A Review By: Alphonso Soosay
The Shure SM58 is the world’s most widely used dynamic cardioid microphone. Its legendary reliability, dependability, and virtually indestructibility, it is a known fact that it’s the preferred choice of both musicians and audio engineers for a multitude of “live” and Home Studio vocal applications. Its frequency response is tailored for vocals. The Shure SM58 can cost between $100/- and $120/- each, it’s a valuable deal and taking everything into account it sounds delightful for those on a budget and for the new and upcoming home recording studios.
Both Shure Microphones SM58 & SM57 are industry standard and established; they sound impressive and are realistically priced, and the build quality is second to none and in fact, the Shure SM58 Vocal mike is well known for being able to stand up to excessive abuse, as any Recording and Live Sound Engineer working in studios and clubs can testify.
- Unidirectional cardioid pickup pattern that isolates source material while minimizing background noise.
- Built-in spherical wind and pop filter with 50Hz to15kHz frequency response and comes with Break-resistant stand adapter.
- Frequency response tailored for vocals, with brightened mid-range and bass roll-off.
- Dynamic (moving coil) with Pneumatic shock-mount system cuts down handling noise.
- Supplied with break-resistant stand adapter which rotates 180 degrees.
- Impedance: Rated impedance is 150 ohms (300 ohms actual) for connection to microphone inputs rated low impedance.
- Polarity: Positive pressure on diaphragm produces positive voltage on pin 2 with respect to pin 3.
- Connector: Three-pin professional audio connector (male XLR type) with numbers.
- Case: Dark grey, enamel-painted, die cast metal; matte-finished, silver, spherical steel mesh grille ensures that even with rough handling, the SM58 will perform consistently, outdoors or indoors.
- Net weight: 298 grams.
It’s sad to say that, their rock-solid reputation of the Shure SM 58 has kicked up a fuss with great problems today: Fake SM 58 microphones produced in China sold at rock-bottom prices. What’s even worse is that these microphones can be difficult to identify at first impression, unless you can recognize what you are looking for, the latest fake models have gone as far as copying the packaging and included accessories down to almost every last detail.
Despite the ability to produce SM58 copies in China, fakers are making a huge profit off musicians and sound engineers who are looking for a good deal on an established product. It’s not purely on the Internet sales only, some small music shops, Sunday market, and online selling forums such as eBay can be the source for fake microphones.
How would you identify if your Shure SM 58 microphone is a fake?
- First on the list is if the deal is too good to be true
- See the Video from Hampton Studio
- Secondly look at the XLR connector on the bottom
- With authentic Shure microphones, each of the XLR pins will be labeled as 1, 2, and 3. Most fake microphones will not have these markings, and as a substitute it will have some sort of connector branding logo or, more commonly, no markings at all.
- Look under the hood
- With a SM58, unscrew the windscreen. Examine the bottom of the windscreen; on the metal ring that goes around the thread, you will notice a lip. A flat lip is a copy sign of a fake microphone; the genuine SM58 will have a rounded edge. Observe the capsule on the top of the microphone. On fake SM58, you will notice a “CAUTION” sticker wrapped around the capsule head. This is not on genuine microphones. On both the SM58 and SM57, carefully unscrew the microphone in the middle. You will notice the inside of the microphone, with two wires leading between the sections. On the genuine microphones, these are yellow and green colors, and on the latest fakes, they have followed this color scheme; on the other hand, if they are a different color, chances are you are looking at a fake SM58. Now, look at the circuit board on the lower half. Genuine SM58 microphones will have a quality control stamp in red lettering. These have been omitted on the fake microphones. Also when the grill is removed, the foamy filter bit on the top of the fake microphone is black, on the real SM58 it is grey.
- Inspect the weight of the microphone
- With the SM58, underneath the ring where the windscreen connects to the body, there’s a printed “Shure SM58″ logo. On fake microphones, you will find that this is a sticker wrapped around the microphone itself. A sticker is common on SM57 microphones but again look carefully at the font and the type spacing on fakes, you will notice a little wider spacing and a much smaller font. With both Shure microphones, the fake microphones will weigh significantly less than genuine microphones when you compare them side by side.
- Inspect the packaging box
- SM58 Microphone forgers have become very good at making first impression Shure packaging look convincing, but the easiest ways to find out if your SM58 microphone is fake is to look inside the box. Genuine SM58 microphones shipped with accessories including a microphone clip, cloth cable tie, Shure sticker, carrying pouch, manual, and warranty card. Note that most Fake microphones tend not to include all of these accessories; most obviously missing is the warranty card and cable tie. Also, the microphone bag will be of low quality, with the original Shure bags you would be able to feel the embossed Shure logo. Keep in mind; Shure’s quality microphones are made in Mexico, not in China.
Another thing to watch out for: make sure the model number listed on the box matches what’s inside. Many fake Shure microphones come with a cable in the box; the only Shure microphone that includes a cable is the Shure SM58-CN. If the box includes a cable but is not labeled with the proper model number, then you may have a fake microphone.
- After checking everything else, please Trust Your Ears
- To wrap up this fake issue, you should listen to your purchased SM58 microphone up against a genuine Shure SM58 microphone; borrow one from a friend or a studio close by, in view of the fact that both the SM58 and SM57 are very popular among musicians and audio engineers.
Note that the fake SM58 will sound very bright and harsh with normal gain applied. Using a male voice to test as close to your lips, the genuine SM58 will sound like a real SM58 smoother in the lows and mid-range, with a slightly recessed and pleasant high end. A genuine 57 will give lush mid-range tone with great low end response; a fake model will not produce similar results. Another important point is to watch out for microphone handling noise, there is a big difference.
In general, remember the golden rule of buying a quality microphone: if the deal sounds too good to be true, then it is probably that you are not getting a genuine purchase.
Alphonso Soosay is an Audio Recording Engineer, Live Sound Engineer, Studio Producer, Home Theater Educator, and has been Guest Audio Writer for i-Audio Magazine Singapore and X-Press Magazine in Perth. Over the past 32 years he has recorded and mixed for several top artists in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia with Audio Visual Workshop, WEA Records and No Sweat Recording Studios, also works as an acoustic freelance consultant for corporate clients. Currently works for Edith Cowan University Perth.