The Shure SM7b and Electro-Voice RE20 are two hugely popular recording mics. As large diaphragm dynamic mics, you get the best of both worlds: the wide “hi def” range of a condenser and the low gain of a dynamic. This lets you record loud instruments (or vocals) with crystal clear audio.
Widely considered mainstays in the studio, the RE20 and SM7b are great for recording vocals (loud & soft), kick drums, and guitar cabinets, as well as bass cabinets, acoustic guitars, pianos, brass/woodwind instruments, and more.
As for which one is better, the answer is tricky. It ultimately depends on the tone you’re after, as well as the performance style of your musician (do they want proximity effect or not?) Below, we’ll explain all these details in layman’s terms. We’ll also give you some apples-to-apples audio samples to help you decide for yourself.
What is the SM7B Best For?
The SM7B is a cardioid microphone that has been among the best sellers for a couple of years now. Developed by the trusted brand, Shure, that are known for their great music and mixing equipment. This microphone is ideal if you are thinking about starting your own podcasting or live streaming show. Don’t get us wrong, it is great for recording vocals as well, especially taking into consideration that it can be connected directly to an audio interface.
That said, due to its flat wide frequency response, it puts out the best performance if you are doing live shows. While there are a number of innovative features about this microphone that makes it stand out from other Shure models, we were won over by the great yoke mounting design that allows you full control.
Also, with improved bass roll-off and air suspension, you can bet that the quality of the sound is going to be ideal without any humming irregularities. On top of all that, the featured pop filter is what makes the SM7B a cardioid microphone worth your attention. If you are looking to get excellent sound quality during your podcast or live streaming shows, and you have a more flexible budget, be sure that this one is the right choice for you!
Review of the SM7B
Talking about a cardioid microphone, it features great bass and a clean performance with no humming irregularities, even when you are close to it, so the SM7B seems like a great buy. Manufactured by a trusted brand and with a number of pros that make it stand out from its competitors, the SM7B is an affordable choice for anyone serious about their recording. Whether you are interested in recording music vocals, streaming podcasts, or doing live shows, this cardioid polar microphone can certainly cover your needs.
What Recent Buyers Report
From what we can see, recent customers are quite satisfied with the SM7B Cardioid mic. The main positive aspects are related to the fact that it isolates background noise very well, even in a home environment. Also, customers are satisfied with the flat wide frequency response that allows precise and clean high and low tones. On the other hand, if you want to get the best results, an additional processor is needed. If you decide to invest in a DBX processor and this mic, customers suggest that you will be getting the best results for the given price.
Why it Stands Out To Us
As mentioned, we think that this product is good for a number of reasons, including the fact that you can have full control over its bass and mid-range settings, along with the fact that any irregularities will be removed by the pop-up filter and air suspension shock isolation. Along with that, this mic is incredibly sturdy and features a convenient yoke mounted design, making adjusting this mic to a comfortable position quite easy.
Who Will Use This Most
In regard to who is this product intended for, we think that it is ideal for people who plan on doing streaming and podcast live shows. While it can be used for recording vocal and instrumental music, the features included are mostly intended for doing voiceovers and commenting.
Taking everything into consideration, there is no doubt that the SM7B Is worth its price. First of all, it comes with great bass and a flat wide frequency response that are good on their own. Along with that, with an adequate DBX processor, you can be sure to get a precise and clean sound that can compete with those of more expensive mics. Overall, a great buy for anyone who is serious about their podcasting/show business!
What is the Re20 Best For?
The other cardioid microphone that we will be reviewing is the Electro-Voice Re20. A model that has been around for a couple of years now, is a cheaper version of the widely famous RE-27 used by professional broadcasters. Looking at what it includes, we can only suggest that this mic is worth its price and that if you are planning to do voice-overs or streaming, it will be a great addition to your equipment.
Much like the previous product, this one comes with an effective pop filter and internal shock suspension that both work together to eliminate any irregularities that would be detected in the recorded sound. Apart from that, it has a wide frequency response that has a range of 45 to 18000 Hz, which means that you can effectively record vocal and instrumental music, without worrying that the mic will not get all the important details. Yes, it does require a high-quality preamp for best results, but given the price and the fact that it has a steel casing ensuring its durability, we think that the Re20 Cardioid microphone stands as one of the best offers on the market.
Review of the Re20
As always, when doing reviews of recording equipment, we like to make sure it includes a focus on a few critical points. Apart from the design and the frequency response, it is necessary to have the ability to control bass and mid-range transmission, as well as to isolate background noise, even when you are not working in a professional studio.
Looking at the Re20, we can see that it can do most of these things. It is manufactured by the well-known Electro-Voice brand, so you can be quite sure about putting money into this product.
What Recent Buyers Report
Looking at the recent reviews for this mic, we can see that customers are satisfied with the exceptional quality of the sound that it offers, including the elimination of proximity effects and positional sound issues. While more than a few have noted that it is kind of expensive for anyone who is just starting their broadcasting or live streaming show, most have claimed that the flat wide frequency response and internal pop-up filter allow a clean sound at any part of the range.
Why it Stands Out To Us
Apart from the compact and sturdy design that this Re20 microphone offers, we would highlight the internal shock absorption as well as the effective pop-up filter that is there to ensure great sound quality, without the risk of irregularities caused by proximity or mic positioning. By investing in a high-quality amp and this mic, we are sure that you will be getting an exquisite setup that is excellent for any broadcasting show.
Who Will Use This Most
Much like with the SM7B, this microphone can be used for recording music. We think that it is ideal for people who do broadcasts or live streamings (including gaming), as the wide frequency response and the pop filter ensure high-quality voiceover sound.
While at a somewhat higher price than some of the previous Electro-Voice models, this dynamic cardioid microphone is extremely powerful and a smart long-term investment if you are looking to have a studio comprised of great recording equipment.
Similarities and Differences Between SM7B and Re20
When comparing any two products it is clear that you will come across a few similarities and differences. Talking about these two cardioid microphones, we have to admit that it is a close fight that is to be decided only by the slightest details.
SM7B vs. Re20 Differences
Below are the main differences between the two:
We have to say that both of these cardioid microphones have a sturdy design that should look great, whether you are in a home environment or a professional studio. On the other hand, it is a fact that the SM7B is more versatile, due to a yoke mount that will allow you better positioning, which is extremely important if you are doing long broadcasting sessions or music recording.
Another difference is that the Re20 microphone doesn’t include a windscreen that can be of great value if you’re looking for warm, precise tones. While this doesn’t have to be a game-changer for doing broadcasts or voiceovers, it is of extreme importance for recording vocal and instrumental music.
Flat Frequency Response
It is fair to admit that while both of these models offer a good frequency response, the Re20 has an edge due to the range of 45 to 18000 Hz that is slightly above the SM7B, which can provide a better response when dealing with high or low tones.
SM7B vs. Re20 Similarities
Below are the main similarities between the two:
The first similarity between these two cardioid microphones is their price tags, which are almost the same. While neither of these is cheap and possibly too pricey for someone who is starting off, we still think of them as affordable products and great long-term investments.
Background Noise Isolation
Both the SM7B and the Re20 seem to do a great job of isolating external sounds, whether you are in a professional studio or in the comfort of your room. This includes humming, breathing, and other sound effects that may have an impact on the final result of your recording.
Last but not least, we have to highlight the importance of pop filters and internal shock absorption that both of these cardioid microphones include. These are there to ensure that proximity or irregularities caused by vibration don’t influence the sound quality.
Feature-Packed and Versatile
The Shure SM7b is an extremely versatile microphone. Its low gain yet wide freq response makes it great for recording a huge range of instruments: from soft vocals to screams, guitar amps, kick drums, trumpets and more.
Literally speaking, the SM7b features a bass rolloff switch, presence boost switch, and 2 removable windscreens. Altogether, these knick knacks help you get a huge range of tones. The mic itself also has a proximity effect: you can record right up against the grill for a boomy “movie trailer” style voice. Or, back away a few inches for a more balanced vocal tone.
Compared to the RE20, the SM7b is slightly less wide. It doesn’t get quite as deep for recording kick drums & bass guitar. Also, it lacks some uber high-end that can make voices sound sibilant (breathy) or make acoustic guitars shimmer. Unless you’re specifically looking for these tones, however, the SM7b isn’t going to disappoint. On the flipside, the SM7b has a presence boost that can make vocals/guitars sound much more lively than the RE20.
Full, Flat and No Proximity Effect
The Electro-Voice RE20 was designed with the unique goal of eliminating all proximity effect. Proximity effect is how your tone changes based on your distance to or angle from the mic. Examples are how your voice gets boomy too close to the mic and brittle far away.
With an RE20, your voice sounds the same regardless of your distance or angle. This makes it great for radio DJs conducting interviews (especially when guests are not paying attention to their mic proximity.) Likewise, it’s great for less-experienced vocalists who may unknowingly move around while performing.
On the other hand, the RE20 can be limiting to more experienced singers who utilize proximity effect to their advantage. Some vocalists have a more dynamic relationship with the mic, moving back and forth with the intensity of their stanzas. The RE20 is not a great fit for these singers, as these subtleties will not shine through.
Wider, Flatter Response
The other major way the RE20 is different from the SM7b is its wider frequency response. In particular, you get more dBs in the 60 to 100 Hz range, which adds depth to kick drums and bass guitars. You also get more highs around 8 kHz and upwards, which adds “airiness” to vocals and other instruments. [Note: The SM7b is still present in these ranges, and is still commonly used for recording kick drums & airy vocals. It’s just not quite as pronounced.]
On the flipside, the Electro-Voice is much flatter than the SM7b. As you’ll see in the frequency chart below, it’s almost completely flat from 70 Hz all the way up to 8 kHz. While some engineers love the darker tone that results from the flat EQ, others prefer the SM7b for precisely this reason. The presence boost offered by the SM7b can make recordings sound much more lively, especially when you’re trying to make something stand out over a loud mix (like vocals in a rock band).
Top Pick Between the SM7B and Re20
At the end of the day making the final verdict is never easy. Both the Shure SM7B and the Electro-Voice Re20 have their pros and cons. What we can say is that these models are certainly great choices if you are looking to do broadcasting and to live stream. Yes, you may be able to find good quality for a somewhat lower price, but at this point, these models stand as your most affordable choice if you are serious about your recording equipment.
While the SM7B may do a bit better when it comes to the precision and warmer tones, the Re20 has a slight edge when it comes to isolating external sounds and irregularities. Overall, we think that the SM7B is a better choice for those of you who are looking to get a versatile mic that can be used for vocal and instrumental recording, while the Re20 is the way to go for those of you who are specialized in voiceovers and broadcasts.
SM7B vs. RE20: Frequency Charts
Depending on the type of engineer/musician you are, you’ll either love or hate this next comparison. Here, I’ll dive into the frequency response of each microphone to highlight their differences. If you’re not hip to the audio frequency spectrum, fear not. I’ll explain everything in layman’s terms.
The main takeaway is that the EV RE20 is a bit wider; it’s more pronounced in the 60 to 100 Hz range, which adds depth to kick drums and bass guitars. (This has virtually no effect on vocals or electric guitars, however.)
At the same time, the RE20 has more highs around 8 kHz and upwards. This is the point where vocals and instruments start to sound “airy.” You hear less of the voice itself, and more breath noises or shimmering room reflections. It’s really up to the artist if this is a range they want to explore or not. A lot of engineers will cut it, as these tones can sound harsh/distorted. On the other hand, if you’re a shoegaze singer or acoustic solo artist, you just might relish in these frequencies.
M7B vs. RE20: Examples
The RE20 (2nd file) definitely has a wider range. You can hear deeper bass during the forceful strums. There’s also more super highs in the “shimmering” range - like those pick/string noises.
In my opinion, however, the SM7b (1st file) actually sounds much nicer. The presence boost seems to be enunciating all the right frequencies. It sounds thicker and more lively. It’s almost as though this track was already mixed and mastered. But in reality, that’s just the beauty of the SM7b presence boost.
Remember, this is just my preference. In many applications, the darker tone of the RE20 may actually be a better choice. If you agree or disagree, feel free to voice your own opinions in the comment section below.
Whether to choose an SM7b or an RE20 ultimately depends on what you’re looking for. Do you want a mic with a very wide & very flat range that also masterfully eliminates proximity effect (RE20)? Or, do you want a mic with more versatile tone options, including a presence boost that gives your recordings “pre-mixed” tightness and clarity (SM7b)?
Personally, I’ve found more luck with the latter option. But I wouldn’t hesitate to use the RE20 when the opportunity called for it.