Adrien’s Audio Den
Don’t underestimate a classic
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Price: $100 or less
Use: Vocal/multi-purpose microphone
When I turned 18, my parents were adamant about getting me on the road. My dad said he wanted me to have a car that would withstand the grueling roads of New York – some tank-like vehicle that would keep me safe.
A year later, he gave me his ’06 Hyundai Tucsan.
I almost cried when he put the keys in my hand. It was like one of those coming-of-age moments on The Wonder Years, though I did secretly want a sports car.
After my first accident, though, I realized that a structurally sound vehicle was more important than impressing girls with a flashy death machine.
Shure’s SM58 dynamic cardioid microphone can be best described as the all-wheel-drive SUV of the microphone world. Its rugged structure and timeless design haven’t changed much since the mic’s introduction in 1966.
A 46-year-old microphone may make this review seem dated. However, I think it’s important not to overlook the classics. After all, most of the newer vocal microphones out there today are just slight modifications of the SM58. These newer models might not have the durability required for rowdy basement shows, rigorous tours or reckless roommates.
“[The SM58] is the mic I will be using after the nuclear holocaust happens because it will be one of the only things left on earth that still works,” according to Carson McClain, an advice columnist at Sweetwater.com.
In my personal experience as a sound technician, I’ve seen SM58s with huge dents on the grille from being dropped or slammed on the ground; they still performed like new.
The universal sound the SM58 produces has also led to its wide use. While artists range from pop to punk to reggae to polka, every genre sounds good through an SM58 microphone. It has become an industry standard. Many sound techs will scratch their heads when an artist brings his/her own mystery microphone to a gig. It can be an unexpected feedback-filled burden to the more inexperienced techs due to each microphone’s unique frequency response.
While this mic has been primarily used for vocals, don’t be fooled – its uses don’t stop there. The SM58 can be used to mic instruments including acoustic piano, trumpet, melodica, acoustic guitar and even kick drum. In fact, Acoustic Guitar magazine honored the SM58 with a Gold Medal in the Player’s Choice Awards in 2011. Many acoustic guitarists prefer this microphone to a pickup on stage.
Shure has recently released a handy tool known as the X2u, which is a USB interface that connects directly to a microphone. This turns any microphone into a recording device, which can connect to a computer via USB.
This device can be bundled with the SM58 for $200, according to shure.com, and it has features that allow multi-track recording with zero time delay. This means you’re recording right on time with the previous track without an annoying wait. It even comes with phantom power for condenser microphones that require electricity.
I’d recommend the SM58 to any musician – whether you’re just starting, regularly gigging or touring overseas. These mics even come in handy in the studio because they respond to sound uniformly.
So don’t go for the fancy sports car – stay durable and safe with the SM58 and have respect for this classic microphone.