I tracked an entire song with only Shure SM57's and SM58's

KillerV

Member
Messages
339


I know it's been done a couple of times before by other folks but the examples I've found have mostly been punk-y and/or lofi type tracks. A couple of my clients have been asking me about demo recording rigs and I always recommend getting a Shure SM57 or SM58, at which music stores almost always try and steer them towards some cheap, bright condenser, so I set out to prove that, with the necessary skill (which the Shures will help teach you IMHO), you could make a good record using only SM57/58's. Admittedly, this was done in a nicer room and on nicer equipment than most will have at home but I wanted the mics to be the only variable to how I usually work.

Here I explain how I did it: https://joellisproducer.wordpress.c...tracked-only-with-shure-sm57s-and-sm58s-pt-i/

Would love to know what you guys think.
 

Teal_66

Member
Messages
3,252
Sounds great. I just recently used an SM 57 to mic a small tube amp. It sounded pretty good, but I recently heard material where a Royer 121 was used, and I just sort of got depressed - that Royer sounded so amazing, and nothing like my SM 57.

You used very good preamps and compressors for your recording, but I love when anyone tries to focus more on learning to use what you have - then spending tons of money. Well done, sir!
 

Noise Under The Floor

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
10,918
I remember reading an interview with Ric Ocasek some years back where he stated the SM57 is the mic he always goes to first when recording guitars. Its usually on any track he's produced, even if he has access to, and uses, much more expensive mics, he will still have an SM57 on that guitar track too.
 

KillerV

Member
Messages
339
Yup, gotta say the 57 is still my go-to mic on cabs (and snares, incidentally). I have ribbon mics and I'll sometimes use them if I'm going for something different but I find with a 57, to my ears at least, guitars just "sit" the way they do on my favorite records with very little extra fuss.
 

Hollis

Member
Messages
78
Very nice. Also proves that really nice pre's and compressors make a huge difference Of course, this guy obviously has much skill and talent. That helps a bit too :)
 

NashSG

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3,291
Sounds good.

One of the legends around things is that Jack Endino did Nirvana's Bleach album with only Shure 57s and 58s.

I did this a few years ago, it was pretty much tracked live (including solo) with an older US Mackie mixer in an untreated garage some SM57s, 58s and a couple of AKG C1000s into a Tascam digital portastudio then a couple of overdubs and mixed on a PC. Only other pre-amp I had at the time and I used it on the bass and vocals at home was a ART Pro Channel. I used the ART with a Shure PG52 on the kick.

Probably a new set of heads on the toms and better drum tuning would have improved it in hindsight, but I think it turned out pretty well for what we had.

 

78deluxe

Member
Messages
5,360
Very cool project, thanks for sharing.

It does sound rather midrangy to my ears and lacks bass.

I wondered about this then read the write up you provided:

I don’t have a dedicated bass cab so I just used my guitar cabs. I also used quite a bit of compression (up to 10dB of gain reduction) on the way in, as I always do.

That explains quite a bit.
 

MikeVB

Supporting Member
Messages
7,436
Very nice all the way around. I appreciate you taking the time to do that.

But...I can't help but add a "yeah, but" in that you had $5,000 in two pieces of gear immediately after the vocal mic.

Honestly don't mean to detract from your efforts, and I know this will seem like I'm being a cynic.

But I think it would be way more realistic to the average home recorder if you used an SM57/58 into an inexpensive preamp/audio interface like a Focusrite Scarlett straight into a consumer DAW like Garageband or Logic Pro.

I'd really like to hear what someone with your studio skills could do with that level of gear. That would let us really hear what's possible if we learn how to max out the gear many of us are limited to using. Maybe even recorded in a normal home room or basement without pro wall treatment.
 

batsbrew

Member
Messages
5,302
i did something just like this,
back in 1999,
using only a SM57.

turned out great,
most folks were stunned that you could get all that clarity and tone out of one crappy mic.


there's a lesson in there to be learned by many.
 

batsbrew

Member
Messages
5,302
using only ONE mic like that,
WILL flavor all of your tracks with one sonic fingerprint, tho..

and the sm57 is pretty midrangy,
that's why it's so good as a elec gtr amp mic..

but if you know how to eq tracks for their best qualities,
you can work around it.


i have 6 mics now,
and would never limit myself to only one or two again.

there is too much to be gained, by using more than a couple.
 

KillerV

Member
Messages
339
Thank you for the kind words about my work, guys. This really just started out as an experiment to prove to some clients what great mics 57/58's are. I totally get the argument about better outboard gear and a nicer room - and yes, of course they help - but I've always been of the belief that, to prove anything useful, you can only really have one variable, so the mics were it in this case. The truth is that I still feel that I could have made something good with even less equipment. For a long time in the beginning of my career I only had 2 SM57's, 2 SM58's and a Behringer mixer. It wouldn't be my preferred method of working, but in a pinch I could still produce something decent with that. I've mixed quite a bit of stuff that was tracked on nothing but prosumer gear. Without sounding cocky, I've learned what I like to hear and, even though it does indeed take a good bit more work with things like this, I almost always find a way to get at least close to what I'm hearing in my head. I do plan to do some more experiments like these for my blog so I might very well pull out some cheaper gear and track another song sometime in the not-too-distant future. It's just SO much fun!

About the bass: Yeah, it's pretty hard getting that full deep bass with SM57's. Bass and kick drum were the biggest challenges in this experiment, even though I'm not unhappy with how they are sitting. Since 57/58's roll off pretty much everything below 100Hz I had to work it pretty hard. I considered having a DI'd signal in the mix too but that would've compromised the authenticity of what I wanted to do. I wanted everything tracked with 57/58's.

Of course a mix like this will have a very definite 57/58 "fingerprint" on it. There's no way I'd track all my projects like this. These days I have a mic locker that's about 30 strong and includes high end Neumann's, AKG's and indeed more of Shure's offerings. With mics I think I'm like girls with shoes. But none of them are cheap, bright condensers. :p
 

Otto Tune

Member
Messages
3,841
The 57 and 58 are workhorses.
Did you know all presidential press conferences use SM 57's?
Many top stars still stick to hard wired SM58's.
Why not?
 

MikeVB

Supporting Member
Messages
7,436
Thank you for the kind words about my work, guys. This really just started out as an experiment to prove to some clients what great mics 57/58's are. I totally get the argument about better outboard gear and a nicer room - and yes, of course they help - but I've always been of the belief that, to prove anything useful, you can only really have one variable, so the mics were it in this case. The truth is that I still feel that I could have made something good with even less equipment. For a long time in the beginning of my career I only had 2 SM57's, 2 SM58's and a Behringer mixer. It wouldn't be my preferred method of working, but in a pinch I could still produce something decent with that. I've mixed quite a bit of stuff that was tracked on nothing but prosumer gear. Without sounding cocky, I've learned what I like to hear and, even though it does indeed take a good bit more work with things like this, I almost always find a way to get at least close to what I'm hearing in my head. I do plan to do some more experiments like these for my blog so I might very well pull out some cheaper gear and track another song sometime in the not-too-distant future. It's just SO much fun!

About the bass: Yeah, it's pretty hard getting that full deep bass with SM57's. Bass and kick drum were the biggest challenges in this experiment, even though I'm not unhappy with how they are sitting. Since 57/58's roll off pretty much everything below 100Hz I had to work it pretty hard. I considered having a DI'd signal in the mix too but that would've compromised the authenticity of what I wanted to do. I wanted everything tracked with 57/58's.

Of course a mix like this will have a very definite 57/58 "fingerprint" on it. There's no way I'd track all my projects like this. These days I have a mic locker that's about 30 strong and includes high end Neumann's, AKG's and indeed more of Shure's offerings. With mics I think I'm like girls with shoes. But none of them are cheap, bright condensers. :p
Could you share the entire signal chain on the guitar and vocal tracks, please? Like all the way from guitar (or mouth) through what preamps, etc. and what audio converter into what type computer and DAW?

Thanks.
 

nickbruce

Member
Messages
136
To add comparison, the tracks in my sig were recorded entirely with an e835 and e609 (mostly the latter), through a focusrite saffire straight into logic 9, processed with the stock plugins (mostly just the fat eq, compressor and space designer)

Not sure if they're quite radio ready but the seem alright to me
 

KillerV

Member
Messages
339
Yeah, I saw that. Didn't see anything about converters and/or interface. But I could've missed it.
Yes, chains are all as described in my blog and the converters are ECHO Layla 3G's. I've had the Layla for a while and I really like it. Back when I was purchasing an interface I went on a massive search to find the right one for me and a bunch of guys who I respect recommended the Layla. It's spec'd really well and it holds up to some really stiff competition (like one friend's Avid HD converters and another friend's Apogee Ensemble) so I've never felt the need to spend more cash. I never even really think about converters anymore, to be honest. It's a pity they're discontinued.

As far as the guitar chains go, I should mention that I always use some sort of buffer between guitars and amps, mostly in the form of my trusty Boss Blues Driver. Some folks aren't crazy about the buffers in Boss pedals but I don't mind them at all. Other than that I believe in as short a signal chain between guitar and amp as possible. I always have the heads in the control room with me, with the cabs out in the iso booth but with amps like the Super Reverb a buffer really helps retain top end sparkle if you're tracking guitars from the control room. As I mentioned in the blog, the amps are nicely cranked but not to the point where the power amp tubes compress too much. Unless I'm working with a really clean sound I won't compress on the way in (the times where I do it'll be with the 1176 set to get really spanky).

Otherwise, the only thing that's not documented is cabling. I use Klotz and Blue cables.
 

MikeVB

Supporting Member
Messages
7,436
Yes, chains are all as described in my blog and the converters are ECHO Layla 3G's. I've had the Layla for a while and I really like it. Back when I was purchasing an interface I went on a massive search to find the right one for me and a bunch of guys who I respect recommended the Layla. It's spec'd really well and it holds up to some really stiff competition (like one friend's Avid HD converters and another friend's Apogee Ensemble) so I've never felt the need to spend more cash. I never even really think about converters anymore, to be honest. It's a pity they're discontinued.

As far as the guitar chains go, I should mention that I always use some sort of buffer between guitars and amps, mostly in the form of my trusty Boss Blues Driver. Some folks aren't crazy about the buffers in Boss pedals but I don't mind them at all. Other than that I believe in as short a signal chain between guitar and amp as possible. I always have the heads in the control room with me, with the cabs out in the iso booth but with amps like the Super Reverb a buffer really helps retain top end sparkle if you're tracking guitars from the control room. As I mentioned in the blog, the amps are nicely cranked but not to the point where the power amp tubes compress too much. Unless I'm working with a really clean sound I won't compress on the way in (the times where I do it'll be with the 1176 set to get really spanky).

Otherwise, the only thing that's not documented is cabling. I use Klotz and Blue cables.
Thanks for writing that up for us. Lots of good info.
 




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