Archive for the ‘Podcast Production’ Category


Review: Shure SM7B as Podcast Production Microphone

May 1, 2014

shsm7b-xl-05If you are new to the audio production world, or the podcast production world, then you may not have heard of the famed Shure SM7B microphone.  Allow me to introduce it:  the SM7B is a mid-priced dynamic cardiod microphone commonly used in the radio broadcast world, but can also be heard on many famous studio recordings including Michael Jackon’s Thriller.  Today we are going to explore whether or not this microphone would be a cost effective choice for those producing homemade podcast content.

For those not versed in the technical lingo surrounding microphones, a dynamic microphone is a passive, meaning it requires no external power source, and a cardiod pickup pattern means that the microphone is built to primarily pick up a semi heart shaped area in its front.  Generally speaking, a microphone with a cardiod pattern is ideal for voice recording because it is designed to reject most sound coming from the sides and back.  Dynamic microphones are generally known for being especially good at rejecting unwanted sound in the recording area.  In most amateur podcasting situations, the recording space is going to be a small room, likely with sources of unwanted noise such as fans, traffic, and small children.  The SM7B is extremely useful in this situation because it allows the user to more easily capture a clean recording when compared to a studio condenser microphone.  The SM7B is also very adept at avoiding poor quality sound by rejecting unwanted reflections from the walls of the podcast recording area.

Overall, it is quite easy to get a good, professional sounding voice recording with the SM7B.  The quality can be described as warm, crispy, and somewhat dark.  For female talent, the SM7B is good for reducing unwanted sibilance(harsh, high end sound created when saying S’s).  Females with higher pitched voices will generally be pleased with the darkening of their voice recordings.  Male podcast hosts may find that their sound is a little too dark and muddy, requiring some EQ to get a polished result.  Condenser microphones have a edge on the SM7B in this respect because they capture more high end detail.  An example of the SM7B, or the similar RE20, can be heard on pretty much any radio broadcast.

At $350 US, this microphone may be a bit more than many are willing, or able to pay for a starting voice recording solution.   This, coupled with the additional home studio equipment needed to amplify the signal, may make the SM7B a bit out of reach for many up and coming podcast producers.  The SM7B is notably quiet, requiring a great deal of gain to boost the sound to acceptable levels.  This means that one will have to purchase, at the absolute least, an outboard audio interface with high preamp gain, such as the Presonus Firestudio Mobile.  A comprehensive article regarding this topic can be found here.  Factoring in the mic, XLR cable, and audio interface, the total cost approaches the $700 range.  Although this can be considered a worthwhile investment for serious podcasters, it will be above the budget of many.

For those willing to drop a few dollars to produce a top notch professional podcast, the Shure SM7B is a high quality, easy to use microphone and a sure fire way to invest hard earned dollars.  In most cases it is simply a matter of plug it in, dial in the levels, and get great recordings.  To use the SM7B, one will need an audio production and editing software.  Two great, free choices are Audacity and Garage Band.

For those interested, a low cost option in the condenser microphone selection is the Rode NT1A for $229.  Condenser mics require a little more know-how and a better recording space, but are able to capture a clearer, more detailed recording than a dynamic mic.

Check out a podcast I produce at Drop by Drop Podcast and/or my portfolio site.  Thanks for reading!