Recently we acquired a Shure SM7b for our upstairs studio to replace our longtime workhorse, the Rode NT1a. For many months we had pondered on what kind of mic to look for, and after a long decision, we decided on this bamf. I had thoroughly researched this gain eating monster and had already decided how it should sound before I had ever even plugged it up.
Upon actually using it the first time, it was vastly different from what my mind had promised me it would sonically convey. I did not like it one bit. Maybe my opinion was skewed by my constant use of the magnificent Peluso 22-251 and the Rode NT1a that I had become accustomed to. Maybe this SM7b was a defective product from its conception on the Shure assembly line. Maybe I’m just a dumbass who dislikes change. Whatever the reason, this new mic and I were not seeing eye to eye on how it should be performing. So, like any engineer, I decided to test it out a bit before I completely gave up on it. Changing its positions, using different pop filters, changing cables and running it through different pre’s. It is a very low output mic, so it eats up all kinds of gain to get a proper signal. Its very very touchy when its in the pocket.
I still wasn’t sure about it, but what the hell, I decided to give it a go in my next session. Just dive right in and make it work for me. We thrive on pressure anyways. By the end of the session I had done a complete 180° on my feelings of this mic. It had performed beautifully and above expectation. I had decided to just run it thru our Focusrite by itself, as it did not seem to synergize well with the Chandler Germanium pre. I love both of these pieces of gear separately, but together the sound of the mic just sounded tinny and off. After further research, I am not alone in this assessment. The Focusrite, however, brought out wonderful nuances on the vocal takes, you just have to find that sweet spot, and then don’t touch the damn thing!
It has an awesome presence boost in the midrange that can really help to make takes standout. It has switches for this as well as a bass rolloff which starts to attenuate around 400Hz on down to when you need that high pass goodness in your life. This is now my goto mic for sessions in the upstairs studio. I cant wait to try it on more things as time goes on. Its excellent for rapping, and singing with a nice clarity I was not getting from the Rode(the grit from the NT1a is not bad by any means either, its just different beast.) It took me awhile to come around, but I’m glad I did. Who could ever go wrong with the mic that was used to record MJ’s vocals on Thriller? Not me anymore, that’s for damn sure.