Best SM57 Alternative

If you are not already aware, the Shure SM57 microphone has been an industry standard for micing up guitars amplifiers, snare drums as well as a wide array of instruments like whole brass sections since its inception. It is known as a rugged workhorse that always always does its job and produces the mid rangy sound we’ve come to know and love from the SM57 mic. If you’ve ever been to a gig anywhere around the world, the chances of an SM57 being involved in the live rig (especially for guitar) is exceptionally high. To the point where it is almost guaranteed. But..

Audix i5 GLS ES-57Sennheiser e906Beyerdynamic M201Lewitt MTP440
Best AlternativeCheapest AlternativeBest for AmplifiersBest Premium AlternativeBest for Snare Drum

What if you are looking for an alternative to the legendary microphone? The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives to the SM57 on the market. But before going through these we have to answer a few questions to determine help direct your buying choice. Before buying an SM57 alternative mic, one has to know why they are looking to do so. Answering these questions will help determine this.

Similar Sound or Different sound alternative?

Are you looking for an Sm57 alternative that has similar sound characteristics to the original or are you looking for a microphone that is has the same application but sounds completely different? This review looks at alternatives that both sound similar, as well as those that are completely different to the famous 57.

Budget or Premium SM57 Alternative? 

In the world of microphones, there are so many options  from cheap to expensive and anywhere in between. There are both SM57 alternatives that cheap as well as ones that are expensive. We will be looking at both ends of the spectrum from cheap alternatives to expensive ones.

Similar Alternatives on a budget

1) Audix i5 Dynamic Mic – Best SM57 Alternative

  • Very similar in price to the SM57
  • Application is identical
  • Better suited for snare drums more high end and brighter.
  • More direct response
  • Still very similar

See the video below for an in-depth comparison between the i5 and the Sm57. The video compares these two microphones on various different instruments so you’ll get the best idea of how it sounds.

2) GLS ES-57

  • Like an SM57 clone at a fraction of the price (you can get 3 of these for the price of one Sm57)
  • Slightly more higher mids than the 57
  • Exceptionally similar to the Sm57
  • Reliable and sturdy design

Sadly, I was unable to find a suitable video that compares this mic to the SM57.

3) Audio Technica MB2K

  • Very popular as an alternative especially for its price
  • Works well as live instrument mic as well as for recordings
  • Said to be a tad brighter than the 57
  • It has a lot of positive reviews, some even claiming it better than the 57.
  • Features a switch which the SM57 does not

The video below demonstrates the difference between the MB2K vs the SM57. Unfortunately, the video is in spanish. However, in the video description the reviewer has kindly put tabs on the video so you can hear how each mic sounds and skip to the parts you desire.

4) Lewitt MTP-440-DM

  • Like the Sm57, it is a very rugged mic
  • In the same price range as the SM57
  • Said to be clearer in tone than the 57
  • Gets very favourable reviews on Amazon as a great dynamic instrument mic.
  • Apparently, Kenny Aronoff (top session drummer in the world) has been seen using these on his snare.

If you take a look at the video below,  it gives you a great comparison of the Lewitt vs the 57 on a guitar cabinet in a very condensed video. You’re really able to hear the difference between these two microphones. Which one do you prefer?

Premium Alternatives to the SM57

We now turn our attention to the other microphones that do the same job as the Sm57 but offer something different in terms of sound, features etc.

5) Beyerdynamic M201

  • Allows you to achieve the most accurate sound of any instrument
  • Has a built in humbucker and is able to avoid any unwanted bleed
  • It is said to have more clarity and better balance than the 57
  • Works best on snare drums and guitar amps

The video I have shared below shows the Sm57 vs the Beyerdynamic M201. The video also comparews the M88 by beyerdynamic. You can get the M88 here is you are interested.

6) Sennheiser e906 – Best Guitar Amp Mic

  • The SM57 biggest competitor for guitar amps
  • Has a flat surface especially designed to mic up a guitar amp
  • Often known as “the other industry standard” when it comes to amp microphones
  • The big bands often have a Sm57 working in conjunction with the e906
  • 3 switchable settings: Bright, medium, dark
  • Gives a very well rounded and full tone, amazing microphone
  • It has a “sister” mic, the e609 (very confusing) which is essentially the same design but it’s application is more general instruments whereas the e906 is specifically for guitar

Want to see how these two microphones compare? Check out the video below. What is cool about this video comparison is that it not only compares the two different sounds of each microphone, but it also shows how they sound blended together. Something that a lot of famous touring bands do as I mentioned above.

7) Heil PR 30

  • Much larger diaphragm than the SM57 which gives it substantially bigger range of frequencies
  • Best suited for guitar amps and studio vocals (think radio broadcasting)
  • This is due to its focus of the upper to high mids
  • Another mic with a built in humbucker. Something that the Sm57 doesn’t feature
  • Made in USA

Yet another great compatrisoson video. This one shows the Sm57 vs the PR30. You can really get a good idea from this video how much more mid-focused the Sm57 is.

8) Sennheiser MD421 

  • Exceptionally good dynamic microphone for all instruments
  • Shines best when being used on guitar amps and snare drums. Also does really well with  broadcast vocals.
  • Has a more lower midrange focus whereas the 57 is a bit brighter. Apparently the MD421 works well with an SM57
  • It also rejects feedback very well
  • It has the ability to roll off bass with 5 different switchable options

For this microphone I’ve shared two videos below that compare the MD421 with the SM57.


Still Prefer the SM57? 

After watching all of these microphone comparisons, you might still think the Shure SM57 is for you. If that is the case…I don’t blame you at all.

If you enjoyed this article, check out our post about the best guitar amps stands

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