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Is the SM58 really unbreakable?

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by Brewdork, Nov 13, 2009.

  1. Brewdork

    Brewdork Active Member

    Sep 14, 2009
    I record a small group live in my basement and use a shure sm58 for lead vocals. I've noticed that it's not nearly as "loud" as other dynamics I use...meaning, I have to turn the gain and trim up (and then get clipping when things rock) to get it to come through near 0.

    The question is...can the sm58 break, get old, wear out, etc? I bought my lead one used and it shows lots of wear, can it be damaged enough to be less "powerful"? How would I tell if something is wrong with my 58?

  2. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member

    Jan 4, 2007
    The SM58 has a power level over 9000. That being said, it can still break, as can anything. But it may just not be that loud. When I played with a couple of kids we used one and it did come through really quiet. Granted, the entire steel mesh around the thing was smashed in. In other words, I'm not very helpful!
  3. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Moderator Resource Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    An SM57/SM58 is really hard to break. It can be done. However...

    I have been in sound crews that dropped 57's into the bells of tenor and bari saxophones and at the end of the night just picked them out cord and all-dripping condensation-and hung them on the wall to dry out. Next night, same routine. Very rugged and reliable.

    I'm sure this vid was posted before but here it is again.

  4. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    If its not outputting then it needs cleaning. Dont try this at home.
  5. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Moderator Resource Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    They are not unbreakable, but ridiculously close. I've repaired several that have been hammered into the floor when a mic stand tips over. The capsule survives, but the fine internal wiring can break when the capsule travels too far in it's rubber shockmount. Or rarely, the transformer gets dislodged and breaks a wire. I've seen the foam inside the windscreen deteriorate from old-age, but I think I've only ever seen one bad diaphragm.

    My SM58 anecdote:
    Our lead singer dropped his in the snow somewhere between the practice room and the truck in November. We found it 4 months later stomped into the mud after the snow melted in March. 18 years later that mic still works. A little rust around the grill, but still sounds A-Ok.
  6. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Distinguished Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    A 58 does need a little juice to get it going, but that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with your particular mic. Just to be clear, what unit are you using to amplify it? It could be that this unit doesn't have a lot of gain power, and if it truly bothers you then you might want to look into a preamp with a little more oomph.
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Distinguished Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    You should borrow another one and A/B them. I've never broken any of the dozen I've owned or been in charge of at the church over the last ten years. Many have been dropped and have dented windscreens, but I don't think there is any audible difference. Long ago I saw some that had broken wires (as dvdhawk says) but I don't really any with degraded sound - intermittent or off, but not degraded.

    They are not the hottest mic in the world, but most mixer preamps have plenty of juice for them. What other dynamics are you comparing them to? How high are putting the trim?
  8. Link555

    Link555 Distinguished Member

    Mar 31, 2007
    North Vancouver
    I have had only one SM57 die on me in the 20+ years of doing this. It died it a very odd way, it was a babied mic, like all my mics, however one day it just stoped working. No output at all. I though a wire had broken, but after I opened her up I found the capsule was dead as door nail. Very odd.
  9. MadTiger3000

    MadTiger3000 Active Member

    Nov 16, 2004
    Died of neglect.
  10. stealthy

    stealthy Guest

    That video posted is great, as is the part 2 of it when they bury it in the ground for a year and its still fine. theres also one from shure headquarters where they drop it from 7 stories and its ok!

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