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Shure SM 7 Dynamic Microphone Review
The Shure SM7b is basically an upgraded SM57. It looks much different than an SM57 and sounds different for a number of reasons. The SM7 started out as a voiceover microphone. If you watch Howard Stern, you'll notice that Robin uses a Shure SM7. I'm not sure about the guts inside, but one feature that makes the Shure SM7 a different microphone is the position of the capsule. They actually built a cage about 2-3” around the capsule. So even if your lips are touching the mic, they have a healthy space from the capsule. I'm sure this was a way to reduce the proximity effect that comes with the hypercardiod design.
The downside to putting the capsule at least 2” from tip of the mic is the chance for picking up other sounds is increased quite a bit. To combat this effect, they wrapped the cage in foam. This foam not only increases the isolation of this mic, but it works as a natural pop filter.
The Shure SM7 has two different tone settings on the back of the microphone that make it much more flexible. It has a low end roll off which is common on pro mics and it has a prescense boost which is not so common on mics. I must be honest, I haven't experimented much with the low end roll off switch. For every application that I've used the mic for I haven't wanted a massive low end.
Last night was the first time I disengaged the low end roll off. I was recording a band totally live in a crowded, small room. I had recorded the singer several times before. While he has a great voice, he wants the tone of his voice to be as thick and full as possible. I went ahead and turned off the low end filter for him. I also turned off the prescence boost. I knew his voice would have plenty of prescense. The band had drums, bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, and saxaphone basically all in the same rooms. The band leader was adament about recording EVERYTHING live. This means that I needed a tad bit of isolation in the vocals.
It turned out that there was more isolation than I needed. The Shure SM7 certainly blocked out unwanted sounds quite easily. We have a Mackie active PA speaker blasting the room full of sound. I was wearing ear plugs. The SM 7 did an amazing job. I'm very impressed. The singer said that his vocals never sounded as good with condenser mics such the Audio Technica 4050 or the AKG 414. What's amazing is this great sound was done live with no headphones with noise all over the place.
It's no wonder the SM 7 is used on some many professional recordings. The SM7's claim to fame is the Micheal Jackson “Thriller” record. They could have used any vintage microphone on the planet, but they choose the Shure SM7. I've read that the Red Hot Chili Peppers have used the SM 7 on vocals on ever album they have done. I've also heard that 3 Doors Down uses this mic a lot. You can see James Hetfield from Metallica singing into a Shure SM 7 on the “Some Kind Of Monster” DVD.
For $350, it's tough to beat a Shure SM 7. It's durable. It will last. It's pro. This mic is great in a loud, live recording setting or in an overdub with headphones setting. I'm impressed by this mic. You can tailer the sound to fit what you are looking for. I've even heard that it's a great kick drum mic too. I'll have to try it out. I'd pick the Shure SM7 over just about any condenser if budget is an issue.
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