Live only? What does “SM” mean?
Luckily, such a Shure SM58 is by no means limited to live use. In professional or home recording studios, these popular mics were able to continue to do their job during the covid-19 pandemic period. Fun Fact: Even though the SM58 is probably a little more common on stage and in rehearsal rooms, the “SM” originally stood for “Studio Microphone”. But now that live operations are picking up speed again, the well-known dynamic mics can go about their work anywhere again.
Shure SM58 is considered a very robust and reliable microphone
And even if a Shure SM58 has not been used for a long time, this does not detract from the robust sound transducers: There are verified reports of some that have been briefly in the fire, been run over by a car or even buried in the ground for a whole year – and still work flawlessly.
Why the SM58 is the best known and most popular mic
The most important characteristic of a microphone is of course the sound! The Shure SM58 is considered to be particularly powerful with vocals. In the case of spoken voices, speech intelligibility is also high.
The enormous level stability of the SM58 is important for loud voices, but especially for instruments . Whether on a loud percussion instrument or in front of the membrane of a ripped guitar amp, the microphone transmits without distortion. At the same time, the rear sound is very strongly dampened by the cardioid polar pattern characteristic.
Although the “58” has its beloved tonal characteristics, it is still neutral enough to be used as an all-rounder. There is hardly a sound source in the world that has not already been recorded with a Shure SM58. And because the Shure SM58 and sibling microphone SM57 are the world’s best-selling microphones, every engineer knows their characteristics very well.
Don’t forget: A Shure SM58 is affordable for everyone!
At the heart of the SM58 (and some other Shure mics): Unidyne III capsule
The Shure SM58 has strong family ties. The Shure SM57 , Shure 545SD , Shure 565SD , Shure SM7b , Shure 55H and many others, including some wireless microphones, use the same microphone capsule! The Unidyne III capsule was developed in 1960 by Shure employee Ernie Seeler, the son of German immigrants who was born in Cuba. In the 565 and SM58 it is installed in what is probably the most well-known microphone shape, the “ice cream cone”.
Different properties despite the same capsule
However, the Shure microphones mentioned are not identical because of the Unidyne II capsule. The Shure SM57 , which is used more as an instrument microphone, and the Shure SM58 differ in their frequency response, and the SM58’s basket avoids problems with close voices – and leads to the iconic appearance. By the way: On official occasions, generations of US Presidents speak into a pair of Shure SM57s with the A2WS foam windscreen and the A55Melastic mount!
The Shure 55H “Elvis microphone” has a slightly different frequency response simply because of its striking metal basket, while the Shure SM7b speaker microphone, which is popular in broadcasting and podcasting, convinces with its two filters. It does this so well that it can often be seen live and in the studio as an instrument microphone.
Shure with almost 100 years of history
Shure is now 97 years old! Mr. Shure initially sold tube radio kits and components in Chicago, Illinois. A little later, from the 1930s, Shure began to build microphones. Not only dynamic moving coil microphones were created, but also ribbon microphones, condenser microphones, piezo microphones and – no longer common today – carbon transducers. Among the condensers, the Shure SM81 small-diaphragm microphone in particular has achieved great fame: this is also considered a widespread classic.
The American company is now a global player. In addition to wired microphones for all kinds of applications, Shure also produces wireless systems and has brought interesting USB microphones and similar products onto the market. The catalogue includes hi-fi and studio headphones, as well as in-ears, consumer headphones and a whole range of conference technology devices. But Shure will probably always be associated with the most important microphone for the company – or actually: the whole world: the SM58 . And we’re pretty “shure” it’s here to stay 😉
The Shure SM58 – your feedback
Are you using the Shure SM58? Or another mic? We look forward to your feedback in the comments!