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Thread: SM57 vs. SM7 listening tests

  1. #1
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    Default SM57 vs. SM7 listening tests

    Note: These recordings were done as a result of the discussion in this thread about mic sensitivity.

    Well, there's actually not THAT much difference between the output levels of the two, regardless of what you've read or think you've heard. These recordings are not scientific, just done out of curiosity.

    These files are mono 16/48K wav files.

    [I have posted links to the individual files below. -LF]

    Both mics (a not new SM57 and a not new original SM7) were set up beside each other (actually over/under) at mouth height and some of these tests were run with the capsules equidistant (labeled equidistant) from my mouth. Others were run with the front of the mics equidistant (labeled touching).

    NOTE: Though I tried to visually align the diaphragms on the equidistant samples, I was still 3 samples off, according to a visual inspection of a mouth noise that was recorded. For those unfamiliar with the effects of seemingly inconsequential delays on sound, I have included two samples, labeled 3sampleoffset (as recorded) and 0sampleoffset (with the later signal nudged 3 samples forward) so you can hear how much difference a delay of .0000625 seconds (.0625 mS) between two mics and a single source can make.

    Preamps were Buzz MA2 and Millennia Media HV3D. I calibrated the gain between the two channels of the Buzz, and found (even when wide open) there was a 2 dB difference between them. On the Millennia, I just ran the gain wide open on two channels, 65 dB of gain. A foam pop filter was added in front of the SM57 so that it didn't pop. That would have negligible effect on the level.

    Some tests (noted) were run with the mid boost ON and some with mid boost OFF.

    I have also included two recordings of the SM7 used in the rest of these recordings vs. a brand new SM7B that just came out of the box.
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    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  2. #2
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    SM7 vs. SM7B

    The audible test:

    6. SM7 and SM7b through Millennia HV-3D preamp.
    [This sample slated as both, since both performances are identical.]

    SM7 through MM preamp

    SM7b through MM preamp

    The visual test:

    Here's an old SM7 vs. a brand new SM7B. FFTs by Andreas Lassak.

    Exact same vocal performance with both mics equidistant from my mouth. (See picture below.) Same gain. Both mics set flat.

    Personal note: I am surprised that the 7 has more upper mids, since the 7b seemed brighter to my ear. I guess I noticed the 4-8K boost on the SM7 less than the 8K and up where the SM7b is definitely hotter.

    Honestly, it's shocking how close the two are, considering probably twenty years difference in their date of manufacture: Identical from 150 to 3K.

    DISCLAIMER: These are the two mics that I had and these samples may not not be representative of ALL SM7 and SM7b mics.

    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

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    This is fascinating too. The SM57 vs. the SM7 (midboost on) at equal distances from my mouth (through Millennia preamp). Pretty amazingly similar when they're at the same distance. The not insubstantial differences are primarily below 90 and above 8K. The similarity between 1.8K and 3.6K is shocking.

    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

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    Thoughts...

    So is the mid boost on the SM7 really a boost at all? Or is the FLAT position a cut? It seems that with the mid boost on, as seen above, the response is nearly identical in the 3-5K range to the SM57.

    I know that Shure is quoted as saying the capsules are NOT the same in the two, but there are amazing similarities between the two except at the outer extremes, which might be attributable to the differences in housing [a guess and pure speculation on my part-I'm no microphone designer].
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

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    Default Pictures

    Here are some pictures showing the relative positions of the diaphragms of the SM 57 to the SM7 in the equidistant tests. And the position of the mics in touching tests (with both mics up close). And the two SM7s (7 and 7b).

    The two mics set up with diaphragms aligned:



    Using a portable radio with noise as the test tone for alignment:



    Before testing with pop filters on both mics:



    The mics lined up close with pop filter on 57:



    Both SM7 (left) and SM7b (right) set up for recording:
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

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    The similarity between 1.8K and 3.6K is shocking
    Very!

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    Here are the files' URLs individually with explanation of each:


    1. SM7 (flat) and SM57 with diaphragms equidistant through Buzz preamp.

    SM7 (flat) through Buzz MA2

    SM57 through Buzz MA2


    2. SM7 (midboost) and SM57 with diaphragms equidistant through Buzz preamp.

    SM7 (midboost) through Buzz MA2

    SM57 through Buzz MA2


    3. SM7 (midboost) and SM57 with diaphragms equidistant through Millennia HV-3D preamp.
    [This sample slated as both, since both performances are identical.]

    SM7 through MM preamp

    SM57 through MM preamp


    4. SM7 (midboost) and SM57 both touching through Millennia HV-3D preamp.
    [This sample slated as both, since both performances are identical.]

    SM7 (touching) through MM preamp

    SM57 (touching) through MM preamp


    5. SM7 (flat) and SM57 both touching through Millennia HV-3D preamp.
    [This sample slated as both, since both performances are identical.]

    SM7 (touching) through MM preamp

    SM57 (touching) through MM preamp


    6. SM7 and SM7b through Millennia HV-3D preamp.
    [This sample slated as both, since both performances are identical.]

    SM7 through MM preamp

    SM7b through MM preamp


    And here's a sample of a mono signal combining two mics separated by 0 samples and by 3 samples.

    0 sample offset

    3 sample offset
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  8. #8
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    Here is the FFT of the SM7 and SM57 showing the difference in level between the two with identical input when the pop filters are placed right against the lips. Note that there is about a 3dB difference between the two just by virtue of the difference in distance between the mouth and the two diaphragms.

    Add that to the 3dB difference in sensitivity and the lower output in the midrange (when the SM7 is set to flat), and it's easy to understand why it is considered a lot quieter than an SM57.

    Another factor that recently occurred to me is that 57s are used on snare drums and electric guitars, both very loud instruments. Most people don't put the SM57 in front of a singer in the studio, where an SM7 ends up a lot. That might help explain the difference in perception as well. [NOTE: I can't take credit for this thought. It was suggested here by Fran Guidry. -LF]

    Again, note the striking similarities between 90 and 3K, even though the level is different. The frequency response tracks are almost parallel.


    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

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    I can't help but wonder if the bottom end of the SM7 would line up with the SM57 if the low cut was switched in.

    [EDIT: According to Shure's FR plot, the corner frequency on the low cut is about 250 Hz.]
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3daudioinc View Post
    Thoughts...

    So is the mid boost on the SM7 really a boost at all? Or is the FLAT position a cut? It seems that with the mid boost on, as seen above, the response is nearly identical in the 3-5K range to the SM57.

    ][/I].
    Hi Lynn,

    without knowing the design of the Sm7..I would however suspect that the FLAT pos is a cut. In most "passive eq designs" it is ;-)

    Kind regards

    /Peter
    Tubes! Making people sucessful in a changing world!

    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field

    "If it measures good and sounds bad, it is bad. If it measures bad and sounds good, you've measured the wrong thing."

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