Building out a studio is a difficult task. Quality equipment is everywhere, but the costs add up quickly. You may find yourself looking for places to cut corners. But with microphones like the Shure SM7, that's not necessary.
Shure SM7 and Other Brands Comparison Table
The audio industry is one full of stiff competition. Shure is up against some of the best microphone companies out there with its SM7 model. We've chosen to compare it to the AKG C214, the Audio-Technica 4033/CL, the Electrovoice RE-20, the Rode NTK, and the Sennheiser MD421. All of these microphones are in a comparable price range to the SM7 and work in similar studio applications.
- Sonic character of the C414 XLII for beautifully detailed recording of lead vocals and solo instruments
- Outstanding dynamic range and ultralow noise for close-up recording of high-output sources of up to 156dB SPL
- Switchable 20dB attenuator and bass-cut filter for close-up recording and reduction of proximity effect
- Integrated suspension to reduce mechanical noise and vibration from stage
- Roadworthy design all-metal die-cast body with shock- and scratch-resistant finish
AKG advertises the AKG C214 as a smaller, simpler version of their C414 microphone. The C214 uses the same technology as its more famous (and more expensive) counterpart but is limited to a cardioid pickup range. It provides a detailed sound for both vocals and instruments. The AKG C214 also uses a low-cut filter, meaning it is more useful for louder applications than standard condenser microphones. Its integrated suspension limits mechanical noise and stops the microphone from picking up stage vibrations.
- Transformerless circuitry virtually eliminates low-frequency distortion and provides superior correlation of high-speed transients
- Precision-machined, nickel-plated brass, acoustic element baffle provides enhanced element stability and optimal sensitivity
- The 2-micron-thick, vapor-deposited gold diaphragm undergoes a five-step aging process so that the optimum characteristics achieved remain constant over years of use
- Floating-construction capsule assembly provides isolation from noise and vibration
- Open acoustical environment of the symmetrical housing assembly minimizes unwanted internal reflections
The Audio-Technica 4033 is a condenser microphone, which already sets it apart from the SM7. Since it is a condenser microphone, it is more susceptible to loud noises. As such, the 4033 is a bluegrass favorite. The sensitive diaphragm of the AT 4033 is better for picking up the soft instrumentals and vocals of bluegrass music in greater detail. As far as sound quality, the 4033 has a filter which allows you to diminish ambient noise and voice pops if desired.
- Professional-quality dynamic cardioid microphone
- Heavy-duty internal pop filter reduces proximity effects
- Internal element shock mount reduces vibration-induced noise
- Blast and wind filters cover each acoustic opening
- Frequency response: 45Hz-18kHz
The Electro-Voice RE-20 is a standard of broadcast recording. It is best-suited to voice recordings, although it has been widely adopted by musicians as well. Its Variable-D design prevents bass sbounds from overpowering other sounds as they get closer to the microphone. The Electro-Voice RE-20 is a dynamic cardioid microphone, making it more durable. According to the Electro-Voice website, it performs similarly to a studio condenser microphone to pick up more subtle sounds. However, its superior cardioid pattern and design mean that sounds to the rear of the microphone are almost completely undetected.
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- A premium valve condenser microphone designed to provide incredible detail and warmth in the studio
- The electronic circuitry complementing this very sensitive transducer includes a hand-selected twin-triode 6922 valve and audiophile grade components
- The rich valve sound is ideal for vocals, acoustic instruments, drum overheads, guitar amps and pianos
Rode's NTK valve condenser microphone is the most expensive option on this list, although it earns this price tag through its engineering. The Rode NTK is a tube microphone, which is an older style of manufacture that gives a more vintage sound. While this is not necessarily better than the sound that other microphones on this list offer, the warmer sound makes for an attractive option. The Rode NTK has a wide dynamic range which makes it ideal for recording vocals and music. Rode suggests using the NTK for vocals, acoustic instruments, pianos, and guitar amps, among others.
- Rugged professional microphone
- Five position bass roll-off switch
- Effective feedback rejection
- Clear sound reproduction
- Easy handling due to pronounced directivity
The Sennheiser MD421-II is a continuation of what Sennheiser calls one of its most popular dynamic microphones. As a dynamic microphone, it is one of the most similar microphones to the Shure SM7 among the microphones on this list. Like the SM7, it handles louder sounds and high-pressure recording well. Its magnetic construction handles rock guitars, drums, and vocals better than condenser microphones might. Sweetwater Sound suggests using the Sennheiser MD421 for diverse applications, such as group vocals.
- Flat, wide-range frequency response for exceptionally clean and natural reproduction of both music and speech
- Bass rolloff and mid-range emphasis (presence boost) controls with graphic display of response setting
- Improved rejection of electromagnetic hum, optimized for shielding against broadband interference emitted by computer monitors
- Internal "air suspension" shock isolation virtually eliminates mechanical noise transmission
- Highly effective pop filter eliminates need for any add-on protection against explosive breath sounds, even for close-up vocals or narration
Shure got its start in 1925 as a radio parts wholesaler. Six years later their first microphone was made, and they have been a major player in the audio industry in the near-century since. In that time, Shure has spread their business across all forms of audio equipment. Their products have become standards in the industry, with the Shure SM7 included among them. Now in the 7B model, the Shure SM7 is a go-to for many recording artists.
The Shure SM7 is a dynamic-model microphone for professional applications. According to Shure's website, it works well for both vocal and musical settings. It includes a stable microphone stand that is effective no matter how you place it and a windscreen for close-up talking. As a dynamic microphone, it can handle louder volumes better and is a standby for rock vocals.
Why Pick the Shure SM7?
What makes the Shure SM7 different from other dynamic microphones? For one, it has specialized shielding to prevent it any electromagnetic hums. Devices such as neon signs and computer monitors could be picked up on other microphones, but the Shure SM7 helps block them out. It also has internal air suspension to help dampen unwanted noise transmission. Included in the microphone is an advanced pop filter, which helps to keep vocals and narration clean and easy to understand.
The Shure SM7 also features a unidirectional cardioid pickup pattern. Cardioid pickups have a heart-shaped range that focuses on the front of the microphone, cutting down on background noise. It also has a yoke mounting to allow for precise microphone placement. This overhead mounting allows the microphone to hang down close to whatever source you may require. Perhaps most importantly, its flat wide-range frequency response allows it to receive vocals and music cleanly.
Pros and Cons
The Shure SM7 faces some daunting competition among those selected today. Each serves its purpose well, and any would be an excellent choice for your sound studio. Here's why the SM7 may be the best one for yours.
- The multipurpose microphone of choice in the music industry
- Durable, dynamic construction coupled with an excellent sound range
- Electromagnetic shielding from outside noise
- Dynamic structure is less specialized and less sensitive than condensers
The Final Word
The Shure SM7 is a powerhouse of a microphone by any standard. It has existed and earned its reputation over the decades, cementing its place among the top studio microphones available.
What's more, its versatility and utility mean it deserves a spot in any recording studio. Rock musicians with screaming vocals and guitars and levelheaded podcasters both will benefit from the impeccable range. The SM7 can handle high-pressure recording so that it will stand up to your drums and bass as well.
If you're looking for a more specialized microphone, one of the condenser microphones on the list may be for you. The Audio-Technica 4033 offers a more finely-tuned audio experience. It can pick up the nuances of acoustic instruments better than the Shure SM7 might be able to, and it can do so at the same price as the SM7. The Rode NTK is easily the most specialized of the microphones on this list. Its warm sound and strong highs and lows make it work for special applications, but not for general purpose use.
Any microphone on this list would be a strong contender for a place on your mic stand. They are all legendary in their own right, but only the Shure SM7 found its way into Michael Jackson's recording studio. If that's not enough for you to seriously consider this microphone, it should at least demonstrate where this microphone has cut its teeth. It's a legend, and it belongs in your studio.