Today, we’ll be reviewing the Shure SM48, the hyper-budget model of the SM58.
Shure is renowned for making reliably good-sounding products that are affordable. Let’s see if the SM48 upholds this reputation.
Our verdict on the Shure SM48
If you’re a live venue owner on a budget, the SM48 is a great option to consider when pooling in on microphones.
They’re a little less than half the price of an SM58 or SM57, and perform relatively well for what they are.
Untrained ears won’t hear a difference, and for live performances, the limitations of the SM48 won’t register as much to begin with.Available at: SweetwaterAmazon
Polar pattern and frequency response
The SM48 is a dynamic microphone with a unidirectional cardioid polar pattern as well as a frequency response of 55 Hz – 14 kHz.
On paper, the SM48 is nearly identical to the Shure SM58. However, there is a key distinction. Unlike the SM58, the SM48 doesn’t have an impedance matching transformer, making the mic perform differently.
Higher frequencies are more prominent before rolling off at 10 kHz, the midrange is less up-front, and there is less proximity effect. The microphone is also a tad more gain-hungry than the SM58.
Otherwise, it isn’t necessarily better or worse than the SM58 – just different. In some cases, it may even work better for certain vocalists over other mics.
The SM48 is absolutely usable when it comes to studio vocals. There is some sizzle on the higher frequencies which could help a vocalist in some cases.
However, despite having some presence boost, the microphone starts to roll off at around 10 kHz, making vocals sound pretty lackluster and dead.
While we recognize that we just stated that the SM48 might not be the best for studio vocals, in live situations we feel that many of its downfalls become negligent.
That is to say that the high-end roll-off won’t be as noticeable in live performances, so the microphone is absolutely usable.
The SM48 is fine for drums in any situation you would otherwise use a SM58. It can be an acceptable option for recording kicks, floor toms, or even snares.
Again, we would recommend it more for live applications considering that its limitations will be less obvious than on a studio performance.
Perfectly acceptable for recording guitar amps, although there are better microphones.
If you want a microphone that will pay more attention to the upper registers and attack of your guitar sound, an SM57 is a better option for not much more money.
The SM48 can easily be used to record bass cabinets, especially in conjunction with another microphone which is tailored more for the lower registers, such as the Beta 52A.
The SM48 cuts off at 55 Hz, a little above the lowest note of the bass guitar, so you won’t be able to get a full sound using it alone.
However, it can be used to flesh out the overall tone of your bass sound in a pinch.
While the microphone has pretty decent attack and articulation in the high-end, the roll-off at 10 kHz leaves a lot to be desired.
Overall, acoustic guitars are left sounding dull and lifeless. Another microphone would be preferable for this specific application.
As is to be expected with any Shure microphone, the SM48 is built like a tank. The microphone is rugged, sturdy, and incredibly durable.
There is no need to worry about dropping it or getting rough when on stage, as the microphone can easily withstand the abuse.
Compared to other microphones
Here are a few other microphones to compare against the Shure SM48.
Shure SM48 vs. Shure SM58
The SM58 is about twice the price of the SM48 when bought new, and while its spec sheet looks nearly identical, the SM58 is the “technically” better microphone.
Its frequency response is far more balanced, and it suffers from less of a roll-off in the high-end frequencies. With this in mind, it’s a far better option for in-studio use.
However, if you’re a venue on a budget and looking for a few microphones to engineer a live performance, the SM48 is just as good, and the differences between the two microphones won’t be as prominent.
Shure SM48 vs. Shure PGA48
The PGA48 is very similar to the SM48, although its low-end only reaches 70 Hz.
Honestly, the best environment for this microphone is a local karaoke bar, where clarity and accuracy of sound is at the bottom of your priority list.
If you’re looking for a microphone for more serious audio work, the SM48 is better for the cost.
Shure SM48 vs. Sennheiser e 835
The Sennheiser e 835 is almost the exact same price as the SM58, and performs almost identically. However, the e 835 is a bit brighter and may require less EQ in the low-mids than an SM58 would.
However, when looking at it in comparison to the SM48, both the SM58 and e 835 are better options in the long run.
Who is the Shure SM48 best suited for?
The SM48 is best suited for venue owners on a budget. While investing in a few SM58s and SM57s would be the “technically” better option, the truth of the matter is that most people probably won’t hear the difference.
- Usable performance.
- Not great for studio work.