Shure is an established name and most often a “safe bet” for vocalists and instrumentalists.
The SM58 mic is Shure’s biggest star, becoming an industry standard over the years.
However, if you decide on a cheaper alternative, would something like the company’s SM48 be worth it?
Let’s compare these two and see.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this Shure SM48 vs. Shure SM58 comparison:
- Main Specifications
- Sound Quality
- Connectivity and Features
- Build Quality
- Price & Value for Money
- Pros & Cons
Ready? Let’s get started…
30-Second Summary: Shure SM48 vs Shure SM58
So when it comes down to Shure SM48 vs Shure SM58, which one should you choose? Here’s a quick overview:
We’ll just say this out loud – Shure’s SM58 is superior to the SM48. The SM48 can serve as a cheap alternative, but it won’t get you the sound quality and long-term reliability of a mic like SM58. After all, there’s a good reason why the SM58 is the “industry standard” that is preferred by performing vocalists of many different genres. While the SM58 will cost you a bit more, we recommend waiting a month or two, however long you need to save up that extra cash, and going for the better version.
1. Main Specifications: Shure SM48 vs. Shure SM58
Frequency Range and Frequency Distribution
One of the first things to look into is the frequency range, as well as how frequency peaks and dips are distributed. Of course, both are vocal mics, so they’d have a slight boost on the high-end and the high mids. However, there are some significant differences in this area.
The frequency ranges of the mics are not that different. SM48 covers anything from 55 Hz to 14 kHz, while the SM58 goes from 50 Hz to 15 kHz.
You can already see that the SM58 goes higher, but they’re still pretty close. Where they differ, however, is the distribution of these frequencies.
The SM48 has a large “bump” going from about 1.5 kHz and up to about 10 kHz. It reaches its peak somewhere between 7 and 8 kHz.
On the other hand, the SM58 has two “bumps,” one from about 1.5 kHz to 7 kHz, and the other one from 8 to about 11 kHz. So there’s an “indent” between 7 and 8 kHz, which adds a different twist to its tone.
Intended for simple vocal use, both of these dynamic mics come with the standard cardioid polar pattern. It picks up most of the sound directly in front of it. However, there are some differences when it comes to certain frequency ranges.
For instance, the SM58 will be able to capture some bottom-ends even from behind, and it’s also wider for the 8 to 10 kHz areas.
Usually expressed in dBV per Pa (decibel volts per Pascal), microphone sensitivity is about how easily a microphone converts acoustic air pressure into an electric signal. It’s always expressed as a negative value and the lower it goes, the more sensitive this mic gets.
SM48 has this parameter at -57.5 dBV/Pa, while the SM58 measures at -56. These are pretty much the standard values for dynamic mics.
Main Specifications Winner: Shure SM58
2. Sound Quality: Shure SM48 vs. Shure SM58
Sound Quality: Shure SM48
The “bump” in the frequency range that we described above is not completely unformed. SM48 will grow gradually until about 7.5 kHz and will then drop sharply to its maximum of 14 kHz.
This gives the mic some clarity for the vocal range, but the mic’s frequency response feels a bit too “general” rather than focused on just vocals. Don’t get us wrong, it’s not a bad mic, but it might feel weird to some singers.
Sound Quality: Shure SM58
It’s not the sound quality that makes SM58 so popular, but rather some other traits in combination with it. However, the vocals almost always turn out pretty great on it.
You just need to bear in mind that the mic is intended primarily for live shows, which makes it a bit more specific. Nonetheless, the “bump” from 1.5 to 11 kHz is cut somewhere between 7 and 8 kHz, which changes its overall sound and makes it pretty useful for live settings. Meanwhile, all the necessary sound characteristics are there.
Sound Quality: Bottom Line
There’s no denying that SM58’s sound quality is superior. The SM48 is not bad, but for a live mic, it gets nowhere near the SM58. And it’s not a secret, since the SM48 is a cheaper alternative to live mics, while the SM58 is a pro-level product.
Sound Quality Winner: Shure SM58
3. Connectivity and Features: Shure SM48 vs. Shure SM58
Connectivity and Features: Shure SM48
The SM48 is a pretty straightforward mic. It comes with a regular male XLR connector and a standard mic cap. The basic version comes without the on and off switch, while there’s also the SM48S that comes with one. The overall idea behind this mic was to have a simple device.
Connectivity and Features: Shure SM58
And the same idea was behind the SM58. The mic comes with just the XLR switch, a removable cap, and no switches. Of course, there’s also the version with a switch, but it’s not that popular.
Connectivity and Features: Bottom Line
Essentially, there are no functional differences between these two mics. While we can discuss differences in performance and other issues, there aren’t any practical differences in this regard. For this particular issue, it’s pretty much a tie.
Connectivity and Features Winner: Tie
4. Build Quality: Shure SM48 vs. Shure SM58
Build Quality: Shure SM48
Shure is a brand well-known for their robust and durable microphones. Even when you get into the cheaper categories, you’ll notice that their stuff still keeps at least some of the qualities of the more prestigious products. This is also the case with the SM48, which gets you covered for all the necessary live settings.
Build Quality: Shure SM58
For many years now, SM58 mics have been dropped, smashed, and thrown all around the stage. You’ll see wear marks and some minor “skin-deep” damages. Other than that, after years of intensive use, the mic will work as well as it did the same day. The durability and build quality of the SM58 is what makes it so popular in the first place.
Build Quality: Bottom Line
Both SM48 and SM58 are well-built microphones. Each of them can handle rough live show settings and longer tours. But we can’t think of just day-to-day situations, but rather a fuller picture. So in the longer run, the SM58 is a much more reliable option. Now, don’t get us wrong – SM48 is still pretty durable. But rarely any mic comes close to what SM58 can handle.
Build Quality Winner: Shure SM58
5. Price & Value for Money: Shure SM48 vs. Shure SM58
Price & Value for Money: Shure SM48
The SM48 is a fairly cheap mic, both the switchless version and the one with the switch. Looking at all the traits, it’s a fairly decent one, and the price is kept within pretty reasonable limits. If you want a cheaper alternative to the otherwise super-sturdy and just slightly expensive SM58, the SM48 is one of the best options out there.
Price & Value for Money: Shure SM58
There’s really not much to say here, other than the fact that the SM58 is, arguably, the best live microphone on the market, and has been for quite a while.
Vocalists of all genres use it extensively, even continuing on with the same mic after it took some heavy beatings. At the same time, they aren’t really that expensive considering all of their qualities. It’s one of the best purchases that you can make as a singer.
Price & Value for Money: Bottom Line
Again, we need to point out that SM48 is not a bad microphone, especially not for its price range. However, it’s simply no match for the SM58.
So, if we’re talking about the overall value, choosing a winner in the category is a no-brainer here. Although slightly more expensive, the SM58 is, by far, a better purchase.
Price & Value for Money Winner: Shure SM58
6. Pros & Cons: Shure SM48 vs. Shure SM58
Shure SM48 Pros & Cons
- Pretty cheap
- Decent quality microphone
- Can handle some rougher settings
- It could have a slightly better sound quality
Shure SM58 Pros & Cons
- The “industry standard” and the best live vocal mic
- Great deal for the price
- Very sturdy and reliable in the longer run
- Pretty great sound quality
- Not very susceptible to feedback
- None for its price level
Conclusion & Takeaway
To summarize our findings in this Shure SM48 vs. Shure SM58 comparison, here are the winners for each category:
- Main Specifications – Shure SM58
- Sound Quality – Shure SM58
- Connectivity and Features – Tie
- Build Quality – Shure SM58
- Price & Value for Money – Shure SM58
Overall: Shure SM58
Although there’s an abundance of different brands and models on the market, it seems that Shure and the company’s SM58 are still the go-to choice for most of the performing singers.
The mic has been present on the market since 1966 with only minor technical changes. So Shure has kept to the good old saying: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Along with the instrument-oriented version, the SM57, it’s the best-selling microphone in the world.
With that said, it’s really hard to compare it to something modest and cheap like SM48 and expect to get a good result.
Shure has certainly done an awesome job with the SM48, keeping some great qualities within the reasonable price limits.
Products Comparison Table:
0.82 lb (0.37 kg)
0.72 lbs (0.33 kg)
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