Shure SM57 Review

Shure SM57

Donovan Sharpe

Overall Sound Quality: Solid workhouse with reliable sound
Design: Classic design that has worked for decades
Lows: Good low-end pickup, but not dedicated low-end option
Mids: Solid mid-range, as expected for a dynamic mic
Highs: Great high-end for snare, guitar amps
Construction/Durability: Hard to beat, rugged, and proven
Value: Affordable price and exceptional performance

Quick Summary

The Shure SM57 is a classic go-to microphone for all sorts of in-studio and on-stage situations. With an entry-level price and exceptional performance, reliability, and durability, this is essentially a must for any studio owner and musician.

In my opinion, it’s not a high-end studio microphone for vocals, but it’s often the best choice for guitar amps, snare drums, and many other needs. There’s a good reason why the SM57 hasn’t changed for decades: it gets the job done.

What I Like: Versatile. Affordable. Durable Work-Horse on stage and studio.

What I Don’t Like: Not the best for vocals in every situation.


==> Learn more about how I test and review microphones.

Why Trust Me for This Product Review

I’ve been a musician since I was a kid and have years of experience on stage and in the studio. I’ve used many different microphones and have direct knowledge of the SM57 with hands-on application in various situations. 

The SM57 was one of the first microphones I ever purchased, and I’ve been using it in the studio and on stage for over 20 years. It’s been a worthy companion for hundreds of music projects, from live shows to full-length records and everything in between. 

Shure SM57: What’s in the Box? 

  • Shure 57 Dynamic Microphone
  • Mic clip
  • Mic stand adapter
  • Shure faceplate
  • Padded gig-bag

Shure SM57: Technical Specifications 

Here’s a quick look at the tech specs for the SM57: 

  • Mic Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz-15kHz
  • Output Impedance: 150 ohms
  • Color: Black
  • Connector: XLR
  • Dimensions: 6.34” x 1.68”
  • Weight: 0.63 lbs

What’s It Like to Use the Shure SM57? 

The SM57 is a versatile mic that I’ve used in many different recording and live-stage situations. It’s a staple of my mic closet that I turn to time and time again for its reliable performance and ability to work well every time.  

My go-to recording applications for this mic are with guitar amps and snare drums, but it can do much more. When all else fails, I often say, “Let’s throw the ‘57 on it and see what it sounds like.” 

How Does the Shure SM57 Sound? 

The SM57 has a very clear sound that reflects the design and engineering of many Shure models. Its built-in presence is part of the secret sauce here and can help you get solid clarity, no matter what you are recording or amplifying with it.  

With a tight and snappy polaroid pattern, the mic is also excellent at blocking out other instruments or noises, which is part of the reason why it’s such a go-to on-stage or in full-band recording sessions. 

This isn’t a high-end condenser mic that will deliver shining vocal tracks for a pop record. But it gets the job done when you need it to, with a reliable sound and clarity that is hard to match even in mics that cost a lot more.

SM57 Vocal Sample Direct
SM57 Vocal Sample 2 (Side)
SM57 Guitar Sample1 (Direct Over Sound Hole)
SM57 Guitar Sample 2 (Pointed Towards Bridge)

Who Should Get Shure SM57?

The SM57 is one of those rare microphones that are good for just about everyone. It’s a solid option on stage and in the studio, so there literally isn’t much of a reason not to have it. That’s especially true with how affordable it is. 

I recommend this microphone for any home or professional studio owner. It’s also a great option for live performances, so it will work for stage engineers or as part of a PA setup. Just keep one of these around, and you’ll be glad you have it. 

What is Shure SM57 Good For?

The Shure SM57 is a solid choice for many in-studio and on-stage applications where you need clear and present sound. It’s commonly used on guitar amps and snare drums, and those are two uses that it’s exceptionally good for. 

But there are plenty of other ways you could utilize the SM57. I’ve used it on acoustic guitars, tambourines, and for plenty of live instruments. The cardioid pickup pattern does a great job of isolating the sound when there are other noises in the room or on the stage. 

Detailed Review of Shure SM57

Here’s a more in-depth look at the Shure SM57 to give you a good idea of how it holds up in the studio and on stage. 

Sound Quality

The SM57 has an approachable and effective sound quality that makes it a go-to choice for many different recording situations. It can provide a very clear quality that accurately reproduces what you hear in the studio or on stage with little alteration. 

You get a crisp presence with this mic, no matter what sort of recording application you throw at it. This is especially true for recording guitar amps and drums, and you can expect to get solid tracks or playback that are easy to work with in your mix. 

The 57 doesn’t have the best low-end response, but you can still get a good take with toms or floor drums. I just wouldn’t use it as my go-to for mic-ing up kick drums or bass amps. 

Graphic from Shure

Versatility in Action

Another one of the reasons why the SM57 is so famous and well-used is because it’s exceptionally versatile. You can use it all over the studio and stage and get excellent performance in many different situations. 

That’s why I think every producer or recording studio owner should have a few of these mics lying around. When you can’t find the exact sound you want, it’s always worth exploring what an SM57 can add. 

The only thing I don’t highly recommend this one for is live vocals or vocal tracks. While it can be used as a live vocal month in a pinch, I don’t think it delivers studio-quality performance for lead vocal tracks.


This is a very effective dynamic microphone with a design that hasn’t changed much over the years for a good reason – it works extremely well. Shure knocked it out of the park and created one of the most popular dynamic mics of all time with the SM57. 

It has a cardioid polar pattern, making it a good option for direct recording. You can point this one at an amp or guitar and get a good recording while effectively blocking out other sound sources. This can be great on stage but also in the studio. 

The SM57 also has a frequency response of 40Hz-15kHz, giving it a wide range of potential uses. This design feature adds to its well-known versatility. It’s not a flashy, expensive mic with many bells and whistles, but it doesn’t need them. 


The SM57 is built to last, and it’s one of the most durable microphones I’ve ever used. That’s why this mic has been a staple of touring musicians and live audio engineers for decades, and it can take a beating and keep on ticking. 

The construction is robust and effective, giving you simple but reliable performance. With a small profile and few parts to break, you don’t need to worry much about damaging the mic. I’ve dropped it, spilled drinks on it, had my dog chew on it – and it still works just fine. 

It is a bit heavy for such a small microphone, but that just adds to the durability. The sleek design is also easy to pack small, which comes in handy in your storage closet or tour bus.

Image from Shure


This mic is a great value. It has a very affordable price, giving it an excellent price to performance rating. The price tag makes it approachable for just about everyone, and it’s a good first-mic option for new musicians and producers. 

There is literally no risk with buying the SM57, so I thoroughly recommend this to just about everyone. It’s a tried-and-true classic that will give you plenty of options, regardless of your recording or live-stage situation. 

If you are debating whether to get this mic, just do it. You won’t be disappointed and will have a mic that will last for years and years of steady use. That, alongside an affordable price, makes it an excellent value. 


Here are a few quick answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the Shure SM57. 

What is the Shure SM57 best for? 

The Shure SM57 is a very versatile microphone, but it’s often used the most for guitar amps and snare drums in both live and recording music situations. With a tight cardioid polar pattern and great presence and clarity, it can help a lot of different instruments shine. 

Is the Shure SM57 good for vocals? 

The Shure SM57 is not a great choice for a vocal mic, especially in the studio. While it can be used as an on-stage vocal mic in a pinch, it’s better utilized for recording amps, drums, and other instruments. 

Is the SM57 worth it? 

The SM57 is one of the best mics for the money you can get. With an affordable price tag and excellent versatility and reliability, the mic will serve you right. It also has a very durable construction, which means it will last for years. 

Should I get an SM57 or SM58? 

The choice between a Shure SM57 or SM58 typically depends on whether you want to use the mic for vocals or instruments. The SM57 is better suited for instruments and amps, while the SM58 is better for vocals. Both of these mics are very solid and recommended. 

Can you use an SM57 for a room? 

The Shure SM57 does not make a good room mic option because it has a tight cardioid polar pattern. This means that it has more of a directional pickup pattern, so it won’t pick up everything you want recorded in a room. It’s better for recording instruments or amps. 

Final Thoughts

The Shure SM57 is a great microphone that can be used in a variety of in-studio and on-stage situations. It’s a go-to option for many musicians and producers because it delivers reliable performance and can take a beating on the road. 

On top of its legendary performance and versatility, the SM57 also comes in at a very affordable price. This makes it approachable for just about anyone looking to add to their mic collection. This mic is highly recommended throughout the music industry.

What’s your favorite recording application of the SM57? Do you have any stories about its durability? Let me know in the comments below.

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