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Shure SM48 review: Decent $50 mic for live settings

In this review, I’ll taking a look at the Shure SM48 dynamic vocal microphone, which is 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.

Shure SM48 with stand adapter and case
Image: Higher Hz

Final verdict on the Shure SM48 3.5

If you’re a live venue owner on a budget, the SM48 is a great option to consider. It’s a little less than half the price of an SM58 or SM57 and performs relatively well for what it is.

Untrained ears won’t hear a difference, and for live performances, the limitations of the SM48 won’t register as much to begin with.

What I like

  • Affordable.
  • Usable performance.
  • Durable.

What I don’t like

  • Not great for studio work.
Buy Shure SM48 at: SweetwaterAmazon

Why you should trust me

I’ve worked with a diverse spectrum of gear over my decade spent in the field of audio production and engineering, both in the studio environments and on live productions.

Brandon Schock, author and contributor at Higher Hz

Working with names such as Shure, AKG, Neumann, and Sennheiser, among many others, has lent me nuanced insights into the practical application of audio equipment, and what value it provides users ranging from novice to seasoned professionals.


Use these jump links to navigate to the desired section of the review.

Polar pattern and frequency response

The Shure 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.

Shure SM48 microphone with switch
Image: Higher Hz

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.

Vocals 4.5

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.

Shure SM48 with microphone stand
Image: Higher Hz

While I recognize that I just stated that the SM48 might not be the best mic for studio vocals, in live situations I 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.

Acoustic guitars 2.0

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.

Guitar amps 3.8

The SM48 is 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.

Bass amps 3.8

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.

Drums 3.0

The Shure SM48 is fine for drums in any situation you would otherwise use an SM58. It can be an acceptable option for recording kicks, floor toms, or even snares.

Again, I would recommend it more for live applications considering that its limitations will be less obvious than on a studio performance.

Build quality 4.9

As is to be expected with any Shure microphone, the SM48 is built like a tank. The microphone is rugged, sturdy, and incredibly durable.

Shure SM48 supply package
Image: Higher Hz

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

While the SM48 is undoubtedly one of the best cheap dynamic microphones available, here are a few other microphones to compare against it.

Shure SM48 vs 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 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 dynamic microphone best suited for?

The SM48 is best suited for venue owners on a budget. While investing in a few SM58 and SM57 would be the “technically” better option, the truth of the matter is that most people probably won’t hear the difference.

Buy Shure SM48 at: SweetwaterAmazon

Recent updates

  • March 9, 2024: I’ve updated the text for clarity and added jump links for easier and faster navigation between the sections.
  • October 14, 2022: I’ve published the original review based on my experience with the microphone and recent test results.