By John Eppstein on 4th December 2011
If ever the phrase "Jack of all trades, master of none" applied to a microphone, that microphone would be the Shure SM57.
This mic is ubiquitous - you find it everywhere. It's fairly durable (its Achilles' heel is the front screen assembly which can be knocked off quite easily. In the last few years Shure finally started selling replacements so you don't need to buy an entire new cartridge anymore), and it sounds pretty much OK on anything you want to use it on, which is why it's such a standard on stage and in small studios. You put it up and it just works.
But it's never really great. Some years back (late '80s or early '90s) Shure changed the voice coil wire from copper to aluminum, which didn't do anything for the tone of the mic, which is why there are people who tell you that the old chrome body Unidyne III sounds better.
There is also a considerable frequency response variation sample to sample, which is something you only really know if you're had a chance to run pen graph plots on a bunch of mics. While they all pretty much conform to the generalized response plot that Shure prints in their literature the resolution of that plot is not as detailed as it might be and there's actually a lot of raggedness in the region of the presence peak that isn't the same from mic to mic. This means a couple of things - while certain quality brands of mic can be effectively used as stereo pairs without matching, you would not want to try this with a 57. In fact, Shure doesn't even offer matched pairs because AFAIK they do only the most rudimentary response testing. The other thing is that the non-identical response curves make these mics more prone to feedback onstage when multiple mics are open in the monitors. (I found out this stuff back when I was teching for a large sound reinforcement company that sent out mics for analysis by Marin County's Ultrasound.
But hey, I own a few of 'em. You probably will, too. It's a workhorse or, at least, a reliable pack mule. And they're definitely not expensive. You could do a lot worse for your first mic if you're strapped for cash.
People use 'em all the time on toms, snare (which I don't advise as the heads get knocked off too easily), guitar cabs, vocals, what have you. People even use 'em on kick drum and bass guitar which they are not really very good at. They handle moderately high SPL.
What's the one thing that I really love me an SM57 on? Blues harmonica. You want that Paul Butterfield/Charlie Musselwhite sound? There you go.
Cardioid pickup pattern. No rolloff switch (which isn't a factor for me as I never use them anyway.)
By windmillsound on 5th December 2011
Totally disagree with the former review of the SM57.
The SM57 is the best mic in the world...
In that it does almost anything, for less than £100 and it happens to be virtually indestructable.
Snares - it just works.
Right on the grill of a guitar amp - it just works - OK for a particular instrument/amp/sound there might be a mic that comes out 5% better, 5% of the time. But I can buy at least 12 of these for the price of a Royer, so there is no contest.
I've used all kinds of things on toms from C418s to MD421s, and you know what? - the SM57 does a damn good job. Sure, I'll grant you that having a cupboard full of U67s would sound quite good too, but for the rest of us mortals...
Backing Vocals - the other day I had a great vocalist with a smokey voice - so I used a Limited edition Gemini III on him to get that wonderful valvey thing going - but on backing vocals it was way too present and I didn't want them to distract from the main vocal line. Line up the SM57 - instantly sits just perfectly in the mix.
And I heard JJP uses them on Bass Cabs too.
I'm not expecting to record acoustic guitars with it (though some love it), but as an all round workhorse it is ridiculous how much use you will get out of what is probably the cheapest mic that deserves the monika 'professional'.
Honestly, generations of sound engineers are not wrong about this mic.
By Sunscape on 12th December 2011
I was surprised to see only two reviews so far, so I'll add my own opinion. The SM57 is one of the most iconic mics ever made. It’s an industry standard, and every studio has one in their mic locker, and for good reason. It's good for almost everything, from drums to vocals. I have mostly used it for vocals, though I experimented using it on African drums, with quite good results. It doesn’t add much to the sound of it though, and can be difficult to position near the drum, so a condenser may be a better option in that aspect.
As far as sound quality is, it sounds quite warm to me, but sometimes picks up a little too much background noise for my tastes. I guess I should make my PC quieter, but it's not very loud as is. It does pick up my “record” mouse clicks (which proves
Features: It's a mic. It looks cool. It is hugely rugged and works on most anything. What else can I say?
Value: Defiantly worth the $100. Even comes with a leather (pleather, I’m not sure?) carrying case. This should be your first or one of your first mics.
By cc1sound on 22nd December 2011
It's in my Mic Locker.
The Shure SM57 is a unidirectional cardioid dynamic microphone. This piece of gear is often regarded as a mic locker staple. This rugged mic has the distinction of being one of the most recorded mics since 1965. The excellent off axis rejection of this mic makes it a popular choice for instrument recording in the studio and live vocal work. With a frequency response of 40hz-15,000khz, SPL of 94db, 6 3/16 “ in length and 10 oz in weight makes this multi-tool a “GOTO” choice for my toolkit. The pairing of this mic with a ribbon on guitar cabinet has become a popular recording setup. The SM57 has been a familiar piece for drummers and is frequently employed for use with snare and toms. This microphone is simply regarded as a potential Life Saver when all others fail.
It’s just going to work better than some choices and should always be considered.
When I was first venturing into recording, I was talking with a seasoned sound engineer
about getting into the field and he asked me the following;
So ya wanna be a sound guy,,,,? What kinda mics ya got..? Do you have an SM57 ?
Readily found for under $100.00, I say pick up a pair or more
By Salivan on 22nd December 2011
Sound Quality: 7
This microphone has been used on thousands of recordings all over the world. It is a studio standard. The problem about it´s sound is that it maybe really harsh, with a very hyped top end. Sometimes that is what you want, some times it is not. The SM57 is most used for guitar cab, and snares. It combined with another microphones (darker / flatter), like a ribbon, a U89, is a great combination, and may sound really good. I gave it a 7 because it is not always that you´ll get a good sounding using just the sm57, not saying it is impossible, it is possible, just listen to slash´s tones, but you must have to know how to work with it, or it can be harsh.
And, it is a really good microphone for those who are starting out and don´t have a treated room, it is a dynamic microphone, with a really good off axis rejection, what makes it get little ambiance, for non treated rooms it is really good. Worked really well for acoustic guitars.
Ease of use: 10
Well, it is a 10 for me. It is a dynamic, doesnt need phaton power, supports high SPL, tough like a rock (the bulding supports falls and crashes), easy to place.
No pads or filters, you can´t make any single change on the mic, always on cardioid, it doesnt come with any features at all.
I gave it a 7 though because of the price, it is just 100 dollars, you can get it for less than that sometimes. You can´t expect to pay 100 dollars and have all the features as a C414 has for example.
Bang for buck: 10
For me it is "go without saying" a 10. For just 100 dollars you have a studio standard and an awesome microphone.
By Glenn Bucci on 22nd December 2011
A mic that was great when it came out, but not now
I found with today's newer mic's, one of the few purposes for the SM57 that still sounds decent is on a snare. The other time it is useful is when you don't want to hear all the freq's of a vocalist or instrument and just want the mid's pushed.
The Shure Beta 57, Blue Encore 100, 200, Audio Technica 2010, mic's from Audix, Rode, and EV all provide superior sound and accuracy over the SM57. The 57 came out when everything was recorded on tape and people were playing music on records. They were not focused on higher frequency's that we hear more of with digital recordings. The 57 sounds muffled comparied to a lot of the other mic's mention.
I actually did a session where on the drum kit, they had a SM57 on a snare. I asked them if they ever tried a Beta 57, and they were like, uh no. When we A/B them, they were amazed of the more open sound of the snare and the more accurate sound the Beta 57 gave. They asked me why do so many people still use the SM57? I said because it has been used on so many records and live situations in the past. People feel if it was good enough back then, its good enough for me today. They forget with digital recordings, we capture more of the higher freq's that was done in the past. Also many don't want to try something new. Now maybe you like the sound of the 57, if that is the case, I would encourage you to continue to use it. I know some don't like the Beta 57 and prefer the SM57 because they want that particular sound. That's all fine and good. But from an engineer perspective, I have heard a lot of great sounding snare drums in front of me. Drummers are very particular of what snare they will record a drum set with....as they should. When it goes through a SM57, it no longer has the sound it has live. It is compressed, the mid's are pushed out, and there is little top end. I would prefer to capture more accurately the sound of the snare that the drummer loves. I also found I prefer many of the mic's listed above on guitar cabinets over the SM57. There are so many higher freq's on the guitar that it does not capture. Perhaps for a artistic approach you don't want those freq's being heard....but I would rather capture more of the sound coming out of the amp. You can always reduce higher freq's through a good EQ later to tailor the sound you want. Here is a comparison of the SM57 and Beta 57. Vergleich: Shure PG57 / SM57 / Beta 57A Instrumentenmikrofone: - YouTube They sound similar but the higher freq's of the amp the Beta 57 picks up. The sample of the SM57 at 1:36 compared to the Beta 57 at 1:55 sounds like there is a sock over the mic
By Steaudiophen on 31st December 2011
There is always room for a 57
I have a few of these and you really can't get away from them. Simple, cardioid pattern, solid build(legend has it that drummers have been cracking cases), but the bottom line is they work well for many applications. If you are just starting out and are in the market for a mic in the 100 dollar range I'd go with one of these over some garbage equally priced condenser. If you have all the dank 1500+ goodies you already know and still have a few kicking around. I do know a guy who bought a bunch for his live sound company and reported the frequency response was not 100% the same on all 20 or so, but it was close. It is 100 dollars or less after all. Good mic, dependable, decent sound, cheap. Not the best, but surely one of them in it's price range.
By Insain on 16th January 2012
Let me start out by saying: What a great microphone. I predominantly do live recordings in a world that dishes out quite a beating, and the two SM57's I have hath survived it all. These things can be used for ANYTHING: snare, tom, close-up cymbals, guitar cabinets, bass cabinets, saxophones, clarinets, tubas, trombones, inside of organs, hanging from the ceiling for a choir... the list goes on and on. They are so well built and cheaply found, worrying about them is non-existent. I've used my two mainly as under-snare/tom microphones and they have only been hit a thousand times yet still work. These things are TOUGH. This mic is a dynamic cardioid, with the side rejection being wonderful. It takes a lot, from what I’ve experienced, to make these cause feedback on a stage. I would mainly use it as an instrument microphone; vocals sound horrendous.
You can pick up a SM57 for around 100$ new, or where I live around 50$ used. Being so tough, I would never worry about buying a defective SM57 used, but always double check!
Keep in mind, that the SM57 is essentially a SM58 with a smaller windscreen and screen head. Adding an extra foam screen to the outer screen head does NOT work as good as the SM58’s default design, I’ve tried it before.
By asdfdsa on 22nd January 2012
Seriously, for $100 you can't go wrong, even if it's only used for pounding nails to install your sound-treatment
In my experience (to save you what's been reapeated so much) I have found the sm57 to be a very useful tool, if not only because you can relate with other engineers or recordings and have a 'standard' reference point that everyone can give a useful judgement by.
On distorted guitars the mic sounds best right up on the speaker, actually, practically everything on this mic sounds the best right up in and on the source. Distance micing has generally sucked in my trials, but ymmmv. Snare, excellent, really captures that THACK and SNAP without much bleed, and with a good mix of body throughout the spectrum. Loud vocals, it's interesting as well for a compressed dirty mid focused sound, but I'd stick to an LDC for vox. For any bass work, or low-end detail this mic is not something you want to use if you have other choices, but, it is feasible, with some work, to get an alright/ decent sound out of - kinda the thing with the sm57, you can throw it on anything and it'll hear it and you can make it work 'good enough', but only great on a few things generally snare, electric guitar, and any mid-oriented source...but don't forget you can use it's mid-forward compressed characteristic on anything for that certain effect. Be sure you pay careful mind to placement as with this mic it can make a drastic difference. Also be wary this mic is not one to capture the full detail of sources, but that of course, can be an advantage in certain situations.
Overall, you shouldn't be looking to get an sm57 if you don't have one, you should just go get one because you need it, if only for the reference point; but if you're recording more than one type of source, you can guarantee it'll come in handy and pay for itself many times.
By connorh on 30th January 2012
A real dynamic workhorse
The SM57 is well known for being a workhorse of the studio. It is a cheap but good all-round dynamic microphone. It is great for use in drum recording, often classically used on the snare (both top and bottom microphones) as well as toms. Jerry Finn, the late engineer for Blink 182, used the SM57 for the snare on many of Blink's recordings. As a dynamic microphone it can withstand high sound pressure levels, making it also ideal for close-micing a guitar amplifier. It gives a mid-rangey sound in this context, and if placed at the centre of the amplifier driver cone will give a bright sound from the amp.
I have also used this microphone for vocal recording, where its performance is similar to that of its brother, the Shure SM58. The sound is coloured and less natural than a condenser microphone, however there are occasions in which this sound may be desired - an edgy rock vocal perhaps. The SM57 is also great as a dummy microphone when recording a singer who likes to hold a microphone as they perform or moves about a lot. If the singer is told to sing into the 57 then a better quality condenser microphone can be set up to record the actual performance.
In general this is a great workhorse microphone for drum recording (snares and toms) and close-micing an electric guitar amp. It can also be used to record vocals to produce a coloured sound, similar to that from the SM58.
By donsolo on 24th February 2012
Close to Jack of All Trades
Do you only have the budget for 1 mic that happens to be $100? This is a good place to start.
The SM57 has been used on so many records, the list would take up more than we have room to go into.
Normally this is used for your utility sort of situations, Guitar Cabs, Drums, Brass.
In terms of drums, this is a workhorse for the snare. There are other techniques like using a Small Diaphragm condenser but when you're worried about the drummer accidentally whacking the mic, you don't feel as weird about the SM57.
In terms of guitars, this has a high mid rise that can sound harsh so you have to use it off-axis. Even at that point, it can get a bit harsh, it's a bit finicky when it comes to placement.
For all of these uses, there are better, more specialized options. I personally like using MD421s and Royer 121s on guitar cabs, I like SDCs on snares and MD421s on toms, for brass I tend to go with RE20s for the louder players and LDCs for the quieter ones.
But, when you need a mic that just works, this is the one for you. I like my Audix i5 a bit better for most situations but I don't think it'd be as durable.
By shreddersinc on 26th February 2012
The world famous Shure SM57 microphone! This baby has been used on so many hit records, it's amazing. I love to put it in front of any guitar amp, from tube to solid state. This microphone is a legend. I haven't had the privilege of using it on a snare but it's know to rock. My favorite thing about this mic is it compliments my voice beautifully...with a little proximity effect my wife thinks I have one of those 1-900 voices, Then I think how do you know what those 1-900 voices sound like? Getting the right distance from this mic is the key to a magical vocal experience.
From newbie to pro you can't go wrong with this mic...I don't know if you can live without it actually. I bought a shure 6 inch pop filter(double thick version)
Which you do need if you are going to do any intimate vocals with this mic as it will give you problems with plosives. Sibilance has happened with me a few times on this mic, not a major sibilance issue though. My wife has never had a problem with sibilance along with other female voices.
This mic is built tough, legend has it that roadies have used these as hammers before. To get the true beauty out of this mic you do need a decent amount of clean gain, Dynamic mics love clean gain.
I have heard about modding these mics by taking the transformer out. It will need substantially more gain, but is supposed to make it sound more like the SM7b. There are plenty of threads on this here at Gear Slutz.
The difference between the sm57 and sm58 are negligible for the most part, but I always say the sm57 is for recording studio and the sm58 is for live performance, with it's added windscreen. You could always get a 57 and add your own windscreen.
Beware of second hand fakes, my friend has at least one fake. He didn't even know it until I told him.
By Wesma on 11th March 2012
Very good value!
The Shure SM57 has been of incredible value for me over the years. When starting out this microphone was pretty much all I had and there was not really anything I couldn’t use it for. Actually I still only have got this single one but there haven’t been that many times where I felt I needed another one (I do have a SM58 also though). My 57 has been used on live gigs as a vocal mic and in the studio it has been used for snare, kick, mono overhead, guitar amp, acoustic guitar, bass amp etc. I simply just need it.
The sound of this microphone is nothing spectacular but a lot of times, especially in a busy arrangement, it just makes stuff fit. The most common use for it is probably to close mic a snare drum. It handles SPL very well, captures a lot of the snap of the drum and rejects other sounds pretty good.
This microphone does rarely sound great on its own and I wouldn’t use it in a sparse arrangement for the main sounds (well maybe if I’m going for a Lo-Fi sound or something). The sound is simply not detailed enough for something like lead vocals in a pop song for example.
The SM57 is inexpensive and very solid – mine is still going strong even after some serious accidents.
By Dewochee on 31st March 2012
This is a must have for any recording studio. I have used on several sound sources including vocals, snare drum, saxophone, acoustic guitars, amplifier cabs and more. My main application for the mic is tracking the top of the snare drum.
Is reliable. You always know what you are going to get. It’s not the main microphone you have to have in your studio because there are better microphones out there, but its one of those microphones you can’t have missing from your arsenal of microphones.
I’ve used on vocals to get a different color on my vocals, the same with guitar cabs.
This is what I love about this microphone. I have dropped this microphone several times. Almost every time a drummer hits it with a drum stick. The black finish is fading but the sound stays the same. I have only seen one SM57 stop working because of a wiring issue.
For a $100.00 microphone you can’t miss on this. For anyone starting out, after you get your first condenser microphone and you Mic Pre, this should be your next microphone. I have seen these microphones sell used for as low as $50.00. worth the purchase.
So now all I have to say is this is a must have in starting any studio set up.
It's durable, reliable and gives you classic 57 sound.
I've used mostly on snares, but have used on guitars cabs, percussion, and vocals.
Now enter me in the UA Apollo Drawing!
Last edited by Dewochee; 31st March 2012 at 08:22 AM.. Reason: was under 200 words
By GoldMember on 5th April 2012
sm57 labeled "Unidyne III sm57 made in usa". This is the model Eric Johnson swears by along with many top producers and recording engineers.
the new ones do not sound as good!
its just another dynamic microphone, some people use it even for brushing their teeth-
some people claim that the new SM57's sound worse than the old ones,
USA pre 1985 vs. Mexico
problem was that Shure suffered a few years with non-authorized clones made in China.
some people tweak/modify the sm57/58
remove the transformer.
some add cappacitors to block the DC, remove DC.
old SM57 have dual low impedance.
SM stands for Studio Microphone, as the original market for all Shure SM mics were TV, radio, and recording studios.
The number "5" in the model indicates a dynamic mic element.
most Shure dynamic mic models start with the number "5".
The Shure model "55" had been around since 1939. "56", "57", and "58" were next.
is beleived that SM57/58 was imtroduced until 1965/66.
the MAX SPL of a dynamic microphone like the SM57/8 is frequency dependent. This means that low frequencies will produce distortion at a lower SPL than higher frequencies.
the frequency range to first exhibit distortion is centered around 100 Hz, close to the resonant frequency of the microphone's diaphragm. At 100 Hz, the measured MAX SPL is 150 dB SPL and the electrical output of the microphone is 0 dB V or 1.0 volts. Note this is a line level signal, not a mic level signal.
In the 1 kHz range, the SM58 measured MAX SPL is about 160 dB SPL due to the change in microphone sensitivity at the higher frequencies. The electrical output of the microphone at 160 dB SPL is +10 dBV or 3.2 volts.
In the 10 kHz range, 180 dB SPL is the MAX SPL of the SM58. However, this is a calculated measurement as Shure Engineering had no means to create such enormous and dangerous SPL. For comparison, NASA reports that a space shuttle launch measures 180 dB SPL and higher at 10 meters.
In the 20 kHz range, the MAX SPL is calculated to be around 190, due to the response falloff of the SM58. But now the point of absurdity has been reached because at 194 dB SPL the sound pressure varies from twice normal atmospheric pressure (at the wave peak) to a total vacuum (at the wave trough). Plus the sound source must be moving at the speed of sound just to generate a wave of this intensity.
In summary, a well-designed dynamic microphone of professional quality will never reach its distortion point in "normal" conditions. If one does encounter distortion when using a professional dynamic microphone for an extremely loud source, it is most likely that the electrical output of the microphone is clipping the input of the microphone preamplifier. [Remember that at 150 dB SPL, the SM58 will provide a line level output!] To solve this problem, an in-line attenuator ("pad") must be placed before the preamplifier input, or the microphone must be moved farther from the sound source. In general, the sound pressure level will decrease 6 dB for each doubling of the distance.
personally i find other mics from other brands better sounding, same price.
but the times i have used the sm5*s, were very interesting for rock guitar cabs.
Another Unidyne III USA SM57 vs Mexican SM57 Comparison
Shure Americas | SM57 Instrument Microphone | Instrument Mic, Rugged, Touring
Shure SM57's FAKE !!!!!!! ?????
FAKE SHURE SM57'S (including pics)
How to detect a phony SM57?
Chinese Shure SM7 clone
Fake Shure SM57 Copy China pictures
How to spot a fake sm57..
Spotting a Shure SM57 clone | AudioTechnology Magazine
Shure SM57's (Mexico, China, eBay) - Home Recording forums
Jands - Shure Counterfeit Education
Como distinguir un micro Shure original??