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Shure SM57 vs. Heil PR20 on Heavy Guitars

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Guitarfreak, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Both are very good mics that anyone should be able to achieve good sound with. The SM57 is a classic and many classic and modern guitar tracks have been recorded with them. The Heil PR20 is a different sound and sounds more balanced to my ear. Fuller on the low end, easier on the brightness, but one drawback is that it seems a little busy in the mids. Little EQ to fix this, not a big deal. I composed a very quick clip which I hope shows off each mics best characteristics.

    SoundClick artist: Discordant Conformity - page with MP3 music downloads
    SoundClick artist: Discordant Conformity - page with MP3 music downloads
  2. AToE

    AToE Active Member

    Thanks for the comparison, those both had the same gain settings? I thought the PR20 seemed brighter than the 57, which sounded a little more rolled off in the highs. It was tricky to be objective though, because the PR20 was simply louder, which throws my hearing for a bit of a loop!
  3. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    The PR clip may be a tad louder, but I think I got it to within a .5dB of similar level with the 57. Any further loudness is perceived due to the differences in EQ curves. The PR20 forced me to back off on the preamp gain (interface) a fairly good amount, but the levels still had to be equalized after tracking. Thanks for listening.
  4. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    You do realize when you close the preamp gain you start limit the bandwidth unless you're using really high voltage gear?

    So anyone who wants to disagree, understand that I'm coming from the example of the water hose. The smaller the diameter the higher the pressure but the lower the flow in GPM's.

    The reason I say this is the 57 had the 57 sound to it. Unmistakable... as regular as rain. No issues. No problemo. I thought the PR20 was a bit thinner in the low mids. Maybe a tad 'cleaner' or maybe 'clearer'....but not as rocking. The chugs had bigger cahones and the last section was still quite articulate.

    I could see this mic being a better vocal mic than a 57.

    I'm not saying it didnt sound good, it does and is quite usable. In a head on my choice is still the 57.
  5. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    I haven't heard that. Does that mean that the gain knob is acting as a voltage divider?
  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    No No...its much simpler than that. The less signal you are able to let through the less tone support will be in that signal. Electrically this cant be proven....audibly there is no doubt.

    I always try and get as much signal from the mics into the preamps as is possible. I limit the amount going to the recorder through the gain on the channel sliders, but the channel input should be as open as you can control. Also the less things in the path, the better the signal to tape.....Yeah, I know its not tape, but 30 years of saying 'tape' makes it hard to change.....
  7. MrEase

    MrEase Active Member


    I'm not sure what you are saying here but there is plenty that can be "electrically proven". Electronically speaking, bandwidth depends on how the gain adjustment is made. If the gain is adjusted with a simple pot then there should be no effect on the bandwidth (unless the pot is unbuffered and driving a large capacitance c.f. a guitar pickup into a long lead). If the gain is adjusted via a feedback path, then the bandwidth will actually increase as gain is reduced.

    It occurs to me that the effect you have noted from experience is the result of a very specific set up and therefore should not be taken as the general case. It would be a mistake to generalise a specific case such as the guitar example above into a "rule".
  8. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Everyone knows there are no rules....only cause and effect......

    I believe I stated a general use type of point .....with high-end high voltage gear this phenomenom is nill.....with mid-level and lower gear it is quite easily demonstrated. I have no idea of the technical part of it, but what I AM talking about I have heard for years and know it to be true. When you have a loud amplified guitar (or other instrument but for here a guitar is a great example) and you put a mic on it chances are you will attempt to use the input sensitivity to pad down this input to a manageable level to capture the sound. As you decrease the input level to your pre, there is a noticable reduction in the width, depth and overall response of the sound when compared with standing in the room listening to it. A lot of the harmonics tend to disappear and the sound becomes dull and lifeless. It has the correct volume for the purpose of recording it, but it isnt as good and emcompassing a sound as it could be.

    My point is all about gain-staging and I am trying to use this as an example of an approach to a better capture for those with less than pristine gear to work with.

    Leaving the mic pre sensitivity as open as possible and using the channel slider to control the gain to the recorder results in a more 'complete' sound than not doing so.

    Thus the 'water hose' imagery.

    And whether you like it or not is simply a matter of dissemination of imagery. No one ever said anything about a rule. I realize you are far advanced in the electrical theory and technical side of things but sometimes its not about these things and right isnt always right especially in recording rock guitars.

    BTW. I have very accurate monitors and my ears still havent lost their touch.
  9. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    Keep in mind that as you increase the RMS level the dynamic response of the microphone becomes compressed, which sonically translates to a reduction of upper frequencies. The same happens with your ears, which is part of the reason music sounds good when played loud... natural compression tends to add punch.
  10. MrEase

    MrEase Active Member


    First I want to make it perfectly clear that I'm not disputing what you have found with experience! What I was trying to say was I did not understand your "imagery" and your point about "bandwidth".

    Having read your posts through it strikes me that what you are saying is that with poor gain staging the signal will start to lose dynamics rather than bandwidth. Have I got that right?

    The imagery with the water hose also confused me as the image it pulled up for me was the opposite of what I think you were trying to say. Let me explain myself. The analogy with water pressure is voltage and current is analogous to water flow. Although you said high voltage high quality design is the "tops", it appeared to me that you were indicating a low current flow would lose the signals dynamics. This is why I expressed confusion about what you were saying.

    Having said that I would also re-inforce what you have said about correct gain staging.

    I will also confess to getting very nervous (as I find any Subjective v Objective debate is doomed to disagreement)when anyone makes a statement like this -

    as that is quite the opposite of my own experience. In the case of gain staging I would say that the differences with poor gain staging are very definitely measurable from the optimum settings.

    So in the end I agree with the points you were making but I found your terminology and "imagery" to be confusing. Nothing more than that. I know that what you had in mind was crystal clear to you but it just didn't come over to me without your further explanation.
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

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