Shure SM57

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The Shure SM57 microphone

The Shure SM57 is a low-impedance cardioid dynamic microphone made by Shure Incorporated and commonly used in live sound reinforcement and studio recording. It is one of the best-selling microphones in the world. It is used extensively in amplified music and has been used for speeches by every U.S. president since its introduction in 1965.[1] In 2004, honoring its four decades of "solid, dependable performance", it was inducted into the first-ever TEC Awards TECnology Hall of Fame.[1]


The origin of SM57 may be traced to 1937, when Shure engineer Benjamin Bauer developed the first single-element directional microphone, the Unidyne, which had a cardioid pickup pattern.[1] In 1959, another Shure engineer, Ernie Seeler, advanced the art of microphone design significantly with the Unidyne III.[1] Seeler torture-tested the Unidyne III during three years of research and development and thereby, produced the SM series of rugged and reliable Shure microphone capsules.[1] The "SM" stands for Studio Microphone;[2] Seeler was an aficionado of classical music and expected the SM57 to be used for orchestras. Because he "despised" rock music, the TEC Foundation said that it was ironic that the microphone has become "a mainstay of rock music."[1]


The SM57 uses the same capsule as the popular SM58. Like the SM58, the SM57 is fitted with an XLR connector and is impedance balanced, which helps to minimize electrical hum and noise pickup when connected to a balanced input. Compared to the SM58, the SM57's grille allows for closer placement to the source of sound, while the SM58 provides a pop filter to reduce plosives ("pop" sounds) and wind. According to Shure, the SM57 frequency response extends from 40 Hertz (Hz) to 15 kHz. It is manufactured in the United States, Mexico, and China.

The Shure A2WS is an accessory windscreen for the SM57 that attenuates wind noise and plosives, and protects the microphone capsule.


Shure SM57 microphones with A2WS windscreens installed on the lectern of former United States President Barack Obama. The microphone kit (two SM57 microphones, windscreens, microphone stands, and black right-angle XLR cables) is referred to as the VIP/high-profile microphone kit.

The SM57 is a popular choice of musicians due to its sturdy construction and ability to work well with instruments that produce high sound pressure levels, such as percussion instruments and electric guitars. The School of Audio Engineering (SAE) recommends the SM57 (along with other makes and models) for four roles in a drum kit: kick drum, snare drum, rack toms, and floor tom.[3] The cardioid pickup pattern of the microphone reduces the pickup of unwanted background sound and the generation of acoustic feedback. SM57s have also been a staple when reinforcing the sound from guitar amplifiers.

In a more unconventional fashion, the SM57 has been favored by some as a vocal mic, both live and in the studio. Notable singers known to have recorded vocals with an SM57 include Anthony Kiedis, Brandon Flowers,[4] Madonna,[5] David Bowie,[6] John Lennon,[7] Jack White,[8] Bjork,[9] Peter Gabriel,[10] Paul Rodgers,[11] Tom Waits,[12] Wayne Coyne,[13] Tom Petty [14]Alice Cooper, Erykah Badu,[15] Caleb Followill[16] and Raphael Saadiq.[17] An early model of the mic, the Unidyne 545 was used on Pet Sounds for Brian Wilson's vocal tracks.

Every U.S. president since Lyndon B. Johnson has delivered speeches through an SM57.[1] It became the lectern microphone of the White House Communications Agency in 1965, the year of its introduction, and remains so.[18]

Due to its popularity, the SM57 has been counterfeited frequently by manufacturers in China and Thailand.[19] Shure Distribution UK reports that the SM57, SM58, Beta 57A, and Beta 58A are their microphones that are most commonly counterfeited.[20] In 2006, Shure mounted a campaign against the trading of counterfeit microphones.[21]


SM57 Unidyne III, ca. 1984
Frequency response
40 to 15,000 Hz
Polar pattern
Sensitivity (at 1,000 Hz open circuit voltage)
−56.0 dBV/Pa (at 1,000 Hz)
Rated impedance is 150 ohms (300 ohms actual) for connection to microphone inputs rated low impedance
Three-pin professional audio connector (male XLR type)

See also[edit]

  • Shure SM7, a mic that uses a modified version of the Unidyne III capsule and no transformer.
  • Shure MV7


  1. ^ a b c d e f g TECnology Hall of Fame: 2004 Archived 2013-12-13 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ History of Shure Incorporated Archived 2008-04-28 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Microphone Placement: Let's take a look at a standard drum kit". SAE. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
  4. ^ "Gear Tribute: The Shure SM57, from 'Rumours' to the White House". 15 May 2017.
  5. ^ "Erotica Diaries". Archived from the original on 30 August 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  6. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-11-05. Retrieved 2020-10-30.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Article section list".
  8. ^ "Inside Track: Jack White".
  9. ^ "Brian Eno is MORE DARK THAN SHARK".
  10. ^ Peter Gabriel on The South Bank Show 1982 (Making of Security/ PG4). YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11.
  11. ^ ""The Royal Sessions" Finds Paul Rodgers in Fine Voice". 23 February 2014.
  12. ^ "'Bones' Howe & Tom Waits".
  13. ^ The Flaming Lips: Clouds Taste Metallic Sessions Mini-Doc. YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11.
  14. ^ "Inside Track: Tom Petty's Hypnotic Eye".
  15. ^ "Electronic Musician Magazine". Archived from the original on 2017-11-22.
  16. ^ "Kings of Leon". June 2007.
  17. ^ Farinella, David John (January 1, 2009). "Music: Raphael Saadiq". Mix. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
  18. ^ Charles J. Kouri; Rose L. Shure; Hayward Blake; John Lee (2001). Shure: sound people, products, and values. Vol. 1. Shure Inc. p. xiii. ISBN 0-9710738-0-5.
  19. ^ Home Recording. Joe Shambro, Spotting a Fake Shure Microphone: How to tell if your mic is genuine—or not
  20. ^ Shure Distribution UK. What is a counterfeit? Archived 2009-03-03 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Shure Distribution UK. Shure Distribution UK Clamp Down on Counterfeiters Archived 2009-04-25 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]