What’s the Difference Between the SM58 and the SM57
If you read our recent post on the differences between the SM58 and the Beta58, you’ll now be clued up on this much discussed topic. This time, we’re tackling one those frequently asked questions surrounding the SM57.
So what exactly is the difference between Shure’s SM58 and the SM57
The 57 and 58 microphones are actually based on the same cartridge design. The main difference is in the grille design. The SM58 was designed for vocal applications, and therefore uses a ball grille with built in pop filter to eliminate plosives. The SM57 is designed as an instrument microphone, where a smaller grille size is more practical and plosives are less of a concern. Subsequently, the SM57 does not use a ball grille with pop filtering and instead uses an integral resonator/grille assembly, where the grille is actually part of the cartridge.
Each grille design places the diaphragm of each microphone in a different acoustical environment. The distance from the top of the grille to the diaphragm is shorter on the SM57 compared to that of the SM58, which allows for a more pronounced proximity effect through closer mic positioning. Additionally, the different resonator/grille assembly design of the SM57 produces a slightly higher output above 5 kHz.
A matter of microphone application
Although the SM57 was intended for instrument applications, there are plenty of examples through history of its use as a vocal microphone. This is because the same increased proximity effect and 5khz frequency boost that help fill out or boost the presence of an instrument recording, can also be used to the engineers advantage with certain vocalists. It’s all a matter of what works for your application. Experimentation and using your ears remains the key factor.
Engineer/producer Ron Nevison talks about his use of the SM57 on almost every snare drum.