First Look: Shure SM7dB

Subscribe to Mixdown Magazine


First Look: Shure SM7dB

Shure SM7dB
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

The SM7B is a classic that came after the classic SM7 from Shure, and the Shure SM7dB is sure to be a, uh... classic.

Shure SM7dB

Shure SM7 history

A historic range expands with the Shure SM7dB. The history of the original Shure SM (Studio Microphone) 7, began in 1973, and it was used comprehensively for vocals, primarily built for broadcasting, while providing great response for any high-SPL instruments and sources. It has a very directional response, great rejection and a robust build. The original SM7 now fetches exorbitant prices on online marketplaces, and the release of the SM7B in 2001 became the new industry standard.

Read up on all the latest features and columns here.

The SM7B was a refined version of the original with a larger windscreen to reduce plosives, building on the SM7A which had added extra shielding against electromagnetic interference, ideal for working in film and TV where interference might be rife.

SM7dB review

The SM7dB is everything the SM7B has ever been, with the addition of a Shure-designed, built-in preamp in the chassis itself. The SM7B is a great quality microphone, though when interfaced with consumer-tier, can sometimes result in low levels of gain, sometimes requiring an additional gain stage, the SM7dB’s built-in preamp alleviating this need entirely. This makes the SM7dB more accessible and useful than ever, perfect for podcasting, broadcast, streaming and music making, either with or without the internal preamp, depending on your needs! Without the preamp, the SM7dB is an SM7B to a tee, both sonically and physically, down to the last wire

The SM7dB is a large-diaphragm cardioid dynamic microphone with an active preamp. Like its predecessor, the SM7dB includes a low cut filter and mid-bump, both of which can be engaged or left flat, while the new design has the preamp option for either +18dB or +28dB or gain, and then adjustable at your interface or sound card. 

Shure SM7dB sound

In use, the SM7dB is a breeze, and sonically responds much like you’d expect an SM7B to. The additional gain helps you to refine your recordings, creating great quality recording, well above the noise floor, now with the addition of an additional gain stage. For lack of a better word or description, the SM7dB served me like a SM7B would, my go-to for metal and screamed vocals, but it had me resting easy that I had more gain on board for different singers. Once I had my gain set, it served me as any other SM7B, a mic I’ve relied on time after time, clients requesting them specifically as they’ve seen, heard and used them before on the biggest records in the world.

Working through a session of vocals that had previously been recorded on an SM7B, I didn’t notice any difference between the audio recorded previously, again speaking to how exact the circuitry of the SM7dB is. So what are you buying when you upgrade? Piece of mind, confidence you’ll always have enough gain, and, the classic sound of an SM7B. The SM7dB is a huge upgrade, doing away with worry and stress, keeping a session flowing.

The yolk prevents handling noise, great for a metal vocalist bouncing around trying to harness whatever energy they feel on stage, as well as being easily mountable on a mic stand for a singer-songwriter or attached to a boom stand for podcasting and streaming. The mic’s back panel orientation can also be adjusted for either a boom or mic stand, allowing you to read the controls depending how you position it.

The SM7dB is an extremely versatile mic, offering clear, concise and articulate vocal sounds from whisper quiet to loud and over-the-top, screamed performances. Serving itself well as a podcast and streaming mic, it’s equally at home in the recording studio from budget home-studios to top-tier professional spaces. The additional gain is particularly important for broadcasting and content creation, its additional gain allowing you to record various sources with less risk of bringing up noise, hiss and ambience in post production, instead recording audio with a much larger dynamic range with space to treat, refine and shape a sound.

Shure SM7dB back

The SM7dB builds on the stellar reputation of the Shure SM7B, which comes after a long line in the range of SM7 microphones. Traditionally used for broadcasting, the SM7B is a reasonably flat, full-range and directional dynamic microphone, though sometimes struggling for gain with quieter singers, speakers or sources. The SM7dB takes this classic design, and offers a preamp in the circuit itself, offering 18db or 28dB or additional gain, as well as the low cut or mid-range bump found on the classic SM7B.

There is no discernible difference between the SM7B and the dB, besides the peace of mind it provides; being prepared for any session with any singer, speaker or source, expanding dynamic range massively. Keeping a session going is an immeasurably important part of producing and recording, whether that be for music, a podcast or other content. The SM7dB facilitates clarity and hi-fidelity audio no matter the situation. The SM7dB is just another classic, destined to be heard on countless recordings, like much of the range from Shure.

For local enquiries, visit Jands.