Shure SM57: The Ultimate Guide and Review

You’ll be surprised to know that over half of all recordings you’ve come across in the past forty years have all been recorded by Shure sm57. It has been the most popular microphone for a long time. Even before sm57 hit the stores, Shure was a popular choice to record songs. You’ve seen an older version in the hands of the legend Elvis Presley.

This article is your ultimate guide and review to the Shure sm57. Here you’ll find all you need to know before deciding if it’s the best mic for your recording sessions. However, before we get into the pros and cons, let’s find out how Shure sm57 came to be as huge as it is.

The History of an Industrial Standard Microphone

Every great thing has its origins. Shure’s story goes back to 1925. It had been a favorite among musicians before we even knew it existed. Elvis himself performed live holding the Shure 55. But it didn’t end there. Here’s a timeline of Shure’s glory through the years.

From 1942-1944

Before musicians put their money in Shure, its products served as military gear. You’d find a Shure model mounted in most oxygen masks and other military gear for communication. It has made a name for itself by constructing specialized microphones for air force pilots. They even adopted the MILSPECS specifications as a measure of their reliability.


1946 marks the year Shure started cartridge manufacture. They supplied cartridges to the biggest phonograph manufacturers of the time. Companies such as RCA, Admiral, and Motorola were their most notable buyers.


The secret formula to Shure’s exceptional audio quality is its groundbreaking Unidyne mic capsule. A smaller version of this, Unidyne 55S, was formed in 1951.


In 1953 Shure revolutionized the use of microphones in television and radio by introducing the famous hidden mic. This was a wireless mic adapted for performers, especially for use by television and film actors.


By 1955 Shure had managed to manufacture microphones that could work as phone loudspeakers—before this, talking on speakerphone was just a myth.


The success of Shure 55 was followed by model 545. A modified version of this Unidyne capsule, the Unidyne III, is what you’ll find in the Shure sm57 today.


1966 marks the year that Shure made its way into the music industry. Rock and roll musicians preferred the sm58 model because it could handle high noise and had high durability.


These five years were those of remarkable inventions for Shure. In 1973 the SM7 voice-over mic was introduced. It became a legend in the four generations that followed, whether podcasts or tv or radio shows.

The year 1978 was the year of Shure’s sm81. This condenser microphone has durability and studio-quality all in one product.

The 1980s

By the time the 1980s rolled around, Shure has made its mark in every home studio and professional studio alike. No studio recording was complete without one of Shure’s microphones. In 1983 Shure’s very own AMS hit every studio. It was a significant step to coordinate conferences. By the end of the decade, home studios were in for another pleasant surprise. In 1989 Shure’s Beta 57 and Beta58 hit all concert halls, live performances, and home studios for high output levels.

After 1990

By 1998 Shure had also manufactured a condenser microphone and went on to win a Grammy in 2003. Over the years, Shure has made a name for itself as an industrial quality, affordable and durable microphone.

About Shure sm57

There are many great microphones out there. Each has its pros and cons. But Shure’s sound quality is unmatchable. You’ve heard Barack Obama’s speeches and your favorite radio shows, all recorded through this same mic.

Here are all the reasons why it has been a favorite since 1937.

  • Dynamic Mic

The best thing about a dynamic mic is its durability. They’re notorious for efficiently handling high sound pressure without compromising on sound quality.

But that’s not the only reason they are a crowd favorite. The fact that they don’t need an active power supply to function and don’t cost much adds to the appeal of dynamic microphones.

  • Contoured Frequency Response

The way your ears perceive noise can make it either a soothing experience or a disaster. The contoured frequency response is a way to measure sound pressure level.

With this mic, this frequency is much smoother than other available alternatives.

  • Frequency Range and Impedance

We can all agree that frequency range is a crucial parameter in measuring sound quality. If your microphone isn’t compatible with your recording instruments, it’s essentially useless. This is why we recommend you go for a dynamic instrument microphone.

Shure SM57 owes its fantastic sound quality to its wide frequency range of 40Hz-15,000Hz. This means that this mic can handle all the highs and lows of a music concert or an emotional speech. In addition, it’s made for ultimate compatibility with most recording instruments.

This mic also features low impedance, at about 150 ohms. This means it doesn’t need much power to function. So if your microphone is cord connected. You can move about the stage without a worry that the cord will come loose.

  • Not Very Sensitive

Are you under the impression that high sensitivity is what makes a great microphone? Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. Mic sensitivity has nothing to do with sound quality.

Sometimes a highly sensitive mic will do the trick. Sometimes you’ll need low sensitivity. It all depends on the application. The Shure sm57 model is designed for noisy crowds. Its sensitivity is −56.0 dBV/Pa (at 1,000 Hz). This is pretty low on the sensitivity scale.

This means your mic won’t be catching any noise from the crowd. So you can forget about interruptions.

  • Tight Cardioid Polar Pattern

By this, we’re referring to the sensitivity pattern of the mic. For Shure sm57, the dynamic polar pattern is similar to a heart shape on the charts. In addition, the cardioid pickup pattern allows for minimum distortions in sound from the surrounding.

Shure sm57 is a great microphone vocal mic because of this. Most vocalists prefer such microphones, especially for home recording instruments, vocals, and experimenting.

Pros and Cons

All the features we’ve mentioned come together the result is a high-quality construction for a crowd-pleasing mic. Shure sm57 is the industry-standard mic since it checks all the boxes in terms of quality. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its downsides. So let’s have a look at what to expect and what not to expect with this mic.

All the Pros of Buying the Shure sm57

We’ve already established that Shure’s model sm57 is a huge hit. But what use features made it happen? Here’s a brief overview of all the things that make sm57 a great microphone.

  1. Affordable

There’s no other cardioid dynamic instrument microphone that matches Shure sm57 in terms of price and quality. Go over to Amazon, and you can get yourself an excellent mic at a great price of $82.00.

This great value is one of the significant factors that make this mic a world bestseller.

  1. Durable

This dynamic mic is notorious for being durable. In addition, it can handle loud sound sources such as a kick drum or a snare drum.

Your Shure sm57 is compatible with most musical instruments, from your acoustic guitar to your drums. Not a lot of other mics can boast that.

  1. Audio Quality

This mic features sound quality and price combination that make it top-tier. Its clean sound output makes it perfect for use in public. Whatever primary sound source you use, the final result always sounds great.

  1. Background Noise

Catching background noise is a common issue you’ll face with a condenser mic. And since this isn’t a condenser microphone, there’s nothing you have to worry about on this front.

You could do a powerful saxophone solo in a room full of people or play any other acoustic instrument. No unnecessary noises will be amplified. All the audience will hear is your vocals and instruments.

All the Cons of Buying the Shure sm57

Since this is a complete review of Shure sm57, you should also look at the potential problems you could face. Like we’ve stated, not all types of mics are suitable for every situation. There are a few situations when this mic won’t be your best choice.

  1. XLR Cable Needed

The XLR cable is a three-pin cable and features a circular connector. The primary role of this cable is to transmit a line-level signal to a long distance. You could call it a mic cable, but not all microphones need it.

However, the sad news is that much like the Snow XLR mic, the Shure sm57 needs an XLR cable to work. So if you’re planning on getting yourself one of these, you’d better be ready to invest in a suitable mic cable as well.

  1. Pop-Filter Needed

A pop-filter or pop-shield or a pop-screen is needed for protecting the mic from unwanted noise pressure. If you’re using guitar amplifiers or any other means by which your instrument sounds are amplified to be loud. You should invest in one.

Especially if you’ve got a Shure sm57, a pop shield will make sure your mic survives the loudest sounds.

SM57 vs. SM58

Shure has many different mic models, but somehow sm57 comes out on top. However, there is a formidable contender for this top spot. Let’s go over the similarities and differences between these two sister mics.

Vocal Mic vs. Mic for Recording Instruments

Between the two mics, the best choice for home recording instruments is the sm57. Of course, you can get the job done with sm58 as well, but instrumental reproduction with the sm57 model will sound better.

However, if you’re recording vocals, then the sm58 is the superior choice. The sm57 won’t work that well with vocals. It’s even in the name. The sm58 model is built for vocals.


Both the sm57 and sm58 weigh around 0.6lbs. However, sm58 is slightly heavier, standing at 0.66lbs, while sm57 weighs about 0.63lbs.

Phantom Power

The good news is that both the sm57 and sm58 models do not need phantom power. So you don’t need to worry about dc type current for your mic to work.

This basically adds up to the connectivity durability ease.

Podcast Mic

If you’re wondering which mic works great during a podcasting session, then your answer is both. The sm57 and sm58 models work with XLR cables.

While USB mics aren’t the fan-favorite podcasting choice. XLR mics are the preferred alternative.

What is Podcasting?

If digital audio and blogging had a baby, it would be podcasting. It’s basically an audio blog.

You’ll either download an audio file on-demand or subscribe to a channel. Then you’ll have unlimited access to this audio file and can listen to it as many times as you want. They’re very convenient and interesting, especially during a morning run or a workout session.

The Winner

Is there an obvious winner between the two sister mics? Well, not really. Picking a better option is a difficult task for multiple reasons.

First, both the mics are pretty similar, so you’d have to be nit-picking here. Secondly, you’ll have to find a different mic in every situation. For example, if you plan on recording with an instrument, you’ll pick sm57, but recording vocals is better with sm58. Besides, the choice of a mic will also vary from instrument to instrument.

There is no one size fits all. Depending on why you’re using your mic, your preference will be different.

Final Thoughts

Shure’s sm57 is undoubtedly a favorite among the masses. In addition, the music industry has always appreciated the level of performance Shure products offer.

It’s safe to say that you won’t have any regrets with an sm57. Shure is a leading microphone brand, and the perks of sm57 make it stand out from the available alternatives.