Shure SM57 Microphone: Exploring the Timeless Appeal of This Industry-Favorite Microphone

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The Shure SM57 microphone is an undisputed legend in the world of audio recording and sound reinforcement. Since its introduction in the 1960s, the SM57 has been a staple in recording studios and live sound environments, earning its reputation as a reliable and versatile workhorse. In this review, we’ll delve into the rich history, design, performance, and applications of this industry-favorite microphone, aiming to reveal the secrets behind its enduring popularity.

The Shure SM57 Microphone’s Rich History

Shure SM 57 Snare Mic

The Shure SM57 Microphone is a legendary dynamic microphone with a long history of usage in live sound reinforcement and studio recording. Its origins can be traced back to the 1930s, when Sidney N. Shure founded the Shure Radio Company in Chicago, Illinois. Initially focused on radio parts, the company eventually expanded into producing microphones.

The Shure Unidyne series, introduced in 1939, marked a significant milestone in microphone technology. The Unidyne Model 55 was the first single-element unidirectional microphone, which used a single dynamic element to achieve a cardioid pickup pattern. This innovation allowed the microphone to better reject off-axis noise, making it suitable for a wide range of applications.

In 1959, Shure introduced the Unidyne III, a smaller and more affordable version of the Unidyne Model 55. This new microphone design featured a smaller dynamic element and a more compact form factor. The Unidyne III was later rebranded as the Shure SM57 (SM stands for Studio Microphone) in 1965, and it quickly became popular among musicians, broadcasters, and sound engineers.

The SM57 is known for its durability, versatility, and ability to handle high sound pressure levels (SPL). Its signature sound quality, achieved through the combination of a dynamic element and a cardioid polar pattern, has made it a go-to microphone for numerous applications. It is especially popular for miking guitar amplifiers, snare drums, and vocals in both live and studio settings.

The Shure SM57 was developed in the 1960s through a collaborative effort between Shure engineers and sound professionals seeking a versatile and reliable microphone. It was introduced as a successor to the SM56, which had already earned a strong reputation for its audio quality and durability.

The SM57 has played a significant role in numerous historic events and iconic recordings. It has been the microphone of choice for several US presidents, earning its nickname as the “Presidential Microphone.” Moreover, legendary artists such as The Rolling Stones, U2, and Red Hot Chili Peppers have relied on the SM57 to capture their signature sounds in the studio and on stage.

Design and Construction

The Shure SM57 features a unidirectional cardioid polar pattern, which is ideal for recording and live sound applications. This design allows the microphone to focus on the sound source while minimizing background noise and feedback. Its rugged construction and high-quality materials ensure durability and reliability, even in challenging environments. These features contribute to the SM57’s reputation as a robust and dependable tool for audio professionals.

Performance and Sound Quality

One of the key factors behind the SM57’s popularity is its versatility. The microphone performs exceptionally well for both vocals and a wide range of instruments, including drums, guitar, brass, and woodwinds. Its frequency response of 40Hz to 15kHz, coupled with a presence boost, provides clarity and warmth in audio capture.

When compared to other microphones such as the Shure SM58, Sennheiser MD 421, or Audix i5, the SM57 holds its own, consistently delivering high-quality audio performance across various applications.

Applications and Use Cases for the Shure SM57 Microphone

The Shure SM57 is well-suited for use in recording studios, live sound reinforcement, and broadcasting or podcasting. Its versatility and consistent performance make it an excellent choice for audio professionals and enthusiasts alike. It is probably most known for popularity of its use on the Snare Drum. Whether recording vocals, capturing the nuances of a guitar, or reinforcing the impact of a drum kit, the SM57 is a dependable choice that delivers outstanding results.

Shure SM57 Microphone Pros and Cons


1. Affordable and accessible: The SM57 offers excellent performance at a price point that is accessible to both professionals and amateurs.

2. Time-tested performance: With decades of proven performance, the SM57 is a trusted choice for audio capture.

3. Versatile and reliable: The microphone’s versatility and reliability make it suitable for a wide range of applications and instruments.


1. May not be suitable for specific applications or instruments: While the SM57 is a versatile microphone, some specialized applications or instruments might benefit from a more tailored solution.

2. Newer technology may offer different or better options: The advancements in microphone technology have led to the development of new microphones that could provide alternative or improved performance in certain situations.


The legacy of the Shure SM57 is a testament to its timeless appeal and unwavering success in the recording industry. Its history, design, performance, and versatility have made it a favorite among audio professionals for decades. Combine this with the fact that it can be had for less than $100 having at least a couple of these in your mic locker is an absolute no brainer. Whether you’re a seasonedprofessional or an aspiring audio enthusiast, the SM57 will undoubtedly serve as a valuable addition to your toolkit.

Shure SM57 Mic

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