Great SM57 and SM58 Mic Clones

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Tazmaniac, Jun 16, 2011.


  1. Tazmaniac

    Tazmaniac Member

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    A couple of years ago I was short on cash, needed a vocal mic fast and ordered a GLS Audio ESS-58 from Orange County Speaker for $24.99. Folks thought they were hearing a Shure SM58. It was a pleasant surprise so I then ordered their SM57 clone, the ESS-57, for $29.99. It was the same story.

    Both of these are more than just okay mics for emergency backup, I still use mine for gigging and home recording. Both are pretty much identical to their Shure counterparts in tone, frequency response and construction quality. They're a bit flatter at the high end, which is easily corrected with a little EQ if you want it to perfectly mimic a Shure.

    If you're thinking I have low standards, I'm primarily an acoustic musician and my gigging/recording gear is hi-fi and revealing: Roland AC90 acoustic amp w/XLR input; Hafler Trans-Nova P1300 stereo power amp; Mackie Onyx 1220i mixer; and upgraded ART tube preamps. My mic arsenal has grown--I now have Rode NT-1A & Nady SCM-900 vocal condensers; CAD e60 & CAD e70 instrumental condensers; Shure SM57 & SM58; and the GLS ESS-57 & ESS-58 (still in my gear bag and still used often).

    I've compared the mics to my others in recording and also amped through my PA speakers (custom full-range stereo cabs) and studio monitors (Mackie MR5s; JBL Control 5 Pros; Mackie SW10 powered sub). Again, the ESS mics are close enough to Shure SM's that though there's a barely-detectible difference I can't say that it's good or bad--it's just slightly different. I'd say they're on par with the SM mics, better than many mics costing more than SMs and way better than Shure's economy-model PG57 and PG58, which sell for about double their price rather than triple.

    Orange County Music is the sole US distributor and the prices went up last month--the ESS-57 is now $39.99 and the ESS-58 is $29.99. You can get 'em with or without on/off switches. GLS mic cables are also high quality, with the same terminations and construction as factory cables from Shure and Rode, and 25-footers sell for $12.99.

    Especially if you mic multiple amps, acoustic instruments, drums etc. and need half a dozen quality workhorses, I strongly recommend plunking down 30 bucks to try an ESS before you spend $600 on a box of Shures.

    They'd probably sell more of 'em if the prices were increased to $10-$20 below Shure SMs...we're conditioned to believe that anything sounding too good to be true ain't, but this is one of the rare exceptions. You get performance-quality mics at throw-away prices.

    I've been expecting these things to get "discovered" for nearly three years but it hasn't happened. Would somebody else please buy one and report back--everybody needs at least one mic they can lose or damage without ruining their night. The ESS58 also works well as a harp mic and those things get disgusting, they're more personal than a toothbrush. Toss an ESS-58 in your gig bag just in case somebody asks to borrow your Green Bullet.

    http://www.speakerrepair.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=genem&Category_Code=microphones
     
  2. Timinator

    Timinator Member

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    I've had two of the ess57's for a couple of years now. No problems at all. Ive mic'd cabs and my acoustics with them. I would buy them again, and probably will.
     
  3. RocksOff

    RocksOff Member

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    I don't want to sound like a dick, but I've tried those mics and they don't sound much at all like the originals.
    The top end is super thin, and the bottom end is flabby (especially on their 57, for some reason). I'm pretty sure they use the same capsule in both mics, much like Shure does, but their capsules really don't sound very good.
    Another striking difference I noticed was the weird distance for proximity effect on their 58. It's really extended, and the off-axis rejection is a bit slight, as well.
     
  4. mark norwine

    mark norwine Member

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    The Chinese rip off Gibson and TGP is in an uproar.

    The Chinese rip off Shure, and it's a smokin' deal.

    Someone needs to explain that to me, because I don't get it....
     
  5. slayerbear17

    slayerbear17 Member

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    When I started the "Home Recording" I came across a company which had quite a few "Clones" so to speak.

    http://www.yoga.com.tw I,ve used the 58/57 clone and quite a few of their drum mics with Amazing results.

    I,ve used Yoga mics on vocals,guitars,drums, and I,d use them again over and over again.

    I saved alot of money and still got excellent results.
     
  6. loudboy

    loudboy Supporting Member

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    Unlike the Chinese (and high-end replica) guitars, these mics don't say Shure on them...

    There are many fake SM57/58s out there, but these aren't them.

    More like Hondo "Strat-style" guitars.

    HTH.
     
  7. jmoose

    jmoose Supporting Member

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    I have some GLS stuff... the cables aren't terrible, especially for what they cost I have zero problems there. Most of it is plugs & jacks in bulk for installs. Got a couple of the Sm57 knockoffs some time ago and wasn't very impressed... sounded nothing like a real 57, gave 'em away.

    I've got about 40 mics here, only one SM58... which basically only ever comes out when someone says "Can't we just use a 58?" Which is also why I have four SM57s...
     
  8. d l x r e v e r b

    d l x r e v e r b Member

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    jmoose and others ,

    In your extensive experience with microphones , for people on a budget what is :

    (1) the best condenser microphone ?
    (2) the best ribbon microphone ?
    (3) the best dynamic microphone ?
    (4) the best microphone pre-amp ?


    Your reply implies extensive experience with highest quality mics like Neumann and Sennheiser but for the layman player what equipment offers the most quality for the most affordable price ?
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2011
  9. Nelson89

    Nelson89 Member

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    I've had a bit (not a lot) of experience with a bunch of high end mics, and own a lot of midrange ones. So here's my answers based on "bang for buck" but in no way do I think these are the best in the different categories, but they Don't hold you back either.

    Condensers:
    At the end of the day, use your ears, there are some mics that professionals will swear by, but if you take out the high end converters, mic channels, room acoustics, they may not be the best fit for budget minded people. There's a few decent companies. Rode get a lot of bad mouthing in some forums, but they're a good bet for the budget minded, because 1. They have excellent customer service and an excellent warranty and 2. They have very low self noise and a higher output for those with dodgy pre's. Another company I would look at is audio technica, specifically the 40xx series.

    Ribbons:
    Cascade are a good bet

    Dynamics:
    Shure, sennheiser, audix, heil. These are all relatively cheap microphones when it comes to the audio world, but most of them are still considered high quality. Sm57, i5, pr30, e609...right upto slightly more expensive ones like the md421, sm7b, pr40...Overall dynamics usually get you more for your money and are more durable overall.

    Mic pre's:
    Take your pick...personally I'd stay away from ART or Behringer, but golden age pre73, Maudio dmp3, fmr rnp are all good pre's at similar prices, a level up from that would be the UA610 and 710, the focusrite ISA one then the grace m101 there's a few more then you move into the high end stuff.

    At the end of the day, get what you can afford, use it and upgrade when your abilities have outgrown your gear. There aren't a lot of things out there that will ruin your recordings so much. You'd be surprised at how small the differences are between say a lower end setup vs a higher end setup, it only starts to matter when the tracks build up, like in a high end studio that could have say 90+ tracks in a single session...the point is don't focus on the gear so much, focus on using it properly, the biggest factor behind all of this is ability and not the gear you use...
     
  10. Truxton Spangler

    Truxton Spangler Member

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    Brand-loyalty aside I don't really get why one would want to buy a clone of an SM57 when you can get a like-new used, real, SM57 for 50 dollars almost every week on eBay

    Best regards -T
     
  11. Nelson89

    Nelson89 Member

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    I agree...they're one of the cheapest quality mic's out there...
     
  12. loudboy

    loudboy Supporting Member

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    Because people are stupid.

    That's the only explanation I can come up with, especially with used professional gear being readily available and dirt cheap.

    I've told this story before, but I bumped into a singer from a band I was doing a record with at a local music store.

    He was looking to upgrade his PA speakers.

    He was seriously looking at some Behringer cabs, and I pointed him to a pair of used JBL SR 47XX-series speakers that were almost the same price.

    As far as performance, the JBLs would've absolutely destroyed the Behringers.

    he bought the Behringers, and the next time I saw him he was complaining about how he couldn't get the PA to sound good and if I had any advice for him...

    I said, "Yeah, you shouldn't have bought crap."

    This was a band that plays over 100 gigs a year and they all have good day jobs.
     
  13. slayerbear17

    slayerbear17 Member

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    I bought my "Clones" back in the early 00's. Also living in Australia back then wasn't favorable in terms of buying Recording gear. Recording gear is way way cheaper here.
     
  14. Nelson89

    Nelson89 Member

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    Haha...its still crap buying recording gear here...i basically have to suck it up for rack gear, but i buy some mic's internationally (cause its one standard thank god). To give you an example of the difference, the Australian dollar is $1.05USD right now, i.e. stronger, but if say i wanted to buy a sennheiser md421, it would cost anywhere between $600-$800 new, if i were to buy it from america and get it sent to Australia, it would cost me around $310 plus about $28 postage....

    An sm57 over here "retails" for $300, and the "street price" is about $170...American's have it a lot easier when it comes to tending to their GAS for recording gear haha...
     
  15. soulohio

    soulohio Member

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    as a vocalist, I am now looking at mics and the associated chain in a whole different light. For live work, I want a few different choices that make me sound GREAT. No compromise. I have busted out my throat too many times at an early age.....I don't need the heartache. I'll spend the money.

    In the studio....I just hope they have better mics than I have and better PRE's than I have.
     
  16. stetyrrell

    stetyrrell Member

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    A used sm57 over here in Ireland runs around 100 usd and about 150 usd new, so sometimes clones are the only way to go, customs is put on any item over 30 dollars, so importing's too much effort as you end up paying VAT and other taxes and a holding fee.

    So to me personally as a broke student, I'd rather use a 45 dollar copy that sounds half decent in an un-treated room along with an e609 than loose a week's food money.
     
  17. Nelson89

    Nelson89 Member

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    Ah that sux that customs puts tax and that one stuff over $30...i'm a student too, the only reason i import is cause in australia there's no tax till the item is valued at over $1000. If you're pairing it with something like an e609 the clones are fine (my views are more based on using it as a single mic, which is fine for small track count, but the flaw's add up over a number of tracks), i guess i've just wasted too much money on essentially throw away mic's to buy them anymore myself, they're a bit of a hit and a miss sometimes...where as something like an actual shure will sound the same all the time (and if it doesn't they will replace it) and is built to last years and years...so for me cheaper in the long run.

    I used to do a lot of acoustic gigs when i'd just turned 18 (using a portable PA), i was using a couple of 58 copies that cost me around $30 each, thought they were a bargain until they broke about 9 months later, one just stopped working altogether, the other one the XLR connector at the bottom sort of caved in...at which stage i just bought a couple of proper 58s new. Ever since then i've only ever bought "brand" mic's...but my experience differs from a lot of people, my mic's tend to get a lot of use, i can't afford for them to spontaneously break, it's not actually about how close the clones sound for me...its consistency and reliability...probably one of the reasons i use a few Rode mic's for recording, i know if they break, i just get on the phone and the problem is dealt with pretty quickly, never had one of them break yet though...
     
  18. TimmyP

    TimmyP Member

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    I've never had any use for real sm57s/58s, let alone copies.
     
  19. Tazmaniac

    Tazmaniac Member

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    Right on, that says it all...I use up time commenting on gear when I'm either musically stuck or too lazy to practice, it lets me think I'm still doing something musical so it counts towards personal development. Folks are right of course: Why buy a clone when you can get a Shure for fifty bucks (though I've paid closer to $70 on ebay) but there have been times in my life when $50 made a difference and there'll be more times to come. I started this thread because I bought some GLS mics and no one who listened noticed the difference, they were surprisingly good for $25.

    Like many now-jobless people living on the edge of poverty I despise outsourcing and corporate greed...but not to the point where I'll pay $400 for a U.S. stepped attentuator when exactly the same item is available from China for $40. I'll spend the difference on food (at WalMart) because I can't afford not to. I'd like to buy locally but then I'd be too light-headed from hunger to make decisions about anything.
     
  20. jmoose

    jmoose Supporting Member

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    Pretty much...

    The main reason to have SM58 & SM57 on hand isn't because they're amazing transducers, because they aren't... its because everyone knows what to expect when you put one up.

    True story...

    Right after Mexicali reopened one of the early shows was Maceo Parker & his band... big horn section etc. I got the tech rider about a month in advance and it specified some ridiculous number of SM58's... like 15 or so for horns & vocals in addition to all the other mics for drums etc.

    Keep in mind they aren't carrying a FOH engineer so I'll be mixing the show...

    So I call up their production contact and ask 'em about the requirements, specifically "do we really need all these SM58?" We had enough mics... some 58, beta 58, 57... I can bring stuff like Audix OM, 421's and RE20's out of my own mic locker, use those for the horns?

    "Nah, gotta be SM58. These guys are old school"

    Right on. Next call I made was to one of my rental sources... I needed a bucket of SM58s for one night.
     

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