In a world where technology is constantly evolving, why is the world’s best selling microphone over 50 years old?
There are certainly better sounding microphones, more expensive models that can provide you the nuances you desire, but you really can’t beat the classic sound of a SM58. It comes down to their reliability and price point. You can’t find an equal at a similar cost that offers both great vocals, and can take a beating.
They sound warm and clear due to a brightened midrange and bass rolloff, while their metal windscreen and cardioid pickup pattern work together to eliminate background noises. Each microphone is put through a frequency response test to insure consistency.
Every sound engineer has their story of how they have accidentally dropped their microphone from some obscene height only to find it still working! (*albeit, with a bashed up metal grille) Are you a school or church with many different hands using your mics? You’ll be wanting to know you can be worry free if they take a small drop.
The SM stands for studio microphone and hints at the purpose of its origin. In the 60s, many studio mics sounded great, but were fragile and had shiny coatings that created a glare under studio lights. Thus in trying to solve studio problems, the classic live vocal microphone was born.
Its twin microphone is the SM57. They share an internal design, but the SM57 lacks the ball shaped grille that reduces wind and breath noise.
So Has Nothing Changed?
Are they same as when they were released in 1966? The answer is no. Not because of any lack of quality, but because of advances in materials and manufacturing. New adhesives and materials allow for a higher level of fidelity, while manufacturing has become much less manual then it was in the early days. Each microphone is subjected to military supplier-grade tests to insure that all its individual parts, and the fully assembled microphone are of the highest quality. This is why they are so reliably tough!
*Images from shure.com