SM48 Vs SM58: The Industry Standard Takes on the Value Champ

  • Time to read: 7 min.
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SM48 Vs SM58

Shure created an industry-standard when they released the SM58 dynamic microphone all the way back in 1966. Since it has remained relatively popular over the years and is built like a tank, don’t be surprised to see at least one or two of these lying around in studios everywhere.

But not everyone is willing to part with the $100 that the SM58 currently retails for. Luckily, Shure has other offerings that cost a little bit less without sacrificing too much in terms of quality. One such example is the $35 SM48.

Reliable All-Rounder. Best Option for Quality

SM58

The SM58 is a versatile and reliable classic that gets the job done no matter the situation.

Whether in a performance or a studio setting, it’s going to be a great performer.

Budget Option with Little Compromise

SM48

The SM48 carries a lot of the qualities of its older, more expensive brother but does so in a significantly less expensive package. With a little practice on your technique, you might be able to bridge the gap between it and the SM58 with just your mic technique.

SM48 VS SM58

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If the SM58 Is Such a Great Overall Mic, Why Consider the SM48?

In today’s world, content is king. However, the audio requirement for different media is not a one-size-fits-all type of deal. For some media, the SM58 might be a bit of an overkill especially considering the price gap and the narrow margin in terms of quality.

Knowing that the similarly spec’d SM48 is significantly cheaper than the SM58, it’s worth considering the less expensive mic if you’re doing projects that won’t be consumed by discerning audiophiles.

What We’re Going to Discuss

For trained ears, there would be a noticeable difference between the two microphones. Is this difference something that should even influence your buying decision? This is what we’re aiming to find out. To do this, we contemplate the following:

  • Is the better frequency range of the SM58 a big deal against the SM48?
  • What are the sacrifices that the SM48 made to bring costs down?
  • Which one is best for what application?

The Specs

First let’s breakdown the technical info for both mics.

Common Features: Build Quality

Perhaps durability is a feature more attributable to the brand than the SM58 and the SM48. Shure’s range of products has this quality in common.

SM58

The SM58’s durability is the stuff of legends. There are countless videos online where people torture tests the microphone. They ran it over a pickup truck, put it in the barbeque, and even tossed it into the ocean. None of them was able to break it.

Other than getting its grille dented after running it over with a pickup truck, the microphone functioned properly after all three tests. Suffice it to say that rock stars won’t be able to destroy it like their guitars.

SM48

While it doesn’t have entire videos dedicated to its durability, SM48 feels similarly built. It’s got the same full metal construction on the handle and the same materials for the grille.

A night out at the karaoke, therefore, should be no problem for this mic even if it’s dropped as it’s being passed around or have beverage spilled on it.

Common Features: Impedance of 150Ω

Cable length is important for vocal microphones so speakers and singers can make the most out of the stage. This makes having a rated impedance of 150Ω is a great feature to have for both of these mics.

SM58

This feature made the SM58 so well-loved by performers. It’s a no-compromise microphone that doesn’t restrict users from moving around. This helps performers really own the stage.

SM48

For such an inexpensive mic, the low impedance on the SM48 is a welcome feature. Longer cables can mean better maneuverability which is great for both stage performances and karaoke sessions.

Common Features: Built-in Pop Filters

Handling plosives is something that these mics handle well because of the built-in pop filters. So, whether you’re speaking or singing, you’re not going to get decent plosive cancellation on both mics.

SM58

Its pop filter works perfectly. P, T, and K sounds shouldn’t sound annoying as they do in cheaper microphones. This makes it a much more user-friendly microphone that most people can use out of the box. Even people with very little experience in using a mic would not suffer from plosive sounds.

SM48

While it comes equipped with its own pop-filter, the SM48 doesn’t handle plosives as great as the SM58. The quality of the pop-filter on the SM48 may be one point where Shure decided to cut costs. If you don’t have a polished mic technique it may be best to use the SM48 with additional wind and pop-filter.

Common Features: Cardioid Polar Pattern

Both of these mics sport a cardioid pickup pattern that focuses on sounds directly in front of them. It’s particularly adept at picking up vocals.

SM58

The cardioid pattern on the SM58 is one of the reasons why it has become such an industry legend. It picks up vocals really well while avoiding sounds coming from the back.

SM48 Differentiating Features

There is almost no feature in which the SM48 does better than the SM58. But, the beautiful thing about it is that it comes so close even if it costs less than half the price of the SM58.

Low Price Point

In the case of the SM48, the price becomes a unique feature that it has over the legendary SM58. It does everything well enough to be discussed in the same league even if their prices are not even close.

SM58 Differentiating Features

The SM58 being pricier than the SM48 should only mean that there are more features packed into the mic. This is exactly the case if you look at the frequency response and output level.

Frequency Response

The SM58 has a frequency response of 50Hz to 15kHz compared to the 50Hz to 14kHz on the SM48. This means that the SM58 picks more frequencies than the SM48.

The difference is not too evident when recording medium pitched voices. However, if you’re faced with having to record people from the opposite sides of the frequency spectrum, you’ll definitely notice that the SM58 handles way better than the SM48. For podcasters who have to interview a wide range of people’s voices, this feature would definitely come in handy.

Output Level

The cardioid polar pattern and pop-filters work so well that both these mics seem relatively quiet. This means that you have to turn up the gain quite a bit especially when recording soft sounds or vocals.

This is especially true for the SM48 that has an output level of –57.5 dBV/Pa. With the SM58’s –54.5 dBV/Pa rating, this is less of a problem.

Pneumatic Shockmount

The SM48 handles well because it has a built-in shock mount. However, the SM58 has one-uped it by having a pneumatic shock mount. This reduces handling noise by quite a bit more compared to the SM48.

SM58 vs SM48: Pros and Cons

Below is a breakdown of the good and the bad of each of these microphones. For a quick overview of the perks and downfalls, read on and you’ll soon have an idea of which mic will work best for you.

Pros of the SM48

  • Less expensive
  • Price to performance ratio is sky high

Cons of SM48

  • Lower frequency response
  • Lower output level
  • Poor handling noise reduction

Pros of the SM58

  • Great overall performer
  • Better frequency
  • Pneumatic shock-mount for better handling noise reduction

Cons of the SM58

  • Costs more than twice as much as the SM48

Final Verdict

The SM58 is an industry-standard for a reason. It’s versatile, reasonably priced, and produces a sound quality that can punch it out with mics from higher price categories.

So, to someone looking for a mic for recording vocals, whether they’re a beginner or an expert, the easy answer is the SM58. Professionals who depend on audio quality should get this mic.

But, if there’s not a lot of cash to spread, the SM48 isn’t a bad choice at all. It’s relatively close in terms of performance with a price gap that doesn’t hurt too much as long as you’re informed of the compromises.

For some professionals such as pod casters and singers, the SM48 may be a good enough performer to get the job done.

Michael Ocejo ( Editor-in-chief )

Michael loves audio production. He especially enjoys the technical aspect of making music sound good! Michael also loves spending time with his friends and family and enjoying parties.

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