Item: Shure SM58, Stage Vocal Microphone
Price: £79 (UK), $99 (US)
Quick Singer Assessment:
An iconic microphone in the industry, the Shure SM58 is durable and makes live vocals sound great. But it can often require additional EQ to get it sounding right.
At a Glance
Shure’s SM58 is a cardioid dynamic vocal microphone, tailored to deliver a warm and clear vocal reproduction. It has gained a legendary status for being a popular microphone choice for vocal performances around the globe for decades. The microphone has an extremely durable construction with a shock-mount system that is effective in reducing handling noise. Its steel mesh grille is built to withstand years of rough handling, and the SM58 will perform consistently outdoors or indoors. Shure also produce a wireless version of the microphone.
The SM58’s cardioid polar pattern is good at isolating the vocalist as well as being very effective at minimizing feedback on stage. It also makes it less fussy about monitor placement than hyper-cardioid mics such as Shure’s Beta 58. The grille is designed to easily screw on and off – which means that you can buy replacement grilles if yours gets a bit dented, as well as making it easy to clean them or put a new one on for hygiene reasons. The microphone has a rich mid-range which helps vocals sound rich and full combined with a subtle high frequency lift that dips slightly around 7.5 kHz to help vocals cut through without becoming sibilant.
The microphone will often require some added EQ on your mixing desk in order to get the best out of it. As it is such a popular microphone, there are plenty of fakes out there – so make sure to buy one from a reputable dealer and ideally avoid buying used ones from auction sites.
Audio-Savvy Reviewer Says…
I’m quite a fan of the SM58 and it is still one of the best sounding microphones on the market – that said, there are plenty of better sounding microphones out there depending on your voice type and musical style. For rock and blues genres the SM58 works particularly well (especially for male singers), which is why you’ll still see top rock acts with large budgets using the humble SM58 for their vocals. I’m not entirely sure whether it’s because of the specific tonal qualities of the mic or if it’s just that we are so accustomed to hearing it; but the SM58 just seems to sound “right” in these contexts, and produces a full sound that sits well in a mix and is quite flattering to a singers’ tone. On the other hand, the SM58 can be easily bettered by other microphones when it comes to other styles of music such as jazz or folk when you want a “pure” sound with richer high frequency content. This is especially apparent with female singers, as the forward sounding lower mids of the SM58 that may sound rich on a male voice can come across as “muddy” on a female singer. Ultimately the SM58 is a great mic, and truly deserves its legendary status. That said, it is not necessarily the best mic for every application and singer. Although in the right context it can be hard to beat, there are plenty of settings where there are better microphone choices to match the singers voice. – Chris Kennedy
Manufacturer’s Website: http://www.shure.com
More on Mics for Singers
Chris Kennedy is a songwriter, producer multi-instrumentalist and freelance journalist from the UK. He has performed extensively over Europe and written and produced over a dozen albums. Chris also has a passion for music technology and was the principal product reviewer and tech expert of the original Voice Council magazine.