do. Plus, this version comes without cable. However, you can find the same microphone with cable as well.
Main features explained
Spherical filter and sound quality
When it comes to microphones, the quality of the sound delivered is the most important. It’s true that durability and a comfortable design also count as we will see later, but what a microphone can do from a sonic point of view is, after all, what makes one order such a product. It’s not the looks, but the performance delivered.
Here is where the Shure SM58 microphone scores some good points. What sets this unit among the most popular microphones used by famous musicians and performers is what it can do sound-wise. This is a dynamic vocal microphone built with vocal applications in mind and can thus be used for studio recording, live performances, and podcasting.
One of the things that can affect a live vocal performance is the background noise as well as the breath “pop” noises. Given the nature of a live performance, it is difficult to avoid such unwanted noises. This microphone from Shure does manage to keep such unpleasant noises away, the reason why it has enjoyed such wide use.
To do that, the unit is packed with various features that are meant to free your sonic results of “pop” noises. One of them is the built-in spherical filter that reduces plosives and breath noises. Thanks to this addition, you can employ the microphone for a variety of vocal applications without worrying that the quality of the sounds produced will be lowered by unpleasant noises.
Musicians, podcasters, and sound engineers will appreciate the use of this filter. Without it, breath noises, which are so often encountered in live vocal performances, would become a constant part of your performance, and you can only imagine how unpleasant that can be at some point.
Cardioid pickup pattern and frequency response
Such a filter is not enough for a remarkable performance, though. That’s why the manufacturer also added a few other key features when building this dynamic microphone. One of them is the unidirectional cardioid pickup pattern used. To understand why this choice of pattern is an inspired one, you need to know the differences between the various polar patterns employed for mics.
The polar pattern of a microphone holds such importance because it is the one that tells you how a microphone responds to the sounds coming from various directions. Once you know the type of pattern used for your microphone, you will know better how to place it to maximize the pickup of the main sound source and minimize feedback.
A unidirectional mic picks up less background noise than an omnidirectional microphone, one of the reasons why such a pattern is used for vocal applications, and it is sensitive to sounds that come from one direction. Also, when you use a unidirectional mic with a sound system, it is less susceptible to feedback. The cardioid pattern is one of the most common unidirectional pattern types.
This type of pattern is highly sensitive to the sound that comes from in front of the microphone and less sensitive to sounds that come from behind the mic; therefore, it is great at rejecting feedback. This means that background noise is minimized and the main sound source is isolated.
What’s more, the frequency response of this microphone has been optimized with bass cuts and brightened mids. The 50Hz-15kHz is thus tailored in such a way to highlight the vocals. The warm and clear sounds delivered and the tailored vocal response have become a world standard and the benefits many musicians think of when it comes to the Shure SM58.
Build quality and design
Since this microphone has been designed primarily for stage performers, it boasts a quality build that should keep up with extended use and more energetic vocalists. This model has also gained its popularity thanks to its rugged and durable construction. Live performances can involve all sorts of mishaps, but that shouldn’t be an issue if you go for this unit.
To withstand the test of time and enable frequent use without the sonic performance delivered being affected, the SM58 features a rugged construction and a steel mesh grille, which renders it suitable for both indoor and outdoor performances. All the materials used have been chosen based on their durability, so rest assured that this mic won’t fail anytime soon.
One of the issues that often occur with handheld microphones is the noise caused when handling the unit. Shure considered this aspect as well as when building this product and used a pneumatic shock-mount system. This system was built in such a way to cut down handling noise and thus keep the sonic outputs pure and clear.
This addition renders it ideal for stage vocalists who like to move a lot during their performance yet keep unwanted noises at bay. Furthermore, since this is primarily intended for handheld use, it features a design that ensures comfortable use even when the mic is employed for long live sessions.
The item weighs 10.5 ounces, so your comfort should not be affected when using this microphone. Moreover, thanks to its weight and dimensions, you can easily switch it from one hand to the other. The unit’s size also ensures easy storage and transportation. The black body and the silver mesh grille will also make a nice visual addition to your performance.
Other features that make dynamic microphones so popular include their reliability and easy maintenance and the Shure SM58 is no exception. Such items require less maintenance than their condenser counterparts and are also more affordable. With reasonable care, you should be able to employ this model from Shure for a long time.
Another aspect worth mentioning is that this version is unswitched, yet you can find the same model with a sliding on-off switch, namely the SM58S. You will see that there are various SM58 versions available for sale and that’s because they offer different accessories. The price also varies depending on what’s included in the pack, of course.
For example, the model we’ve reviewed comes without cable, but you will find the same mic with cable as well. Still, the SM58 is supplied with a break-resistant stand adapter that can rotate 180 degrees. Plus, the market also offers a stage kit including the SM58 without cable and an inline X2u XLR-to-USB signal adapter.
Since this is an XLR microphone, USB connection is not possible, so an XLR-to-USB adapter is required. In case you’d like to record directly to your PC, you’ll have to make sure that you also have an interface with an XLR input, as well as a software-based interface if you want to edit the audio.
Given all the features mentioned above, you might want to consider this unit, whether you’re a seasoned vocalist or you’re just getting started in this field. It makes a nice option for studio recordings and podcasting as well. Even though this is intended for vocal applications, it is quite versatile as it can be employed for many activities that fall into this category.