There are going to be many occasions where a dynamic microphone is the best option. It’s not only ideal for live performances or capturing instruments or vocals, these microphones can also be exceptional in studio settings. There are plenty of great dynamic microphones that are reasonably affordable, but one stands out as the absolute best.
The Shure SM58 is one of the leaders in dynamic microphones and has been sitting at the top for decades. Its close cousin, the SM57, can also be an exceptional addition to any studio recording set up as well as live performance sound system.
What Makes the Shure SM58 such a great choice?
The Shure SM58 is not only one of the most famous microphones, it offers a great frequency range, from 50 Hz to 15 kHz. That makes it perfect for vocal recordings and live performances as well as capturing a wide range of instruments, from electronic guitar amps to drums to brass instruments, and much more.
This microphone is also built to last. Even though it doesn’t look like much at first, it can withstand a lot of abuse. Many of these microphones get dropped, kicked, and even tossed around with the XLR cable attached. Still, they handle the workload day in and day out.
The affordability of the SM58 also means it’s easy to add a number of these (along with the SM57) without breaking the budget too much.
Why Use Dynamic Microphones for Recording?
There are going to be numerous situations where a dynamic microphone is optimal (compared to condenser and other types of microphones). While many people think condenser mics are the best for recording, dynamic microphones can often be more versatile and even offer a better level of clarity and quality when capturing certain instruments or sounds.
When it comes to recording, a dynamic microphone would be optimal when capturing the natural tones of an amped instrument. For example, utilizing a dynamic microphone like the SM58, placed strategically in front of a guitar amp, will allow natural tones and ambience to be captured whereas other microphones may be too condensed or limited and therefore miss out on some of the natural ambience that tube amps can produce.
Many experienced percussionists and drummers prefer the SM58 and SM57 microphones to capture the subtle nuances of their skins. Placing these microphones within a couple of inches of each drum head and possibly cymbals will provide a natural tone and solid response.
Can You Use a Dynamic Mic for Recording Vocals?
Dynamic microphones are often the preferred choice for vocalists during live situations. But, are they going to be ideal for recording vocals?
Essentially, if given the choice, most experienced studio professionals will almost invariably choose condenser microphones to capture the wide dynamic ranges that human voices produce. However, because condenser microphones are so sensitive, this might not be ideal in home studio environments where there is sufficient or excessive external sounds and other noises.
A quality dynamic microphone like the Shure SM58, though, can be one of the better alternatives for those without other options.
The Best Way to Set Up a Dynamic Microphone for Recording Instruments
When planning to record instruments using a quality dynamic microphone, like the SM58, it’s best to have the microphone on a stand. There are some situations where a stand is not practical or there are not enough to go around, and some people do place them on boxes and other items, but what’s going to happen in these situations is unwanted noise filtering in.
Just about every surface is going to vibrate with the sound of musical instruments when played. Those vibrations will carry through to the dynamic microphone and, ultimately, the recording. The sounds can be limited with the right microphone stands.
When recording bass or electronic guitars, place a dynamic microphone in front of one of the speakers, off-center, usually halfway between the center cone and the outside of the speaker itself.
When recording percussion, place the microphones facing downward (meaning they need to be elevated using a stand, either a tripod type stand or one that clips directly to the drum body itself). For cymbals, the optimal position is on top of the cymbal rather than on the underside.
For brass, woodwinds, and other instruments, the microphone should be placed at the exit point of the sound. For example, the dynamic microphone should be placed at the opening of a saxophone, within a few inches, but not so close that it enters into the cone of the brass itself.
Making That Dynamic Mic Work Best in Live Situations
A dynamic mic, as noted, is one of the better options for live performances. To make them work best in these live situations, placing them in front of amplifiers and percussion should follow the same basic pattern and set up as would be done in a recording environment.
When it comes to vocals, make sure the dynamic microphones are facing away from any speakers through which the sound captured by these microphones will be playing. In other words, when using stage monitors, make sure the front of the microphone is facing away from all monitors. If not, feedback can occur. That can be an unpleasant squeal that irritates the ears and causes undesired dissonance for the sound.
While many vocalists will place their mouth right on the dynamic microphone, it’s optimal to stay away from it by one or two inches. Because dynamic microphones are going to pick up a wide range of sounds during live performance, make sure the distance between the mouth and the microphone is no more than just a couple of inches, at best. This will allow the mixing professional to capture a quality sound and filter it through the speakers, getting the right mix.
Can Dynamic Microphones Under $100 Be Ideal for Streaming?
Dynamic microphones are incredibly versatile, especially the Shure SM58 and its close cousin the SM57. But, with the advent of streaming for webinars, podcasts, and even gaming, some people do have questions about whether these would be good options for those purposes.
The bottom line is that this model might be decent enough in some situations, but it is almost invariably best to rely on a condenser microphone for these types of live streaming or other recording purposes. That’s because the dynamic microphone has a specific frequency response range and requires the individual to be closer to the microphone itself, which may not be optimal in webinars and podcasts. If it’s a matter of visual appeal, condenser mics may also be the better choice.
Why Many Experienced Musicians Have Numerous Dynamic Mics in Their Arsenal
Many experienced and touring musicians, whether they are touring on a local, regional, national, or international level, often have numerous quality dynamic mics as part of their regular equipment. The vast majority of them have the SM58 and the SM57 as their key dynamic microphones for a wide range of purposes.
That’s because the Shure SM58 is not only affordable, it is durable and offers a great response as well as exceptional versatility. Any live performing bands, singers, and even recording aficionados would do well to add the SM58 to their preferred equipment. It is one of the best dynamic microphones coming in under $100.