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So many newcomers real about SM7Bs and the need for Cloudlifters or other preamps and get told yes, essential, or no, not needed. The trouble is you cannot say yes or no as a general rule.


I thought it simplest to just record an SM7B at various distances with and without the preamp and let you hear the noise levels. Clearly, you could put one into a superb preamp with great noise figures, but that's not realistic for most people, so my usual video audio chain is a bit odd - and uses the camera audio system to get audio into the system, rather than the interfaces I actually have in the studio but don't use for the videos.

The recording chain has worked really well for me and is a bit odd. The cameras in the studio are JVC 700 series, and have nice enough preamps. Not special, or wonderful - just neutral and have enough gain for most purposes. Normally this is the feed in point, so it goes mic - preamp - camera input - SDI out with embedded audio - Blackmagic ATEM - Blackmagic Hyperdeck - SD card - Adobe Premiere.

In the video - you can hear my voice - normalised, but not treated in any way - with silences so you can listen to the overall noise. My conclusion is pretty straightforward. Use an SM7B at a distance and you NEED a preamp, the noise is just too high otherwise. If you use them lips on the foam, or close to the foam, then you probably don't need one. If you are singing and not talking, then s/n will be even better.


RickyLou Thu, 04/20/2023 - 19:28

Julien Krause found similar results in his testing of an SM7B/Cloudlifter several years ago.  There are times when it will be needed, but not for everything.