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SM57 vs. Audix i5

I know most consider the 57 industry standard, and a good go-to mic, but put popularity and all that aside. I want to know what you think of each of them and more importantly WHY.


EDIT: industry standard and go-to mic for Micing guitar amps and snare drums. Just so I don't get flamed for making a blanket statement. :p


Davedog Mon, 03/02/2009 - 11:14

I own both. Several SM57's the newest one being about 12 years old and oldest being almost as old as they can get. I also have an i5 and since we're talking similar mics with similar uses, you might as well throw in the Audix D1 and the Beyer 201.

An argument cannot be accurately made for the use of one vs. the other without hearing the source in person and then being able to assess the need for choice.

You learn this through experience.

They are different in so many subtle ways.

Yet they are similar in as many ways.

Currently, I will put up the i5 on a rock snare that I want a bit more snap out of. If I want a bit heavier snare the 57 goes on top due to its rise in the mids. If I'm recording a natural sounding snare, the D1 or the 201 goes on. If I'm using two snare mics the D1 always goes on the bottom due to its rejection of signal from the sides and the null. It keeps the kick out of the mic in this position better than all the others.

I will use a 57 where I wouldnt use the i5. I dont like the i5 on electric guitars all that much. I have a very very old UnidyneIII that I use for this and this is ALL I use this particular mic on. I like 57's on guitar cabinets. I also use a variety of condensers in conjunction with the 57. There are things in the overall frequency range that the 57 just wont do. Vice-versa for ALL other mics. They dont do what the 57 does. At least not as definately.

This doesnt address the why necessarily. The 'why' for me is how they sound with particular instruments, in particular locations, for particular styles in my particular room.

WHY do i do this? Because I know how.

RemyRAD Mon, 03/02/2009 - 13:11

I like the sound of their D6 bass drum microphone and that's about all. I don't consider anything better than a SM57. It just compares too favorably to anything else you put it next to. Better is only better if you perceive it as better, not because some specifications tell you it's better.

I like consistency with certain things and therefore, generally prefer SM57's on most anything. I really don't like microphones with hyped high frequency response. Of course, my recording & mixing is not as bright sounding as others make theirs sound. That's not the sound I go for. More high frequency response doesn't necessarily make anything better, unless you're losing your hearing. So many have. And it really depends upon the musical genre how you approach your recordings & mixing. If you're going for that extra high-frequency airy like recordings, you're going to want a hyped high end. Old-fashioned rock-and-roll? You'll want that fatter analog 70's sound which doesn't come from hyped high frequency response. Orchestral recordings generally won't tolerate recordings made from dynamic microphones. But even that was a common practice back in the day since plenty were made with Electro-Voice RE-15's in XY. In fact I have even proved to folks that utilizing dynamic microphones such as SM57's actually sound better on Gospel choirs than anybody's deluxe condenser microphones. This is particularly important with rock-and-roll Gospel as the tighter directional patterns along with the bandwidth limitations do more in the rejection of loud drums, than trying to utilize condenser microphones on the choir. Try it, you'll like it. I had to teach this to teachers of the second-largest independent recording school in the country. I've not been impressed with the AUDIX line of microphones enough to really want any. I remember when all of the late-night TV shows were converting over to those. I couldn't figure out why? And now, what do you see again mostly on late-night TV shows? SM58 which are 57's with extra pop proofing. I mean we can all learn to sleep in chairs or standing up, but why? I don't see any need for that. What? To keep blood from pooling inside your head? Not a good enough reason for me I don't care what the test data shows. Now to figure out how to develop a mixing console that you can use in bed?

I'm not getting out of bed today. Too much snow.
Ms. Remy Ann Hibernating

Jeremy Mon, 03/02/2009 - 13:30

Yeah Remy I hear you folks got 14" of the white stuff.

I used to run live shows from my basement, and the Audix OM line was better suited for me because of the feedback rejection. With the majority of the walls in the basement unfinished, the exposed to cinder block made the drums much louder than they were actually being played. It was easier for me to get the crank the vocals to sit in the mix better. Its really situational. Do you like red or green apples?

Jeremy Mon, 03/02/2009 - 16:17

Steve Albini records his drums in an all stone room with huge ceilings. He gets HUGE drum sounds. I on the other hand have neighbors. Granted Im the only house in a coldesac, and have plenty of room between houses. It will help lower the volume of the kit..yes...but to what extent? I found my roll up garage door to be the weakest point, and bough 2" thick foam to insert in the holes on the back of the door. The used some Auralax foam where I could. It helps, it all helped.

anonymous Tue, 03/03/2009 - 02:42

:twisted: Just because, I thought I'd throw this in....While I am a fan of Audix(Because I record a lot of Metal music and the brighter edge makes my work easier)...for tracking rock guitar cabinets...and I did say rock...I prefer the Sennheiser (don't know how to spell it!) gives excellent background rejection, very good low end response, and has a fat...sort-of-kinda sm57 ish warmth to the mids without the loss of detail you suffer through with the 57's. Don't get me wrong...I do love the "standard-ness" I guess you'd call it, of the 57's...I just think that if you want to be versatile, like we HAVE to be in my humble little studio, it pays to have an assortment of sounds available! Besides, nothing in the studio looks more "COOL" than a well stocked mic locker!!!

anonymous Tue, 03/03/2009 - 02:52

Oh, and I almost forgot, well, actually, I did forget...while thousands of recordings and live performances can certainly attest to the quality of Shure's Sm line...I really have become a fan of the Beta series by Shure...If you like and sm57 on drums...try a beta56 and see what you think. I just absolutely love the very similar response but with much tighter pickup pattern...same with beta 58's and 57's. Shure knew they HAD to update their sound and they did a helluva good job with the beta series, at least in my opinion. Only problem is that their price on the beta series puts them at a competitive disadvantage. Also, I'm from Flint Michigan and we are a little sensitive about loss of jobs to foreign powers, Audix is "MOSTLY" U.S. made....go Audix!!!
P.S. ....I know, I know, so why, If I'm soooo sensitive did I recommend Sennheiser...well it's 5am here and I haven't had my breakfast yet!!! That's my story and I'm sticking to it :mrgreen:

BobRogers Sun, 03/08/2009 - 14:40

kheftel wrote: I have heard that Audix made the i5 by recording a snare drum with an SM57, then getting top engineers to EQ the recordings to their liking. They then averaged the resulting EQ curves somehow and built it into the i5. Is this true?

Would you hire an engineer who didn't look at the response of a 57 when designing a snare mic?

BobRogers Sun, 03/08/2009 - 17:49

Well, if I was in charge of Audix and was trying to make the best snare mic, that's what I'd have my engineers do. But, more importantly from our point of view, that's what I'd have my marketing people tell everyone my engineers did even if they came up with the design in a drunken flash of brilliance. Bottom line is that we should evaluate the final product without being influenced with how it was achieved (and especially by how we are told it was achieved). (How things are engineered is interesting, of course. But it's best to ignore that info when evaluating the product.)

anonymous Sun, 03/08/2009 - 18:47

Hear-hear Davedog...I completely agree...unless you live in the Arctic tundra or some rain forest location...get off thy buttocks...walk to your local music store and maybe take your fave' snare with you...give the mics in question a listen....then call me a Modern Music LLC 810-60-music...and I will order them for you!!Ha! Ha! ....seriously though!

Guitarfreak Sun, 03/08/2009 - 20:30

Honestly it's the only mic I have at this point. It does the job decently well. Definitely not KMart material, but whether or not it is recording quality is up to your ears. I just don't like it on vocals. Then again I'm not much of a singer in the first place so I doubt a different mic would help me there :D

Guitarfreak Wed, 03/11/2009 - 10:29

Since the i5 was made as an in-between of the 57 and 58 in the sense that it's trying to be an all-rounder for amps, snare, and voice (because of the slight pop shielding)... Would it be a good/bad idea to take off the pop filtering when recording guitar amps? In my head it would sound more like a 57 in theory, but when I take the head off it doesn't look like something I want unprotected in front of a rumbling speaker.

Any thoughts/past experiences/wisdom on the matter?

Davedog Wed, 03/11/2009 - 11:27

Just use it as it was intended to be used.

This concept of unscrewing pop-filters and such is just malarky and is predicated on a bunch of bullwash coming through the the Tube Of MisInformation called the internet.

The i5 of itself is a fine sounding mic. If you cant get a decent sound with it, then you need to search elsewhere in your chain or your skill level for the problem.

Guitarfreak Wed, 03/11/2009 - 12:08

Lol, that's basically the response I expected. BTW there is an MP3 file on my computer of an actual band that I'd like to present to the forum, but I don't know of a good method to do that. I DON'T want to upload it to my myspace. How do the people on this site post links directly to the song. Let's say I can't find this particular version of the song on a website (it's a rare demo). How can I do this?

Forgive me I'm an InterNoob. v_v

Codemonkey Wed, 03/11/2009 - 14:26

Some of these require registration, some of them might not work, they're off the top of my head.
Basically just slap your mp3 onto the folder and BOOM sorted. (not the best choice actually, but a great service) (good idea) (a little heavyweight and complex i think)
http:// (also a good idea) (128kbps mp3 of your work, with band profile)



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