Shure SM7B Review: Best Microphone for Content Creators?
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Shure SM7B Overview
I'm obsessed with high-quality mics.
If you pay attention to some of the most popular YouTubers, streamers and podcasts on the planet, it's audio that sets them apart.
A great camera is definitely a necessity. But, a good mic is what transforms you from an average broadcaster into a pro.
I've done tons of mic reviews in the past (check them out here!), but this one is a little different.
I'm going to focus on only one mic — the stunning Shure SM7B — instead of going through a list of options.
There's a reason!
This mic is superb. In fact, I would say it's the best mid-tier mic currently available for modern content creators.
And that includes YouTube channels, Twitch streams, Podcasts, voice-over actors, musicians, and any kind of audiovisual content that people publish online.
That's a bold statement!
So, let's jump into the review and break down what makes the Shure SM7B such a killer choice for creators and what kind of preamp you should use if you buy one.
Table of Contents
- Shure SM7B Overview
- Why Do You Need a Great Mic?
- The Shure SM7B
- Shure SM7B Review: Is It The Best Microphone for Voice Recording?
- Best Preamp for Shure SM7B
- What if I Can't Afford this mic?
- Final Thoughts
Why Do You Need a Great Mic?
Here's a question. Why do you need a mic in the first place?
After all, your camera probably comes with one. Or, if you picked up a vlogging starter kit, you may have gotten a boom mic in the kit.
Those will work! Don't get me wrong.
But, the difference between a good mic and a GREAT mic is definitely striking.
Nothing will make users click away faster than poor sound quality. It's so insanely noticeable.
And, you'll notice that the top YouTubers always have nice mics.
But, those are really expensive, right?
So, what about mics for the average content creator that wants to sound like they're recording in a professional studio?
Well, let's talk about the Shure SM7B, which sits somewhere between the Rhode shotgun mic and the Shure KSM44.
This is my favorite mic on the market.
The Shure SM7B
When it comes to the best mid-range mics, Shure's SM7 series is a definite contender.
The term "mid-range" can sound strange when we're talking about a ~$400 mic. But, there are WAY more expensive options on the market (like PewDiePie's AKG Pro Audio C414 XLS)
So, the Shure sits in the middle price spectrum. Believe it or not, some mics can get well into the $2k or $3k range.
The Shure SM7B is an extremely famous mic across professions. And, it's probably the most heavily utilized mid-tier mic in the music scene.
We're going to focus on its use as a content creator tool during this review. But, it's important to note that this mic has been used by famous musicians — like Serj Tankian from System of a Down and John Paul White from The Civil Wars.
Michael Jackson even used a Shure SM7 series mic to record Thriller!
It's also had heavy use in the radio industry and voiceover work. So, this mic definitely has high-class street cred.
But how does it work as a YouTube/Streaming/Podcast/Voice-over mic?
Great question! Let's talk about it!
Shure SM7B Review: Is It The Best Microphone for Voice Recording?
The Shure SM7B is well-built.
It has an internal shock mount (prevents vibrations from interrupting audio pickup) that's small and compact.
It also has an integrated pop filter and foam cover, which will help reduce vibrations and keep your sound crystal clear.
When it comes to voice recording, there are 5 core mic features that matter.
- Low-end sound (bass)
- Mid-range sound
- High-end sound (tenor)
- Polar pattern
So, let's break this review down into each section.
Low-end Sound (Bass)
Bass is super-important for voice recording. It's especially critical for males.
Since males typically have deeper voices, a good bass can prevent any distortion (which can make you sound like an awkward demon.)
The Shure SM7B has ridiculously good low-end sound. It's clean and completely balanced.
The 50Hz-20kHz frequency response range ensures that it picks up great sounds on bass, mid-range, and tenor.
The best thing about the SM7B's bass is that it's really neutral sounding. What does that mean?
You know how bass sometimes thumps, grinds, or creates a certain aura of harshness? The SM7B does absolutely none of that.
It's designed with vocals in mind.
Again, the entire frequency range on this mic is just astounding. The mid-range is just as impressive as the bass.
It's clean sounding, pitch-perfect, and produces astounding quality vocals.
Like most mid-tier mics built for vocals, the SM7B is great at handling vocals across frequency ranges.
Hint: If you turn on the bass roll-off and presence boost function, your mid-range will sound absolutely beautiful.
High-end Sound (Tenor)
This is another area where the SM7B shines — it has insanely nice tenor. This is great for any high-pitched sounds, which can frequently feel whiney or ear-destroyingly distorted on cheaper mics.
This is great for women with high voices, anyone who uses lots of silly voices, or any kind of recording that's going to have an assortment of sounds.
The polar pattern of a mic refers to how sensitive it is to sound waves coming from various directions. I won't go into all the details here — since it gets hyper-technical.
But, the BEST polar pattern for studio-like sound outside the studio is unidirectional.
It will filter out all of the noise coming from behind the mic and only pick up the vocals coming from in front of it.
So, when you're making that next video, podcast episode or voice-over job, you don't have to worry about a car driving by or crowds of people outside interrupting your recording.
We're going to run into our first issue here. The unidirectional capabilities on this mic are a little too focused. So, you need to be sitting down and close to the mic to use it.
This isn't necessarily an issue for most of you.
You'll need a preamp on this mic (we'll talk about that later in the post,) so you won't be moving around too much with this mic.
But, if you need a mic that you can take outside with you to vlog at the beach, this isn't the right mic for you.
There are a few types of mics:
- Dynamic mics
- Large diaphragm condenser mics
- Small diaphragm condenser mics
- and ribbon mics
The Shure SM7B is a dynamic mic. There are a few cons that naturally come along with being a dynamic mic. It doesn't have anywhere near the transient response that condenser mics do. And, it doesn't capture the detail or lows of condenser mics.
Dynamic mics like this one are used more often in uncontrolled environments, that's why they are popular for podcasts and content that don't require you to move around.
You normally don't have the budget to make your room soundproof and build a mini-studio home.
So the best option is a mic like this. You can just invest in your mic, and the background noise will disappear while your voice shines.
Condenser mics, like the popular Blue Yeti are used so you can record far away from it without worrying, but they will capture every sound in your room.
Dynamics mic like this Shure SM7B will require you to speak closer to the mic, but it will suppress almost all background noise.
Shure SM7B Pros and Cons
If you check out my 13 Best Microphones for YouTube Vlogging post, you'll see that the Shure SM7B featured. There's a good reason for that.
It's my favorite all-around mic!
This is, without a doubt, the best mid-range content creation mic on the market.
But, let's be clear. I don't necessarily recommend this mic for most YouTubers or streamers.
Paying its price can be difficult to justify when you're starting out — especially since you can find some starter kits for around that price.
But, this mic is great for those of you that are doing independent projects on the side, record music videos, podcasts, or are starting to gain a big enough follower base to justify the costs.
Let's go over the pros and cons list.
Best Preamp for Shure SM7B
When you buy a mic like the Sure SM7B, you'll need a preamp. This basically acts as a communicator between the mic and the amp (or computer).
The preamp lifts up the microphone's signal to a usable level.
EVERY mic needs a preamp.
So, why don't you need one to use that cheap mic you bought?
Most mics have them built-in. That's because most mics are condenser mics that already come with a high gain signal---and that's why they catch so many sounds around.
For a dynamic mic like the Shure SM7B, which is made to suppress background noise, you have to purchase a good preamp.
If not, you won't be able to hear the microphone that just cost you a good amount of money.
Plus, a good preamp will have some nifty features built-in (like the ability to quickly change your gain levels.)
It's important to note that most preamps have a bunch of mixers on them. You won't use the majority of these for vlogging and broadcasting, so I won't cover these.
But, if you're doing side projects, the mixing effects may come in handy.
I'll attach a quick note on the preamp with the best mixing effect setup.
The main thing you're looking for when it comes to choosing a Shure SM7B preamp is one that has high gain. The Shure SM7B NEEDS a high-gain preamp to work effectively.
So, let's look at my top 3 preamp pics for the Shure SM7B.
Cheapest Preamp + Shure SM7B "Bundle":
#1 Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd Gen) + Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter 1-channel Mic Activator
There are three things I love about the Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd Gen) preamp.
- It has a solid build. The aluminum body is strong, sturdy, and feels robust.
- It has terrific sound quality (24-bit sound quality and a sample rate of up to 96kHz )
- It has enough gain to handle the Shure SM7B (which does require a ton of gain)
There are two things I don't love about this preamp.
- You have to spend an hour or two tweaking the settings on this preamp to get the most out of it.
- You can only plug one mic in.
Additionally to the Focusrite, you will need the Cloudfilter to increase the mic's gain to the point where it's usable.
This bundle is the cheapest way of using the Shure SM7B:
- Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd Gen)
- Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter 1-channel Mic Activator
- AmazonBasics XLR Male to Female Microphone Cable
There are three things I love about the Behringer Xenyx Q802USB Premium 8-Input 2-Bus Mixer.
- It has excellent sound quality.
- It's digital (so you can simply plug a USB in from the back of the preamp.) Tons of top quality preamps are still analog. And it can be a MASSIVE pain to plug them in.
- It's easy to control. The control board has tons of features, and you can mix or control the gain of your mic straight from the board.
There is one thing I don't love about this preamp.
- The build is iffy. Some people complain about wobble.
*this preamp has insanely good mixing capabilities.
You can check it out on Amazon here. Remember to also get the Cloudfilter.
There are three things I love about the Yamaha MG10XU 10-Input Stereo Mixer with Effects.
- It has FOUR mic inputs.
- The equalizer balance is terrific.
- There are tons of control board options.
- The bi-directional USB connectivity lets you plug straight into your phone or iPad — which can make post-recordings a breeze.
There is one thing I don't love about this preamp.
- It has a relatively cheap build. The sides are made of plastic and feel kind of weak.
You can check it out on Amazon here. Remember to also get the Cloudfilter.
What if I Can't Afford this mic?
Don't worry! You can record high-quality audio without an expensive mic.
I've covered some of the best cheap mics for YouTubers.
But, if you're a vlogger or YouTuber, you can start with your camera's built-in mic.
I wouldn't recommend using one of these for very long though.
It's really noticeable.
But, we all have to start somewhere, so don't be afraid if you can't afford the Shure. Just get out there and make some killer vlogs.
Here's a guide to vlogging that will help you get started so you can earn enough money through ads to purchase the Shure at a later date!
When it comes to mid-tier mics, the Shure SM7B steals the show. It's built with vocals in mind, and it has the qualities to make it a master voice-recording tool.
There are a few cons (e.g., price, unidirectional sensitivity, etc.)
But, overall, the mic is fantastic and a must-have for any podcaster, musician or voice-oiver artist out there.