So the elusive SM7b, a microphone that has been great to so many content creators out there has been improved. It could be argued that it didn’t really need it because the SM7b is such a superior microphone, and because it’s already been adopted by pretty much everyone and his dog who makes content on the internet – okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it is super popular with the podcasts, live streamers on Twitch and content creators – it’s still a pretty hard microphone to run and extremely gain hungry. Usually, a creator would need an audio interface, and if it’s something basic like the Focusrite Scarlet, which has a max gain of 50db, the Shure SM7b needs a minimum of 60db to effectively run it, so a user would usually also need a cloud lifter or similar to really boost that gain.
But since Shure has teamed up with Cloud themselves, they’ve introduced a preamp built right into the Shure SM7db itself, which aids with that extra decibel boost that is needed to drive this incredibly fussy microphone. This is good news, because it generally means that cloud lifters could be removed from people’s cable runs, freeing up space on the desk, and generally making setups less complicated. The Shure SM7db gives users the chance to boost their gain by +18 or +28 decibels, depending on how much gain you originally have at source. Now I am using a Wave XLR audio interface which gives me a generous 75 decibels of gain from the get-go to play with, so In my case I didn’t really need to use the preamp for this gain boost, but it’s a nice to have if I find myself at a different setup in the future.
However, the preamp isn’t just about boosting gain. It’s also about adjusting the audio profile directly in-mic rather than using software, or even after the fact in post-processing. There are two separate switches, the first of which is a bass rolloff feature, designed to reduce the hum of your surroundings, like from my PC fans for example. The other is for a mid-boost, which is there to raise your vocal clarity to produce a brighter sound. Now, these are of course subjective depending on the voice you have. I much preferred the mid-boost switched on than the bass rolloff for example because of my voice. So this is something you’d need to decide for yourself. The final switch is to turn the preamp on or bypass it, effectively turning the SM7db into an SM7b which is fine again if you’ve got the gain to drive it.
The build quality is absolutely superb. It’s got an all-metal body and has a nice gunmetal grey paint job. It’s got a clean Shure logo down the side and is also branded on the bottom too in the more traditional Shure colours. The switches in my opinion were not as solid as I had liked. It was a shame to feel that they had a bit of a wobble to them. It’s exactly the same shape and size as the SM7b though is one centimetre longer because of the built-in preamp. The microphone has a cardioid pickup pattern and does a great job with off-axis rejection. Plosives are kept well under control to keep your audio recordings sounding crispy. It’s got a shock mount system internally which helps with any bangs that might happen on your desk, and a decent electrical shielding to keep electronic hums at bay.
I’m not a massive fan of the way it connects to my boom arm though, as the cable coming from the top means it gets caught on the fixings so I can’t properly rotate it. But having the thin cable running from where the XLR plugs into the microphone itself feels a little redundant. I’m sure there’s some reason why it’s done like this, but I don’t like it. Stick the XLR input on the back. Makes everything simple then. Okay, let’s look at some tests.
Look, the Shure SM7db without a doubt is a fantastic sounding microphone that has a huge frequency response to fit and match a large number of industries. Of course, I’m here from a content creator perspective, and I must say it’s making my voice right now sound like liquid gold. Well, that might be pushing it a bit, but the point is, the SM7db is amazing. Is it for everyone though? No. Not at all. If you’re someone who’s basically sitting on entry-level gear and want a solution t get better vocal audio quality, then this is it, as it’ll keep your setup nice and clean. But if you’re already set up for home recording with some pretty fancy gear that can drive the SM7b. then save yourself some cash and go for the cheaper option.