Why Is the SM57 Good for Snare? Overview Of Its Superiority

Renowned in the world of audio engineering, the Shure SM57 has earned its stripes as a go-to choice for snare drum recording in both studio and live sound settings. With a history spanning decades and a reputation that precedes it, this unassuming yet mighty microphone has consistently proven its worth.

Whether you’re a seasoned audio professional or an enthusiastic drummer looking to elevate your sound, understanding why the SM57 excels on snare can unlock a world of sonic possibilities.

Let’s dive into it.

Why Is the SM57 Good for Snare?

The SM57 excels on snare drums due to its rugged build, withstanding high sound pressure levels, and its tight polar pattern that isolates the snare sound while reducing bleed.

Its increase in presence between 5 and 10 kHz improves the assault and brightness of the snare, resulting in a clear and powerful sound that consistently performs in both live and studio settings.

What Is The Advantage Of The SM57?

When considering a microphone for snare drum recording, the Shure SM57 stands tall with its unique advantages that have solidified its reputation among audio professionals. One of the most significant benefits of the SM57 lies in its rugged construction.

Built like a tank, this microphone can handle the demanding environment of a drum kit, enduring the rapid transients and high sound pressure levels that snare drums produce. This durability ensures that the SM57 will continue delivering consistent results over time, whether it’s in a controlled studio setting or a dynamic live performance.

Another advantage is the SM57’s tight polar pattern. This attribute is particularly important when capturing snare drums within the context of a drum kit, where minimizing bleed from other elements is crucial.

The focused pickup pattern of the SM57 helps isolate the snare’s distinct sound while reducing interference from nearby cymbals and toms. This isolation leads to a cleaner, more defined snare track, making it easier to achieve a balanced drum mix.

Should I Use SM7B Or SM57 On Snare?

The decision between using the SM7B or the SM57 for snare drum recording depends on the desired sonic outcome and the overall drum mix you’re aiming to achieve. The SM7B is often favored for its smooth and balanced frequency response, which can capture the depth and character of the snare drum with finesse.

This makes it suitable for genres where a warmer and more refined snare sound is preferred, such as jazz or ballads.

On the other hand, the SM57’s presence boost in the 5-10 kHz range adds a bright edge to the snare sound, enhancing its attack and ensuring it cuts through the mix with clarity. This makes the SM57 an excellent choice for genres that demand a sharper and more pronounced snare sound, such as rock or pop.

Both microphones have their merits, so the choice ultimately comes down to the tonal qualities that best complement the musical style and arrangement.

Should I Use SM57 Or 58 For Drums?

The SM57 and SM58 are both a part of Shure’s renowned microphone portfolio and have a lot in common, which makes them both flexible choices for drum recording. However, subtle differences in their frequency response and design nuances can influence which one to choose for different drum components.

The presence boost of the SM57, which is located between 5 and 10 kHz, improves the attack and brightness of instruments like snare drums.. On the other hand, the SM58, with its emphasis on vocal applications, can also be effective on snare drums but might produce a slightly different sonic character due to its broader frequency response.

Why Is The SM57 So Quiet?

One concern that sometimes arises is the perceived quietness of the SM57. While it’s true that the SM57 has a lower sensitivity compared to some other microphones, this characteristic can be advantageous in high-pressure sound environments like close-miking a snare drum.

The lower sensitivity means the microphone is less likely to distort or overload when capturing loud and transient-rich sources, like the sharp crack of a snare hit.

The SM57’s lower sensitivity also allows for better control over the input gain, reducing the risk of clipping or distortion at the preamp stage.

Moreover, this lower sensitivity doesn’t equate to compromised audio quality; rather, it ensures accurate signal capture, especially in scenarios where a powerful snare hit could easily overload a more sensitive microphone.

Does SM57 Pick Up Background Noise?

The SM57’s directional polar pattern plays a pivotal role in minimizing background noise. While no microphone can completely eliminate all unwanted sounds, the SM57’s cardioid pattern is specifically designed to pick up sound primarily from the front and reject sound from the sides and rear.

This characteristic is particularly valuable when close-miking a snare drum within a drum kit setup, as it helps isolate the snare sound and reduces the interference of surrounding elements.

However, it’s worth noting that in environments with extremely high ambient noise levels, some background noise might still be picked up by the microphone.

Placing the microphone as close to the snare drum as possible while avoiding obstacles like cymbals and other drums can further enhance its ability to reject unwanted sounds.

Is Shure SM57 Balanced Or Unbalanced?

The Shure SM57 features an XLR connection, which typically indicates a balanced output. A balanced connection is essential for maintaining audio quality over longer cable runs and in environments susceptible to electromagnetic interference. This is particularly important when using the SM57 for live sound applications, where longer cables might be required to reach the mixing console or other equipment.

The balanced output helps reduce the likelihood of noise and interference, ensuring a clean and reliable signal transmission from the microphone to the audio interface or mixer.

It’s worth noting that while the SM57 itself has a balanced output, it’s essential to ensure that the cables and equipment you’re using also support balanced connections to fully reap the benefits of this feature.

Note: The Shure SM57’s prominence in snare drum recording is no accident. Its durability, tight polar pattern, and characteristic frequency response combine to create a tool that consistently delivers exceptional results.

Whether you’re capturing the explosive energy of a live performance or meticulously crafting a studio drum sound, the SM57’s advantages make it a trusted companion for audio engineers and drummers alike, ensuring that the heart and soul of the snare drum can be faithfully captured in all its glory.


The SM57’s relationship with the snare drum is nothing short of iconic. Its robust construction, focused polar pattern, and distinctive frequency response have elevated it to a position of reverence among professionals and enthusiasts alike.

With the ability to handle the intense demands of snare drum recording while capturing every nuanced detail, the SM57 has proven time and again that it’s not just a microphone – it’s a sonic ally.

As drummers lay down their beats and audio engineers sculpt the mix, the SM57 stands steadfast, translating the explosive power and intricate subtleties of the snare drum into a sound that resonates with listeners.

Its enduring presence on stages and in studios worldwide attests to its enduring relevance, while its capacity to adapt to different musical genres ensures that the snare’s voice can be heard in all its diversity.

So, whether you’re aiming for the primal roar of rock, the refined elegance of jazz, or anything in between, the SM57’s undeniable goodness on snare remains an indispensable element of the audio landscape, carrying forth the rhythm and spirit of music itself.