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Review: Shure SM58, Stage Vocal Microphone

This iconic live mic has been around for decades – is it still worth considering?

Item: Shure SM58, Stage Vocal Microphone

Price: $99 (US), £79 (UK)

Mic Rating: 4.5/5

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.

High Notes: The SM58’s cardioid polar pattern is good at isolating the vocalist as well as being very effective at minimising 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 vocal cut through without becoming sibilant.

Off Pitch: 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.

VoiceCouncil 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 still 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 and, 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.

Manufacturer’s Website: http://www.shure.co.uk

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  • Sless Terry

    I have sm58 and the radio version..find myself not using them as 1st choice..
    I have an old Bayerdynamic tgx 80 which is mEGA..but crazily..now discontinued
    These mics seem richer, more bass and louder thus less eq needed..
    could you recommend a similar one to the TGX 80 ..I’m aware of the tgx 70/71..

  • Dez

    SM58 is not as clear and is not directional enough to control feedback effectively. Its popularity is yielding to Audex OM-7, better sounding and directional, no more feedback issues.