Shure is one of the most popular audio recording brands globally, and since 1925 they have gained notoriety for creating some of the very best headphones and microphones you could ever dream of.
Amongst the plethora of jaw-dropping audio equipment that Shure produces, two of their most popular products are the SM57 and SM58 microphones.
Each of these is ideal for recording high-quality vocals, which is precisely what you need when you’re producing a podcast.
But working out the similarities and differences between two microphones from the same brand can be a confusing task. This is especially true when, on the surface, they seem to do the same thing.
That’s why we decided to look into each of these microphones in detail. Below, we’ve broken down their features and outlined what they have in common, as well as what separates them.
In the end, we’ll declare a winner and, once and for all, answer the burning question of whether the Shure SM57 or Shure SM58 is the better microphone!
Table of Contents
Let’s start by taking a look at what the Shure SM57 and the Shure SM58 have in common and why exactly each of them is such a fantastic choice for podcasting.
To begin with, both have a highly durable, all-metal construction. This ensures that they are able to withstand both studio and outdoor recording environments without easily getting damaged.
Polar Pickup Pattern
Both of these microphones operate with a cardioid polar pickup pattern.
Meaning that they will only pick up sound coming from a 180º arc directly in front of the microphone while simultaneously blocking out any background noise.
This is ideal for podcasting as you’ll want your audience to be able to hear every word you and any guests you invite onto your show with as much clarity as possible.
So, by concentrating solely on your voice and eliminating ambient sounds, you’re guaranteed clear vocals.
Whether you’re recording vocals or musical instruments, a robust audio signal between your microphone and interface is essential.
To make sure that your audio isn’t distorted, your microphone needs a high impedance number.
This is something that the SM57 and SM58 again share in common, and each has an impedance of 150ohms.
So, regardless of the length of the cable you’ve connected between your microphone and audio interface, the signal will never distort.
The SM57 and the SM58 both feature a 3-pin XLR connection.
While this might seem like an inconvenience or slightly prehistoric compared to modern USB ports, an XLR port is a sure-fire way of establishing a super-secure connection between your microphone and audio interface.
Whatever you’re purchasing, one thing that we all look for is a little extra value for money. And that’s precisely what you’ll get with both the Shure SM57 and the SM58.
Included with each of these microphones is a microphone clip that helps ensure your mic is held securely in place on your chosen stand.
You’ll also receive a durable travel pouch.
This isn’t only ideal if you’re planning on taking your microphone with you between studios or recording location, but it also offers you somewhere to store it safely when it’s not in use.
So, that’s what these two great microphones have in common. But what sets them apart?
Believe it or not, there are quite a few things that the Shure SM57 and SM58 don’t have in common.
Let’s take a further look at their differences below.
The most apparent difference between the SM57 and the SM58 is their appearance. While the SM58 has that classic, handheld microphone look, the SM57 has a sleeker, more modern design.
The SM58 features a steel mesh grille around the microphone’s head, which adds to its classic appearance while protecting the capsule.
The SM57, however, has a much more compact design and, while it still features a steel mesh grille, everything is kept a little neater.
We know that both the SM57 and SM58 operate with a cardioid pickup pattern. But is there any difference in the audio quality that each microphone produces?
The SM57 was initially designed to be used solely as a microphone for recording musical instruments. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t fantastic at recording vocals; it just means that the SM578 is slightly superior.
You’ll find with the SM58 brighter highs, crisper lows, and intricate bass roll offs. Of course, you’d need to be a dedicated audiophile to notice these small differences.
But, with each being so close in audio quality, it’s the only notable difference.
Each microphone has a different frequency response range too, which means that one is better than the other at picking up a wider range of vocal tones and converting them into ear-pleasing, natural sounds.
The differences are as follow:
- SM57: Frequency Response Range – 40Hz – 15kHz
- SM58: Frequency Response Range – 50Hz – 15kHz
As you can see, there isn’t much of a difference, and the reason that the SM57 has a slightly wider frequency range is because of the initial intended purpose of recording musical instruments.
It can pick up lower frequencies. But is that beneficial for vocal recording?
Well, yes, it certainly can be! Suppose you, or a guest you’re inviting onto your show, has a particularly low natural voice. In that case, the SM57 will be able to register their vocal tones and replicate them more accurately on your recording. So this is worth thinking about.
One standout feature offered by the SM58 is an integrated pop filter.
This clever device sits comfortably within the microphone (so it doesn’t take up any external space) and helps to eliminate any plosives that might otherwise appear on your recording.
It’s also great for reducing the amount of wind noise the microphone picks up when you’re recording outdoors.
Unfortunately, the SM57 doesn’t feature an integrated pop filter, but you can purchase an external one separately.
While both microphones feature a 3-pin XLR connection, another thing that separates the two is that the SM58 can be operated wirelessly when needed.
Of course, additional accessories are needed to do this, but it’s a fantastic feature for any public speaker or performer who would like the freedom to move around a stage while they’re speaking.
Comparatively, the SM57 can only be operated through a wired connection. This isn’t a massive issue for most podcasters, as you’re most likely to be studio-based.
But it’s still worth bearing in mind, especially if you’re planning on taking your show on the road at some point.
Despite their undeniable similarities, there is a price difference between the two microphones. However, it’s not a huge one, and the SM57 comes in at around $10 less than the SM58.
Of course, prices fluctuate frequently, so there may come a time when they are equally matched.
You are getting a built-in pop filter for those extra few dollars, though, so we’d say it’s worth stretching your budget to the SM58 if you’re able to.
After all, you may find yourself having to invest in a pop filter further down the line, so it could ultimately save you money.
Pros & Cons
To simplify things a little more, we’ve broken down the pros and cons of each of these microphones below:
- Strong, durable design that’s built to last
- The cardioid polar pickup pattern
- Dynamic microphone
- 40Hz – 15kHz frequency response range
- 150 ohms impedance
- 3-pin XLR connection
- No internal pop filter
- Not the best option for smaller budgets
- Durable yet lightweight design
- Features an integrated pop filter
- The cardioid polar pickup pattern
- Dynamic microphone
- 50Hz – 15kHz frequency response range
- 150ohm impedance
- 3-pin XLR connection
- A little more expensive than the SM57
Although the Shure SM57 and SM58 are quite similar, certain things separate them from each other. Picking a winner, however, isn’t a simple task.
In fact, we’ve not been able to do it! Instead, figuring out which one comes out on top will ultimately depend on your podcast format.
If you’re a strictly studio-based podcaster who hosts a solo show, then the SM57 would fit the bill. If you like to record from outdoor locations or invite a different guest onto your show each week, the integrated pop filter and broader frequency range of the SM58 will do the job nicely.
Of course, price always plays a vital role in the decision making process. Although there is only ever around $10-$20 of difference between the two, this can be a real issue for somebody working with a limited budget.
With that in mind, if you’re looking for a fantastic microphone but would prefer to pay a lower price, the Shure SM57 would be a perfect choice.
If you can stretch your budget slightly, the Shure SM58 will bring your recording experience up a couple of notches.
Whichever microphone you choose, you’ll be amazed at how highly-polished and professional your recordings sound before they’ve even made it to your editing software.