Microphones are the quintessential part of any vocalist’s tier, be it for singing, an online podcast, a radio station, and so on. It takes a lot for a model to stand out from such a vast variety of options available in the market. The Shure SM58 is a reputed product and highly sought after for its unparalleled excellence, its cousin, the SM48 offers similar features (with some missing) at a lower rate.
This Shure SM48 Vs SM58 article has been written to uncover why a price gap exists between the two and whether it is worth it. We will be comparing the two products, elaborating on similar and dissimilar features to help you make an informed decision when you get your next mic. Let’s dive in and find out which one emerges victorious in this Shure SM48 Vs SM58 comparison.
Head to Head Comparison: SM48 vs SM58
When comparing Shure SM48 and SM58, it is important to consider both the similarities and dissimilarities between the two. This section will consider the features shared by both and those unique to individual models, and also analyze whether a price gap is justified or not.
Similarities Between Shure SM48 & SM58
Despite the many differences between the two models, mostly based on performance, there are many similarities too. Both have been manufactured by the same company and belong to the same series so similarities are expected. From the very start, both of these microphones are dynamic and have a cardioid polar pattern. No idea what these terms mean? No problem, we’ll make it easy for you.
1. Dynamic Microphones
Dynamic means that a microphone is suited for louder sounds. Usually, music jam sessions, where guitars rock and drums blare, are best done with dynamic microphones. The opposite type is the condenser microphones which are designed to capture softer and gentler voices. If you’re looking for a microphone that won’t have problems with high pitched sounds, you ought to go for a dynamic model.
Another plus point with dynamic mics is that they are very durable and reliable, generally lasting for years, making them the better choice. If you wish to explore the difference between dynamic and condenser microphones in detail to help you pick which one is best for you, check out this comparison.
2. Cardioid Polar Pattern
Moving on to the cardioid polar pattern feature of the two. Polarity in microphones refers to the directions by which they receive sounds. A cardioid pattern has a heart-shaped curve, meaning that the microphone will pick input from the front and the sides but not the back.
This makes both of the models ideal for karaoke or during live performances. You may simply put a monitor behind the microphone and keep an eye on your performance, the mic will not pick up on any auditory signals from the monitor. There are other polar patterns too, you can explore them in this article and discover which one is the best for you.
3. Low Output Impedance
Another common feature shared by the duo is their low output impedance, about 150 Ohms each. If you recall High School Physics, then you might remember that Ohm was this guy who measured electrical resistance in different materials and the unit was later named after him.
So ‘Ohms’ is what we use to quantify the microphone’s electric resistance but what difference does it make? A lot, to be precise. This low impedance allows us to run long wires, to connect to an output device (speaker), with the microphone without losing sound quality. You can take a look at this article to see how output impedance affects the sound quality of a microphone.
4. Strong Steel Meshwork
Both of these models are fitted with a strong steel meshwork that imparts appreciable tensile strength to them. They can withstand accident impacts multiple times and continue to function as if nothing happened. This also means that both of them are highly durable and if you want something for the long haul, you can get either one of these based on the budget.
The SM48 and SM58 are both lightweight models, pretty easy to handle and carry around. This, however, should not deceive you about their sturdiness and performance as neither was compromised when designing the duo. There is a slight, almost unnoticeable difference between the masses of the two, discussed in the differences section.
6. Multiple Versions Available
In both cases, there are three retail versions available. These versions include the bare bones variants that come cheapest, and another with some added perks. The high-end variant includes an on/off button that makes it the most pricy. This button is worth investing in for ease of use, as you can simply turn the microphone off rather than plugging and unplugging it time and again, when not using.
Differences Between Shure SM48 & SM58
Now that we’ve gone through the similarities, let’s discuss the features where the two diverge from equal grounds.
1. Shure SM58 Unique Qualities
The SM58 emerges superior with greater popularity, a broader frequency range of 50 to 15000 Hz, and a comparatively lower weight of 1.1 pounds. It has a sensitivity of -57.5dB, meaning that it will record even the slightest input, but of course, at a higher price.
2. Shure SM48 Unique Qualities
The Shure SM48 does lag in these areas but not by much and it costs significantly less, in some cases even half. It is slightly heavier, weighing in at 1.25 pounds, but you can barely register the difference. The frequency response is also smaller in comparison, ranging from 55 to 14000 Hz. You might be wondering how much of a difference could it be? Simply put, the more the merrier, however, you can check out this blog post to understand the frequency response and its importance in detail.
3. Sound Quality & Loudness Difference
The sound quality and loudness is another parameter where the two fail to share equal grounds. While most reviewers will tell you that the difference is negligible, it is still there numerically. The SM58 takes the upper hand in this case as the sound quality is flawless, minus all the noise, and loud enough to be heard over an instrumental cover.
The SM48 struggles with this bit, although it does sound almost like its cousin. The sound is simply not loud enough and can easily drown in the background if accompanied by a strong guitar cover. The sound quality also tends to fail in some areas and although the flaws are minuscule, they are still there. To get a better grip on the problem, consider reading this article to understand what factors affect a microphone’s sound quality and why these things matter.
Both microphones deliver as much as you pay for them, they are both cost-effective. It is a matter of affordability, more than cost-effectiveness. If you pay more, you get more. But in either case, you will not regret getting your hands on any one of these.
Shure SM48 Vocal Headphone
Shure SM48 is more affordable, in some cases, it costs almost half as much as the SM58. The vocal output is very similar to that of SM58, with most people not being able to tell the difference between the two. The model is shipped with an in-built pop filter to make the sound finer, however, you would want to use an external filter for better results.
Not that we would recommend it, but even if you drop the microphone a couple of times, it will continue to function flawlessly. It has a stocky build, but weighs only 1.25 pounds, and is highly durable, guaranteed to last for years by its manufacturers. The sound has a seamless clarity and crispness and although it is not as flawless as SM 58, the difference is hardly noticeable.
Being a dynamic microphone model, SM48 is perfect for music performances and vocalization. The model is great at noise rejection and provides superior feedback than most contemporary options. You can’t go wrong with buying this mic, however, there are three different versions, each with its unique feature mixture:
- SM48S-LC (on/off switch included)
- SM48-LC (basic model)
- SM48-LC (basic model with a windscreen)
The first one costs the most among the three because it offers an exclusive on/off locking button. The second one is the bare-bones version, lacking the on/off button, and costs the least. The third version is much like the second one but with an added windscreen, but lacking the on/off button present in the first version. Ideally, you ought to go for the first option, SM48S-LC, if you can afford it.
What We Liked
Several features make Shure SM48 an amicable choice, here is a brief rundown of those:
- It is highly durable and hardy, being able to stand the severe impact
- Many people can’t report a significant difference between the sound output of SM48 and SM58
- It offers a clear and crisp vocal output, owing to a low output impedance, irrespective of cord length
- It costs much less than SM58, in some cases half as much
- The on/off button option makes SM48S-LC much convenient
What We Didn’t Like
The model does have some limitations:
- The SM58 offers a superior audio output even if some people can’t tell the difference
- You would need some compression and EQ to make your sound finely tuned with the SM48, but not so much with SM58
- The microphone is not very receptive over long distances, you need to be close to it for it to pick up the audio input
- SM48 is not very loud, so if you want to blow the roof off with a rock jam session, well get ready to face some disappointment, although it does offer a decent output
Bottom Line: The SM48 may lack some features that its high-end cousin SM58 but makes up for it with greater affordability. It is highly durable and sounds almost as good as SM58, but is not the same.
Shure SM58 Vocal Headphone
Allow us to phrase it directly: you can’t go wrong with SM58. It is the go-to model for live performances and jam sessions. Knowing that Elton John uses one, it will serve you well too. Much like the SM48, this model is highly durable and hardy, and can even take some falls (although we don’t recommend that you let it fall on purpose). The sound is superior, even if some people can’t tell the difference, numbers don’t lie.
The in-built pop filter, although not perfect, adds on the sound quality and makes it much more admirable. For the best results though, we recommend that you use an external pop filter to get past those dreaded plosions. The steel mesh framework makes this model highly durable, you will be using it for many years to come, and in pristine condition too.
The built-in shock mount is also a big relief as it cuts down on the noise and instead makes the sound much clearer. This model is also significantly louder than the previous one, allowing the vocalist’s lyrics to cut through the instrumental mixture and be heard clearly. You will be amazed by the sound output that remains consistently flawless, no matter how long of a cord you use to connect it to the speakers.
Having a cardioid polar pattern, the Shure SM58 does not take inputs from the back, meaning that background noise would be minimized in the output. A fixed spherical filter, seated inside the mic, also ensures that breathing and wind sounds don’t ruin the performance. In essence, it isolates your sound and eliminates all the background noise for the ultimate live performance.
The wide frequency response of 50 to 15,000 Hz may not seem like a significant improvement over the other model but it is worth praising. If your singer uses very high or low pitched vocals to convey the lyrics, this range will help ensure that all of them are captured perfectly and nothing is cut off. There are three variants available in the market:
- SM58-LC (normal adaptor and pouch)
- SM58-CN (swivel adaptor and XLR cable)
- SM58S (on/off switch, swivel adaptor and pouch)
The first one is the most basic version of the three, shipped with a stand adapter and a carrying pouch, and costing the least. The second option comes with a more versatile and flexible swivel adaptor and a 25 feet long XTR cable. The last option is the most pricy of all, being equipped with an on/off switch, and shipped with a pouch and swivel adapter. The on/off switch makes the last option the most convenient, as you can simply turn it off when you don’t want to record, but this makes the said model cost the most.
What We Liked
There are a ton of admirable properties in SM58:
- It is comparatively louder than the previously reviewed SM48, being able to cut through an instrumental cover with ease
- It is lighter than SM48, being only 1.1 pounds in comparison to 1.25 pounds
- Despite having a lighter frame, it is just as durable and sturdy as the former model
- It is highly sensitive to audio input yet excellent at eliminating background noise
- It has a wide frequency response, making it ideal for very low and high pitched sounds
What We Didn’t Like
There are some limitations to the SM58:
- It is comparatively much more expensive, easily twice as much as the SM48
- None of its three retail versions are shipped with a windscreen
Bottom Line: We said it before and we’ll say it again: you can’t go wrong with SM58. This model is the ultimate dynamic microphone available in the market, though it may be pricey, it is worth every penny.
This is it. The wait is over. We’ll unveil the obvious winner: SM58!
Though some may have predicted this decision, others may question the judgment based on the fact that this model costs almost twice as much as the SM48. The price difference, though huge, is worth it. For starters, the SM58 does sound better whether people can tell the difference or not. The microphone is also lighter but just as sturdy, and offers louder sounds in comparison. The SM58 is also much more sensitive to voice input, making it superior to the SM48.
Don’t get us wrong, the SM48 is an amazing product but it is humbled by the features of SM58. If you can afford to buy the latter, go for it, no questions asked. In either case, you will get something worth your money that will last for years and perform with flawless perfection. We tested each in great detail and were equally impressed by the quality and features afforded by their price tags.
Last update on 2021-02-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API