Updated on Apr 08, 2021
If I was ever asked to pick out a microphone for somebody, without knowing any details at all about their use-case, price range, or vocal style, the odds are pretty good that this is where I would land. I would never go as far as to say this is the perfect most well-rounded microphone for everybody, but the versatility and quality of this mic make for a safe choice in many settings.
The Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone has an incredible way of making your voice perfectly defined while keeping a strong sense of clarity. The bass roll-off and mid-range emphasis capture the crisp sounds of your voice and return them most purely and cleanly, making this the perfect microphone for all kinds of "speech".
If you watch a lot of streaming, podcasting, or radio shows, then you've likely seen the Shure SM7B in action. Whether it's being used for spitting flows on The Breakfast Club, or podcasting in general, like on the Joe Rogan Experience, you've probably heard at one point or another the positively clean quality the SM7B offers.
What we're talking about here is one of the most popular, long-lived XLR microphones on the market, that's one of the best mics money could buy. What you'll find by the end of this review is it can be used for almost anything, whether you want the most high-end gaming microphone, or something that can emphasize your vocals in rock, hip hop, rap, you name it!
But a microphone like this comes at a cost. And beyond that, it's not exactly "Plug & Go". Keep reading below to see if this microphone is right for you. We'll also do a deep dive into the alternatives, whether you're looking for a good streaming / gaming mic, or a new addition to the studio.
The Shure SM7B is a highly versatile microphone, and hands down one of the best on the market. You'll see it's used for anything from music, to podcasts, while also being one of the best microphone for YouTube money can buy.
The SM7B has a very flat & wide range response, with serious mid-range emphasis controls. What this results in is a clear, crispiness to your vocals, which is why it's so frequently used for "speaking" applications, like podcasting, YouTube or even as an ASMR microphone. However, that's not to say "speaking" is the limitation. Depending on your style of music, this microphone is potentially the best microphone for vocals the market has to offer.
I and many others find it to be perfect for Hip Hop & Rap vocals, going back to that "crisp" mid-range power. If you think about it, rapping and speaking have a lot in common, and if you're going for those speed verses, you need a microphone that can deliver every syllable. If you want to see how it can deliver in the rap world, I encourage you to check out The Breakfast Club.
None of this is to say it can't be used in other vocal styles. In fact, this microphone does wonder for bringing out rock vocals, especially if you're going for a more aggressive style. One of the most popular artists of all time, Michael Jackson, used this microphone (at the time referred to as the SM7) for recording vocals on the "Thriller" album. One of Michael Jackson's sound engineers, Bruce Swedien, was quoted saying "...I love that mic, and I have six of them...".
This cardioid dynamic microphone can also make for a great gigging mic. I personally would not buy this if that's your only use-case, but if you have it & you're doing gigs, it's definitely worth giving it a try. When performing live, it's imperative to bring out your most raw and natural voice, and the Shure SM7B will do its job by keeping it clean and crisp.
One of the coolest parts about this microphone is just the engineering behind it. It has an internal "air-suspension" as well as a built-in pop filter. If you're familiar with XLR microphones, then you'd know these are two accessories you typically need to buy for your microphones, so this limits the amount of equipment you'll need to manage.
I've spoken a lot about why you may want it. But what's the catch?
Right off the bat, this microphone is not the cheapest. If you're a beginner in the streaming/podcasting world, you may be better off finding a more beginner-friendly microphone. This is not just due to the cost, but the fact that this microphone is not quite "there" on its own, and if you don't know much about preamps, or this already exceeds your budget, I'd recommend you check out our review on the Blue Yeti USB Microphone, which offers USB connection and is pretty much ready to go from purchase.
I mentioned the preamps. Why? Well, this microphone has one major catch. It is very quiet. For that reason, it is often recommended you pair it with the Cloudlifter CL-1 Mic Activator, which offers an ultra-clean gain boost. The CL-1 is one of the best microphone preamps on the market. This booster delivers +25db of CLEAN gain, so no hissing noises or anything like that. There's almost no scenario where I wouldn't recommend you buy this. So you may find the extra $150.00 on top of this $400.00 microphone doesn't sound very great, and I don't blame you. On top of that, the CL-1 required phantom power and is meant to be used with another audio interface/mixer.
However, if money is just a small factor in your decision making, then it's more than worth the cost.
When it comes to alternatives, it's all about what your use-case is. The SM7B is a great microphone for both recording and streaming. Whichever one you're going for, w'ell help you find the best alternative in a better price range.
The Blue Yeti USB Microphone is a great microphone for streaming. The value you'll gain from this microphone is worth the cost. But if you're looking for something between the price of a Blue Yeti and the Shure SM7B, then you may want to look at the Blue Yeti USB Pro!.
The AKG P220 Project Studio Condenser Microphone is a great microphone for those new to the studio. I remember back when I was in high school, setting up a little recording studio in my mother's attic. At the time, I only had a scrappy performance microphone, but this one would've been perfect.
And if that's still outside of your price range, they offer an even lower-end model, the AKG P120.
The Shure SM7B is an amazing microphone used across a variety of applications. Trusted by legends such as Michael Jackson & Anthony Kiedis, and used to showcase rap vocals to this very day, while also being the pioneer microphone for all of the young YouTubers with millions of subscribers, it's easy to see why there's so much buzz.
Out of every microphone we review on this site, this is one that I've used probably the most. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's perfect for everything (there's a reason we have studio condenser mics in the $1000's range), but for the average person trying to break into a new industry or pursue a hobby, this microphone is a great choice.
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Posted on Sep 13, 2020
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