This $30 DIY Shure SM7B alternative sounds almost as good as the real thing

Jul 28, 2022

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

This $30 DIY Shure SM7B alternative sounds almost as good as the real thing

Jul 28, 2022

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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So, that title deserves some qualifiers. It doesn’t sound as good as the Shure SM7B, but almost as good? Yeah, sure, it’s pretty good, especially considering what it costs – and assuming you already own a 3D printer. It’s not a totally DIY project from scratch, more a modification of an existing microphone to put it into a new housing. A bit like modifying old film photography lenses with a new housing to turn them into cinema lenses – they’re not really cinema lenses, but they’re close.

The Shure SM7B is a staple amongst podcasters, vloggers and live streamers but at around $400, it’s not exactly an inexpensive microphone. In this video, Caleb Pike shows us how we can take an inexpensive $20 Behringer microphone and a couple of bits and turn it into something that gives a very similar sound to the vastly more expensive microphone.

Although this SM7B clone with the budget mic inside it isn’t going to fool real microphone aficionados, it’s certainly going to be good enough for those trying to start a podcast or live stream on a super low budget. It’s based on the Behringer XM8500 dynamic microphone mounted inside a 3D printed housing with the metal perforated dome removed and replaced by one that more resembles that of the Shure SM7B. Caleb has had to modify the design of the housing slightly, as the built-in yoke of the Shure isn’t all that solid when it’s in 3D printed form, but sound-wise, it’s not bad.

The difference in sound is definitely noticeable when you hear the two microphones side-by-side completely unfiltered, but if you throw a little EQ and compression on there, you could potentially make them sound virtually identical, depending on your voice. But if that’s too much work and you want to start with a microphone that sounds even closer to the SM7B while still saving a bunch of money, Caleb also walks us through the same process using the $99 Shure SM58LC – which has a virtually identical style of microphone capsule to the 4x-the-price SM7B.

Hearing the two Shure microphones side-by-side, you have to be listening to Caleb’s video on really good studio headphones, like BeyerDynamic DT100, Rode NTH-100 or Sennheiser HD25 to really be able to notice a massive difference between them and a slight adjustment of the microphone’s position relative to the sound source (your mouth) can generally compensate for that slight difference. And given what you’ll save… Nobody will ever notice if you’re not using them side-by-side with the real deal on the same sound source.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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