If you’re looking for recording equipment, few companies out there have as many or as diverse a field of products as Shure does. Founded in 1925 and the manufacturer behind most of the microphones used in presidential addresses, live concert venues, and radio, there’s no more ubiquitous fixture in music than Shure microphones. If you’re looking to kickstart your podcast, band, or even just up your conference call game: give one of the oldest American microphone makers a shot.
It should be pointed out that not one, but two microphones in the Shure lineup have won our Editors Choice awards for representing microphones that we personally use or recommend to our friends and family. That’s a very difficult thing to do, and only Sony shares that distinction for audio products as a whole.
Editor’s note: this article was updated on July 9, 2020, to clarify the necessity of a USB interface and add information about the using the SM58 for live performances.
Shure SM58Full Review
For most people, we’d recommend the Shure SM58 dynamic microphone. Arguably one of the most popular Shure microphones of all time, this model has been in production since 1966. Primarily used as a vocal mic, this unit needs a USB interface or portable recorder to function as a recording mic due to its XLR output. However, it’s capable of capturing good vocals without requiring the use of a gain booster, making it a very straightforward and easy-to-set-up mic. Many people looking to record vocals at home gravitate towards this mic because of its price and ease of use. Additionally, because the SM58 is dynamic in nature, it is an excellent choice for live performances since it can intake loud volumes without distortion. And its cardioid polar pattern allows it to reject the sound of audiences cheering, so only the singer’s voice is amplified.
Shure SM58 sample:
Before we go any further, we want to make sure you’ll get the most out of your mic. Nine times out of ten, if you buy a microphone and can’t get the results you want from it, you might need a little instruction. Be sure to catch up on some recording fundamentals first. Essentially, in order to record people, you need to know:
- What type of microphone you need
- How to hook up your microphone
- How to record audio to your computer
- What polar pattern your mic has
- Where to place your microphone
- How to avoid common recording problems
- How to edit your voice
- (Optional) How to record outside
Once you’ve got that under your belt, you’re ready to use your microphone. However, not all mics can do everything. Be sure to read up on each model listed here in the reviews, as some like the SM57 are more suited to being instrument mics than they are vocal mics, and the SM7B can work just about anywhere (but is too expensive to buy a lot of, so make it count). A little bit of research goes a long way to saving money you don’t need to spend.
Shure SM7BFull Review
Of course, no list of Shure microphones would be complete without the SM7B. Largely considered to be the gold standard in vocal mics alongside the Electro-Voice RE20, the Shure SM7B has seen a recent resurgence in popularity now that podcasts and YouTube have made recording at home a viable entertainment media strategy.
This is an expensive option at around $399 in the US, so we often steer beginners away from this unit in order to meet most people’s stated budgets. However, if you absolutely must nail your session and cost is no object, this is an excellent microphone to have on hand.
Shure SM7B “flat response” sample:
Shure SM7B “bass rolloff” sample:
Shure SM7B “presence boost” sample:
Shure SM57Full Review
Musicians looking to record instruments should look no further than the Shure SM57. It’s overkill, but buying a few SM57 units is a great way to record a live setup.
The SM57 is one of those historic models of Shure microphones, having been in production for decades—and for good reason. It definitley ticks all the boxes if you’re looking for a sub-$100 option that can handle a lot. However, it’s slightly inferior for vocal work compared to the SM58 and SM7B.
Shure SM57 guitar sample:
Shure SM57 voice sample:
Shure 55SH Series IIFull Review
The Shure 55SH Series II is another historic microphone, emulating the old car-grille style of early 20th-century microphones. If you’re trying to kit out an open mic setup or small live venue, this is one of those microphones that’s instantly recognizable, and adds an air of legitimacy to a recording space.
While it’s a more than competent microphone, it’s not for all uses, so be sure to click on through to the full review if you’re interested in its looks.
Shure 55SH Series II sample:
Shure MV88+Full Review
Videographers are acutely aware that the best piece of equipment you own is the one you have with you at any moment. Consequently, anyone who is a mobile filmmaker or even if you just want better audio for a family video, the MV88+ mic is a really good way to get a compact solution into your pocket just in case you need to start shooting quickly. While it’s not going to compete with any of the microphones on this list here, it’s definitely the most portable option, as it can use its USB-C cable to connect to your phone.
Shure MV88+ samples:
Why does it matter if you buy Shure microphones?
It doesn’t, really.
Shure is just another company with a product to sell, so don’t feel like you absolutely have to buy a Shure mic if you can find a better price on a competing model. There are plenty out there that can do a similarly good job in many situations. Heck, only one of the SoundGuys team even owns a Shure mic. However, the company stands behind their products—which is why many musicians swear by them.
By that I mean, Shure offers a limited warranty against product defects from one to two years after purchase (product depending), and will service your equipment themselves should a problem arise. Of course, sometimes repairs might not be covered by warranty (or you’ll have to pay for damage not covered), but at least you know that you don’t necessarily have to buy a new mic should something happen to yours.
Frequently Asked Questions
This all depends on the polar pattern of your microphone. A polar pattern refers to the direction(s) that a microphone picks up sound from. For example, a microphone with a cardioid polar pattern picks up sound best from its front and slightly to its sides, rejecting sounds from its back. Therefore, it would be most effective to point a cardioid microphone directly at the sound source.