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Shure SM57 review

What is there to say about the Shure SM57 that hasn’t been said before? For starters, it’s a legendary microphone that sounds great on just about anything. It’s incredibly cheap, extremely durable, and most professionals have at least a handful of them lying around somewhere in their studio.

For around $100 retail, there really aren’t many good reasons for you not to own this mic, so let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

About the author

I’m a producer, audio engineer, and songwriter with over 10 years of experience with a wide range of gear and recording techniques. I’ve worked with a huge variety of microphones from Shure, Electro-Voice, Neumann, and AKG, among others.

Shure SM57 microphone review
Image: Higher Hz

Final verdict on the Shure SM57 5.0

The SM57 is a microphone that should be in everybody’s arsenal. Its utility and flexibility in such a wide variety of applications is unprecedented, and if that wasn’t enough, the microphone is durable enough that it may very well outlast you. At $100, you really can’t ask for a better mic.

What I like

  • Great for spoken word.
  • Perfect for electric guitar.
  • Well-built.
  • Nearly indestructible.

What I don’t like

  • Very low sensitivity.
  • Plosive issues without a windscreen.
Buy Shure SM57 at: SweetwaterAmazon


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Polar pattern and frequency response 5.0

The SM57 has a cardioid polar pattern, meaning that it has a higher response to sounds coming from in front of it rather than behind the mic.

It has a frequency response from 40 Hz to 15 kHz, a sensitivity of 56 dBV/Pa, as well as an impedance of 150 or 310 ohms.

Shure SM57 polar pattern and frequency response
Image: Higher Hz

Studio vocals 4.0

When it comes to recording vocals, it’s common practice to test several different microphones with your singer’s voice before deciding on which microphone to use.

The SM57 is a fairly bright-sounding microphone when used on vocals, so while it may work for some, it may not be the best choice for others. It really depends on your taste, but it does do the job quite well.

Live vocals 4.0

The SM57 is fantastic for live applications, mainly due its ability to handle high sound pressure levels, and reject unwanted background noise. Generally, the SM58 will be the microphone singers choose for live shows, but the SM57 will work just as well nine times out of ten.

Shure SM57 tested with microphone stand
Image: Higher Hz

Guitar amps 5.0

Recording electric guitars is truly the SM57’s bread and butter. It sounds amazing in this setting, and is on par with more expensive microphones in terms of sound quality.

Bass amps 3.5

The SM57 isn’t known for its phenomenal ability to capture a full low end. However, when recording electric bass, the SM57 is extremely helpful as a supplement to help shape out the midrange of your bass recording.

It shouldn’t be your only mic for this purpose however, and I’d recommend looking into the Shure Beta 52A as well.

Acoustic guitars 3.0

While the Shure does sound decent on acoustics, I’d recommend you look into buying a condenser microphone rather than the SM57 if you’re planning on recording acoustic guitar at home or in your studio.

The SM57 is a far better option for acoustic guitars when recording live performances, but still, the microphone won’t capture the body of the guitar as well as a condenser would.

Drums 5.0

The SM57 is an obvious choice when recording any type of drum track. It’s perfect for snares, rack and floor toms, and even kick drums in certain applications.

Build quality 5.0

The SM57 has been an industry standard for good reason, considering that these mics are practically indestructible. Despite a slight bit of plastic by the filter, the majority of the microphone is encased in metal.

The durability these things possess is an ungodly feat, and if you’re still not convinced, go ahead and watch this video of two Shure employees dropping it from the seventh story.

Compared to other microphones

The Shure SM57 is a great microphone. But you may be wondering how it compares against a few other microphones.

Shure SM57 vs SM58

For the most part, there isn’t much difference between the two of them except for the grille design. The 58’s ball grille design was made specifically to cancel out plosives from vocal performances. The SM57 on the other hand was made to get up-close and personal with the chosen sound source.

The effect is that the SM57 is better at accentuating higher frequencies, and is far less prone to wind noise. Alternatively, the SM58 dampens higher frequencies and allows you to stand a bit further from the mic.

It really depends on what it is you’re looking for, but they’re both amazing microphones regardless.

Read the full Shure SM58 review

Shure SM57 vs SM7B

I won’t get into the fine details about why these microphones are different, but the important information is as follows: the SM7B is roughly $300 more expensive than the SM57, and for the most part, it is a far better microphone.

The difference really lies in the versatility of the SM57, and how much of a workhorse the microphone is in comparison.

Truthfully, I’ve found that if you put on a large windscreen over the SM57, you can achieve a lot of the same tonal quality as you would the SM7B. Still, the SM7B is a far better microphone when it comes to vocal applications.

Read the full Shure SM7B review

Shure SM57 vs Beta 57A

The SM57 is a cardioid mic, meaning it will reject noise from the back whereas the Beta 57A is a super-cardioid pattern and will reject more from the sides.

The Beta 57A also has extended bass and treble range. However, some applications will still favor the SM57 over the Beta 57A. You can’t go wrong with either though, and ultimately it’s best to have both.

Shure SM57 vs Sennheiser e 609

This is another example where you’re better off with having both in your arsenal. However, if you have to pick one, I’d suggest going with the SM57 first because of its versatility.

The e 609 is great for recording guitar cabinets, but not as great on vocals. The SM57 on the other hand can do either relatively well. Still, they’re both great microphones.

Who is the Shure SM57 best suited for?

The SM57 is best suited for anybody regardless of experience. Most professional studios will have at least a handful of these mics on hand due to their usefulness and reliability.

Buy Shure SM57 at: SweetwaterAmazon