Shure SM48 vs SM58 (Differences & Which One Should You Get?)

Last updated:
Disclosure: We may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.
  • Shure are one of the most reputable microphone designers in history
  • Both the SM48 and SM58 are great mic options for different reasons
  • Find out why below…

The Shure SM48 and SM58 are two very similar microphones produced by one of the best-known and most reputable microphone designers in history. But which one is right for you?

In this article, we go over the differences of each, to help you decide which microphone is the right fit for you.

Shure SM48 vs SM58: What’s The Difference (& Which One Do You Need?)

The Shure SM58 is a proven workhorse of a dynamic microphone with a cardioid polar pattern. It features everything a singer needs to perform comfortably and sound great.

On the other hand, the SM48 costs half the price of the SM58. It is also heavier, with a more limited frequency range, and not as clear as the SM58.

In a nutshell, the SM58 is the better mic, but it also costs (nearly) twice as much. 

OUR PICK
Shure SM48
$39.99

The SM48 gives you the outstanding sound and durability that Shure mics are renowned for. 

Why We Love It:
  • Built-in “pop” filter
  • Perfect for vocalists
  • Superior gain
View Price on Guitar Center View Price on Sweetwater
Shure SM58

An industry-standard choice for both lead and backup vocals on stage and in the studio.

Why We Love It:
  • Built like a tank
  • Legendary Shure quality
  • Versatile
View Price On Guitar Center View Price on Sweetwater

SM48 vs SM58: Commonalities

Both of these microphones have a lot in common, for starters they look very similar (and there’s a good reason for that).

Dynamic Microphones

Both are dynamic mics with a cardioid polar pattern

Dynamic mics are the de facto microphones for live applications. As a matter of fact, the Shure SM58 is considered the ultimate vocal microphone for live use.

Dynamic microphones are quite durable and can withstand the hits and mistreatment commonly associated with tours and live work in general. This is especially true when compared to condenser or ribbon mics, which are far more fragile and prone to damage. 

In essence, both the SM58 and the SM48 were designed to be used mostly as vocal microphones for live use. However, their uses can extend beyond that. 

For instance, you can also use either of these mics for recordings. As a matter of fact, the SM stands for ‘studio microphone’.

This is especially true in the case of the SM58. This legendary mic has been used in many famous recordings, and not only for vocals

The SM58 has even been used as a drum overhead mic in recordings by the band U2. Granted, this is not a conventional use for this mic, but then again, this was done by the engineers of one of the biggest bands ever, and they made it work. 

Cardioid Polar Pattern

Both the SM48 and SM58 feature a cardioid polar pattern. This type of pickup pattern is fantastic for capturing the sound source directly in front of the mic while rejecting most unwanted noise from the sides and all unwanted noise from the back. 

As you might expect, in a live situation there is sound coming from all directions, and the polar pattern featured in both of these mics is great for capturing exactly what is placed before them, and not much from other directions. 

Cardioid mics are also referred to as unidirectional and are ideal for noise suppression and feedback reduction while capturing the source in front of them. 

Built-in Pop Filter and Shock-Mounted Cartridge

Both the SM58 and SM48 microphones come with qusi-pop filters by way of the grille, which helps to filter out plosives. Although it helps, it doesn’t entirely eliminate loud plosives, especially if the singer is close to the mic.

So it is still recommended that you use a pop filter for plosives if using these mics for recording.

(Learn more about the importance of pop filters in Pop Filter vs Foam Cover (Differences & Which To Use))

Both mics also have a shock-mounted cartridge that reduces handling noise significantly.

SM48 vs SM58: Differences

Although they might look identical from a distance, there are some significant differences between the SM58 and the SM48. For starters, some SM48 mics have an on/off switch (SM48S).

As the pros and cons of each mic becomes more obvious, you’ll be able to better choose the right one for you.

Frequency range

The Shure SM58 has a frequency range of 50 to 15000 Hertz, which is great for live use. The Shure SM48, on the other hand, has a more limited frequency range that goes from 55 to 14,000 Hertz. However, according to recordinghacks.com, this upper limit is negligible.

(Image: recordinghacks.com)

In most cases, the differences in the frequency response between these mics will probably go unnoticed by most. This is especially true in a live context where there are other instruments involved, not to mention crowd noise, etc. 

OUR PICK
Shure SM48
$39.99

The SM48 gives you the outstanding sound and durability that Shure mics are renowned for. 

Why We Love It:
  • Built-in “pop” filter
  • Perfect for vocalists
  • Superior gain
View Price on Guitar Center View Price on Sweetwater

Weight

Both of these mics look almost identical and are the same size. However, the SM58 weighs 0.66 pounds while the SM48 is slightly heavier at 0.82 pounds. This weight difference may not seem like much…

However, singers will be able to immediately tell which of the two is the most comfortable mic to carry during a 2-hour gig.

Naturally, the SM58 is better in this regard, thanks to its lower weight

Sound

This is the strongest argument for the use of an SM58 over an SM48

The Shure SM58 features a legendary sound that has been a staple of live music for decades.

Although the sound of the SM48 is also good, the SM58 offers more clarity and cuts better through a dense mix.

Cutting through a mix is a highly desirable trait for microphones in general. And this is especially true of a vocal mic designed for live applications. 

You want your singer to be heard as clearly as possible at all times, and the SM58 is the better of the two to get this task done in style.

Price

At nearly half the price of an SM58, the SM48 is a great choice for those on a tight budget. Price is a big factor in gear purchase, and Shure did a great job with the SM48.

You get the trustworthy Shure dynamic microphone sound but at nearly half the cost of an SM58.

Naturally, you get what you pay for. In this case, you will have to do away with that extra edge that the SM58 provides if you want to spend less and go for the SM48.

Shure SM58

An industry-standard choice for both lead and backup vocals on stage and in the studio.

Why We Love It:
  • Built like a tank
  • Legendary Shure quality
  • Versatile
View Price On Guitar Center View Price on Sweetwater

Wrapping Up

Both the SM58 and the SM48 are great dynamic mics made by Shure. Although the SM58 is the better sounding one, lighter as well as the one with the reputation and history, the SM48 also has its charms.

It is half the price of the SM58 and still gives you a dynamic mic with a cardioid pattern. 

Which one is right for you might come down to the ultimate question of “what’s your budget”?

The SM58 is better and more versatile, but the SM48 is cheaper and might be all you can afford at the moment

FAQ’s

Is the Shure SM48 a good microphone?

Yes. The Shure SM48 is a good microphone for the price, especially for live use on vocalists.

Is the Shure SM48 good for recording?

Although the Shure SM48 is an option for a tight-budget recording, especially for folks that are just starting out, your money will be better spent on a budget condenser microphone, which is designed specifically for recording. 

Can you use a Shure SM58 for recording?

Yes, you can use an SM58 for recording, although it has some limitations in the studio. That said, this mic is especially good for capturing loud singers in a rock context as well as distorted electric guitars played through a cabinet, among other uses. 

Does the SM58 need phantom power?

No. The SM58 is a dynamic microphone, so it does not need phantom power in order to function.

How do you connect a Shure SM48?

The Shure SM48, as well as the SM58, connect to mixers, interfaces, and preamps via an XLR cable.