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SM7B..After almost 2 years still not impressed Condenser Microphones
Old 2nd September 2011
  #1
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302efi's Avatar
 

SM7B..After almost 2 years still not impressed

I bought into the hype sadly to say

Its been almost 2 years I've had this and I've tried it countless times on many different rock & rap artists and the outcome was never a "wow" factor. Always seemed like a LDC sounded better, in A/B comparison and in the mix.

Before the "what pre people" jump in here, I tried it with the following:
Avalon 737
UA LA 610
RNLA
Grace 101
....and a ART TPS (for good measure :D)

Now given I wasn't working with Michale Jackson or 50 Cent (who recorded albums with the SM7), I always got a "compressed" midrange sound outta it regardless of what I set the settings to on the back of the mic case.

Anyone else find thsi mic as useless as I did ?

How in the hell did MJ's Thriller album's vocals sound so crisp using this mic.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #2
Gear Addict
 

Point 1 -- the vox dont sound crisp, they sound neutral. i hate being nitpicky generally but crisp is overstating it

Point 2 -- the vocal doubling, when done and mixed beneath the main track, was varispeeded with the tape slowed so the double is pitch shifted up, giving shimmer [see the thread on this that's active right now] -- and even with that, the result is still neutral, not crisp

Point 3 -- it was an SM7, not an SM7B, which means it didn't have the humbucking coil and happened to let a slight bit more high end through. fine, we're talking slight. very slight.

Point 4 -- it was an original 1084 preamp which probably sounds better than all the preamps you tried. maybe the module's EQ was used. obviously board EQ was used, a Harrison 3232. well maybe none was used. that's speculation.

Point 5 -- the vocals ran through an old Urei 1176 which do their own thing mojo-wise.


FWIW i also try my SM7B in every shootout and it never wins
Old 2nd September 2011
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by recorder2 View Post
Point 1 -- the vox dont sound crisp, they sound neutral. i hate being nitpicky generally but crisp is overstating it

Point 2 -- the vocal doubling, when done and mixed beneath the main track, was varispeeded with the tape slowed so the double is pitch shifted up, giving shimmer [see the thread on this that's active right now] -- and even with that, the result is still neutral, not crisp

Point 3 -- it was an SM7, not an SM7B, which means it didn't have the humbucking coil and happened to let a slight bit more high end through. fine, we're talking slight. very slight.

Point 4 -- it was an original 1084 preamp which probably sounds better than all the preamps you tried.

Point 5 -- the vocals ran through an old Urei 1176 which do their own thing mojo-wise.
I agree with all your points, except I've heard sm7 and sm7b comparisons and the sm7 never sounded any more high-end crisp than the sm7b.

As for the SM7b never winning you guys' shootouts, it seems like it's simply not a sonic flavour you value. It's probably one of the least flashy mics there is, but I've grown to like the characteristic sound of it a lot.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #4
Fezzle
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Do remember that Michael Jacksons voice skills were impeccable, his projection was phenomenal and his range was probably suited the mic itself.. then throw a harrison 32 series console in the mix and a good 2" machine and your there. I would have though that this mic is just not suited for the vocalists your working with so stick with whats sounding best!
Old 2nd September 2011
  #5
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a zombie's Avatar
 

I just bought one and I love it so far, for a slightly inexperience vocalist it can be a lot better than an LDC, they can get more wild with it and get usable results-probably something you didn't test in your shootouts.

next time you do a shootout try stomping on the ground while holding the mic, dancing around and screaming...

On top of that i think it sounds rather nice, i keep the presence switch up and the highpass on, it yields great results with female vocalists.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #6
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a zombie's Avatar
 

I'll trade you a LDC for your SM7.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #7
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Quote:
Anyone else find thsi mic as useless as I did ?

.............absolutely contrary to my experience with this mic......I have been tracking some ridiculously good vocals with this mic recently, I have an Andreas Grosser modded 87.....sounds 67-ish and to be honest the sm7 often wins....it doesn't do detail as well....but tonally I think iit's great. Mine is paired with custom built 1073's and 1176's and often gets some Bricasti love so possibly there are some other aspects of your chain that aren't bringing out the best in it.........there have been some very good vocal recordings made with an sm7, best of luck.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #8
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LeMauce's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fezzle View Post
Do remember that Michael Jacksons voice skills were impeccable, his projection was phenomenal and his range was probably suited the mic itself.. then throw a harrison 32 series console in the mix and a good 2" machine and your there. I would have though that this mic is just not suited for the vocalists your working with so stick with whats sounding best!
You forgot a certain Bruce and Quincy with that....
Old 2nd September 2011
  #9
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beau_mckee's Avatar
I guess it isn't for everyone. But I continue to work solidly throughout year and use this microphone on numerous instruments in every session, so that's the lesson to take away, some people like it, some people don't, it ain't a bad a microphone by any means, it's in my top 3
Old 2nd September 2011
  #10
Fezzle
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMauce View Post
You forgot a certain Bruce and Quincy with that....
oops! Of course, the magic was in the trio
Old 2nd September 2011
  #11
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chrisdee's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by recorder2 View Post
Point 1 -- the vox dont sound crisp, they sound neutral. i hate being nitpicky generally but crisp is overstating it

Point 2 -- the vocal doubling, when done and mixed beneath the main track, was varispeeded with the tape slowed so the double is pitch shifted up, giving shimmer [see the thread on this that's active right now] -- and even with that, the result is still neutral, not crisp

Point 3 -- it was an SM7, not an SM7B, which means it didn't have the humbucking coil and happened to let a slight bit more high end through. fine, we're talking slight. very slight.

Point 4 -- it was an original 1084 preamp which probably sounds better than all the preamps you tried. maybe the module's EQ was used. obviously board EQ was used, a Harrison 3232. well maybe none was used. that's speculation.

Point 5 -- the vocals ran through an old Urei 1176 which do their own thing mojo-wise.


FWIW i also try my SM7B in every shootout and it never wins
Nice info.

I sold my brand new SM7B after 6 months use. Just could not find any use for it. It's not bad, but neither very good.
I like mics that sound big and like a record.

I did not think SM7B sounded like that.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #12
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I never understood the love for this mic. Sure, it has good rejection, but how bad sounding is your room if you value rejection that much?

I sold mine after a couple of months and I never regretted it (especially because I got my money back 100%). In my experience it was a boring sounding mic, and very difficult to make sit right in a mix to boot. Personally, I'd prefer a 57 to an SM7 on basically everything - including vocals and bass.

Normally I'd say there's no smoke without fire, but in this instance I found the hype to be very unjustified.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #13
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James Lugo's Avatar
 

I personally never got the sm7 excitement.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #14
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The sm7 and sm7b sound different. I have 3 7's and 2 7b's. They do indeed have a bit more top, and at least one I have has more bottom.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #15
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I am awake editing vocals cut with a 7b right now... the key to the SM7b...is finding that sweet spot...the footprint for greatness on this mic is VERY narrow...and in that zone you can really hit it amazingly well...but outside that zone, it can become very thin and dark and muffled...

I liken it to an actor who has to "hit his or her mark" on cue so the camera gets them in the right light...the SM7b is an incredible mic when the vocalist hits this mark...but if any off-axis from it...and it loses its shine very quickly.

BTW my signature is total sarcasm and plays on the gerasluz mania-debate over this mic...there are plenty of other options in LDC or otherwise that are great vocal mics...but the 7b if you hit it right is amazing.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisdee View Post
Nice info.

I sold my brand new SM7B after 6 months use. Just could not find any use for it. It's not bad, but neither very good.
I like mics that sound big and like a record.

I did not think SM7B sounded like that.
Sometimes you don't want a vocal mic to sound big, you just want the vocal to sit right and cut through a busy mix without drowning all the other instruments, which I think the SM7B or SM57 are good at without much EQing. But for acoustic stuff, it's better to have a vocal mic that sounds big, like a tube mic. I don't quite understand all these debates on which is the best vocal mic etc etc as it all depends on the singer and the genre, sometimes, only a U87 or a VMX could do the job but other times, an SM7B or an SM57 could be just the right choice. My 2 cents.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #17
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I found it to sound incredibly boxy sounding and muddy. Even filtering and EQ didnt completely solve it. I also seems very flat (dynamically) and compressed, but i understand it will never have the sensitivity of a capacitor. I used a GAP73 and MR816. I'm still certain with the right source and room however, it can sound great. I've heard too many records and comments to say otherwise!
Old 2nd September 2011
  #18
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88fingerz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 302efi View Post
I bought into the hype sadly to say
Anyone else find thsi mic as useless as I did ?
In total agreement here.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #19
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andreaeffe's Avatar
Hmmm... I usually and methodically avoid hype, or at least look very, very closely & skeptically into it. So I didn't buy an SM7 following any web readings.

But - I did buy one after:
-I used it routinely as a radio announcer/speaker mix, and saw in practice how its' character & rejection can come in handy
-had 3 sessions/experiences in which the rocking & belting vocalist was being intimidated by an LDC+pop filter and/or misrepresented by that, as the vocal output was too rough & loud for close up as I'd wanted it to sound, and half a meter /(or more) away like an opera singer was not giving me the audio presence, picture & flavour I was after
-I tried it on electric guitar amps & cabinets after hearing it on the same in sessions by a very well known, respected & successful US female engineer/producer... and I liked what I heard, subtly more "refined" than the legendary & venerable SM57, a tad more useable in busy live/multiamp/multiple musicians in the same room sessions
-I tried it on snare drum... and the above mentioned "more refined" nature was even more useful, but a thousand times more useful & welcome was the incredible hi-hat rejection.

So, no love story or hype here, but I find that when & where it works, it's a very good mic, and excellent value for money.
Of course, like any mic, it's not for everything, or everyone.


A
F
Old 2nd September 2011
  #20
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Arichlsss's Avatar
This mic wins usually on harsher rock vocals for me!!! When it's right is usually when other mics are just way to detailed
Old 2nd September 2011
  #21
Gear Maniac
I can agree that the sm7 is over hyped. I used it once on a guitar cab and wasn't thrilled. Then I tried it with a really great vocalist and he gets pretty loud and the sm7 sounded good for his singing voice but once we started tracking his screaming vocals it sounded lame. I slapped a LDC up in its place (Blue Baby Bottle) and his screaming vocals instantly sounded better. I will say that it does have its share of good applications but I really wasn't impressed with it on most places I used it.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #22
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doorknocker's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 302efi View Post
I bought into the hype sadly to say
So don't 'buy into the hype' in the future! Lesson learned.

The reason I often posted positively about the SM7b is because I'm constantly amazed by well it works for vocals especially. But that doesn't mean that somebody else couldn't have a very different experience with this mic.

Just like with any gear, the most important factor by far is your own expectation which is ALWAYS biased to a certain degree. For example, I came to the conclusion that I don't really like the trusted SM 57 on most Fender amps. I never got really good results and in fact I hardly ever used the 57 anymore except for snare.

But just a few days ago in a 'what the heck' moment I set up a 57 on a Fender Champ and pretty much was blown away: Dimension, warmth, clarity. In this particular situation, neither a MD 409, Coles 4038 or 421 could compete.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #23
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"help me. i'm comparing my work to the singing of MJ, the production of Quincy, and the engineering of Bruce. it doesn't measure up."

life lesson #1:

most of our work ain't gonna measure up to that.

having said that, it's possible that it's just not the right mic for your voice.

it's also possible you're not EQing it properly.

have you tried removing the windscreen?
Old 2nd September 2011
  #24
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Outlaw Hans's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik Thomas View Post
I am awake editing vocals cut with a 7b right now... the key to the SM7b...is finding that sweet spot...the footprint for greatness on this mic is VERY narrow...and in that zone you can really hit it amazingly well...but outside that zone, it can become very thin and dark and muffled...

I liken it to an actor who has to "hit his or her mark" on cue so the camera gets them in the right light...the SM7b is an incredible mic when the vocalist hits this mark...but if any off-axis from it...and it loses its shine very quickly.

BTW my signature is total sarcasm and plays on the gerasluz mania-debate over this mic...there are plenty of other options in LDC or otherwise that are great vocal mics...but the 7b if you hit it right is amazing.
Fully agree. It´s a one trick pony. The Re-20 is the allrounder if you ask me.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #25
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archfrenemy's Avatar
 

It takes a lot of gain to open up some high end on the SM7. (to my ears at least) Unless you have a signal chain that lets you record hot without clipping, you won't be driving your preamp enough to get anything but muddy warm mid heavyness. Everyone focuses on the preamp's gain to drive this mic, but having inputs on your interface that are set to handle that high gain is just as important.

Of course this is for newbies only... I certainly understand if the experienced guys aren't SM7 fans as well. The SM7 isn't a magic bullet like some say. It won't work with every setup or voice. But, if you haven't looked into changing the gain setting on your interface, then give it a shot and turn up that preamp gain. (but still leave your self a bit of headroom under that 0db line) You will at least like it more. I promise.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #26
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narcoman's Avatar
 

but you wouldn't WANT crisp vocals from an SM7B..... that's kinda the point!!
Old 2nd September 2011
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vintagelove View Post
The sm7 and sm7b sound different. I have 3 7's and 2 7b's. They do indeed have a bit more top, and at least one I have has more bottom.
It's funny, I've heard them compared several times, NO more high end in the sm7. In the only shootout where I heard a difference between the two, the sm7b actually had more top, but I don't think that's generally true either! I really don't think there is a sonic difference. Even a rep from Shure says there is no difference:

"I work for Shure and here is the answer to your questions...

SM7 -> SM7a = improved RF protection

SM7a -> SM7b = larger windscreen included & even further improved RF protection

There is NOT any discernable sound difference between any of the revisions. I've talked to people who swear they can hear it, but it isn't due to the revisions. Listen to any two of the same mic side-by-side and I'm sure you'll hear or think you hear a difference.

This isn't 'Shure biased mumbo jumbo.' I love lots of mics and I'd be the first to say if there was a difference. Shure as a whole doesn't try to hide information or use deceptive marketing tactics. The product is delivered as what it is and the price it is listed at..."
Old 2nd September 2011
  #28
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Lenzo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by narcoman View Post
but you wouldn't WANT crisp vocals from an SM7B..... that's kinda the point!!
I'd agree with that....I really like the character of it going through my Great River....
L.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #29
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I never really liked recording vocals with dynamic microphones until I thought about the whole song and context and not just the vocal sound.

Paired against a u87 or whatever the SM7 isn't going to sound as "impressive" especially to an untrained ear, but in the context of the mix it can be great.

Also Dynamic mics by nature usually need more gain than condensers and therefore the microphone preamp its paired with becomes magnitudes more important.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #30
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Cookie's Avatar
I Personally love my sm7b. BUT you have to have a really nice preamp to make it love you back.

And it's not right on everything. I don't like it on female vox.

Go here and any of the Al Holbrook stuff has the sm7b on vox.

Samples | In The Red Recording
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