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The Shure SM58 Microphone is probably the defining image for microphones, the archetypal microphone if you will, with an unassuming black barrel topped by a silver, ball-shaped metal grille that was guarding the capsule. This is the microphone that we draw as children and think of as adults. It’s the microphone that Shure made famous worldwide: the SM58.
The Shure SM58 is the industry standard when it comes to mics for live vocal performances. It’s a handheld dynamic, cardioid mic that has graced stages everywhere from small towns in the American heartland to big cities in Asia. This legendary microphone has seen over half a century of use, and it has musicians and performers coming back to it again and again.
What makes the Shure SM58 such an enduring, classic device? What is it about the SM58 that has made it, along with the Shure SM57, one of the best-selling microphones in the world? If you want to take a deeper look at the Shure SM58 specs, and the SM58 performance, then check out the rest of the review below.
Shure, a company named after its founder Sydney N. Shure, has been a fixture in the industry ever since its foundation in the 1920s as a one-man company. From selling AM radio kits and components to broadcast stations to now manufacturing one of the world’s best audio recording devices, Shure has surely and rightly paved its way to legendary status and has become an industry standard.
With such a long and rich history, the company has invented and innovated numerous products and even software that aim to enhance audio quality to a professional and superior level. However, to this day, Shure is still known for their microphones, and most of the time, one would see the abbreviation ‘SM’ in the model name. This stands for “Studio Microphone” and the abbreviation is placed in all their SM microphone series since the early 1960s.
Sensitivity at 1 kHz Open Circuit Voltage
-54.5 dBV/Pa (1.85 mV); 1 Pa = 94 dB SPL
To say that the Shure 58 is a legendary microphone might be a bit of an understatement. Ever since its release in 1966, it’s become a ubiquitous presence on stages and performance spaces worldwide. It is, quite simply, a mic that needs next to no introduction. Anyone who picks up the Shure SM58 microphone knows that they’re holding something of quality.
The popularity of the SM58 is such that it spawned a range of identical microphones with additional features. There’s the Shure SM58s which comes with its own sliding on-off switch on the body, the SM58-CN which comes with its own cable, and the SM58-X2u kit consisting of the SM58-LC (no provided cable) and an inline X2u XLR-to-USB signal adaptor. There has also been a slew of imitations and homages to the classic black barrel and silver metal grille shape, but none hold up quite as well as the original.
The Shure SM58 is a classic for a reason, and that reason is simple: it just holds up so well onstage. Its affordable price, easily replaceable parts, durability, and flattering sound make it a must-have for every touring performer’s arsenal. Its cardioid pick-up pattern easily blocks out unnecessary ambient noise, and the overall design is simple but effective.
Probably the most important trait that any mic that’s taken on the road should have is durability. The SM58 is especially famous for this. Sure, you’re not going to be using it to hammer in nails, but it’s certainly going to hold up to wear and tear over the years because of its rugged construction and nice weight.
There’s a host of parts that are readily available on the Shure website in case any section of the mic needs replacement. The SM58 is also designed with an internal pneumatic shock-mount system that reduces vibration-induced noises, making it handy for stage use.
While the Shure SM58 might not be the pinnacle of audio quality, it’s fantastic for the price. Much of the microphone’s popularity is due to its performance, which offers users great clarity and a warm, natural midrange.
The SM58 frequency response is 50Hz to 15kHz, a range that is optimized for vocal performances. It has a sloping bass attenuation from 40 to 100Hz to combat the proximity effect, and this also allows users a bit more freedom in editing in post-production.
When using in a controlled environment such as the studio, you might want to use a pop filter to reduce plosives and save yourself time in the editing room.
The Shure SM58 is an industry standard for a reason. There’s no other mic that’s as popular and well-beloved onstage. While the SM58 can be used in a variety of different vocal applications including streaming, it offers the best value when it’s used in live performances.
With its warm, natural sound and richness, it offers most voices from pop stars to public speakers the best possible performance. No wonder it’s been a decades-long favorite for performers all over the world.
Although the SM58 is primarily designed and popularly used as a vocal mic, it can also be used for studio recording as it can sport an internal shock mount and has a built-in spherical filter that is good for recording instruments such as amplified electric guitars. However, there are other Shure models that are more optimized for studio recording use.
Like many dynamic vocal microphones, the Shure SM58 requires an XLR cable and a recording interface. It doesn’t require phantom power so you won’t be needing a preamp, but you can use it with a voice recorder or multi-input guitar amp. Simply plug the XLR cord into the microphone, and then plug the other end of the cord into your amp, turn on the power, and you’re good to go.
If you’re planning to do some editing on the computer, you’ll need an interface with an XLR input.
With a frequency response of 50Hz-15kHZ that is tailored to highlight vocals plus a cardioid polar pattern, the Shure SM58 dynamic microphone is a superior vocal microphone in its category. The bass attenuation from 40-100Hz also helps in giving prominence to one’s voice whether the SM58 is placed extremely close to the mouth or far from it.
The cardioid pickup pattern and built-in pop filter of the SM58 vocal mic help in reproducing and amplifying tones superbly to no fail. Even when the SM58 is being used in a loud and big environment, the sound of your voice will come out as warm, crisp, and clear.
The Shure SM58 has a lot of reasons that contribute to its overall superior performance. To simplify these, there are three sound reasons that make the SM58 good — or even great at what it does.
As Shure is known to be an industry standard for superior and reliable products, you are assured that the SM58 will not fail to make you sound good. From its design to features, the SM58 will produce professional-level results that can elevate any user’s vocal performance or audio recording even without phantom power and amidst all the noise.
Of course, the wide frequency response range of the microphone that is tailored to highlight vocals definitely helps in reproducing the sound source to an impressive standard – making the SM58 a quality microphone.
The rich and long history alone of Shure is a testament that its products, like the SM58, are consistent in performance may it be as a vocal mic or in recording instruments. No matter the SM58 model, each microphone sounds great because all of them have a consistent cardioid polar pattern.
Built and designed to survive even a bumpy world tour, the SM58 has legendary toughness. There are even YouTube videos of a “Durability Test” just to prove how sturdy this microphone is! Despite how many times the Shure SM58 has been dropped or thrown around, it will continue to sound good thanks to its break-resistant adapter, strong aluminum microphone capsule, and the overall quality materials used in manufacturing it.
The Shure SM58 is known to be the most popular vocal dynamic microphone in the world – used by professionals and amateurs. For reasons already stated above such as the design, features, accessories, and of course, the overall quality results the SM58 gives, this microphone definitely has earned its popularity.
However, there are a number of influential people who also helped in turning this microphone into the legendary icon that is. To name a few, Paul McCartney, Patti Smith, and Alice Cooper are just some of the musicians who use the SM58 as their go-to microphone.
With a reputation for durability and a solid build, as well as its consistent performance over the years, there’s no question that the Shure SM58 has earned its stars. Thanks to its affordable price and readily available replacement parts, the SM58 has been a feature in mic lockers for generations and is every performer’s best friend. Whether you’re a vocalist, a comedian, or an inspirational speaker, the SM58 is going to give you a great performance onstage with guaranteed good sound.
The Shure SM58 is popular because of its affordability, which paired with its great performance and durability make it a fantastic deal. The Shure SM58 on its own will typically retail for a little under USD$ 100, although that price can change depending on the additions included with your package.
To sum it all up, the Shure SM58 is popular for one reason: it works, and it works well. Tough, classic, and with a rich and natural performance that many vocalists will love, there’s simply nothing better for a live performance. Find the best deals for the Shure SM58 Microphone here.
Mics are designed for a specific application and requirement. With that said, the SM58 is designed particularly for vocals thus, it is the better choice for users who would like to highlight their voice. While the SM57 is also a great device, it is specifically designed to be an ‘instrumental’ mic. You can check out this guide on the best vocal microphones for other options.
The SM58 has an internal shock mount, and a pop-filter, and can combat the proximity effect to help with all the noise and plosives surrounding the sound source of focus. With those features plus a wide frequency response, the SM58 is great at noise reduction, may the recording setting be in a studio or a live stadium.
Professionals in the industry often compare the Shure SM58 with the Sennheiser e835. Both are cardioid dynamic microphones that are tailored to highlight vocals, especially live performances, and have a price point that is nearly the same.
However, the specs and the sound quality are where the difference lies. If you are looking for a more sensitive pick-up and consider yourself a ‘quiet’ vocalist, then the e835 would be a better fit for you. On the other hand, the SM58 is at the other end of the range as its low-end roll-off and prominent midrange make it a better option for a ‘loud’ vocalist.
Ultimately, a microphone sounds great so long as it is used for the intended application it was designed for.
Although equalizing and editing are often done to further enhance the quality and sound, the microphone used in the recording process itself definitely plays a huge role in the overall result. This is why Billie Eilish often changes her mic depending on what effect or sound she would like to achieve.
For a whisper-like and airy effect, Billie Eilish would often use a Neumann TLM 103 but when she recorded her hit single “Ocean Eyes”, it was reported that she used an Audio-Technica AT2020. She has also been seen to use a Shure SM58 for some live performances.