Submitted July 25, 2009 by Sam
"A versatile, great sounding microphone at an extremely reasonable price."
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Overall, the SM7B is a great workhorse microphone that can be used in many different applications. Some sources, such as male vocals and electric guitar cabinets, give excellent results with the SM7B. Many people tend to overlook large diaphragm dynamics such as the SM7B and the RE20 in favor of similarly priced condensers. Yet, in my experience, if one is working in less than ideal acoustic conditions, or if there is any amount of audible background noise, it is often better to choose a great sounding dynamic over a condenser microphone. I have found that many similarly priced condensers do not provide the same overall sound quality that the SM7B provides, and it is much easier to get a good sound with the Shure. If one is just starting to get into recording, and one needs a good, versatile microphone at a great price, look no further than the SM7B. Alternatively, any one who has been recording for some time owes it to themselves to check out the SM7B. There's definitely a reason why this microphone is getting so much hype, and the SM7B definitely lives up to its lofty expectations.
It's hard to describe the "sound" of a particular microphone. Different microphones sound wildly different on every source. Even a microphone that is more suited to vocal applications will sound different on every vocalist. With that being said, the SM7B definitely has a fairly distinct sonic character. The microphone sounds relatively similar to an SM57, but slightly more mellow in the upper midrange with a bit more presence in the high frequencies (from around 8-10Khz and up). Overall, the microphone isn't as bright as most condensers (which is typical of almost every dynamic microphone), but is slightly brighter than, say, an EV RE20, or a ribbon microphone. Lower midrange is clearly represented, and the microphone reproduces the bass frequencies accurately when the bass roll-off is not engaged. Yet, the bass is not hyped at all, and the SM7B would not be my first choice for bass-heavy instruments (bass guitar, kick drum). The SM7B is suited to a variety of sources, and has worked well (for me) on electric guitar cabinets, bass cabinets (when I want to pickup more of the midrange of the bass), male vocals, and even some acoustic guitar applications. Overall, the SM7B (like the SM 57) is a wonderfully versatile mic that sounds excellent on some sources, and perfectly acceptable on most sources.
The SM7B contains many useful features. The microphone has a cardioid pickup pattern, and does a pretty decent job of rejecting room sounds (when close micing). The microphone also has switches for presence boost and bass roll-off, which are both useful when needed. The SM7B comes with a great suspension mount, which acts as a shockmount, and also comes with a larger windscreen for voiceover or broadcast applications. The internal windscreen does a great job at taming plosives. On the surface, the SM7B seems to be a fairly basic microphone in terms of features, but in actuality, one gets a lot for the money. Overall, the only other items that one would need with the SM7B are a microphone stand and an XLR cable. No extra shockmounts or pop filters are needed.
Ease of Use
It's pretty easy to get a great sound with the SM7B. As long as one is familiar with micing techniques, mic placement, and proper microphone usage, getting an accurate representation of a source is very easy. The microphone comes with a detailed manual that clearly explains all of the specifications of the mic. Engaging the bass roll-off or presence boost is merely flicking a switch. One caveat of the SM7B is that it has a relatively low output level. In order to use the SM7B, one has to have a preamplifier that can provide a lot of clean gain. I have used this particular mic with several different preamplifiers, and many are not able to cleanly amplify the SM7B's low output level (for instance, the UA Solo 610, or the Golden Age PRE73). I personally have gotten better results from a "clean" preamplifier, rather than a preamp that has a lot of "color."
Shure is famous for making microphones that stand the test of time, and the SM7B is no different. In typical Shure fashion, the microphone is extremely well built, and the suspension mount is very sturdy. It doesn't seem as durable as the SM57, but then again, almost no other microphone is. These microphones were designed to live on the stands of broadcast studios, without ever being put away. I doubt I will ever need to replace the SM7B due to damage/quality issues.
For its current asking price, the SM7B is a steal. The microphone is wonderfully versatile and will remain as part of my microphone collection for a very, very long time. The mic is a professional piece of equipment and is very capable of making a professional recording when used correctly. Many professional studios are using the SM7B for all sorts of applications, and many albums have made considerable use of this microphone (for instance, the original SM7 was the microphone used almost exclusively on the vocal tracks for Michael Jackson's "Thriller"). The asking price is very reasonable.
N/A; I haven't needed to contact support for any reason, but I have heard many people have had good experiences in dealing with Shure's customer service.
The Wow Factor
N/A; The SM7B has a basic, practical design that is perfectly adequate for what it is.
Alternative, Electro, Shoegaze
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