The contest between the Shure SM7B and the Electro-Voice RE20 for the ‘King of Podcasting Mics‘ title has been fierce since the early days of content creation.
It’s astounding to consider that both these giants in the world of dynamic microphones launched their initial models nearly 50 years ago. The Shure SM7 debuted in 1973, while the Electro-Voice RE20 made its entrance in 1968.
The choice between these two extremely popular microphones ultimately rests on personal preference; there isn’t a conclusive argument deeming one superior to the other.
However, if you’re torn between these two highly sought-after microphones, this RE20 vs SM7B article aims to highlight the similarities and differences, guiding you toward a more informed purchasing decision.
At a Glance
|Features||Shure SM7B||Electro-Voice RE20|
|Design and Build Quality||Professional-looking and robust||Modern-looking and robust|
|Shock Absorption||Very good||Poor|
|Connection||XLR port on yoke mount||XLR port at the mic’s base|
|Sound Quality||Deep bass, warm tone, clear mids, and tamed high-end||Deep bass, warm tone, crisp and bright high-end|
|Plosive Rejection||Very good||Decent|
|Proximity Effect||Tasteful proximity effect, not overbearing||Very controlled, no muddiness|
|Off-Axis Rejection & Response||Good off-axis rejection, slight coloration in off-axis tone||Good off-axis rejection, no coloration in off-axis tone|
|Sensitivity||Requires at least 60dB of gain. Might require a Cloudlifter||Requires about 50-55dB of gain. Can do without a Cloudlifter|
|Who Are These Mics For?||Podcasters, streamers, vocalists, electric and bass guitar amps, kick drums||Podcasters, streamers, lead vocalists, electric and bass guitar amps, kick drums|
|Product Info||At the page bottom||At the page bottom|
|Features||At the page bottom||At the page bottom|
|Where to Buy?||GET THE SHURE SM7B HERE||GET THE ELECTRO-VOICE RE20 HERE|
Design and Build Quality
In terms of design aesthetics, the Shure SM7B’s iconic cylindrical, all-black elongated design is instantly recognizable. Sleek and classy, it’s featured in videos by many renowned podcasters and YouTubers.
On the other hand, the Electro-Voice RE20, though lesser-known, sports a modern appearance with unique slotted vents along its body. These slotted vents not only enhance its look but are also used in conjunction with its Variable-D design to help mitigate the proximity effect.
Both the Shure SM7B and the Electro-Voice RE20 are known for their robust and durable build quality, designed to last for decades. Weighing in at approximately 1.6 lbs each, they both feature an all-metal body that safeguards the microphone capsule from impacts and shields it from radio and broadband interference.
Additionally, both microphones are equipped with a humbucking coil, providing extra protection against electromagnetic hums.
The mounting options for the Shure SM7B and the Electro-Voice RE20 differ slightly. The Electro-Voice RE20 features a straightforward clamp mount, allowing users to secure the microphone’s base to a mic stand or boom arm.
However, this rigid clamp mount renders the RE20 more vulnerable to noise from accidental bumps. Its internal shock mount isn’t particularly effective in countering this. While there’s an option to buy the compatible 309A suspension shock mount, it’s shockingly large and can dominate screen space.
In contrast, the Shure SM7B comes with a sturdy all-metal fixed yoke mount, centrally attached to the microphone body via two tightening nuts. The swivel nut on the Shure SM7B’s yoke mount simplifies the process of attaching it to a mic stand or boom arm, unlike the RE20’s fixed clamp mount, which requires you to turn the entire clamp to secure it.
The Shure SM7B’s internal “air suspension” shock isolation system also excels at reducing noise from bumps, eliminating the need for an external shock mount, unlike the RE20.
Both the Shure SM7B and the Electro-Voice RE20 utilize an XLR connection. However, the SM7B’s XLR port placement is a little unconventional. Unlike most standard microphones, such as the RE20, where the XLR port is at the microphone’s base, the Shure SM7B’s XLR port is fixed to the yoke mount. This design is great for cable management, preventing an XLR cable from protruding and dangling haphazardly from the microphone’s rear.
And because both of these dynamic microphones use an XLR connection, you would need an audio interface if you want to record your voice or sung vocals onto your computer. If you don’t want to deal with such a hassle, then you might want to consider a plug-and-play USB microphone instead.
In a RE20 vs SM7B contest of sound quality, selecting a clear winner is challenging. Both of them are considered to be the best dynamic mics for spoken word in the industry, and the choice often hinges on personal preference and how well the microphone complements an individual’s voice tone.
The frequency response graphs for both microphones appear relatively flat. One might anticipate a neutral and uncolored sound. However, if you’ve listened to samples of these mics online, you’d recognize that they sound distinctly different, each possessing its unique sound signature.
Both the Shure SM7B and the Electro-Voice RE20 deliver a deep, rich, and warm tone that podcasters adore for spoken word. They possess a remarkable capacity to make voices sound authoritative and trustworthy instantly.
The Shure SM7B offers greater clarity in the midrange frequencies compared to the RE20. Additionally, with its frequency response rolling off beyond 12kHz, the Shure SM7B eliminates nasal sounds and sibilance, emphasizing the low-end frequencies more. This results in a voice that’s smooth and warm, making it ideal for those with higher-pitched voices seeking a more bass-rich tone.
Conversely, the Electro-Voice RE20, while also deep and warm, presents a brighter and crisper high-end than the Shure SM7B. This lends it a certain sharpness, adding excitement to the sound. It’s well-suited for individuals with already deep voices who desire added presence.
Although the Shure SM7B features a presence boost switch, which elevates the treble frequencies, it doesn’t quite achieve the same sparkle as the RE20.
Both the Shure SM7B and Electro-Voice RE20 come equipped with a high-pass filter that effectively eliminates low-frequency noises, such as those from air conditioners and fans, without significantly altering the sound of the tone.
The Shure SM7B dynamic mic is more proficient at managing plosives compared to the Electro-Voice RE20, with each microphone employing a distinct design to address this issue.
The Shure SM7B incorporates a high-quality cupped external windscreen that acts as a pop filter. When this is removed, it reveals an elongated protective cage with a recessed microphone capsule. There’s a substantial 2-inch gap from the tip of the mesh cage to the microphone capsule. Even if one’s mouth is in close proximity to the edge of the microphone, this gap, combined with the pop filter windscreen, significantly diminishes plosive sounds.
The Shure SM7B also offers an alternative, larger, and rounder windscreen that’s even more effective at rejecting plosives than the standard one. However, many users prefer the standard windscreen, finding the larger version aesthetically less appealing, especially for video podcasts.
Conversely, the RE20 dynamic microphone has an internal windscreen and a PL20 grill foam pop filter, which fits snugly inside the microphone cover when unscrewed. While it does a commendable job at mitigating plosives, for optimal results, an external pop filter is recommended to fully counteract those pronounced Ps and Bs.
The proximity effect refers to the buildup in low frequencies when a microphone is positioned very close to a sound source, which can result in a boomy and muddled sound.
The Electro-Voice RE20 employs an innovative Variable-D technology. This system utilizes vent tube phase ports outside the mic capsule’s resonating chamber. These ports are meticulously designed to provide frequency linear phase compensation, ensuring directionality and eliminating low-end bass buildup due to the proximity effect.
It’s crucial, however, to ensure that the slotted vents on the microphone’s side remain unobstructed, as they are essential for the Variable-D technology to function effectively.
On the other hand, while the Shure SM7B doesn’t have a specific design feature to counteract the proximity effect, its impact is lessened by the 2-inch gap from the microphone capsule, as previously mentioned. Many podcasters prefer to speak closely to the Shure SM7B to achieve a richer, more authoritative tone in their voice.
Off-Axis Rejection & Response
Generally, a dynamic mic is favored for its noise rejection capability due to its low sensitivity and cardioid polar pattern, which means it doesn’t pick up unwanted background noise as readily as condenser mics.
Both the Shure SM7B and the Electro-Voice RE20, being dynamic microphones, excel at rejecting ambient noise. Additionally, they both feature a high-pass filter that further reduces low-frequency rumbles.
However, the Electro-Voice RE20 boasts a more consistent off-axis response than the Shure SM7B, thanks to its Variable-D technology that manages the proximity effect. As a result, the tone of your voice remains relatively stable as you speak from different angles and distances relative to the microphone.
As noted, both the Shure SM7B and Electro-Voice RE20 have low sensitivity, and these microphones require a substantial amount of gain to achieve audible levels.
While the sensitivity specifications of both microphones seem closely matched, with -56.5 dBV/Pa for the Electro-Voice RE20 and -59 dBV/Pa for the Shure SM7B, this difference significantly impacts the required gain. To match the recording levels of the RE20, the Shure SM7B may need an additional 4-5dB of gain.
For the Shure SM7B, a high-quality preamp or audio interface providing at least 60dB of clean gain is essential. However, many home studio audio interfaces, such as the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface, typically offer between 50-55dB of gain. While this range is adequate for the Electro-Voice RE20, it falls short for the Shure SM7B.
Users with these audio interfaces often discover they lack the necessary gain and resort to adding a Cloudlifter to their podcasting or streaming setup, which comes with an additional cost of around $150.
Who Are These Mics For?
Both the Shure SM7B and Electro-Voice RE20 are the most popular microphones for podcasting, streaming, and spoken word due to their crisp and warm sound quality, as well as their ability to reject unwanted background noise. However, they are also known to be excellent microphones for sung vocals and instruments.
These microphones can handle high sound pressure levels of kick drums, guitar guitar, and bass guitar amps without distorting the sound.
They are also excellent for recording individual instruments in a band. Their cardioid polar pattern effectively isolates the sound source being recorded, and their noise rejection capability minimizes sound bleed from other instruments into the mic.
The Electro-Voice RE20, however, might be more suited than the Shure SM7B for a lead vocalist or guitarist who needs that extra presence boost in the top end to cut through a mix.
The Shure SM7B and the Electro-Voice RE20 are the two most popular mics that have stood the test of time, proving their mettle in the world of dynamic microphones. Their legacy, spanning nearly half a century, is a testament to their unmatched quality and performance.
While both are excellent microphones with unique strengths and characteristics, the choice between them is deeply personal and influenced by individual needs and preferences.
For budding podcasters, seasoned radio hosts, or even musicians, the decision between these two titans can be daunting. But remember, there’s no wrong choice here. Both microphones promise exceptional sound quality, durability, and a professional touch to any recording.
In the end, it’s not about which microphone is objectively better; it’s about which one resonates with you and complements your voice or instrument the best. Whether you lean towards the warm and smooth tones of the Shure SM7B or the crisp clarity of the RE20, you’re investing in a piece of audio history, a tool that has been trusted by professionals for decades.
As the world of content creation continues to evolve, these microphones remain steadfast, capturing moments, stories, and melodies for generations to come. Whichever you choose, you’re not just buying a microphone; you’re becoming a part of a legacy.
|Specifications||Shure SM7B||Electro-Voice RE20|
|Transducer Type||Dynamic (moving coil)||Dynamic (moving coil)|
|Frequency Response||50 Hz to 20,000 Hz||45 Hz to 18,000 Hz|
|Sensitivity||-59 dBV/Pa (1.12 mV/Pa) @1kHz||-56.5 dBV/Pa (1.5 mV/Pa) @1kHz|
|Weight||850g (1.877 lbs)||735g (1.62 lbs)|
|Accessories||Foam windscreen, close-talk windscreen, and locking yoke mount||Stand mount, carry case|
- Bass roll-off and mid-range boost filter switches with graphic display
- Internal air suspension shock isolation
- Yoke mounting with captive stand nut for easy mounting
- 400 Hz bass roll-off switch
- Variable-D technology for controlling proximity effect
- Humbucking coil guards against line hum