Dear content creators,
No, you shouldn’t get the Shure SM7B.
This is not a campaign against one of the most popular microphones on the market. It’s a great microphone, but that’s not the point of it. This is a call for new content creators.
There’s a Facebook group I joined a while ago for podcasters. It’s the kind of situation where you join a band, you want to leave, and you never think about doing it. In this group, many people ask for advice on everything from equipment to how to get guests. I once saw a question from a brand new podcaster, trying it out, about what microphones he should get for himself and his co-host. The most common answer? The Shure SM7B.
For those of you unfamiliar with the microphone in question, the SM7B is a dynamic XLR microphone that is a standard among high-end podcast studios. It lives up to its reputation as a great-sounding microphone. The problem? It’s US$400. This brand new podcaster, who wasn’t even sure if he would stick with it, asked for a suggestion, and the suggestion was to spend $800.
But it’s not just $800, is it? XLR microphones must fit into a mixer or recorder and, depending on the mixer or recorder chosen, a separate preamp may be required. So really, the suggestion to this person was to spend way over a thousand dollars on something he hadn’t even committed to yet.
“I saw a question from a brand new podcaster, trying it out, about what microphones he should get for himself and his co-host. The most common answer? The Shure SM7B.
There are many reasons why this is bad advice. The first of these is that in a Facebook group like this, you don’t know who you’re talking to.
As a podcaster, I can tell you that talking about my butt is one of the many keys to my longevity. So take into account that you are now part of a group of podcasters with no idea of their time as a podcaster or their level of success. As far as you know, you may be more advanced than them, but they happen to carry an undeserved trust that sells you their authority.
You also need to be careful of the vendors in the group. People who joined in the guise of another person looking to talk about their passion, only to discover an ulterior motive. I’ve seen people suggest podcast hosting platforms in this group only to find out that they are employees (and sometimes the CEO) of the platform they suggested. Now, to their credit, they do publicize this information, but not all.
Next is the group that probably makes up the bulk of any group like this, people seeking credibility. These are people giving the answer they think is the smartest or most popular answer, so it will get a lot of likes and the group members will see them as an authority on the subject.
They have heard that the SM7B is the best mic. They cannot own it themselves. They may own it, having taken someone else’s advice, but don’t have enough experience with other microphones to give an informed answer. But YOU don’t know that. If your plan was to distrust everyone’s advice, you probably wouldn’t have asked the group. Therefore, you are quite likely to listen to the advice given to you, and you are even more likely to follow the advice if it comes from a large number of people, all of whom could fall into the categories listed below. above.
To the cynics who wonder where I get off in giving advice on who should give advice, I applaud you. You learn. But a bit of background on me, I am a graduate of a radio, television and film program (specializing in broadcast technology) with over twenty years experience in television production and broadcasting. I still work in the industry at one of Canada’s largest television stations.
“You also have to be careful of the vendors in the group. People who joined under the guise of another person looking to talk about their passion, only to discover an ulterior motive.
The next major hurdle in this search for advice is something that was missing, and it’s the fault of the person who asked the question: budget. The question he asked was “what should I get?” The question he should have asked was “I have an ’empty’ amount of money, what’s the best setup I can get with this budget?”
This is information a person needs if they have any chance of giving you the answer you need to hear. Some may still have ignored him to suggest the most important and bad thing, but then he would have had a better idea of who was there to help and who was not.
Let’s talk a bit about what your budget should be. No, I’m not going to give you a dollar amount, but I will give you a few things to consider when deciding on that dollar amount for yourself. First, and most obvious, how much money do you have? Do you earn minimum wage or six figures a year? Do you have other responsibilities, like kids or a second mortgage, or do you have a ton of disposable income? You might be able to afford that thousand dollar setup right off the bat, but does that mean you should get it?
A reasonable way to think about spending that money, especially when comparing items to buy, is “how much better is the most expensive thing than the cheapest.” I own two Rode Podmics for my podcast and also use one of them on my feed. They cost US$99 each. Comparing it to the Shure, can I say that the SM7B is more than four times better than the Podmic? No chance. Apply this thinking to whatever you need and you should end up with a setup that will serve you well.
Next to consider is your level of commitment. If it’s something brand new, it might be worth considering a beginner’s setup, regardless of your budget. When you’ve decided you want it for the long haul, you can start looking at upgrades.
Something also worth thinking about is whether you are making money from your content. Do you have advertisers for your podcast? Do you have a lot of Twitch followers? Are you monetized on YouTube? This money comes with a lot of temptation. You CAN spend that first thousand on whatever toys you want, but now is the time to invest in yourself and not all toys are an investment.
You need to ask yourself a few questions. If I buy this, will it help me expand my content? Will it get me more subscribers? All of your early expenses should be based on growing your content. I’ve used money for skill-sharing courses in storytelling, graphic design, and organizing a production because those things make my content better than a slightly better microphone.
Don’t get me wrong, I have my fair share of toys too, but every purchase was made considering all of the above criteria. Taking my camera, for example, I bought the Sony A7iii. I could afford it, I made a long-term commitment to being a content creator (I use it for the video podcast, my feed, my YouTube channel, and for photography) and it helps improve my content.
But I didn’t go looking for the biggest and best. I got one that suits my needs perfectly (I would have liked a flip-up screen, but it was either a downgrade to a crop frame camera or an upgrade to a much more expensive full frame camera ). I bought within my means and therefore have no regrets.
So my biggest advice to you is to watch where you get your advice. There are people out there more interested in making themselves look smart than helping you. They don’t have your best interests at heart. If you are looking for advice from other sources, make sure those sources are reputable and make sure their advice is relevant to your needs.
In the meantime, let’s get to work. Content is not created.