The Shure SM7B has long been a favorite microphone for content creators on platforms like YouTube, especially for podcasts and indoor videos addressing the camera. Its popularity is well-deserved, offering a solid microphone performance at an affordable price point.
However, it’s not without its drawbacks. One significant issue users face is its relatively low output, often necessitating an additional preamp in the signal chain. But now, Shure has addressed this concern with the release of the Shure SM7dB. This microphone boasts a built-in preamp, providing a stronger and more robust signal.
The Shure SM7B shines when paired with a high-powered mixer or audio interface capable of amplifying the signal adequately. However, it falls short of most consumer-grade mixers and audio interfaces that lack the necessary power.
The reason behind the SM7B’s quiet output lies in its dynamic microphone nature. Unlike condenser microphones that typically receive 48v phantom power from recording devices, mixers, or audio interfaces, dynamic microphones draw no power from the connected device. They generate their signals from the vibrations of their capsules, resulting in relatively weak signals.
Dynamic microphones, thanks to their wider dynamic range, are favored by vocalists. They can deliver powerful vocals without distortion during loud moments, ensuring clean recordings.
For home or studio setups recording podcasts and YouTube videos at moderate volumes, a workaround is needed. Enter the preamp, an essential component that boosts the microphone’s signal before it reaches your mixer or interface. One popular type of inline preamp for microphones like the Shure SM7B is the Cloudlifter.
Cloudlifters are designed to amplify quiet microphones, increasing both the signal and the background noise level. However, they do an excellent job of amplifying the signal more than the noise, resulting in a relatively clean audio signal.
Cloudlifters have become a standard accessory for Shure SM7B owners on YouTube, but they come at a cost, with the basic unit priced at $149, excluding cables and other accessories. When factoring in these additional expenses, the SM7B’s overall cost rises from $400 to $600.
Shure and Cloud, the company behind Cloudlifter, have joined forces to create a solution. The Shure SM7dB combines the qualities of the original Shure SM7B and the Cloudlifter into a single unit, offering several advantages.
Firstly, there are no extra accessories to purchase. You only need your cable to connect directly to the microphone. This streamlined setup reduces the number of sockets, cables, and potential points of failure, enhancing overall reliability.
In addition to the convenience of not needing extra accessories, the Shure SM7dB is cost-effective. While it’s priced higher than the SM7B, it’s more affordable than the SM7B and all the mandatory add-ons. If you already own the Shure SM7B and a Cloudlifter, upgrading to the Shure SM7dB may not yield significant benefits. It reduces cable clutter and eliminates one accessory from your audio chain, but little else changes.
However, if you’ve been using the Shure SM7B and found it too quiet but aren’t familiar with the Cloudlifter, your decision becomes more complex. Should you invest $150 in a Cloudlifter, or consider selling your SM7B and purchasing the SM7dB? Ultimately, this choice depends on your individual circumstances.
For those who haven’t yet acquired the SM7B or the Cloudlifter but are considering the SM7B, the Shure SM7dB appears to be the more cost-effective choice. Opting for the SM7dB will save you money compared to purchasing the SM7B and a Cloudlifter separately.
The Shure SM7dB is currently available for purchase at $499 and is already shipping.