PPT mouthpieces

Mouthpieces Which Mic should i choose?

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
After a bit of research and advice from some of you i am going the stage monitor route with separate Mic on a stand, as i used my Roland cube as a monitor the other night at Quad and found it worked well, we will be moving into a residential studio soon and will need all our own gear so will be looking at a half decent instrument Mic for around a hundred or so quid, so far I've looked at Shure sm58 (these are provided at Quad) Shure sm57 and Shure beta 57a, i like the look of the beta as I've found somewhere that chucks in a xlr to jack lead for a really good price, but has anyone had experience of the three, and was one found to better than the others? what other makes are good for around the hundred quid mark?

Hi Fraser,

I've got a Beta 57A knocking around somewhere, I can't offer any comparisons as I've not compared it to a SM57 or an SM58, but it's a nice mic and undeniably solidly built! Pete's just done a comparison of Mics and the SM57 didn't stand out, it would have been fun to let Pete try out a couple of my mics to add to the comparisons.

As for others to think about, how about a Rode M3, you'll need to shove a battery in it, or provide it with phantom power, but it'll come in at under £100 and by all accounts is a good around instrument mic: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov07/articles/rodem3.htm

All the best,

...Or a second hand Rode NT3, which I think each of these guys is using:

Although not the alto player.
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Thanks Chris, i could probably stretch to one of those but what is phantom power? will that mean i will need an extra transformer of some description, or does it automatically draw it from the desk? wouldn't really like to rely on the internal battery though...
Hi Fraser,

Phantom power is usually drawn form the desk, if you desk has that ability, however, I'd not be too concerned about the battery issue, the specs say that with a good quality 9volt battery you should get 400 hours out of it - so even if you err on the side of caution and replace it after 300 hours you are still unlikely to be spending a fortune on batteries.

I've not tried either of these mic, but would put them on the list to try if I were looking, I'm sure there are other good options.

Best of luck,

Hi Fraser
I don't think you will go far wrong with any of your choices,i use the SM57 and it as never let me down in any of the situations i have used it in,although i do use a Samson airline 77 wireless but only when we are playing in very small venues where the space is at a premium,but i haven't tried the others.
Shure mics are great for the kind of money we are taking here.

I also use Shure SM57. Mine is around 20 years old. Durable mics. I can't hear any difference between the SM58 and SM57. It's easier to get the SM57 microphone into the saxbell!! I don't use a tripod stand and my mic is fasten on a goose neck. More flexible when you switch saxes.

TBH it's not going to make a great deal of difference in a ska band. Any instrument mic about the £100 mark is going to be fine. 57s and 58s share the same capsule so there shouldn't be a great deal of difference. However, 58s are considerably more robust. Siouxsie used to lay into over eager punters with one - a 57 would have exploded - 58s were merely dented. For a stand mic I use a Sennheiser e845s (I find the on/off switch useful) but only for vocals and soprano. An SD Systems clip-on is my main mic.
is the mic for live work or recording - or both? The SM57/58 would be ok for live work since it doesn't feed back so easily as some other mics and is very robust. also all sound engineers are familiar with it, so it's a known quantity.
I've found the rode NT3 tends to feedback a bit on gigs and picks up handling noise and thumps and rumbles through the mic stand. The internal 9v pp3 battery lasts for months if you remember to switch it off after use, or it can be used with 48 volt phantom power from a mixer or a separate phantom power supply
I've had useable results from recording with it, but it's a bit disappointing for the price
not tried the rode M3, but it's supposed to be better than the NT3
the AKG C1000 isn't too wonderful, either.

as noted above, the SM57 is better for mic-ing instruments due to it's smaller size and slightly flatter response.

If you're good at electrical stuff it's possible to modify SM57's to make them sound better by changing the internal transformers and messing with the acoustical resonance disc on the front of the capsule, there's lots of info on the 'net if you google "SM57 mods". The info on modifying the resonance disc is here - http://www.oktavamodshop.com/product_info.php?cPath=3_47&products_id=115
but don't try this if you're not sure what you're doing, or you may end up ruining a perfectly decent mic
Most folks are happy with their SM57's as they are..

there are of course many other mics available, but the SM57 has been around for years and is tried and tested and very reliable, it may not be the best sounding mic in the world, but it certainly works

if you're after higher quality recording mics then i'd have to know a lot more about what equipment you already have and what kind of sound you're trying to achieve and ask advice from some of my friends who do more recording than me. Nowadays I do more editing and mastering on the computer and leave the recording work to the younger folks, so i'm a bit out of touch on all the latest gear

Mr Thomas's info on recording is worth a read - http://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-recording.html
Hi Altissimo, the mic will be used mainly for live on stage work and very occasional recording at home (when i figure out how, no Sweetdreamer, i haven't forgotten about you) but i did find out that when we move into our residential studio there will be no desk so how will that work short of buying one? i guess the shure looks the likeliest contender, what do you think of the beta 57a? for the few extra pounds it looks a better buy...
Disappointing to hear that about the NT3.


The Shure mics probably would do you very well, the difference between the SM57 and Beta 57A is more than just a small cosmetic revision though, the SM57 has a cardioid pickup pattern, and the Beta has a super cardioid pickup pattern, this would indicate that the Beta would be more directional. Being more directional can be a benefit, but it can also cause you problems if you tend to move a bit as you play as you can go off axis easily, i.e. the sweet spot is smaller.

Also, the beta will require less gain on your mixer compared to the SM57 due to it having a higher output capsule.

Also be aware that good deals on Shure mics might not be such a good deal, unfortunately there are a lot of counterfeit Shure mics out there.

All the best,

Im happy with my SM57 too.

Also be aware that good deals on Shure mics might not be such a good deal, unfortunately there are a lot of counterfeit Shure mics out there.

Very good point, something I hadn't realised until I bought my first SM57 from an Amazon market place trader, who when questioned, instantly returned my money without me even having to send it back.
Only buy from an authorised Shure dealer to be on the safe side.
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I've not encountered a Beta 57 yet, but going on the technical specs it looks like it has a bit more treble and slightly less low end. For some people this means that the Beta is edgier and thinner sounding, for others it's cleaner and brighter sounding, depending on taste and what you're using it on (generally vocals, guitar amps and snare drum) - there are comparison videos on youtube, but they're using it on electric guitar amps - http://youtu.be/_uishQQmr5Y

I googled "beta 57a vs sm57" and found mixed opinions, some people like the Beta 57, some people prefer the SM57, none of them seem to have tried it as a sax mic.

the tighter pickup pattern will reduce feedback problems and reduce spillage from other instruments, but as mentioned above may also cause level fluctations if you bob around a lot on stage

Due to the counterfeit problems try to buy from a proper music store who're a Shure dealer eg Digital Village, Studiospares etc - sometimes you can find package deals on a mic + lead + mic stand

if it was up to me, i'd just get the SM57 and spend the change on a decent mic stand and xlr lead. i'm assuming you're going to be plugging it into the vocal PA

Recording wise, individually mic-ing each instrument into a mixer and recording it onto some kind of multitrack is the normal method, but i've managed useable results from a small zoom digital recorder plonked in a strategic position in the room - it all depends on what you want to do with the recordings - if you just want to listen back to rehearsals or want to release a proper cd. If it's a small room you're in then you have to accept that there won't be perfect separation unless you overdub each instrument individually, which will lose the feel you get from a band all playing together
If , as your icon suggests, you're in a Ska band then be aware that old 60's ska records were recorded with very little equipment in often primitive conditions - 4 mics mixed down to mono tape in a small room above a liquor store worked for Duke Reid, most of the sound lay in the skills of the musicians and the recording engineers - finding the right mic position is crucial.
Of course by modern standards the results were hardly hi fi, but the sound was tremendous. Even in Jamaica they don't know how to record like that anymore
Well thanks everyone for your much needed advice, I've gone and ordered a shure beta 57a plus a couple of leads from GAK.co.uk, i would never have thought someone would turn out fake mics, Rolex's yes but not mic's! i already got a stand off e bay over the week end, a Hercules, which if as substantial as the sax stand should be good.

Wonder what will be next on my GAS list!
OK, have been "trying" to use the new Beta 57A on several occasions now, complete waste of time, cant turn the monitor up enough to hear it without massive feedback, tried loads of different settings on the monitor and on the desk but nothing, i am for now borrowing one of the singers spare sm58's, works absolutely how you would expect, loads more volume than i really need and no feedback whatsoever, so what gives with the Beta 57a? could it simply be a duff mic?
At home, we've got a cheap Peavey dynamic. I'm hoping it'll sound all right through the preamp we're going to buy soon. :) By the way, how much is an SM57? Is it cardioid/omni-directional etc...? I've always had my eye on those mic's.
At home, we've got a cheap Peavey dynamic. I'm hoping it'll sound all right through the preamp we're going to buy soon. :) By the way, how much is an SM57? Is it cardioid/omni-directional etc...? I've always had my eye on those mic's.

SM57 is a unidirectional dynamic mic.
Cost wise usually around £80-100, but I would highly recommend buying from a shure dealer, there are many fakes...

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