An audio version of this post will be available soon!
If there’s one microphone that you’ve likely seen used by your favorite content creators, it’s the Shure SM7B.
Seriously, this thing is everywhere.
It’s not only the microphone of choice for famous personalities like Joe Rogan or Gary Vaynerchuk – this all-around beast of a microphone is used for everything from radio, to live music, to professional voice over recordings.
In this review, I’m going to delve deep into this microphone, highlighting all of its benefits and drawbacks. Because while it may be one of the best microphones for podcasting and overall content creation, there are a few situations where a different microphone may make more sense.
Let’s get to it!
Design And Switches
This thing is built like a tank.
With it’s durable, all-metal construction, not only does it look great in a studio, but it’s also made to survive the rough handling of touring musicians. I have accidentally dropped mine onto my office’s concrete floor 5 or 6 times, and it still works as flawlessly as the day I got it several years ago.
Keep in mind that like most high-end microphones, the microphone connects via XLR. This means you will need an audio interface to use it. For most podcasters and content creators, I recommend the Scarlett 2i2.
In the middle of the microphone is a hinged mount that is welded permanently to the microphone, making it easy to attach to the microphone stand of your choice.
Be warned though – this thing is heavy. Coming in at 1 pound 11 ounces, many cheap microphone stands are unable to support it without dipping or tipping over. I recommend picking up something sturdy, such as the K & M Microphone Stand With Telescopic Boom Arm, which you can view by clicking here.
Finally, the microphone has decent built-in pop / plosive protection. While I see lots of people using the microphone as-is, I personally prefer it with an additional windscreen. Because I typically record so close to the microphone, this will get rid of any other plosives that would have made it through.
On the bottom of the microphone you’ll find two adjustable switches – bass roll-off, and mid-range emphasis (commonly referred to as presence boost.) You can tell whether or not either of these are on based on the line above the switches. In this case, bass roll-off is on, and presence boost is off. Note that in sound clips and other examples I will showcase in this review, both of these will be turned off.
Bass roll-off removes the lower frequencies from the recording, improving a number of issues. The first one is that it reduces something known as the proximity effect. In recording, the closer you get to the microphone, (typically) the increase in lower-end frequencies the microphone will pick up. This can leave your voice sounding very unnatural. This isn’t much of a problem with the SM7B as it is with other microphones, which is fortunate as you’ll want to record with this microphone very close to your mouth.
Additionally, turning bass roll-off on may cut out some of the ambient noise of your recording environment, such as low rumbles or hums.
Leaving this off isn’t necessarily an issue, as this is always something you can do yourself in post-production. However, if you find that it works well for your voice and environment, you can save some time by having this off.
Presence boost increases the frequencies of human voices, and can add a more ‘excited’ tone to your recordings. In some cases, it may also make the words spoken seem more comprehensible. Similarly to the bass roll-off, you can always edit EQ after recording, so use this as a time-saver if it works, but don’t ever feel like it’s a requirement.
For both switches, you’ll want to test them out with your specific voice, and see what sounds better to you. If you’re unsure, leave both of them flat, and make adjustments to the EQ later.
This wouldn’t be a legendary microphone if it didn’t have great sound quality.
The Shure SM7B’s sound quality is often described as warm, rich, and natural. With the switches off, there is no unnatural coloring added to your recording, leading to accurate, natural capture of your voice.
You can see in the frequency response chart above, the SM7B stays near-perfectly flat for the majority of the range, which is certainly not the case for many microphones in this price range.
Rather than talking about it however, listen to these clips I’ve taken with the microphone, in a relatively untreated environment (my office, which is certainly not designed for sound recording.)
Unprocessed Clip, Straight From The Microphone:
Processed Audio Clip, Using iZotope RX7 and Neutron 3
Again, I am a content creator myself, not an audio engineer – it is very likely I have not been able to get the best possible sound out of the microphone. For additional examples, look up any of Joe Rogan’s podcasts, or Gary Vaynerchuk’s ‘Ask Gary Vee’ episodes – these podcasters and their guests almost always use SM7B’s for their recordings.
As a content creator, the last thing you want to deal with is background noise.
Most of us do not have expensive, professional studios to record in. The majority of us are recording in our offices or homes, where background noise – despite how well you try to block it out, is simply unavoidable.
Fortunately, the SM7B has pretty good off-axis rejection. This means that it’s great at picking up sounds directly in front of the microphone, but avoids most of the sound coming from the sides or the back.
It’s not the best out there, but it’s pretty freaking good for the price range.
If you take a look at the polar pattern here, you can see that the sound begins to taper off as you move further and further away from the front, with the best rejection happening from the rear of the microphone.
You’ll want to keep this microphone relatively close to your face when recording dialogue. This means that if you intend to use this microphone on video, you likely will not be able to keep it out of the frame. If this is a priority to you, I highly recommend picking up something like the Audio-Technica AT4053B instead.
- Weight: 765.4 grams (1 pound 11 ounces)
- Dimensions: Length – 189.7 mm (7.47 inches), Width – 96 mm (3.78 inches), Height – 148 mm (5.81 inches)
- Impedance: 150 ohms
- Polar pattern: Cardioid
- Sensitivity: 60 Hz: 11 dB / 500 Hz: 24 dB / 1 kHz: 33 dB
- Frequency Response: 50Hz – 20000kHz
- Connector: Three-pin XLR
Pros And Cons
Let’s start out with the pros:
- The sound quality is exceptional, for a wide variety of use cases. Considering that’s the entire point of a microphone, this one’s pretty important.
- The SM7B is extremely durable, and you’ll likely never need to replace it.
- It looks and feels like a professional-grade microphone. Regardless of the size of your studio, this mic fits right in.
- The Shure SM7B is pretty good at avoiding background noise, especially for the price point.
- Two adjustable switches on the bottom make it easy to tweak EQ, without having to do extra work post-processing.
- This microphone is easy to use correctly – making it a great choice for people who want to bring in guests. It does not take any training for a guest to get a good sound out of this mic.
Now, moving onto the cons.
- This microphone requires a lot of power to work effectively. It’s very likely you’ll have to buy something like the Cloudlifter CL-1, which provides 25db of clean gain to the recording.
- The microphone is heavy, and requires a sturdy stand to hold it without tipping. I recommend the K & M Microphone Stand With Telescopic Boom Arm.
- The side sound rejection is decent, but not the best.
- You won’t be able to keep this out of the frame when shooting video.
Value For The Money
The Shure SM7B may not be the best microphone on the market for every use-case, but it may just be one of the best deals in audio recording period.
There’s a reason it’s considered an industry-standard, and it’s quite likely that you will never have a need to upgrade this microphone. In addition, it’s durable enough to outlive you.
Considering it’s only $399 (plus an additional $170 or so for the recommended Cloudlifter CL-1), this is still an incredible deal for a combined total of $570.
The sound quality is seriously that good, and rivals microphones 2 or even 3x its price.
I consider it to be an incredible value for the price, and it’s one of only two microphones I use regularly to run my businesses (the other being Audio-Technica AT4053B, which I use while recording video.)
I have nothing but great things to say about this microphone.
If your budget permits, I highly recommend picking the Shure SM7B up by clicking here. As a podcaster or content creator, it’s quite likely that you’ll never need to purchase another microphone again.
That being said, it all starts with having something valuable to share. This microphone won’t magically build your business overnight, but it will make listening all the more enjoyable for those that find you.
I hope that this Shure SM7B review has helped you make a decision. If you have any questions about this microphone or there’s anything you’d like to discuss with me, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.
I hope that you enjoy the microphone as much as I do!
To your success,
– James McAllister