Product Type: Shure Microphone
Newest Review: ... shock-mount system and a steel mesh grille ensure that even with rough handling, the SM58 will perform consistently and it does, I've used... more
The industry standard live vocal microphone
Member Name: cognition
Date: 23/08/10, updated on 23/08/10 (482 review reads)
Advantages: Extremely durable, sounds great
Disadvantages: Not quite cheap enough for a complete beginner (depending on your budget)
Shure incorporated is a professional audio manufacturer who were founded in 1925 and are one of the market leaders on the professional dynamic microphone front. The SM58, which was introduced in 1966, is still the industry standard live performance vocal microphone today and is one of the best selling microphones in the world.
DYNAMIC VS CONDENSER MICROPHONES
The Shure SM58 is a dynamic microphone. It needs no external power, although the signal from the microphone is typically amplified at a later stage in the recording chain (such as from the mixing desk). Typically, dynamic microhones are reasonably sturdy. On the other hand you have condenser microphones, which are very common in a studio setting. These require power, and the microphone signal is amplified at source. However, condenser microphones are both far more fragile, and also so sensitive they will require a silent environment for recording. However, this review is of the dynamic microphone from Shure, SM58. In a studio setting, I find that condenser microphones tend to reveal more nuances and details in the voice, but I also occasionally use my SM58 in the studio. A lot of singers prefer using an SM58, because if you're recording with a condenser microphone, you have to stand still and not touch the microphone, because it would pick up any noise and vibrations. With a dynamic microphone, you can actually hold the microphone and jump around if you want to. With my condenser microphones, if someone drops a penny on the other side of the room it will get picked up by the microphone. With my dynamic microphones, it only picks up things in very close proximity or very loud things. Also, sometimes the SM58 simply sounds better than a condenser. It depends on the vocal style and the music. Screamers will very often opt for an SM57 or SM58, both because they can hold the microphone in their hand and because they prefer the sound.
STUDIO AND LIVE USE
It is interesting that the "SM" stands for "Studio Microphone" since one typically think of condenser microphones as being the studio microphone. However, that is not always the case. In fact, plenty of huge artists have recorded their vocals in studio with an SM58, including U2 and The Smashing Pumpkins. The vocals for Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album were recorded with an SM57, which is sort of a brother/sister microphone to the SM57. They are basically the same microphone, but with a different grille. I was looking for a complete list so I could mention more artists, however, it was hard to find a list that would specify whether the mic was used for vocals or for instruments and whether it was used live or in the studio. But either way, the SM58 is a classic. All microphones have a different frequency response. In other words, when using different microphones, some will make you sound more bassy while others will capture more high frequency sparkle. The SM58's frequency response ranges from 50Hz to 15kHz, and it is famous for having a pleasing response within that range, which is very well suited for vocals. Another thing the SM58 is famous for, is being rugged. The SM58 is potentially the world's most durable microphone. People can have these for decades and use and abuse them continously without them failing. In fact, if you look on Youtube, you'll see people driving their cars over their SM58. just to prove how durable it is.
The Shure SM58 was my first professional microphone, and everything about it felt great. The construction and build quality is impeccable. It comes with a nice protective pouch, not that it needs it, but it's nice to store it in one. It's a comfortable weight, heavy enough that it feels like a proper quality product, yet light enough that you can hold it in your hand for hours. The fact that it's so durable is really a core selling point as well. I don't think I've ever dropped my SM58 on the floor, but I'm not afraid to. With my condenser microphones I am always terrified of damaging them, but with the SM58 I am free to do anything I like and just worry about the music. Inherently, the microphone has a pleasing sound, and still to this day I will sometimes choose to record vocals with the SM58 rather than my condenser microphones. I am confident I will keep my SM58 for as long as I do music. It's one of those pieces of gear that is sort of essential.
If you are looking to buy an SM58 it is crucial that you do some research on counterfeits first. It can be tempting to go for what seems like a good deal on eBay, but the market is flooded with Asian counterfeits of the SM58, and these can look extremely similar to the real thing. The counterfeits are getting better with every revision, visually better that is. However, if you end up with a counterfeit SM58, do not expect a legendary vocal sound. This is one of those cases where I would say, do not try to save money, and it's best to stay away from second hand products, unless you can inspect and try them first. Buy from a reputable seller, and if you don't, make sure you have the rights to return your SM58 should it turn out to be a counterfeit. There are things to look out for, ranging from small stickers being present to the colouring of wires inside the microphone and how it was glued and ensembled. I'm not going to get into detail on it here, since the counterfeits are continually changing. Your best bet would be to read up on the latest information on how to spot a counterfeit SM58 online.
When I got my SM58, in 2008, I paid £68 for it, from an Amazon marketplace seller. It seems now you'll have to pay about £89 for it. Generally speaking, the price seemed to be lower back then. It's odd how the price seems to have come up so much in so little time. I was a bit nervous about ordering from the marketplace seller, but I inspected my microphones very thoroughly, and that coupled with a great sound has made me confident I have the real thing.
Rock solid microphone that remains the industry standard live vocal microphone now, after more than 40 years on the market! Good for studio work, essential for live work, so well made it'll last you a lifetime. And all for less than £100.
Summary: Extremely durable and great sounding microphone that will last you a life time!