Without doubt, the classic Shure SM58 is the most popular vocal microphone in the planet. From beginners and small acts to rockstars, Shureˊs SM58 is a famous choice and even if artists have upgraded their gear to more expensive and hi end mics, chances are they have cone across the SM58.
Although it is the most used and abused microphone, many argue that it is not the best and the answer is, yes it is not. It may not have the frequency and dynamic range of other expensive mics, but at a price tag of USD100 on the average, the SM58 is a steal and a must have for anyone engaged in music performances. Yes there might be tons of mics out there with features that would simply outshine the SM58, but the reality is, musicians, the music industry and the whole listening world has been so accustomed to its sound and use. A lot of performers are most comfortable using it in terms of dynamics and handling.
Another thing that the SM58 is known for is its durability - literally built like a tank! Over the years of performing live and being part of a sound rental company, countless times Iˊve witnessed the SM58 torture test in live performance scenarios. Iˊve seen it fall from 10 feet down to solid concrete and still function continuosly with just a dent on the screen cover; an upcoming rockstar with attitude using the SM58 to hit cymbals and toms; a singer swinging the mic cable like a lasso sending it to towards crowd before falling to the ground 15 feet away.... it just doesnˊt stop working. Itˊs almost impossible to destroy its body and the cover is replaceable and cheap so the dents are not a big issue. Built to last, the SM58 can literally be handed over to your grandchildren in working condition without you even taking good care of it.
Aside from being an industry standard sounding microphone for vocals, the SM58 can also be a great instrument microphone. Its low impedance functions well with loud and sudden sound sources such as drums, even the bass drum. Aside from it having the capacity to mic almost anything, the SM58 is also easy to mix on your board.
One might wonder about its use inside the studio and youˊll be surprised at just how many professional and famous recordings used the SM58 for its tracks.
From personal experience, there was a time when I quickly needed to record and mix a song. We were taking the main vocal track and under time pressure. On session, I used a large diaphragm Audio Technica Studio Mic and a Shure SM58 at the same time on separate tracks. My reason for doing so was because that time my line for the Audio Technica were having problems and I did not want to ruin a take so I had the SM58 track as back-up. The signal lines worked well so both tracks were clean. Upon mixing, after some efforts trying to tweak the Audio Technica line, it seemed it will take more time. I took a break and when I got back I tried the track recorded by the SM58. To my surprise, without mich processing, it was almost close to the sound we wanted and in no time, we had a quality sounding vocal track using a hundred dollar microphone. After that incident, there were numerous times Iˊve used the SM58 for professional recordings and still do to date.This is not to say that it can fully replace the big league Rolls Royce mics in recording, but given due circumstances and knowing what you want and how to tweak it right, the SM58 can definitely function as a competent recording studio microphone.
Having used a wide variety of types and brands of microphones, I must say the Shure SM58 is my favorite. Itˊs cheap, durable, friendly to use for vocalists, easy to.mix on the board and can be used for about almost anything you need a mic on. I strongly recommend it as part of oneˊs arsenal for live performances and studio applications.
Summary tip of the day: When in doubt as to what microphone to use, consider the Shure SM58. Although not the best for some situations, it can handle most very well.