Why is My Shure SM7B So Quiet? EASY FIX!
The Shure SM7B is regarded as one of the best dynamic microphones for use in podcasting, streaming, and recording vocal tracks. However, most people find that the volume is often too quiet when using this mic.
Quite frankly, I didn’t do much research before buying the microphone, and when I plugged it in, I remember being highly disappointed with the low output.
Fortunately, after some trial and error, I found out that there are lots of ways to fix low output from Shure SM7B.
And while we do intend to drill down into them one by one, let’s start with the question of why the Shure SM7B is so hushed to begin with.
Table of Contents
Why Is The Shure SM7B So Quiet?
The Shure SM7B has an output level of -59.0 dB, which is very low. The best volume for us to record at is between -5dB and -20dB.
So, in theory, a preamp with an output volume of 40dB would be a good choice. However, it’s not that simple.
As many of you probably already know, if your amp needs to be turned all the way up, you’re probably not using it correctly.
The microphone will still work if the gain is turned all the way up, but this isn’t recommended because it can cause unwanted noise that will make your recordings and live broadcasts less than crystal clear.
Now we know that we need a lot of gain for the Shure SM7B to not be so quiet, so let’s talk about a few different techniques that we can employ to achieve our objective.
How To Make Shure SM7B Louder
The Shure SM7B is frequently used in conjunction with an external device that is intended to provide the microphone with enough ‘clean gain’ so that it can attain the desired volume.
Clean gain is a technique for amplifying our audio without amplifying hissing or white noise. This just refers to the white noise generated by your equipment and does not mean to “not increase the background noise.”
So, how do we provide our Shure SM7B with enough clean gain? The answer is – The Cloudlifter.
I use this device in my audio setup because it’s so easy to use, but it still has to be connected to a preamplifier to function (preferably one with Phantom Power).
It’s a great, easy-to-use device. All you have to do is – plug your microphone into it, and then you plug it into your amp. That’s it.
There are no lights, buttons, or cables. After I used it, the difference in my audio recordings was very distinguishable.
My voice was loud and clear, and there was no hissing or background noise.
Since it first came out more than a decade ago, the CL-1 Cloudlifter has become the go-to device for Shure SM7B users. Its success is shown by how many similar products have come out in the years since.
How the CL-1 Cloudlifter Works
The CL-1 Cloudlifter helps Shure SM7B users by using the phantom power from their interface. When the phantom power is turned on, the CL-1 Cloudlifter will turn that into about 25dB of gain without adding much noise.
Increasing the gain of the SM7B by up to 25dB will raise its volume to a level that is much closer to that of an average dynamic microphone.
This will let the user turn down the gain on the input channel of their audio interface of another device, reducing the chance that their recordings will have unwanted noise problems.
A Cheaper Alternative For Cloudlifter
While the CL-1 Cloudlifter is the best tool for making an SM7B louder, there are other options on the market that you can acquire for a more affordable price.
The sE Electronics DM1 Dynamite, which works the same way as Cloudlifter, is a more cost-effective alternative that won’t let your Shure SM7B be quiet.
Other Ways To Ensure That Shure SM7B Isn’t Quiet
You can take further steps to stop your SM7B from being too quiet when recording or streaming in addition to using one of these microphone-level booster.
1. Make sure that you are close enough to the microphone’s capsule while recording.
The SM7B is better suited for close-up recordings and is not intended to be operated at great distances from the sound source.
This is the reason why the presenters on podcast videos frequently have their mouths quite close to the foam pop shield of the mic.
2. Make sure that the mic is placed at an angle that is suitable for its polar pattern.
The SM7B has a cardioid polar pattern. Cardioid is the most common directional polar pattern, with the highest sensitivity to sound coming in from directly in front of the microphone capsule, practically no sensitivity to sound coming directly from behind, and reduced sensitivity to sound coming in from the sides.
This means that if you don’t put your Shure SM7B so that the sound source is directly in front of its capsule, the recordings will be quiet.
It’s important to make sure that the mic is facing the right way and that the sound source is in front of it.
3. Make sure that the volume of the sound source is loud enough.
This may seem obvious, but the SM7B is a low-output microphone, and even high-output mics will have trouble picking up a sound that is already very quiet.
In general, more gain must be added to the signal if the sound source, such as a speaker, singer, or instrument, has a lower volume. This is so that the sound can be heard clearly.
Due to its low output, the SM7B can handle very high volumes. If your recordings are too quiet, don’t hesitate to turn up the volume on your guitar amp or yell into the capsule.
So one of those options should help you to solve the annoying problem of a silent SM7B.
Good luck, and enjoy using this beast of a microphone now you know how to get the best out of it.
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