Getting a SM57 to sound good.

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Jeba, Apr 22, 2012.

  1. Jeba

    Jeba Member

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    Hi, a couple of months ago I bought a Shure SM57 because of all the good reviews and suggestions. But I kind of find the sound low quality for some reason. Other people on youtube seem to have managed to get great results with this microphone but for me I actually think it sounds like sh*t.
    I have got some decent sounds with it a couple of times but it is really hard.
    I use a Gibson SG 61' Reissue in to a Jet City 2112RC and have placed the mike right in front of it, off axis, on the edge and so on but it just sounds bad. Heavier sound seems to be the worst to record.
    Anyone with experience on how to make a quality recording with these?
    Help would be much appreciated, Thanks.
    Jerry
     
  2. dbb

    dbb Well-Known Member

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    SM57/8's are industry standard dynamic mikes, used live and in the studio.

    For studio guitar miking, you need to experiment a lot. First, try placing the mike straight on but NOT at the middle of the speaker cone. Try it between to center and edge.

    Also try adding a little bit more distance to the mike from the speaker; another trick is to use both a mike on the cabinet and a DI or line out and mix the sounds.

    Another trick, dating at least back to Jimmy Page, is to use 2 mikes, one dynamic like yours close to the amp, and another ribbon or large diaphragm condenser much further from the amp, and mix them for a "big" sound.

    If you search the net you'll find many articles on amp miking techniques.
     
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  3. Jeba

    Jeba Member

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    Ok thank you, I will try adding some distance to the amp tomorrow too.
    Also, I've got this Alesis IO2 Express that I've got the mike hooked up too, and there's this gain knob on it, is this knob like meant to be used all the time? I have tried using it but it seems the sound just gets distorted by it?
    I have no recording experience at ALL so I hope someone could clear this up for me :)
     
  4. Tony M

    Tony M Well-Known Member

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    Off center, off axis and not right up against the grille. Maybe 3-5 inches away.
    I find that this works best with amplifiers loaded with Celestions or Jensen Alnicos.
    For EV loaded amplifiers I use a Sennhieser E-609 and hang it from the cable
    off center on axis right up against the grille.

    Off center meaning about halfway between the center and the edge of the speaker.
    Off axis being always facing away from the drum kit.

    This applies to amplifiers on large stages in large venues.
    In a studio you have to experement.
     
  5. dbb

    dbb Well-Known Member

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    better advice...thanks
    but I don't have a Sennheiser in my tiny mike locker.

    and I did mean that after you try several distances from the speaker, try different angles for tonal variety. heck, Tony said it better.
     
  6. Jeba

    Jeba Member

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    Thank you for answering, guess I'll just have to keep messing around with the placement. Maybe it's the amp that doesn't like being recorded. I don't like the sound of my amp when I'm standing to the side of it, it sounds muffled and rattly/boxy. When it's right in front of me it sounds great though, and that's usually where you have your mike so I don't know.
     
  7. smitty_p

    smitty_p Well-Known Member

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    I would definitely try Tony_M's advice, especially the part about pulling the mic back a few inches. If you do some searches on guitar amp mic'ing techniques, you'll see this is often done, as well as the two mic technique dbb mentioned. I'll just say, I've used an SM57 for years and like it, though that has been only for PA use, not recording.

    Sometimes, you'll run into people who, due to the proximity effect and something called the inverse square law, want to push the mic tight against the grill cloth. However, your speaker accentuates different tonalities at different parts of the cone. It varies from edge to center. When you are standing back from the speaker the sound emanating from the speaker has time to "come together." If your mic is tight to the speaker, it is missing the rest of the sound.

    Also, keep in mind a microphone is an artificial, electro-mechanical ear. It won't hear the same way your ears do. Its important to set your rig to what you want to hear from the PA or recording, not just the amp itself.

    As an example, I read an account of how Yngwie Malmsteen sets up his system at his house. Unfortunately, I can't find the link to post it. However, as the article went, in his practice room he has his guitar, effects, and amp head. The cabinent is actually in another, sound proofed room, and is fed by the head. The cabinet is mic'ed and feeds to a PA and recording system back in his practice room. This way, he can set his rig to match the sound the audience will hear coming from a PA system. This also serves as a useful feed for recording. The point is, he is building his sound to sound good as a PA feed and recording. He's not listening to just the cabinet, itself.
     
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  8. oldrockfan

    oldrockfan Well-Known Member

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    if you mess around with mic placement and nothing seems to help... you might want to check your mic to see if by chance you got one of the fakes that are circulating around. There were a ton of them coming up on ebay a while back and I've seen cycles of them showing up on craigs list too. The giveaway is when they list them as new for a price about half of what a real SM57 would cost. You know what they say about something being too good to be true? THe fakes look almost like a perfect match on the surface but open them up and the insides are cheapo china junk. If you search the web, you can see pics that show the differences.

    Re the SM57, I think it is a fantastic instrument mic and the real ones are super durable. I love both the SM57 and SM58 mics.
     
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  9. dbb

    dbb Well-Known Member

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    orf, great comment - I had no idea that there were fakes of these mikes. I should figure there are fakes of almost anything, so why be surprised?

    A good SM57/8 should be able to hammer a loose nail in the stage, get swung over Daltrey's head, and still sound fine.

    The other thing is maybe the mike is a real Shure, but is damaged. Rare, but it happens. Mostly I have Shure mikes that still work after over 30 years of abuse.
     
  10. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    yeah, I'll echo ORF's idea... if you're using a Shure SM 57 and it doesn't sound accurate, maybe it's a fake. you might google 'Fake Shure SM 57s" and see how to tell. Once you
    know yours is a real one and not damaged, then you can try these great suggestions.
     
  11. sgtbeefheart

    sgtbeefheart Well-Known Member

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    This may be some help.

    If you watch on youtube, there are links to check
    if your SM57 is fake, but be careful, mine contradicts
    a lot of what is said.

    I think it's an older model, and the fakes are more like those.

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwprXHyYH6g&feature=related]Recording Clean Electric Guitar SHURE SM57 Basic Mic Placement Guide - YouTube[/ame]
     
  12. Jeba

    Jeba Member

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    Hi again, my Shure is not a fake one. I did research on all this before i bought it (from a reliable place) and have also checked after i got it.
    BTW anyone with a Jet City amp/amp with eminence speaker that would like to share how they record?

    Here is a video of me with the Jet City with the Shure SM57 off axis as close as possible to the amp.
    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6brrfT7xLOo&feature=relmfu[/ame]
    The "bad" quality sound is most noticable during the solos. It's like there were some weird noise when the strings are plucked, it's hard to define.
    And overall I think it lacks clarity too.
     
  13. oldrockfan

    oldrockfan Well-Known Member

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    sadly, the chinese fakers are getting better and better all the time. This vid will show you just how close to the real mic they can look now. The one thing the fakes can't get right is the sound however. Fake shure mics sound crappy and it is a dead giveaway once you hear them both side by side.

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Vd2QUN3_nk&feature=related]Spot a fake SHURE SM57 - Feb. 2012 - YouTube[/ame]
     
  14. smitty_p

    smitty_p Well-Known Member

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    oldrockfan, thanks very much for posting this info. I had no idea the SM57 and SM58 were being faked. My SM57 is undoubtedly genuine and sounds great. But, its good to be aware of the shysters out there. You may have saved some some folks on this forum who were looking for really good deal a lot of headaches and money.
     
  15. smitty_p

    smitty_p Well-Known Member

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    It is possible that you just may have gotten a bad mic. Shure SM-57's are very good, but as with all manufactured items, sometimes a bad one gets through. How does it sound for vocals? Do you have access to another one to test and compare to yours?
     
  16. Jeba

    Jeba Member

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    Well that video proves mine is not fake.
    Btw, what is your opinion on the sound quality of my amp in the video?
     
  17. oldrockfan

    oldrockfan Well-Known Member

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    Hey Jeba, love the song and thought your guitar playing was good. As for the amp... not bad tone but I am a marshall fan on ac/dc stuff so that amp didn't quite capture the tone I am used to for ac/dc.

    re mic placement I usually keep things really simple with the 3/3/30 setting. Three inches away from the amp, 3 inches off center and about a thirty degree angle up so the mic isn't pointing straight at the speaker. Might want to try that and see if it does better or worse. Also remember that youtube is horrible about not reproducing sounds well on guitar amps so don't get too disappointed if the vid doesn't sound like live. Just the nature of youtube with all the compression they use.
    Keep On Rockin!
     
  18. Jeba

    Jeba Member

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    Thanks, the amp can do some old school AC/DC sound pretty well irl, atleast when playing directly in front of it, It's just damn hard getting it recorded ;)
    I will try out your technique, thank you for all your help :thumb:
     
  19. Greg Connor

    Greg Connor Well-Known Member

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    Jeba,
    I enjoyed your playing in the video. You can really make that SG sing.

    I thought it sounded great, no tonal issues at all.
     
  20. CATMANDUE

    CATMANDUE Well-Known Member

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    I have a real SM57 and SM58. I did not get them on ebay. I was comparing notes with my SM57 on that video. That Canadian dude did a great job pointing out the differences. He said the Chinese one was louder but harsher sounding. I've used Sure stuff since the early 80s and really appreciate the quality.
     

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