The Shure SM7B (buy here) is probably the most popular microphone on YouTube for things like podcasts and indoor spoken videos to the camera. It’s for good reason, too. It’s a decent microphone at a reasonable price point.
But it’s not perfect. The biggest issue is that it’s quiet, often requiring an extra preamp in your signal chain. Well, Shure has addressed this with the new Shure SM7dB (buy here). This mic features a built-in preamp for a stronger signal.
What was wrong with the Shure SM7B?
The Shure SM7B is an excellent microphone if you have a high-powered mixer or audio interface that can amplify the signal high enough. However, the SM7B’s output feels pretty week for most consumer mixers and audio interfaces that don’t quite have the power.
The Shure SM7B is quiet because it’s a dynamic microphone. Unlike condenser microphones, which typically receive 48v phantom ower from your field recorder, mixer, or audio interface, dynamic microphones receive no power from the device they’re plugged into. They’re simply generating their own very weak signals from the vibrations of their capsule.
Dynamic microphones typically have a wider dynamic range as a result, which is why they’re often used by singers. They can scream and shout as loud as they like in between the quiet bits, and they should capture everything distortion-free. Or at least, increase the chances of it all being distortion-free.
For those of us sitting at home or in the studio recording podcasts and YouTube videos at a reasonable volume… We have to get a little more creative with our setup.
We need to put something in between the microphone and your mixer/interface in order to bump the signal up a bit. This is called a preamp. One of the most popular types of inline preamp for microphones like the Shure SM7B is the Cloudlifter (buy here).
What’s a Cloudlifter?
The Cloudlifter is an inline preamp for quiet microphones. They increase the level of the signal, although they also increase the level of the near-silent noise. This noise can become not-so-near-silent when you massively amplify them.
Cloudlifters, however, do an excellent job of amplifying the signal at a much higher rate than the noise for about as clean a signal as one could hope for.
They’ve pretty much become a standard accessory for Shure SM7B owners on YouTube, but they’re not cheap, with the bare basic unit costing $149 without any cables or other accessories. When you factor this and the extra required bits into the cost, the SM7B goes from being a $400 microphone to a $600 microphone.
How does the Shure SM7dB fix this?
Well, Shure and Cloud – the company who make the Cloudlifter – have teamed up. The Shure SM7dB is an amalgamation of the original Shure SM7B and the Cloudlifter in a single unit. This is great news for multiple reasons.
First, there are no extra accessories to buy. All you need is your cable to plug straight into the mic. This lack of extra accessories also means fewer sockets, cables and potential points of failure. So, it should be overall more reliable.
As well as being much easier not to have to buy a bunch of accessories, It’s cheaper. Even though the Shure SM7dB is more expensive than the SM7B, it’s less expensive than the SM7B and all of the mandatory bits.
Should I get one?
If you’ve already got the Shure SM7B and a Cloudlifter, you’re probably not going to see much benefit from “upgrading” to the Shure SM7dB. It will reduce your number of cables by one and eliminate an accessory from your audio chain, but that’s about it.
If you’ve got the Shure SM7B, always thought it was a bit quiet and have never heard of the Cloudlifter, then your choice becomes a little more difficult. Do you spend the $150 to get the Cloudlifter? Or do you try to sell your SM7B and buy the SB7dB? That’s a choice that only you can make.
If you’ve got got the SM7B or the Cloudlifter, but you’ve been thinking about the SM7B, then the Shure SM7dB definitely seems like the way to go. You’ll spend more buying the SM7B and Cloudlifter otherwise.
Price and Availability
The Shure SM7dB is available to buy now for $499 and is already shipping.