How to make a fake SM57 sound good (video)

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by pcrecord, Jun 17, 2017.

  1. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Hi guys and girls,
    I just finished my video about a fake sm57 from wish.com
    I was very surprised of what I discovered while doing it.

    Who never thought what if when seeing an add for a sm57 under 30$ ??

    Let me know what you thing, about the results, the video and production.

    Thanks !

     
    Smashh likes this.
  2. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    Well done as always, Marco!

    Your videos set the bar VERY high indeed.
    Useful information that's well presented, good light, good video, good audio, and enough text to make the comparisons very clear.

    Cheers!
     
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  3. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    I love your video, Marco. The fake sounds so thin in comparison. Huge difference. Thanks for doing that.

    Hey... would you be interested in doing a shootout with the RODE M1 vs Shure SM58? If so, PM me with your mailing info and I will send you a new M1 and you can keep it.
     
  4. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Did you get that the fake was very thin on low impedance settings but gets beefed up on high impedance ? (high impedance part on snare starts at 3:54)
    I should have done it with the guitar but I was done with that part when I discovered the difference in sound and volume due to impedance changes.

    I can post an audio sample of the differences with the guitar if you want ;)

    As for the noise.. I think it is due to the transformer quality. I may do another video if I find a transformer replacement...
     
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  5. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    I'm left a bit underwhelmed really. The 57 has never really been excellent at anything, just rather good on most things - so in it's tonal characteristics, it responds well to EQ, and is a solid, dependable dynamic. Altering the input channels impedance always results in different tonal shifts. Dynamics vary quite a bit in how they respond to the impact of the padding lower impedance inputs present to the mic. I have to say that I preferred the sound of the fake on the snare - sounded more 60s/70s. I'm not certain either sound was good on the guitar. Distorted 1st position open chords always sound a bit weedy, and while the mics both sounded different - I really didn't like either.

    Cheap 57s are just cheap dynamics - and I'm not quite sure on this one - two mics, two different sounds, but pretty much what I expected. I don't quite get what it was you were surprised by? What about EQ - the title is how to make a fake 57 sound good. The video seemed to just show that they were not the same, and I was waiting for you to say if you give the mic 3dB gain at just under 5K, they start to get similar, but you have to roll off the frequencies above 10K as it's a bit bright, and maybe boost the bottom at around 120Hz to add back some of the warmth it lacks compared to the 57. How about polar response - my experience with some of the cheap dynamics is that on guitar cabs they need to be more towards the centre than real 57s to sound similar. Some also have very weird cardioid patterns, making them more sensitive to off axis sounds.

    I've got a fake one somewhere - and if you have discovered a simple way to make it sound better - I was hopeful.
     
  6. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    I intend to do a part 2 and maybe 3. I'll surely work with EQ and comp then... but honestly, I wasn't trying to invent anything. But just use the tools I have to make it usable. I'm sure you are more than capable of investigating possible ways to make yours sound ok too.

    What I was surprised about is that the genuine 57 didn't change much in volume and frequencies when changing the impedance 3-5db. But on the fake one, the difference was huge 14-16db.
    At 600 ohms the fake had more high frequencies and was thin in the lows which made the shure sound dark
    But on high impedance it became darker than the one made by shure..

    I may not have been precise enough in the video but the first find is that on loud sources and high impedance, the fake sm57 is actually usable. Which I highly doubted when I started filming.

    I'm looking to find a replacement for the transformer.. I think the noise and frequency/volume drift may come from there. Any help there is appreciated !

    Thanks for the comments @paulears . I like the suggestion about the polar response and will use it in the next part.
     
  7. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    Gotcha - I did a festival last year where the PSA company were having real issues with their Beta 58s and they were real trouble with the monitors and feedback was very touchy - we had our set of old and fairly battered Beta 58s and swapped theirs for ours and the problems vanished - turned out their entire brand new batch of 58s were counterfeit.
     
  8. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    A very interesting video, Marco. Your results from comparing a genuine SM57 with a knock-off unwittingly show up some of the hidden ways that corners are cut in the copies.

    The increased sensitivity to load impedance is a sign that thinner gauge wire has been used in either the transducer coil, the transformer, or both, resulting in a microphone that has a considerably higher output impedance. I suspect that, assuming a transformer is actually used in the knock-off product, its turns ratio is increased from that in the genuine article. This would probably be to compensate for a lower e.m.f. due to reduced field strength in the permanent magnet, as making high-strength magnets is a comparatively expensive business.

    The fall-off at low frequencies when driving a lower impedance load would indicate that a transformer is used, but that the transformer itself is made from sub-standard magnetic materials that cannot maintain flux densities at lower frequencies. Although the resulting effect is similar to that of driving a piezo guitar pickup into too low a load impedance, the cause is quite different.

    A great piece of work - thank you, Marco.
     
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  9. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    OMG Boswell, I'm so glad you confirm my suspicions. Do you know where I could buy the same transformer Shure uses or a close replacement or even a better one (at a reasonnable price of course).. This is a test that I'd like to do.. What if it sounds a lot better after the swap ?? Just clearing up the noises would be a good demonstration !
     
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  10. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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  11. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    Full Compass is one of the most well-stock vendors you'll find for genuine parts, from a great number of manufacturers.
    (Amp modules for powered speakers, replacement horn diaphragms, battery compartment covers, headphone cables and earpads, you name it) and yes, authentic SM57 transformers.

    They're an excellent company to deal with all around - highly recommended!
     
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  12. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Thanks ! I think I'll order two, the price is very low.. The transformer that goes into a T47 (microphone-parts.com) is a lot more expensive ! ;)
     
  13. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    And to go one step further upstream, Shure is also one of the best manufacturers to deal with, when it comes to providing a comprehensive selection of parts to their dealers.

    A lot of others brands are either in denial that their products ever break, or can barely manage their supply-chain well enough to build new products - much less stock spare parts.

    I look forward to your next experiment!
     
  14. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    Yes, that is likely to be the transformer for a Shure 57 or 58. However, I really don't think that fitting one of those to a knock-off would turn a counterfeit microphone into one that sounds like the genuine article.

    My experience with people handing me poorly-performing microphones asking what the problem with them could be is that it is the whole of the inferior microphone that contributes to its sound. These fakes should be thrown in the rubbish bin and, apart from publicising the need for vigilance, no further effort or money should be spent on them. Your excellent video, Marco, comes under the heading of very worthwhile publicity.
     
  15. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Thanks for your advice Boswell. I don't think the fake sm57 will ever sound like a genuine one unless I change all the parts which will make it cost a lot more than buying one from shure.
    As it is now my wish.com fake sounds usable when used with the right impedance, but it still has a lot of noises when recording low level sources.
    If by any chance the 11$USD transformer can get rid of some of the noises, I'd be glad to expose that to my viewers (not that I pretend having many.. lol)
    I'm already preparing a part 2 which will go deeper in the impedance effects and introduce EQs as suggested by Paulears.
    Even if the mic goes to the garbage at the end, it's a very fun thing to do !! :)
     
  16. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    What was it, by curiosity ?
    I decided to monetise my videos in hope to get a bit of $$ for future tests like the one I'm doing now...
    Youtube have complex algorithm to push adds, it could be based on the current video or browsing habits.
    Do you find that offensive or disturbing ?
     
  17. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    If you are asking whether making a few $$ by putting this sort of video on YouTube, then no, I wouldn't find it offensive or disturbing. The word about fake microphones needs to be put about a lot more, so I wish you all the best in your YT endeavour.
     
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  18. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Big fail !! I tried to order from Full compass but they deliver only in USA... :(
     
  19. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    That's a bit surprising, for a major seller in the Great Lakes Region.

    At least now you have a Shure Part#. Any Shure dealer in Canada should be willing / able to order it for you.
     
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  20. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Ordered 2 from a friend who have a store nearby.. 18$ each CAD + taxes.
    Can't wait to try this mod (if we can call it that !) eh eh
     
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