SM57's, Beta 58's, and Beta 58a's...oh my!

propmonkey

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2004
Location
Beloit/Milwaukee, WI
I was just wondering what the differences in all these mics. I know that SM57's are the standard and thats all I hear people using. We have Beta 58's and Beat 58a's. Whats the difference between these?
 

propmonkey

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2004
Location
Beloit/Milwaukee, WI
what exactly does that mean?
 

wolf825

Senior Team Emeritus
Premium Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2003
Location
Eastcoast USA
propmonkey said:
I was just wondering what the differences in all these mics. I know that SM57's are the standard and thats all I hear people using. We have Beta 58's and Beat 58a's. Whats the difference between these?
The primary differences between beta and SM 58's & Beta 58's has to do with the magnet & components being used in the beta's over the SM's--which allows for tuned or better control of certain pattern sensitivities, response (SM's are cardioid vs Beta's which are super cardioid) and cause certain frequency's to be picked up better or for unwanted frequencies to drop off or be rejected...

For basic example: Look at the frequency response charts between the two mic's below.. The Beta's have a higher sensitivity and a "crisper" and fuller sound for vocal response (according to the chart).. The beta's have a different and tighter pattern which gives better rejection for feedback if you check the polar patterns in the PDF file, and a lower handling noise then the SM's. Compared side by side in a listening test--the SM will sound duller on a vocal, and pick up less of the higher frequencies & sibilences (S sounds will sound more SH sound), and therefore may need some EQ to help bring it to life. Additionally the SM's will need higher gain from the console to achieve the same sensitivity level as a Beta.. But at the same time on a high freq instrument a Beta may be too "bright" sounding with little mid or low end response. Also notice--the Beta's react specifically in the lower frequencies to proximity where the SM's don't react at all (again--according to the chart ;) ).. Proximity is generally the distance from the sound source to the mic (or happens when idiots like wanna-be rappers CUP the mic cause they want to look bad @$$, but sound worse). The closer the mic to the overwhelming source--the higher the low end response will become--and sometimes that can be a real pain to mix with. But in the Beta's case such proximity effect is "tuned" to respond in a certain way for proximity..which can make things easier to deal with and expect...

SM
http://shure.com/images/response/fSM58_large.gif

BETA
http://shure.com/images/response/fBeta58A_large.gif

Mic's are designed to be used for specific things.... While a "general use" mic would be considered an SM or Beta 57 or 58...and sadly I have seen folks use them on everything from Harps to harmonica's...in specific applications for specific uses, you can find mic's better suited for the task then the "general use" stuff... It all comes down to the sound you want AND what the folks playing want to sound like. Not everyone wants to sound "good" or as good as possible--I had one idiot tell me for his flute he didn't want a nice rich condensor mic, that made his flute sound excellent (recording quality) during sound check (especially given the ton of reverb he wanted)--but he was afraid it wouldn't sound the way he had heard it sound once before, and HE liked that sound and wanted that sound--so he specifically requested a SM 57 for his playing and proceeded to tell me that "all the professional flute players use them" like I never heard a flute before.. It sounded like mud butt...and the audience knew it sounded like mud butt....but its the way HE wanted himself and his music portrayed. Meh...such is some of the things you run into in this job..but its about pleasing the client and not yourself...


-w