Any advantage in using a 57 over a 58 on guitar cab?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by 6stringjazz, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. 6stringjazz

    6stringjazz Supporting Member

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    I have a couple of 58's, no 57. Is there an advantage in using a 57 over a 58 on recording guitar cabs? Are they basicly the same mic with a different look?
     
  2. elambo

    elambo Member

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    They are very similar, but they are not the same, and it's not merely their appearance. A 58 has the ball windscreen which gives it a slightly different frequency response, and the 57's head (referring mainly to the slits) is designed specifically to allow for an additional side entrance of sound. A minor thing, but it makes a difference. Unscrew the ball from a 58 and I think you'll be damn close to identical to a 57.

    If you already have a 58, use it. It will give you that "57" sound for shure. (sorry about that)
     
  3. Ulysses

    Ulysses Member

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    I actually unscrew the windscreen on a 58 quite often to record guitar. I'm sure it's all in my head but I think I get a better sound than with my 57's.
     
  4. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Even if it's all in your head, that's good enough.
     
  5. ben_allison

    ben_allison Member

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    The frequency response is different. The 57 is a standard for a reason.

    But...

    The Audix i5 or SM7 are both way better choices.
     
  6. Gtr_Eng

    Gtr_Eng Member

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    The difference in frequency response between the SM57 and SM58 is primarily due to the different windscreens used. The capsules are identical from what I've been told.
     
  7. yellowecho

    yellowecho Member

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    i'm interested in hearing others experiences with this as well.
    i unscrew the screen from my SM58 when recording guitar because it sounds better, but i don't have an SM57 to compare it to.
     
  8. JamminJeff

    JamminJeff Member

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    The SM57 will naturally have a compressed sound which is very useful for a rock sound coming from an overdriven amp. The 57 also rejects room spill. The 58 is voiced for live vocals and will be more open sounding for recording.

    The 57 works with SOME voices for recording. You have to pay attention to off axis vocal takes. Go with the 57 for guitar and a decent preamp. It will layer really well if you are doubling tracks, etc.

    Few people I know would ever use a 58 for guitars, live or in the studio. YMMV.
     
  9. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    A 58 sucks on most instruments, guitar cabs included. I don't know why, but it really does.

    That said, right now I'm gonna try one without the windscreen alongside a 57, to see for myself how that sounds. I'll be back...
     
  10. elambo

    elambo Member

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    None of them have taken the windscreen off of a 58. I know engineers with great ears who struggle to hear any difference.

    As there seems to be question about the actual differences between these two mics, how about Shure's opinion, from their FAQ:

    "The SM57 is the most common mic used for a guitar amp. The SM58 is (the) same as the SM57, except the SM58 has a ball-shaped grille. Either model is a good choice for miking a guitar amp."

    If you want to know the other difference, which removing the windscreen may or may not have an effect upon, see my post above.
     
  11. elambo

    elambo Member

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    That's highly subjective. A great man once said, "The 57 is a standard for a reason." ;)

    The only mics I've ever picked over a 57 for a gtr cabinet are a Royer 121 (delicious) or a Sennheiser 421. Unless we're talking bass, in which case many mics trump a 57.
     
  12. dunara

    dunara Member

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    The difference between the two mics is very subtle. Far less than, say, moving the mic 3" away from the centre of the cone....
     
  13. ben_allison

    ben_allison Member

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    Of course the 421 is a classic, and the Royer is a modern classic.

    Try an i5 if you get the chance. It's like the 57, but it's more natural sounding and has better off-axis response.

    Mics are like paintbrushes – it's not about what's "good," it's about what helps you realize the vision of the song. The 57 is a classic for guitar amp, not because it's "great," but precisely because it's not. It shapes an amp's frequency response to help it fit into the context of a song.

    I feel the i5 sits better in a mix, and is easier to mix. The virtues of the 57, minus the weak spots.

    But of course, just use your ears! If it sounds good it is good.
     
  14. ben_allison

    ben_allison Member

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    It's also worth mentioning that dynamic mics really do need good pres. You could get away with using a top-notch condenser and a mediocre pre, but where you really notice the difference between preamps is when using dynamic mics.

    Any "big" recording that throws a 57 on a guitar cab is probably also using Neve, API, or something of that caliber (transformers, transformers, transformers). And also, most likely, tape.

    Tape + transformers = tone.

    Of course, that is not to say you can't get "tone" without those things – I don't have a tape machine or killer preamps. But it will certainly make the task of tracking and more specifically mixing, orders of magnitude easier.
     
  15. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    OK, I tried it last night. I had a 57 and a 58-minus-windscreen on the same speaker cone aimed at either side of the dust cap seam. The 58 of course was slightly shorter than the 57, with just a small disk of foam over the capsule. I made sure the capsules were the same distance from the grille cloth. Identical mic cables into 2 channels of a Focusrite preamp at the same gain setting (it's calibrated and detented in 6 dB. increments). No compression, no EQ, just straight to "tape."

    Just going by my ears, no measurement tools...

    They sounded identical in almost every respect. Their frequency response sounded the same. The only difference is that thru the 57 spikes in volume sounded subtly (and I mean very subtly) less harsh than the 58. Not compressed, per se, just a little more pleasing to the ears.

    I feel there's difference enough that, given the choice, I'd use a 57. But if one was not available I'd use a 58 without the screen and not think twice about it. The only real downside is that little disk of foam looks so fragile that if anything scrapes it, like the grill cloth, it might rip right off. I don't KNOW that it would, I didn't touch it. But I'd rather not throw away a perfectly good $100 SM58 just because I didn't spend $100 on a SM57.

    I still have it all set up, I'll try it a little later and see if I hear anything different.
     
  16. Dog Boy

    Dog Boy Member

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    My findings too. I would be happy unscrewing the windscreen if I didn't have a 57 handy. There really isn't that much difference.
     
  17. elambo

    elambo Member

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    Interesting. I wonder what that would be attributed to. Maybe the slightly different head design allows a portion of the quick excessive punches of air to flow away from the diaphragm of the 57, whereas the 58 just takes it, and maybe it's less pleasant when it does...? Just guessing.

    Is that harshness the kind that you might actually WANT in certain cases?
     
  18. JamminJeff

    JamminJeff Member

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    I was told by a good source that the SM57 is basically the same as an SM7. You can boil the guts out of the SM57 (remove the capsule first) and then you have an SM7. You will need 50-60 db of gain but they say it sounds great, FWIW.

    Never tried it. Happy with the 57 the way it is.
     
  19. Gtr_Eng

    Gtr_Eng Member

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    In this case, the slight difference in sound could just as easily be attributed to the slight difference in mic placement, or the slightly different signal path, or any of the other things involved in this test. It's almost impossible to come to any definitive conclusion from a test like this unless you repeat it many times with many different 57's and 58's. You'd also need to alternate which side of the preamp you put the mics in so that you can eliminate that as a variable as well. If after doing all of that you find that their is a consistent difference between the mic types you could reasonable assume it to be true.

    OTOH, the fact that they are that similar in the first place kind of points to the possibility that using a 58 minus its windscreen is a viable replacement for a 57. At least in your case using those 2 mics.

    I'm glad you did the test though. Not trying to criticize or anything. It's always fun to experiment with these kinds of tests.
     
  20. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    When I tracked this AM and took a closer look, I noticed that the 58 was on average about .8 dB. hotter, and on spikes about 1 - 1.2 dB. The "topless" 58 really looks pretty naked next to the 57, and I think the 57 head diffuses the airflow a little, that's all.

    I suppose the average difference in level could be because of the individual mic, but I tend to doubt it. I can't imagine Shure would tolerate that much variation in these.

    I completely understand the question, because I listened with that in mind. I didn't prefer it. On those occasional spikes where I heard any difference at all, I always preferred the way the 57 sounded. It just sounded perfect throughout (the mic, NOT my playing!) while the naked 58 annoyed my ears for a microsecond every now and then. Very slight difference, but there.

    This is very nit-picky stuff I'm talking about, but what the hell, that's the fun of it.
     

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