The Shure SM57 is a popular microphone in the world of audio production, particularly for musicians – but is it any good for podcasting? Let's find out…
Who Is It Suited To?
The SM57 is the brother of the Shure SM58, a microphone famed for its affordability, and the fact that it's practically indestructible.
There are actually very few differences between the SM57 and 58, but one such difference is the head on each one. The 58 has a rounded pop-shield style head, whereas the 57 does not. The SM58 makes for a good in-the-field mic where pop shields are pretty impractical. This makes it a bit more popular when it comes to recording speech, or vocals, whilst the 57 is more commonly used when recording instruments.
If you're in the studio, though, and add an external pop-shield, the SM57 does as great a job at picking up vocals as it's brother mic.
The SM57 (like the 58) is a dynamic microphone, meaning that it will only really pick up the sounds that are quite close to it. Dynamic microphones are ideal if you often have to deal with lots of unwanted external noise. Using a dynamic mic can help minimise how much of these are finding their way into your recordings.
The Shure SM57 is a tough, durable microphone. This makes it useful for podcasters who do a lot of recording on location. If you’re often heading to events and conferences with a bag full of audio equipment, then you won’t have to worry about your SM57 getting broken or damaged. Even if you left it in a freezing cold car overnight it would be totally fine.
But as I've mentioned, you would be better to have some pop shields on you for your setup. Left unguarded, the SM57 can be quite sensitive to plosives.
How Does It Work?
You can’t connect an SM57 directly into your computer, as you would with a USB microphone. To use one of these, you’ll need a mixer, a preamp or a good digital recorder, as well as an XLR cable for connecting them together.
If you have (or once you get) any of these bits of equipment, your SM57 will connect to them via the XLR cable. You would then connect your preamp or mixer to your laptop/computer or recorder. Alternatively, you can connect the XLR cable to the digital recorder directly if it's XLR capable.
If you’re recording on your computer, you will want to go into your editing/recording software and make sure you’re set up to record through the correct input. Most software packages have audio ‘Input’ options in their ‘Preferences’ menus. In Audacity, the ‘Input’ option is available as a dropdown menu in the middle of your home screen.
Be aware that it’s usually the preamp or mixer name/model that you’ll need to select as your input, and not the actual name of the microphone. For example, if I was recording through a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 preamp into Audacity, I'd select that from the ‘input' dropdown menu on there, as you can see in this screenshot.
How Does It Sound?
Here's a completely unprocessed recording of the Shure SM57 through a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 preamp.
How Much Does It Cost?
You can usually pick up a brand new SM57 for just under $100 in the US, or for about £90 in the UK. There's usually not too much difference between that and the price of an SM58.
However, if you already have a Shure SM57, or find a cheap one second hand, then it's a great option for recording your podcast with. Just be sure to use it in conjunction with a pop shield!
If you'd still like to shop around for a podcast microphone then be sure to check out our ‘best of' roundup, linked to here.
- Extremely tough and durable
- Offers great vocal audio quality (when used with decent preamp or mixer)
- Won’t pick up too much external noise from other parts of your house, outside, etc
- Can’t be used without XLR cable, or preamp/mixer
- Susceptible to ‘plosives’ when used without a pop-shield
Need More Help Choosing Podcasting Equipment?
If you need some more tailored advice for your own setup, or want help with any other aspect of podcasting, then we’d love to work with you.
Inside The Podcast Host Academy we run regular live Q&A sessions, a community forum, and provide access to all of our video courses, tutorials, ebooks, and downloadable resources!