Review: Shure SM7B Vocal Microphone
Street Price: $349-$399
Musicians, producers and engineers are always searching for the grail. The piece of gear that is built like a tank and performs better than you imagined, and doesn’t destroy your savings account. As a full-time session and touring musician who plays saxophone, keyboards and does backup singing, I have different needs for each situation. My sessions are very diverse – from big band horn arrangements to freestyle hip-hop flow, while my live performance encounters drastically different room acoustics, sound engineers and more. I was on the hunt for a great quality “all around” microphone that would handle the most extreme situations and still show me the love by making whatever I was recording sound natural. I’ve found that with the Shure SM7B Dynamic Microphone.
You have no doubt heard this microphone time and time again. It truly is THE multipurpose microphone of choice, with everyone from broadcasters to Michael Jackson having used the SM7B. The flat, 50Hz-20kHz frequency response is designed to accommodate a wide variety of vocal applications, from spoken word to screaming rock vocals. Shure has played it smart by not messing with a good thing. Their latest update is only a minor change – an improved bracket design that offers greater stability on the mic stand. Out of the box, it comes with 2 windscreens. A thinner one is provided on the mic, which is well adapted for most vocal uses. Shure also provides a second, thicker windscreen designed for close proximity to protect against plosives and breath sounds.
I’m starting year two as saxophonist and vocalist for the Michael Jackson “Immortal” World Tour, which includes legendary members of MJ’s touring/recording bands. The SM7B is famously known for being Bruce Swedien’s vocal mic of choice on the legendary Thriller album. My friend and iconic MJ bassist Don Boyette suggested the SM7B, as he has one in his touring recording rig and was raving about it. He couldn’t have been more spot-on. This piece withstands all that is thrown its way. I tested it out with aggressive sax and trumpet runs and the SM7B did not distort on tape or in the mix. It also completely captured every subtle nuance of lead and backing vocals. The acoustic guitar, mic’d from 6 to 8 inches between the body and neck, was a beautiful buttery sound. I also like the ergonomic design of the SM7B, as I’m usually recording backstage in an arena or at my hotel room desk, not using a mic stand. I actually mount it on a foldable clarinet stand and it is the perfect height. Positioning is always key and with a little experimentation, anyone can get the sounds they are after with the SM7B.
The SM7B is able to handle a wide dynamic range of differences, from blaring full horn sections and an array of vocalists recording in both arenas and hotel rooms alike. It’s incredibly balanced, never distorts, built to last and requires low maintenance – just a few tweaks of the EQ and you’ll be on your way. This truly is a “secret” weapon that every performer should keep close.
-Flat, wide-range frequency response for exceptionally clean and natural reproduction of both music and speech
-Bass roll-off 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 virtually eliminates mechanical noise transmission
-Highly effective pop filter eliminates need for any add-on protection against explosive breath sounds, even for close-up vocals or narration
-Now shipping with the A7WS detachable 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, uniform with frequency and symmetrical about axis, to provide maximum rejection and minimum coloration of off-axis sound
-Rugged construction and excellent cartridge protection for outstanding reliability