In this Shure SM7b review, we will show you why it’s regarded universally as being one of the best microphones available for vocals, whether that be speech or singing.
The Shure SM7B microphone holds a rather special place in the world of music tech. It has been somewhat of an industry standard for a long time at this point and from what I’ve observed, it seems to be the go-to for podcasters and radio broadcasters.
Shure SM7B Review: Overview
This microphone simply nails it when it comes to usability and functionality. The SM7B is a professional-grade dynamic microphone that is designed specifically for recording speech or vocal performances.
It is ideal for voice-overs, streaming, podcasts, and broadcasts. In my opinion, its popularity is a result of its simplicity and audio quality. It only requires an XLR connection and you’re good to go.
Its built-in pop filters and shock mount mean that you don’t need any of the extra bells and whistles to get a good high-quality sound from this mic. The only thing you’ll need is a boom arm or a stand on which you can mount the microphone.
Apart from the mic stand and the XLR cable, you may also need a mic preamp, audio interface, or mixer. Without sufficient power, this mic will not produce a high enough output.
The Shure SM7B does not, however, require phantom power as it is a dynamic microphone. That being said, it won’t damage the microphone if you use it with a Cloudlifter CL-1, for example.
The SM7B is great for recording in close proximity to the microphone. This is what makes this mic known for its use in voice-over work and podcasting. Because of the microphone’s cardioid polar pattern, you don’t need to be too mindful of how close you are to the microphone’s capsule.
It’s important to note that the SM7B isn’t a general-purpose microphone, it is designed specifically for vocals and that’s truly what it does best. It will not produce a nuanced recording of a piano or an acoustic guitar, for example. For recording acoustic instruments, you are better off using a condenser microphone.
You’ll notice when recording speech with the SM7B that it makes your voice sound incredibly defined and it has outstanding clarity. There is an emphasis in the mid-range frequencies and a slight roll-off in the bass, which makes vocals sound really crisp, pure, and clean. This is what makes it ideal for podcasts and voiceovers as it reproduces a natural-sounding tone to speech of any kind.
If you’ve watched any podcasts or live streams, it’s highly likely that you’ve seen and heard the SM7B in action. Popular podcasts such as The Joe Rogan Experience are long-time users of this microphone due to the fact that it’s incredibly usable and produces a great natural-sounding vocal sound.
Despite its popularity in podcasts, streaming, and other speech-based recordings, the SM7B also has musical applications, especially for hip-hop and rap music. Its clean sound and punchy midrange lend this mic well to rapped vocals, as it ensures that each and every syllable is clear and crisp.
It can also be used for sung vocals, particularly for more aggressive singing styles for genres such as rock. Michael Jackson, for instance, used this microphone on his record “Thriller”.
Shure SM7B Review: Features
Once you open the SM7B from its packaging you will notice the illustrations on the back of the mic that show the mutable frequency response. There are two toggles that allow you to choose from one of three responses, depending on what situation you are using the mic in.
You can either roll off the bass frequencies, boost the presence, or use a flat response. The flat response is the microphone’s default mode, and it is the setting used by many broadcast studios as it gives voices a natural, smooth, rich sound.
The bass roll-off filter is really useful for eliminating low hums from electrical gear. This can be combined with the presence boost, which slightly amplifies a selection of midrange and high frequencies, giving your recordings more punch.
This mic features a yoke mounting mechanism which makes it so easy to attach the mic to any kind of mic stand. The yoke mounting mechanism is really smooth and gives you the right amount of resistance to keep the mic in position, allowing you to adjust it easily to the desired position.
The SM7B features an in-built pop filter to get rid of any plosives and fricatives. This makes this mic perfect for recording speech as you don’t need to constantly monitor the distance between your mouth and the recording capsule and you don’t need to add an external pop filter.
The mic also comes with a detachable windscreen to reduce the risk of plosives even further. This windscreen also produces a more bass-heavy tone.
Shure includes a lot of really advanced internal hardware in their microphones that protects the cartridge and other various components. Because of this, Shure’s microphones have a reputation for being virtually indestructible.
The SM7B has an internal air suspension shock apparatus that massively reduces mechanical noises that would otherwise be heard on recordings. The mic is also serviced to reject any electrical hums emitted from things such as computer monitors.
Because of these features, recordings from an SM7B require far less post-production tinkering which will save you a lot of time.
The SM7B has a cardioid polar pattern. This means that it captures sounds directly in front of the microphone, whilst noise from other off-axis directions is ignored.
This makes it ideal for podcasts and broadcasts. You also don’t have to be too precise about mic placement, as long as you’re speaking into the right end!
Shure SM7B Review: Frequency Response Settings
When using the microphone in its default flat response setting, you will get a natural audio reproduction and this setting lends itself to recording speech for a podcast, for example.
One drawback of this setting, however, is that you may find that the proximity effect hampers low-midrange frequencies if you’re recording someone with a very low booming voice, for example.
The bass roll-off mode works similarly to adding a high-pass filter on the audio. The low frequencies when using this mode are gently attenuated, which helps with eliminating any electrical hums that might be picked up by the microphone.
The mid-range emphasis or presence boost mode gives you a slight amplification on the mids and treble frequencies. This setting can be used if recording rapped vocals for a song, for example. It will give the vocal recording more of a bite and help it pop in the mix of a song.
Shure SM7B Review: Setup
An important thing to note about the Shure SM7B is that it requires quite a lot of clean gain to get a good output level from this mic. It needs around 60 dB, so you’ll need to make sure you have a preamp or mixer with enough juice to power this.
If you don’t have a sufficient preamp, you may encounter problems with noise and very low output. A microphone amp such as the Cloudlifter would be a good choice to use with this microphone.
Shure SM7B Review: Pros and Cons
- Outstanding sound quality
- Built-in shock suspension and pop filter
- Natural, clean sound
- Low cut and presence filters
- Easy to use
- Good sound isolation
- Moderately expensive
- Low output without the use of a preamp
Specifications of the Shure SM7B
- Type – Dynamic
- Frequency response – 50 to 20,000 Hz
- Polar pattern – Cardioid
- Impedance – 150 ohms
- Switches – Bass roll-off and presence
- Connection – 3-pin XLR
- Weight – 765g
- Contact – Shure
Shure SM7B Review: Final Thoughts
The Shure SM7B is a beloved mic by so many people across the globe for good reason. Its rugged design, flawless construction, and reliable performance make it the choice of many broadcasting studios, podcasters, voice-over artists, and the like.
Its in-built features such as noise attenuation, bass roll-off, and presence filters lend itself to crystal clear recordings. For this reason, it is used by industry professionals and aspiring broadcasters, streamers, and YouTubers alike.
This microphone can be used in quite a wide variety of applications. It is beloved by music legends such as Michael Jackson and Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers.
It is also the most popular microphone for podcasters and YouTubers, and it has generated quite a buzz in recent years due to this resurgence in popularity for this usage.
The SM7B isn’t exactly an affordable microphone, but you really get what you pay for in terms of sound quality, construction quality, and design. It is available worldwide from any number of retailers, and you can find it on Amazon right here.
This microphone is a great choice for those who want to use it for recording speech or live streaming. It isn’t ideal for recording acoustic instruments, however. For those looking to get into the industry and record themselves in high quality, you can’t go wrong with the Shure SM7B.