Shure SM7B Review – is it really the best podcasting mic?

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The Shure SM7B mic, iconic in shape, and seemingly ubiquitous used in popular podcasts, is a mic I’ve been interested in for years. With a current list price of over $500 CAD, it’s far from an impulse purchase, but seeing it pop up on everyone from Gary V’s to Joe Rogan’s podcasts kept me curious as to what the fuss was about and how it would stack up against my trusted collection of USB, dynamic and condenser mics.

Why would anyone consider this seemingly overpriced dynamic mic over a large diaphragm condenser mic? And with only a standard XLR mic output, is it worth the hassle over popular USB mics to have to purchase an additional USB mixer or XLR to USB Adapter to get great audio into your computer?


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Testing Disclaimer

This isn’t a true audiophile’s or audio engineer’s analysis, but a practical comparison of the Shure SM7B against mics I happen to have around and love. This includes a matched pair of classic CAD condenser mics and my trusty (and cheap) Shure SM57 dynamic mic. So though I have a history of recording bands, some great headphones and mics, I’ll be judging the quality of sound by ear and not oscilloscope.

Caveats to using the Shure SM7B for Podcasting:

The Shure SM7B has an XLR output which means you’ll need a good mic cable and either an XLR to USB adapter or USB mixer to get audio into your computer. But why would you want to do this instead of just buy a popular USB mic? If you ever see yourself having a guest on your podcast you’ll need to figure out how to juggle multiple mics. Getting regular XLR mics and a multi-channel USB mixer makes sense over multiple USB mics because it’s far easier and faster to grab physical faders or knobs to adjust the levels and EQ of various mics versus digging into your computer’s audio system preferences.

BEHRINGER XENYX 1204USB
List Price: $149.99
Price: $149.99
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The USB mixer I use and recommend has the added benefit of built-in compression for up to 4 mics. This audio compression automatically evens out the vocal volume for better vocals without fuss. There’s also a 2 channel knob version which will give the same feature set in a smaller package.

BEHRINGER XENYX Q1002USB
List Price: $134.99
Price: $89.99
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The Podcasters Review of the Shure SM7B

Here’s a list of some of the Shure SM7B’s key features from Shure’s brochure:

  • Flat, wide-range frequency response for exceptionally clean and natural reproduction of both music and speech
  • Bass rolloff and mid-range emphasis (presence boost) controls with graphic display of response setting
  • Improved rejection of electromagnetic hum, optimized for shielding against broadband interference emitted by computer monitors
  • Internal “air suspension” shock isolation reduces mechanical noise transmission (without need for external mic suspension)
  • Highly effective pop filter eliminates need for any add-on protection against explosive breath sounds, even for close-up vocals or narration
  • Ships with the A7WS de tachable windscreen, designed to reduce plosive sounds and gives a warmer tone for close-talk vocals
  • Yoke mounting with captive stand nut for easy mounting and dismounting provides precise control of microphone position
  • Classic cardioid polar pattern provides good rejection of off-axis sound
  • Rugged construction legendary Shure reliability

In the video below (coming soon) you can hear how the SM7B sounds compared against a decent large-diaphragm condenser mic and the legendary and inexpensive Shure SM57.

Pros:

  • build quality and design – seems well built and worthy of use/abuse. Love the discrete cable attachment point and versatile yoke mount
  • Great built-in pop/wind filter: no fear of plosives when talking (or even blowing) directly into this mic, even with standard windscreen
  • Super-Punchy sound right out of the box: no need for fiddling with EQ or compressors to get great vocals and spoken word
  • Dynamic mics (vs Condenser mics) do not require phantom power: can be plugged into many mixing boards with sufficient mic gain (like directly into the Blackmagic Web Presenter I use for my livestreams)
  • More forgiving of mic technique – great vocal sound without having to “eat the mic”

Cons:

  • Relatively expensive compared to popular USB podcasting mics and other dynamic mics like Shure’s own SM57
  • Being a dynamic mic it requires more gain which introduces more noise than my condenser mics
  • Very coloured sound (i.e. uneven frequency response): sound has definitely been skewed to accentuate vocals. But this means it will have limited use for recording other instruments when you’d want a more even capture of all frequencies.
  • Large size – difficult to hide or position talent without obscuring their view

Wrapping Up

A quick search online and it’s clear there’s no shortage of mics available for creators and podcasters in all price ranges. But after pitting the Shure SM7B against my trusty stable of mics, it’s clear why this robust, great sounding vocal mic is found in so many of the most popular podcasting and recording studios around the world.

While the coloured frequency response of the Shure SM7B makes it great for vocals, it wouldn’t make it my first choice for recording delicate details of an orchestra. And if you’re on a tight budget, there are great popular USB mic options that won’t break the bank and will still give you great sound. But as a media professional, it’s refreshing to find a piece of gear like the Shure SM7B that makes pretty much everyone you put in front of it sound great out of the box without fuss or training.

Two thumbs up!


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THANK YOU! + THE NotSo FINE PRINT

I hope you've found this article useful as I hope to make your life easier and more fulfilled.

Most links and images above will take you to your local Amazon website. But if you can't find what you're looking for, you can click here for my Amazon.com Shop where you'll find my most current recommended finds. You can also use these links to shop at Adorama, B&H Photo and Ebay. As affiliates we get a small percentage of qualifying purchases but rest assured you won't pay a cent more than buying it elsewhere. Thank you for starting your shopping off with us 🙂

Lastly, I'd love to hear from YOU. Please don't be shy and hit me in the comments!

Thanks for reading and happy shopping friends 🙂

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