The Shure SM7B is a popular dynamic microphone used by many professional and amateur radio hosts, podcasters, and streamers. However, The Shure SM7B is a very quiet microphone.
We put this step-by-step guide together to show you everything you need to know to fix your quiet Shure SM7B microphone.
Quick Answer: To fix your quiet Shure SM7B microphone you will need to use proper microphone technique and supply the microphone with more than 60dB of clean gain. You can do this by turning up the preamp on your audio interface or mixer. If this doesn’t give you enough gain or volume, then you will need to use an inline preamp (Cloudlifter, Dynamite, Fethead, etc.).
Why Is The Shure SM7B Quiet?
The Shure SM7B is a popular dynamic microphone favored by podcasters and live streamers, but many are surprised by its low-volume output.
The SM7B’s quietness comes from its output level, which determines the default volume of the audio it captures. Most recording engineers and audio enthusiasts consider the ideal recording volume for a microphone to be between -20dB and -50dB. However, the Shure SM7B’s output level is -59dB, significantly lower than the ideal range of -20dB to -50dB. Audio captured with an SM7B is quieter than most other microphones.
This low sensitivity is (in part) what gives the Shure SM7B its trademark warmth and noise rejection, so we can’t simply request that Shure redesign the microphone to be “loud.” Instead, we need to find a better way to boost the signal coming from the SM7B.
Shure SM7B Preamp
If you want to fix your quiet Shure SM7B, you will need a high-quality microphone preamp. A preamp will boost the tiny microphone level signal that comes out of the microphone to something usable while (hopefully) not adding too much noise to your recording.
You can buy a stand-alone microphone preamp, but most people prefer to use the preamp built into their audio interface or mixer.
The Shure SM7B has a sensitivity of -59dB, which means that you will want an interface or mixer that can supply roughly ~60dB of clean gain. The “clean gain” part is very important. Many companies will advertise preamps with 60-65dB, but when you use this equipment, you notice that you get a lot of hiss or static.
If you want an audio interface for the Shure SM7B, we’ve found these three to have enough clean gain to power the Shure SM7B properly without needing additional equipment.
- Universal Audio Volt 276 – https://currentprice.io/volt276
- Solid State Logic SSL2+ – https://currentprice.io/ssl2_plus
- Elgato Wave XLR – https://currentprice.io/wave_xlr
If you want an audio mixer for the SM7B, these two have enough clean gain to power the Shure SM7B properly without needing additional equipment.
- Rode Rodecaster Pro II – https://currentprice.io/rodecaster2
- Yamaha MG10XU – https://currentprice.io/mg10xu
Inline XLR Preamp (Mic Booster, Mic Activator)
What happens if you already have an interface or mixer and don’t want to buy a new one?
You can add an inline preamp to your setup to provide more clean gain for your SM7B!
These are also known as “mic boosters” or “mic activators” because that’s quite literally what they do.
You connect one of these devices between your Shure SM7B and interface/mixer, and they will add 20-30dB of clean gain for your recording. This is fantastic!
We put together a guide on the best inline preamp, but you can see our top 3 for the Shure SM7B listed below:
- sE Electronics Dynamite DM-1 (28dB) – https://currentprice.io/dynamite
- Triton Audio FetHead (27dB) – https://currentprice.io/fethead
- Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1 (25dB) – https://currentprice.io/cloudlifter
If you use the Cloudlifter CL-1, you will also need an extra XLR cable.
Shure SM7B Microphone Positioning
If your Shure SM7B is quiet, it could also be fixed with proper microphone positioning. If the microphone is too far away from your mouth, the recording is going to (obviously) be quiet.
The distance between the microphone and your mouth is crucial. A distance of 3-5 inches is ideal for voice recording with the SM7B. This distance will give you enough volume to capture your voice, while reducing the amount of room sound in your recording.
How To Fix Quiet Shure SM7B
Time needed: 5 minutes.
How To Fix Quiet Shure SM7B
- Use Proper Microphone Positioning
- Use A High-Quality Preamp (Interface/Mixer)
- Use An Inline Preamp (Cloudlifter, Dynamite, Fethead)
Quiet Shure SM7B FAQs
The Shure SM7B has a very low sensitivity of -59dB. This means that you need a microphone preamp with at least 60dB. If you’re using a budget interface or audio mixer, you can add an inline preamp between your microphone and interface/mixer to provide 20-30dB more gain!
If the Shure SM7B is quiet, you can use an inline preamp (Cloudlifter, Fethead, Dynamite) with your microphone to provide 20-30dB of clean gain, which will make the SM7B louder.
You don’t need a Cloudlifter if you’re using a high-quality microphone preamp. If you’re using a budget preamp, you may need a Cloudlifter to boost your Shure SM7B levels properly.
Our favorite inline preamp is the sE Electronics Dynamite DM-1. It provides 28dB of clean gain for the Shure SM7B which is 3dB more than the popular Cloudlifter CL-1