A common request here at Shure UK is to describe the differences between the Shure SM58 and the Beta58. Both microphones are characterised by outstanding sound quality and reliable performance; however, there are some fundamental differences that make each microphone suitable to different applications. Here are some of the key differences to bear in mind…
Perhaps the most obvious difference is the microphone polar pattern. The SM58 has a cardioid polar pickup pattern, while the Beta 58A is a supercardioid. This subsequently affects how the microphone should be used and where it would be most appropriate.
As you can see from the diagrams, a cardioid microphone will reject best from the back, while a supercardioid microphone will reject better from the sides. Both microphones pickup sound best from the front, but a supercardioid polar pattern has the added advantage of being more directional and therefore less susceptible to feedback when the monitors are positioned correctly.
Due to its neodymium magnet, the Beta 58A has greater sensitivity and a 4dB hotter output than the SM58
The Beta58 has an extended low end and high end compared to the SM58. This does not necessarily mean the Beta58 is better, and depending on the style/tonal characteristics of your voice, you may or may not benefit from the extended frequency response.
The Beta 58A is quieter than the SM58 due to its advanced pneumatic shock mount system
The Beta 58A has a hardened grill, which makes it more difficult to dent.
To summarise, the Beta58A is no doubt an upgrade for many applications, but in some scenarios, these upgrades can also be a hindrance. For example, if you’re performing in a heavy-metal band, and you typically shout or scream into your mic – you may not want the extra sensitivity and detail of the Beta58. It’s all a matter of application and taste – which do you prefer?
For further information on choosing the right microphone, you may find our previous post on “How to Choose the Right Microphone” helpful.
The popularity of home recording has greatly increased over recent years, and achieving professional sounding results has become a reality, with more sophisticated and affordable equipment. However, to get the most out of your home studio, it is well worth learning a few basic principles to avoid disappointment. The following series acts as a guide to the home recording enthusiast and will help you better understand the recording process for your next project.
Volume 1 – What is Digital Audio?
Analogue Signals: The majority of modern recordings are digital, and hard disc recording is now the industry standard for professional and home studios. However, in order to understand digital, you must first understand a little about analogue signals. For a recording to be made on any format, the audio signal must be converted from waves of air molecules into an electrical signal reflecting the sound wave we hear. Analog audio signals are a representation of these waves intensities in a different form, such as voltages on a wire or magnetized particles on a cassette tape.
Digital Signals: Digital recording is the process of converting electrical analogue signals into digital data. This is achieved by taking periodic measurements or “samples” of the analogue audio signal level and translating them into a series of o’s and 1′s – known as binary. How accurately this represents the original signal depends on the sample rate and bit depth used.
The sample rate describes how many times per second the analogue signal is measured, and the higher the sample rate – the higher the maximum frequency response. For example, a sample rate of 44.1khz (meaning the analogue signal is sampled 44,100 times per second) can capture audio frequencies as high as 22,050 hertz, and is the minimum requirement to capture the full range of human hearing – delivering “CD quality”. Higher sample rates are often used in professional recording studios, however, there is much debate about how audible to quality difference is. In conclusion – use a minimum of 44.1khz when recording at home.
The bit depth describes the number of digital bits used to store the measurement of an audio signal each time it’s sampled. Using higher bits allows for more accurate measurement and better audio quality by increasing dynamic range and reducing hiss. A 16-bit sample (CD quality) allows 65,536 discrete steps, and is enough to create a very accurate estimate of signal. Using a higher bit depth of 24-bit will increase accuracy, but requires greater processing power and memory. In conclusion, use a minimum of 16-bit when recording at home.
Join us for volume 2, where we talk through different connectors for microphones – including an explanation of balanced and unbalanced cables. Subscribe to our RSS feed to be alerted. In the meantime, for more information on home recording products by Shure visit the home recording microphone page.
Each day you will have the chance to win 1 piece of Shure gear simply by answering two questions. Details are on the GAK Shure Christmas Giveway Page, and prizes include the following:
- SE215 Earphones
- X2U – XLR to USB Adapter
- X2U and SM58 Bundle
- SRH750DJ Headphones
- PG27 USB Microphone
The questions can be found on the page linked above, and answers to each question can be found on the Shure UK Facebook and GAK Facebook page. Head over today and enter your answers on the competition page for your chance to win.
Best of luck and Merry Christmas from all the Shure UK team.
Have you ever wondered which microphone is best for you? It’s possibly the most commonly asked question by musicians and in many ways – one of the most difficult to answer. The truth is, there isn’t a clear cut answer, and the easiest answer is – it depends, are you singing pop ballads? or leading the next big rock group?
Although it isn’t easy to provide a simple answer to this question, there are a few basic points to consider, and the following information should get you started when choosing your microphone:
What are you trying to pick up?
There is no such thing as a one size fits all microphone, they all sound different, and they all have their uses depending on application. However, microphones for vocal applications can be split into 3 categories:
- Handheld - Handheld microphones offer great sounding, durable and practical solutions for the majority of live performance situations, but can be an issue in other scenarios such as presentations and theatre, where a more discreet and usually wireless solutions would be more practical for performance reasons. In this situation you could consider one of the following:
- Headset - As the microphone is stationary, the performer or presenter can move freely, without restriction, and the microphone will still pick up an even and clear sound.
- Lavalier - A similar option to headsets, with the added advantage of being discreet. A lavalier microphone can easily be positioned in a costume or attached to a suit – a great solution for theater or presentation applications where a discreet PA is necessary.
Where are you?
The environment you’re in, plays a big part in the selection of your microphone and the polar pattern you use. For example a highly sensitive mic with an omni directional pickup pattern can work great in the studio, but in a live environment, where stage monitors and other sound sources are present, it is important to choose a directional polar pattern – such as a cardioid or super cardioid. These polar patterns will pick up sound from the front, and reduce sound from other directions – reducing the chance of feedback.
Omni Directional – Picks up sound evenly from around the microphone.
Cardioid – A directional pickup pattern, which picks up sound from the front and reduces sound from other directions.
Super Cardioid – Similar to Cardioid, but more directional.
Bi-directional - Receives sound evenly from both the front and back, and rejects from the sides.
Note: Cardioid pickup patterns are effected by a physical occurrence known as the “Proximity Effect”, which causes bass frequencies to be boosted as the microphone is positioned closer to the sound source – this can be used to the singer or engineers advantage to fatten up a vocal if desired.
How do you want it to sound?
Another key element to consider that will have the greatest impact on general tone quality, is the type of microphone capsule you select, and these can be broken into 3 main categories:
Dynamic – A warm and full sound. Dynamic microphones are highly durable and able to handle very high sound pressure levels, making them ideal for live applications and noisy environments. If you play in a loud rock band, a dynamic microphone is most likely the most suitable for your live gigs.
Condenser – A brighter and more detailed sound. Condenser microphones are much more sensitive than their dynamic counter parts and have a much wider frequency response. For this reason, they are able to pick up a very honest and true sound, which is favoured by studios around the world. However, for some live applications, they can be problematic in-terms of feedback – particularly with noisy performances.
Ribbon – Prized for their ability to pick up high-frequency detail, without being harsh or brittle. Ribbon microphones are great as a vocal or drum overhead solution in the studio, but are rarely used live due to their more delicate construction.
The rules were made to be broken
As we have concluded, there are many factors to consider when choosing a microphone, and the reality is, the best microphone for you is the one that sounds best on your voice or instrument. There are no rules, only guide lines, and we encourage you to experiment with as many types as possible. There are plenty of examples in pop history of unconventional uses for microphones. For example: John Lennon recorded all his vocals with a Shure SM57 (A microphone usually regarded as an instrument mic) Also, check out this article on how the Shure SM7 was used as the main studio vocal mic on Michael Jacksons classic album Thriller.
Have fun and experiment next time you’re choosing your mic, and if you have a story to share with us on unconventional microphone use – please leave a comment below. In the meantime, we will leave you with some resources below to assist you in finding the right mic.
For more information on finding the right live microphone - visit the Shure Mic Check Webpage
…or for more information on Shure Microphones – visit the Shure Microphones Website
Shure UK talk through how to find the right mic
TrustedReviews Awards 2011 are now up and in full swing.
We would love to encourage all our readers, fans and customers to vote for us in this prestigious award by clicking on the following link, http://www.trustedreviews.com/awards-2011/vote
Public voting will end on the 18th of November the top three highest voted products, per category, will make it through to the Grand Final on the 22nd and 23rd of November. All of the products will then be judged by a panel of leading industry experts along with experienced and impartial TrustedReviews staff.
Every vote will make a difference so please get involved in supporting Shure
Last week’s NAMM show in Anaheim, USA, saw Shure introduce some exciting new products. It also saw the preview of the brand new flagship Wireless Mircrophone System, Axient.
Axient wireless sets a new standard in term of audio and RF performance. It is also the first wireless microphone system that can detect and avoid interference by changing frequencies on the fly – without being noticed by the user.
“Uncertainty and volatility in the RF spectrum are the new reality for professional wireless users.” said Sandy LaMantia, President and CEO of Shure Incorporated. “They face increasing pressure to deliver interference-free performance in the most critical live broadcast, theatre, music and corporate events, even though conditions are more unpredictable than ever before. Shure Axient wireless was designed from the outset to withstand interference from the analogue and digital sources that exist today and will exist in the future.”
Axient sets a new level for audio and RF standards. It offers the most linear RF transmitter/receiver performance of any system to date, meaning it can fit more frequencies in one TV channel than any other system. Axient also offers the best quality audio for the most demanding performances and applications.
While not just a great radio mic system, it also boasts a number of very innovative features:
The Axient Spectrum Manager constantly scans the RF environment and performs frequency compatibility calculations to assign the best clear frequencies to each wireless transmitter. It permanently monitors, ranks and deploys backup frequencies.
Interference Detection and Avoidance is a receiver mode that informs you if interference is detected. When encountered, the Axient Spectrum Manager will then deploy the best available frequency to the troubled receiver. The transmitter will also be updated with this clean frequency via the two-way ShowLink connection. This does not require a transmitter sync, and will change at exactly the same time as the receiver. The user will not notice it happening. Interference avoided.
Frequency Diversity takes this to a new level, and is perfect for the channel of wireless that MUST NOT FAIL. Axient handheld transmitters can transmit on two frequencies simultaneously. In this mode, a dual receiver will receive the same one audio signal on both channels, each receiving on a separate frequency. The receiver always chooses the best signal, and seamlessly switches the output accordingly. (Two bodypacks can also be used together to use this mode).
If you combine Frequency Diversity with Interference Detection and Avoidance, you have one solid system that cannot go wrong.
Axient runs on touring-grade rechargeable batteries and the charging station delivers real-time information about power levels and charge history for all power platform devices.
Axient will available from summer 2011.
Our Shure SRH750DJ headphones have been going down a storm since they were released and we’ve teamed up with Mixmag “The worlds biggest dance music and clubbing magazine” to give away a pair.
To enter the competition visit the Mixmag website, answer a really simple question and you could be the proud owner of a new pair of Shure DJ headphones !
Just see what people have had to say about them:
“On looks alone the SR750DJ is a winner and that’s before you even listen to them! Great job, Shure.” IDJ
“They’re one of the best set of DJ Headphones in their price range and sound better then most the DJ-branded cans.” Future Music
“The SRH-750DJs offer great sound, quality and looks.” Scratchworx
Good luck everyone!
Here we’re going to be letting you know about what’s happening in the world of Shure UK. Expect to see posts on everything and anything from microphone hints & tips to the latest gossip on what’s going on in our artist’s studios!