By aclarson on 6th March 2012
What more is there to say about this mic? Probably the most hyped mic on Gearslutz, this mic is famous for it's uses with a number of famous artists, including Michael Jackson, James Hetfield, Brandon Boyd, Anthony Kiedis, etc.
I bought into the hype myself and picked this mic up a while back to use for my metal singing and screaming vocals, and was very happy with my purchase immediately after I bought it. There are a lot of people out there who like to compare this mic directly with the SM57 and SM58, and say that they sound similar. Well, in my comparison with these mics, it wasn't even close. The SM7 clearly captures more, it's especially noticeable on the low-end.
I think the constant mention of 'clean gain needed' is a bit over-emphasized on Gearslutz, as I had no trouble getting useable tracks out this guy plugged into my Digimax FS pres. That being said, it definitely likes a groovy preamp, as being a dynamic, it has a very clinical sound that isn't necessarily exciting on it's own, but responds well to shaping after the fact. My GAP Pre-73 seemed to work very nic with it, as is commonly mentioned as a great low-end chain around here. Also plays well with EQ and compression without a lot of noticable phase smearing.
I think a lot of people tend to hype up this mic because they have poorly treated recording spaces, and being a dynamic mic, it doesn't pick up as many stray reflections as a condenser would. So bear that in mind as you see the rave reviews - many of it's users are bedroom studios with poor acoustics who tend to dislike condensers when used in such a space.
Once you start using a nice condenser that suits your voice in a treated space, the SM7 has a tendency to start to sound boring by comparison. A good condenser has a tendency to impose this flattering 'sheen' in the sibilant to high-frequencies which can sound very sexy, and when you find it, you may start to get bored with your SM7 very fast. That being said, I've found new life for it recently for doing backup vocals, as I often want them to sound a little more bland next to my lead vocal as to not step on the lead-ness of it.
I think one other thing to consider with this mic is if your live, dynamic mic sound is a heavy part of the vibe of the music you perform. I've seen many rock bands who are used to using dynamic mics live, and that sound is just kind of part of what you're used to hearing with them. So when recording time comes, if they use a sexsy condenser, it can sound kind of out of place. The SM7 does a nice "sounds-live-but-better-than-live" kind of vibe for those bands that you want to sound like they're rocking out in the club.
By monkeyxx on 26th March 2012
I have to rate the SM7B as a 10 for sound quality, because, when it's right on a source, it's just otherworldy good sounding. Such a bold and smooth tone, it's elegant really.
I rate it for a 10 on features, too, because of the tone switches on the rear of the mic. Unlike the sometimes-useless pads and high pass filters typical on many microphones, the midrange boost and high pass on the SM7B allow for very useful tone shaping on certain sources. I like to engage both when recording my own voice. I like to turn both off when recording a bright aggressive guitar amp to tame the sound.
On a very snarly Super Reverb played with a Fender Jaguar I found the SM7B to tame the bite just enough, and used it as the main guitar sound on that project. I was very pleased with myself and self congratulating when I figured out that solution, rather than arguing with the guitar player about his treble knob, a nice little "engineer" moment.
I've also used this mic on a high gain, high volume guitar sound, alongside 4 other mics, and found it a useful tone to blend into the total sound. High gain guitar is so finicky to me seeming to always require EQ, so, instead, I like to put up several mics with different responses and blend them to tase, often resulting in big impressive summed tones. You can play with the phase of these microphones too to get different EQing effects.
Well, I've got so many mics, I've just used this on guitar and voice, not really needing it anywhere else to date, but, I'll be sure to try. I did not like it on acoustic guitar, but that was not a very thorough test.
It's not always the right vocal mic for every mix or every singer, but, sometimes it works wonders. It seems to have a focused sound that doesn't take up too much space in a mix. I think the SM7 legend is somewhat justified, being a little leaner than an RE20 and a bit fatter than an M88TG on vocals. Those are good mics too, though, in certain scenarios. The M88 is bright, and the RE20 is very thick and full. I've used all three on voice with success.
Yes it takes some gain, but, with a quiet preamp and recording at 24 bits, I don't see this being too much of an issue, even with a UA 610, which actually pairs well with this and other dynamic microphones. Just watch the gain staging between the two sections of that mic amp. Maybe the reputation for needing gain comes from the shitty quality of many cheapo preamps when cranked to the high end of their gain range. I haven't had any trouble with any of my professional quality mic preamps, regardless of maximum available gain specification.
Great mic for the money. It's not my only microphone, and I wouldn't want it to be, but I expect to use it a long time. Really well built, too. Wish it came with a box or case of some sort for storage.
By jbg08 on 28th March 2012
Usually needs a little help, but a fantasic mic
Many a gearslut have purchased this mic without testing one out ahead of time and I am no exception. I don't have the budget to justify a locker full of precious mics and I was quite interested by the amount of praise given to it's abilities. I have to admit that I didn't get instant gratification when I started to test it on sources. First off it is low output. Make sure you have a preamp that is quiet when turned up. If your source is quiet you might need a different mic. Also, it doesn't have a wide open top end that you'd expect from a condenser mic. Be prepared to cut low and/or add high EQ. Nor, will it flatter every source you stick it in front of. This is why I think it's interesting that Michael Jackson was recorded with this mic, but I also think that is misleading. You can't put it in front of a shitty singer and expect an angel on the other end.
Despite my criticisms once I became accustomed to the sound of this mic I found it to be very useful. I wouldn't be afraid to test it on just about any source. Very handy for vocalists who have a hard time with headphones and want to be in the same room as the monitors. A sleeper on strummed acoustic guitar that needs to sit in the mix. Kick, bass, guitar cab; don't be afraid it will work if you know where to put it.
I've heard many very expensive mics and I'd never be fooled that the SM7B was one of them. But in the right hands this mic is great to have around.
By charles chocula on 29th March 2012
an excellent value
This microphone is truly a standout value. I had heard about it for years and passed on buying it for, in hindsight, far too long- that said, after purchasing it and using it on various sources, I'm really considering getting another. It typically gets used through an A-Design Pacifica, and it should be mentioned that it DOES require quite a lot of gain... but it sounds beautiful and rich.
Probably the thing that makes it most useful besides its euphonic performance and relatively wide and flat frequency response is the fact that it provides significant off-axis rejection, effectively eliminating room sound. This is a godsend for recording situations where there might not be a lot of sound treatment.
The SM7B comes with a detachable windscreen, seems to be well-shielded, and has a VERY useful presence boost on the back which enhances vocals, making them cut through the mix. It has a low frequency rolloff switch, takes eq and compression well, and sounds DEEP on baritone AND tenor voices. Records my J45 wonderfully, and a Jazzmaster through Fender Twin Reverb is both warm and sparkly.
Not only would I highly recommend this microphone to anyone who has a quality preamp, but it has kind of changed my thinking when it comes to dynamic microphones in general... for instance, i am now convinced that my next microphone purchase, if not a royer or truly top-shelf condenser (or that other SM7B), just HAS to be, perhaps, a Sennheiser MD 441. Crazy, huh? I know. Tell me about it.
By Freeloader on 30th March 2012
Shure SM7B - I LOVE IT!
I've had this mic for 2 months now and I've probably used it more in those two months than all my other mics.
Since I've found myself recording artists' performances for video recordings, the SM7 is the one mic I can rely on giving me a good, clean and honest representation of a singer's voice regardless of the room we're recording in.
I've paired mine with a Cloudlifter CL-2 for an added 20db boost and then gone either into my UA 610, ISA 428 or GAP 73. In all of those situations, I was able to get a wonderful sound.
Besides the microphone's somewhat bulky design, it usually sounds good on pretty much whatever I can put it on (without it getting in the way). My snare, which I usually tune really low, had all the low end hump I could ever want without losing any definition in the hi end. It's also a great kick drum mic and works great on upright bass. I'm excited to try it on more sources and know that this is a mic I'm going to use for many many many years to come!
It's a classic microphone for obvious reasons and I can't imagine how I've survived so long without one!! It needs to be in your mic locker, so get one!
By jeremycox on 27th April 2012
I'd give this bitch an 11 for features if I could! The HF boost on the back sounds so sweet on vocals!
I've had one for a decade and use it nearly every day. And just like every other dynamic mic shure makes, you could hammer nails with this thing during the day and record with it at night. I can't think of a better studio investment!
By tomwatson on 1st June 2012
Screaming male rock vocals 'it's a go to mic', other singers 'not a go to mic'
This mic has a very low output so you can scream into without overloading most preamps where you might have to engage a pad on other mics or make the singer step away from the mic which might not give you as good a sound.
So... If I'm recording a rock band with a lot of scream type of vocals this is a good mic to try. It's ok on instruments and other stuff but it doesn't have the nice top end that a good condenser would have.
I used to work in radio and I'm quite used to the sound of this mic on announcers but it is very mid range focused so it's not going to work well on a lot of female singers.
The low output of the mic is much lower does mean your preamp is going to be cranked up louder which means a higher noise floor coming from your preamp that with most other mics on the same preamp.
The low output is useful though if you ever have to close mic a loud source like brass if you have a brass section that all want to play together. You might also wanna try it on guitar cabs. It works ok on acoustic guitar too but I prefer some of my other mics for that purpose.
Don't forget that there is a switch on the back which just looks like a picture. If you move the switch the picture will move between a flatter response and a more mid range focused response but there does seem to be a bit of a top end roll of all the time in general.
Since it is a standard radio announcer mic it is great for voice over work for ads, movies, etc...
I do own one and I wouldn't sell it as it is very useful around the studio and most the studios I know have one for this reason however if you are just starting out and looking for one 'go to mic for everything' it's probably NOT the best choice unless you are a male rock singer that wants a mic for screaming into and recoding guitars. It is however a good mic for everyone to have in their studio and find a use for.
By ohmicide on 22nd December 2012
Best microphone for home studios or not
If you have a home studio or just a room in general then this is the best microphone to get. It sounds great in almost any situation with almost any type of vocalist or almost any type of instrument that needs a good direct signal. It is a bit dull sounding by nature but you can EQ the living crap out of it and make it sound like whatever you want it to. This thing is a trooper, everyone serious about recording should definitely have one.
By robertgeorge on 24th December 2012
On my voice it sounded better than a 2k u-47 cone. The thing I found was that it really came alive when I put a fathead inline fet transformer inline and used phantom power on it. All of a sudden it wounded more like a big $ mic. You gotta spend $99 and get a fethead if you own this mic. A Cloudlifter would probably do the same job. Very nice improvement on a mic that already sounds terrific.
By Bellico on 5th January 2013
I kept saying I would buy one and passed it up over and over for other mics till one day the price was right....
I tried it on a few things... and got myself another the next week
Great on snare top!!!! it is much thicker sonically there than a 57, or a 57 mod.
I use it with the big foam pop filter for louder pop backbeat tracks or no filter for lighter ECM style. Ghost notes and drags the regular filter.
No filter with a heavy strike can also give you a bit of the John Bonham voodoo effect if you point it more across the drum toward the opposite side of the head rather than at the center.
That gives you some of the wind sound of the stick through the air just before it hits the head.
Just make sure your drummer always hits where he or she is aiming.
Luckily I do.
By dans595 on 26th August 2013
When it came time to buy a microphone, I had narrowed it down to either the SM7B or the AKG C214. I finally bought the C214. While it was a nice microphone, I ultimately found it wasn't the right fit for my voice. After sending it back for the SM7B, I was much happier. That said, the SM7B does have one downside.
Build quality: The unit feels indestructible. I keep it by my bed now, to clobber intruders over the head with if any should come.
Look: A very utilitarian and distinctive looking microphone, and also quite large. I have found that its aesthetics do grow on me. What's more, people are always talking about how big my microphone is. Can't say I mind that!
Features: It has two switches on the back that require a sharp instrument in order to switch. One is a high shelf boost and one is a high pass filter.
Sonic performance: A nice full sound. The frequency response doesn't seem to emphasize the highs that much, but in the low and midrange, it is just beautiful. The bass becomes particularly pronounced with proximity, and the off axis rejection is very nice. This microphone is probably the ideal choice for a poorly treated recording environment. The one downside to this microphone is the necessity of a lot of gain. Before I bought the microphone, I thought that that just meant I needed a preamp with plenty of gain and I'd be fine. The difference is that there will be a little bit of noise that isn't as pronounced with a sensitive condenser mic.
Effect on dancing: After buying the microphone, I could finally dance like Michael Jackson! Owww!
Not much else needs to be said. It's a great value, it sounds superb, and it's well built. It does require more gain than most microphones and as you get the gain up there, the noise floor will become audible (especially with multiple tracks); that's the only downside I've found. Get one!
By therecluse26 on 28th August 2013
This mic has proven itself time and time again to be one of the most useful in my mic locker. It's one of the few mics I've seen that works equally well on vocals (both spoken and sung, as well as screamed in some instances) and instrumental sources. While it doesn't have the same accuracy in high-end transient response of, say, an SDC, it still works better than most dynamics I know of on acoustic sources. That being said, it would never be my go-to mic for such purposes. My main uses for this mic have been on vocals, drums and guitar cabinets, and it's worked beautifully on all of them!
Sound: Imagine a smoothed out, extended version of the sm57, as if the transformer were removed (like many modders have taken a liking to doing). It sounds full, responsive and tight. Definitely not as detailed as a condenser, but that's why we have variety! It's not worse than an LDC, it's just different.
Isolation: Where the 7b really shines is in its isolation. It provides some of the best off-axis rejection I've ever seen in any mic, anywhere, making it ideal for tracking in untreated (or poorly treated) rooms as well as for maintaining isolation (say, for example on lead vocals) in a noisy live performance environment. There's also next to no handling noise, and the built in pop-filtration is a nice addition! This is presumably what made this one of the two main standards in the radio broadcast world.
Noise: The biggest complaint I have about the SM7b is its sensitivity. On quieter sources, it requires a lot of gain to get the signal to a usable level. This, as we know, will introduce noise from the preamps, either requiring you to have extra low-noise preamps ($$), get some solution like the Cloudlifter CL-1 to add extra clean gain, or live with the noise. For an engineer working on a lower budget or with relatively noisy preamps, I'd say that this mic is best left for louder sources.
Build quality: It's a Shure mic, and like most of the standard Shure mics, it feels as if it was developed by the military as body armor to protect against mortar blasts.
Extra features: It has two switches on the rear for tone-shaping; a low cut, and a high-mid boost. Pretty nifty.