The Shure SM58 is one of the most famous mics in the world. Its natural home might be the world of live music, but the 58 has seen plenty of action in the world of podcasting too. This is particularly true when it comes to in-person, face-to-face interviews.
Who Would Use the Shure SM58?
I've heard it said that podcasters who use the SM58 do so because they already owned one for music purposes. Whilst that might be true, there can be few better mic options for the podcaster who's always travelling and recording on-the-go.
For starters, the SM58 is pretty much invincible. I've seen videos of it being run over, dropped off a building, frozen in a jug of water, microwaved, and pretty much enduring any other form of mic cruelty you can think of. I say “enduring” because in each example, the thing still works when they clean it up, and plug it back in.
A mic that can cope with all that can certainly live with being chucked in a bag and lugged about from place to place. You can even afford to drop it from time to time. Most other mics out there won't be so forgiving.
What Kind of Mic Is the Shure SM58?
It's a dynamic mic. This refers to how the mic is built, and how it functions. The popular alternative to dynamic mics is condenser mics. The simplistic definition between these two are;
- Condenser mics give a more nuanced sound, but are more sensitive to sub-par environments, and less durable.
- Dynamic mics may lack in nuance, but are a lot more forgiving outside of the studio. They also tend to be hardier.
Sure, there are many generalisations there, and you'll always find exceptions. But, that's a basic intro to the two. For a deeper dive on Dynamic Vs Condenser Mics, see the article I've linked to here.
So, as a dynamic mic, the SM58 will work with you when it's time to walk round a busy event floor, recording quick chats with various people.
It also has a cardioid polar pattern. This means it rejects sounds from its back and sides, to focus more on the source it's being pointed at. Here's more on microphone polar patterns.
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Finally, it's probably the best performing mic on the market for minimising handling noise. This is especially… handy… if you're walking around holding the thing. Some mics will rumble so much your listeners will think you recorded your episode during an earthquake. The SM58 certainly isn't one of them.
What Do I Need to Use the Shure SM58?
The SM58 is an XLR mic, as opposed to a USB mic (which are popular in podcasting). Typically, you'd run your SM58 into something like a digital recorder. This makes for a great portable interview kit.
There are many great digital recorders on the market. Our on-location interview setup for a good few years now has been two SM58s running into the Zoom H5 recorder. It works really well for us when podcasting on-the-go.
The H5 can take two XLR mics. You can increase that by buying an additional capsule for the recorder, or investing in the Zoom H6.
For each mic you plug in, you just need an XLR cable . Always wear headphones too, so you can monitor your recordings and hear the audio as it's being captured. This means you can correct any issues (eg; mobile phone static) as they happen, as opposed to discovering them later on, when it's too late.
What Does the SM58 Sound Like?
Here's a sound sample of the Shure SM58 running into the Zoom H5 digital recorder. No post-processing or cleaning has been applied to the audio, so this is it exactly as it was recorded.
The SM58 is one of the best mics out there for minimising handling noise and plosives. Its head basically works as a built-in pop filter.
When using the SM58 into a digital recorder, you're likely to hear a higher-level of “hiss” or “noisefloor” under your recordings. This can happen with dynamic mics, due to the way they're powered. If you're recording in places where there's a lot of background noise anyway, it's not likely to be noticeable. This is what the mic's best suited for!
How Much Does the Shure SM58 Cost?
At the time of writing, you can pick up a brand new Shure SM58 on Amazon for $104, and on Amazon UK for £74.
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Summary: Shure SM58 Review
In my opinion, the Shure SM58 is a great mic, for many of the reasons I've discussed in this review. But should you buy one?
If you're almost always going to be podcasting at your computer, either flying solo, or doing online interviews, then I'd say no. Pick up a USB mic instead; you'll find our top recommendations in the article I've linked to there.
If you're recording on-the-go, however – and you're also guilty of being a little careless and hashy with your gear – then the invincible SM58 might be the saviour you need.
It's worth mentioning a good middle ground option too. The Samson Q2U might not be just as nuclear war-proof as the SM58, but it isn't far off it. It performs just as well on the handling noise front. Plus, it doubles as a USB mic. You can use it at home, at the computer, or travel and plug it into your digital recorder.
But, if you're off to record your next episode from the eye of a hurricane, then the Shure SM58 could be your best option.
Need More Help?
Next up in our series on recording face-to-face interviews, we're talking how to set it all up.
You might also be interested in our Best Budget Mics roundup for some quality alternatives to the SM58.
And, whether it's choosing equipment, recording, editing, growth, or monetisation you're stuck on, we've got courses and resources on them all in The Podcast Host Academy. On top of that, we run weekly live Q&A sessions too, so you'll always have access to the help that you need.