Type: Dynamic Mic
Item: Shure SM7B Microphone
Price: US $349, UK £355 – £375
At a Glance: The Shure SM7 is probably one of the most used microphones in recording and radio history. Primarily intended as a voiceover microphone, it soon found a place in the recording studio as a vocal mic and has been used by singers such as Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Sheryl Crow, James Hetfield, Anthony Kiedis, Ray LaMontagne – to name a few. Over the years Shure have improved aspects of its design with the SM7B, which was introduced in 2001 (the latest version).
High Notes: The SM7B is a large-diaphragm dynamic microphone and, as such, requires no phantom power and works in a similar way to a mic you would use in a live setting. It has an in-built pop shield and switches for bass roll-off and mid-range emphasis (presence boost). As it is tailored to record voice, the SM7B tends to sound great on most vocals without much need for extra tweaking and it is excellent for situations where you want to minimise the amount of room sound in your vocal recordings such as a bedroom studio. The SM7B has an impressive maximum sound pressure level at over 180dB (similar to the sound level of the Space Shuttle launch at a close distance), meaning you are highly unlikely to break it no matter how loud you sing.
Off Pitch: The SM7B has a much lower output than a typical condenser microphone and, as such, requires a pre-amplifier with at least 60dB of clean gain to get the best out of it (and preferably closer to 70dB for very quiet sources). You will need to check that your microphone input is capable of this otherwise your recordings will come out far too quiet to achieve decent audio quality.
A VoiceCouncil Reviewer Says: It’s hard to overly critique a microphone that has been so effectively used on many great vocal recordings and by so many radio stations around the world, however it is worth saying that the SM7B is be no means a magic way of making your recordings sounding great. Matching a mic to your voice is an individual decision and what works for some people, will not necessarily work best for you. Generally speaking; for vocalists producing rock or rap music, the SM7B will often produce pleasing results, however if your music is classically orientated or you just want a more ‘detailed’ sound, you will often find better results using a condenser microphone. As with all microphones, test before you buy.
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