Shure SM58 Dynamic Microphone Full Review

Aug 02, 2023
Shure SM58 Dynamic Microphone Full Review


It would be easy to find any musician who uses the Shure SM58. We all have. Or at least, we've all heard of it.

It's a legendary dynamic microphone — if not the most legendary — and shares grounds with the celebrated Shure SM57, except for the appearance.

What makes the Shure SM58 a true legend among the rich spectrum of worthwhile dynamic microphones is that it has lived over six decades in the continually evolving market that introduces brand-new items with cutting-edge characteristics year after year.

The SM58 was first released back in 1966 and soon cut through the market and became THE most prevalent microphone in live events and concerts.

That, however, wasn't the only area for the SM58 to fly high, as it showed great performance in studio recordings too. In fact, it was 'intended for broadcast studio use' , according to Shure.

Throughout the SM58's glorious lifespan, many big-name artists have picked it as their go-to choice for recordings and live events, such as Paul McCartneyAlice Cooper, and Roger Daltrey.

It's also worth knowing that Michel Jackson sang the all-time hit 'Billy Jean' using a Shure SM57 that sounds identical to the SM58, which implies billions of people around the world have heard the footprints of the SM58 even if they don't know anything about microphones.

But there should be a reason for the SM58's conspicuous success, right?



In this article, I'll break down the Shure SM58 and discuss the characteristics that have made it an industry-standard mic that fits all genres and voices. In this article, you will find all the details you need to know about the Shure SM58 structured as below:


  1. Benefits and Advantages of the Shure SM58

  2. Disadvantages of the Shure SM58

  3. Build Quality of the Shure SM58

  4. Alternatives to the Shure SM58

  5. Whom I Think the Shure SM58 Is Best for


Overview of the Shure SM58

As mentioned earlier, the Shure SM58 is a dynamic microphone essentially made for live performances.

That's due to its rugged build that stands the length of a live event environment with various weather conditions and accidental drops.



The Shure SM58 boasts a tailor-made frequency response that fits vocals more than anything else, making them sound rich and ear-pleasing. That said, the SM58 won't disappoint you for other purposes, such as recording guitars and drums. I still bring out my 58 to record my Fender Princeton amp sometimes. Especially if I'm in a pinch and I forgot my 57. I'll talk about the 57 below...

The SM58 takes its origin from its older cousin, the SM57. If you're not familiar with the SM57, it's the precursor of the SM58 with arguably more reputation. Both share the popular Unidyne III 545 microphone element (cartridge design) previously introduced in the Shure Unidyne III 545, another powerful dynamic microphone that can fulfill anyone's desire for vintage looks and sound reproduction even to this day.

What makes the Shure SM57 a legendary icon in the music industry is the appropriate construction and its prowess at capturing instruments with details and outstanding quality, thanks to high SPL levels and the build.

The only prominent difference that distinguishes the two is the ball-shape mesh grille that comes on top of the SM58, making it a suitable option for vocalists. However, you can always spin off the ball shape grill and the mics almost look identical. Pro tip, you can do this when recording guitars with your 58 to capture more nuanced detail.


Benefits and Advantages of the Shure SM58

The $100 Shure SM58 has a lot of bang for the buck, which has made it a sought-after deal for musicians.

It has a frequency response of 50Hz-15kHz with slight boosts around the high-mid range, which brightens up the sound in favor of vocals and helps to cut through the mix. This is why you see them everywhere!



Moreover, a functional bass roll-off at the lower end of the range ensures less proximity effect. This is one of the main reasons that make the SM58 more suitable for vocal performances over the SM57, as the latter captures the bass range with higher accentuation.

The ball-meshed grill that defines the SM58's persona isn't there just because it looks cool. It functions partly as a pop filter that negates plosives to a good extent, but the built-in pop filter ensures air gusts won't ruin the output.

On top of that, the grill has a solid build, making it a trustable guard for the microphone capsule against physical blows or moisture. I can't tell you how many times I've dropped my 58 on the stage floor and I'm not much of a 'rocker' either. However, it stands the test of time no matter what genre you're in. Here is an example of me playing with my band and I'm singing with the Shure SM58.



What's more, the cardioid (heart-shaped) pickup pattern marks the Shure SM58's capability to hone in on the direct sound source while warding off everything else in the background.



That is one of the most pivotal features any musician needs for live performing, and Shure has done a great job at empowering the SM58 with a functional cardioid polar pattern.

This reduces noise from the crowd and the instruments in the venue, which could cause feedback if not treated properly. In addition, minimal handling noise allows singers to fully express themselves without being worried about the noise from handling and moving the mic around.



Disadvantages of the Shure SM58

Not a single studio unit is surefire so let's talk about the disadvantages.

The Shure SM58 could also have a few downsides depending on your expectations and, of course, what you're doing with the mic.

First off, you shouldn't get too close to the microphone while singing since that causes the proximity effect, a common problem with almost any microphone.

The gist is that the closer the sound source, the bolder the low-frequency range. You can, however, avoid the proximity effect easily by keeping the microphone in the sweet spot where the tone doesn't change drastically.

I find that a lot of beginner performers or singers will often get to close the the 58 and it sounds really 'boomy'. Way to much low end. I did this too when I first started performing.



One of the other disadvantages of the SM58 is the lack of versatility which would be of concern only if you're willing to rely on it for recording everything in the studio.

The SM58 is particularly designed for capturing vocals regarding the ball grill and the limited frequency response. Thus, it wouldn't fit in with your expectations of recording instruments as neatly as vocals.

Nonetheless, if you're too obsessed with the SM58's sound character and you want the same touch on the rest of your songs, you can opt for the SM57 as an identical alternative that has one main purpose: to match with instruments.

All that being said, other dynamic microphones, even the high-end ones that cost a fortune, aren't exempt from these disadvantages. This is while they wouldn't be significant concerns for many artists, and you can manage to handle them with professional treatment and a few tweaks like minor cuts in the bass range for the aforementioned proximity effect.



Build Quality of the Shure SM58

The Shure SM58 has drawn excessive attention among the experts and the public, having withstood the toughest situations, naturally or for the sake of experiment.

When it comes to durability, you need to get a tad picky since no one's looking for the troubles of repairing a mic now and then or paying for new gear regularly. And the Shure SM58 wins the upper hand in this regard among as many capable microphones as you may think of.

It deserves to be called the one 'indestructible' piece that won't fall apart easily — or at all.



It's also tough to damage your SM58 under intentional blows. The metal material that goes into the body can stack up against any outdoor performance, boasting exceptional solidity and endurance, which is doubled in the mesh grille.

Enjoying Shure's super trustable design, the SM58 can be your devoted companion with robust materials that safeguard the diaphragm and other sensitive elements at all costs.

The high built quality has massively influenced my impression of the SM57 — enjoying the same built quality — and that has made it an inseparable contribution to my home studio; it just won't wear out. Once the SM58 steps into your studio, you can imagine decades ahead where it still performs well and healthily.


Alternatives to the Shure SM58

Today's market won't fall short on microphones of all types and with various functions, and it's the same for the Shure SM58's alternatives.

Numerous options on the table can take the SM58's place— dynamic or condenser — while offering the same features. Here I list three of the best alternatives to the Shure SM58 in different price ranges in case you need something different.


Sennheiser E945


The German Sennheiser is one of the most trusted companies with pioneering products that fulfill many people's need for novelty and quality.

The Sennheiser E945 falls into the same crew, offering a natural-sounding 40Hz-18kHz frequency response that goes with both female and male voices. This dynamic beast has a supercardioid polar pattern and has no fear of live-performing pressures, thanks to the robust construction and quality materials.

Sennheiser has boldly highlighted the E945 as the 'lead vocal stage microphone,' which explains its primary goal and potential. The $260 price tag throws the E945 in the upper class of dynamic microphones, given the polished sound quality and sleek looks.


Shure Beta 58A


A popular alternative to the SM58 is the Beta 58A, manufactured by the same company, Shure.

The names aren't accidentally similar; the Beta 58A is simply an improved version of the SM58 at a higher price of $170 (obviously!). It offers an extended frequency response of 50Hz-16kHz with a slight boost towards the end of the frequency range.

In addition, a gentle attenuation below 500Hz contributes to an impressive reduction in the proximity effect, making the Beta 58A a successful trend among live performers.

Moreover, it offers an improved built-in shock mount and a supercardioid pickup pattern with lower handling noise which fixes the Beta 58A's spot among the top mid-range dynamic microphones for both professionals and beginners.


Behringer ULTRAVOICE XM8500


Cheap recording studio equipment is often more competent than you'd think. The Behringer ULTRAVOICE XM8500 is the epitome of such equipment as one of the cheapest dynamic microphones you can find. Costing only $25. Yes, you read that correctly.

The Behringer XM8500 could be a good kick-off for anyone who's not sure about their path in the music world. It can also be a beneficial backup mic that could save events from getting called off.

The XM8500 offers a generous 50Hz-15kHz frequency response and a clear quality with sufficient presence and warmth. Similar to the SM58, the XM8500 has a cardioid polar pattern and, thus, a satisfactory off-axis rejection. It also feels lighter than the 0.72 lb Shure SM58 with about 0.50 lb of weight.

Overall, it's a great dynamic microphone that delivers excellent value for money and quality sound that comes on par with that of the Shure SM58.


Whom I Think the Shure SM58 Is Best for


The Shure SM58 is a workhorse dynamic microphone that won't disappoint you. No matter if you're a pro or a beginner, the Shure SM58 can be your go-to mic for live and studio use.

It's second to none regarding reliability and toughness, having a rugged build with high durability that withstands touring hardships and other adverse conditions. It's gone so far as to be omnipresent even in the world of wireless microphones, where Shure has matched it with recent technologies.

Offering a considerable SPL level of 180 dB, the SM58 can impeccably fit all genres, from Pop to Hip Hop to Metal. What's more, the industry-standard sound quality coupled with the cardioid pickup pattern makes the SM58 a valuable dynamic mic not only for music performances but broadcasting and public speaking. In a nutshell, it works with vocals of all kinds. Still and all, it's not the best mic for recording drums or guitars, as Shure has made it clear that the SM58's primary target is vocals. So, I think it's one of the most proficient dynamic microphones that has stood the test of time and is still one of the all-time favorites of many musicians and sound engineers.

Although condenser microphones like the celebrated Rode NT1-A have gained control over the studios with their corner in the market, dynamic mics have a number of advantages that makes them a must-have, especially for those holding live events. Thus, I strongly recommend vocalists pick the SM58 as their faithful dynamic mic; it's worth the buck with premium quality and an overlong lifetime, and that's how a truly valuable microphone should be.


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