Not only are SM 58s common, they are praised as ‘industry standard’. But does that mean that the contemporary gigging singer must own one?
Kevin Alexander, former CEO of TC-Helicon & VP of Business Management at TC Group offers an answer:
Don’t get caught in the trap of hearing someone singing and sounding fantastic and deciding you’ve got to get that mic.
That mic will only help your sound if you have a similar technique, range, and tonality to your voice.
Where you sing, what you sing, how your sing — and your personal preferences for the “feel” of that piece of metal in your hand — will all play a part in your decision.
Of course, the SM 58 became popular because it’s a good mic, but it’s definitely not the mic for everyone.
Many singers swear to having achieved their desired sounds in live performance with different mics.
Did You Know About the Beta 58?
One thing to watch for is that many microphone manufactures have multiple versions of similar microphones.
For example, many know the SM 58, but fewer people know about the Beta 58. Sennheiser has the popular e835, but there is also the e840, and e935.
These mics have very different tonalities and isolation properties, but they look almost identical, so make sure you know the specific one that works well with your voice.
One of the most important things for a live performance is how much feedback rejection you want.
If you’ve got a lot of stage noise, then there’s the potential of that noise getting into your mic and causing a nasty feedback loop. An SM 58 isn’t brilliant at rejecting feedback; a Beta 58 is better.
On the other hand, this issue may not matter if your stage noise is low due to everyone in your group using in-ear monitors or if you are in a relatively quiet jazz trio.
Personal Feelings Play a Part
Then, there are your personal feelings. How does the mic feel in your hands?
Some singers like a heavier mic; some like a lighter mic. Some vocalists who sing close to the mic do not like the mesh to be rounded and prefer a flat mesh.
Some singers like the tapered design of the 58, but other singers want a place where their hand naturally rests.
Some mics even have an indented area for your hand. Some microphones offer on-off switches.
Sennheiser and TC-Helicon both have technologies that allow you to control effect devices from your microphone.
Whatever the case, your feelings about the mic are important when you are up on stage and there’s nothing between your mouth and your fans except the mic you’ve chosen.