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Whether you want to play live or mic up your kit for a recording session in the studio, choosing the best mic to translate your sound the way you want it is a priority. Two of the top, budget-friendly options on the market for micing up instruments, functioning particularly well on snare drum and toms, are the Audix D2 and the Shure SM57.
Each mic translates sound a little differently and performs better in separate settings. So, depending on your desired use for your new instrument mic, which option would be the better choice, Audix D2 or Shure SM57?
The Audix D2 microphone is lightweight with a wider frequency range and is priced slightly higher. The Shure SM57 microphone is used by many audio professionals around the world and is very versatile – it’s great for a range of instruments including vocals. The SM57 is priced slightly lower.
Decide which mic is the best choice for you by reading through the comparison between the two mics in this article.
You might be surprised by some of the uses found these microphones…
The Audix D2 Studio Microphone is a hyper-cardioid dynamic microphone designed for micing up instruments of all kinds with its wide frequency response range of 44Hz – 18kHz and its excellent transient response.
Built to last with a durable lightweight design of only 4.5oz, this microphone is ideal for clipping onto instruments. It has a precision machined aluminum body with a black iodized finish and a broad steel mesh grill formed around the head, including a heavy-duty nylon microphone pressure clip.
With its impressive max Sound Pressure Level (SPL) of 144dbs, this mic is well suited to percussion instruments, such as snare drum, rack Toms, Saxophone, and Brass instruments, meaning that this practical little mic can handle quite a blast from loud instruments without any distortion.
The Audix D2 is loved by many drummers for miking Toms with precision, creating fantastic results from the microphone’s full response and punchy mid-bass. The only downside to these long-standing favorites is their lack in the low end, where they may not suit floor Toms as much as another more specific mic, like the Audix D4, would.
Download Detailed Product Brochure
Download the Audix D2 product brochure from the Audix website
The Audix D2 microphone is a popular favorite used in both recording settings and live settings. Here are some of the highlights to look forward to when considering this handy dynamic microphone.
- A lightweight design ideal for clipping onto the side of instruments like drums.
- Fantastic max SPL of 144dbs for handling sound without distortion.
- Low mass diaphragm for an incredible transient response.
- Great focus on mid-bass with a frequency response of 44Hz – 18kHz.
Depending on your desired application, different mics may work better for different settings. In some settings, even the best mic will have its downsides. For the Audix D2 microphone, there is only one main downside that affects drummers in particular:
- Lacking in the low end of the bass frequencies. (This may not be a bad thing – as it can reduce low end rumble and bleed from a kick drum if you’re miking up a snare or tom).
If this mic sounds like the perfect addition to your setup, you can find it online.
The Shure SM57 is a cardioid dynamic instrument microphone deserving of its world-renowned reputation. It is one of the most widely-used microphones on the market today, capable of handling the heaviest of use both on stage and in-studio.
This tough microphone has a clean contoured frequency response with a frequency range of between 40Hz – 15kHz, giving it a wonderfully warm and clean sound, ideal for miking any instrument, including drums, guitar amps, and vocals. Expect a consistently rich and clear sound, as the SM57 is also designed to reduce background noise with a
Much like the Audix D2’s the Shure SM57 is also built with an impressive SPL level, said to endure the most extreme sound pressure above 150dbs, making distortion a problem far out of sight. To reduce vibration and handling noise, the mic is built with a pneumatic shock mount system, and it comes with a swivel stand adapter to connect to your stand or clip.
Although many closely related Shure microphones are better suited to recording vocals, with the SM57’s improved range and max SPL, this mic can work beautifully for even the loudest drums and other instruments.
Shure SM57 for miking guitar amps
The Shure SM57 has been used for decades for miking up guitar amps. It’s rolled off low end and good mid range and high frequency response means it gives the guitar sound good definition and bite to cut through well in a rock mix.
Read the Shure SM57 User Guide
Read the Shure SM57 user guide on shure.com
The Shure SM57 and recording vocals
That being said, the Shure SM57 has been used famously by many vocalists including the following artists;
- Bono from U2
- John Lennon
- Anthony Kiedis – The Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Bon Iver
- Sufjan Stevens
Why do Presidents use the Shure SM57?
The Shure SM57 has been used by many US presidents for the last 40 years! Hidden behind the black pop filters are two Shure SM57’s!
US Presidents use the Shure SM57 because of it’s cardiod polar pattern, which means it is very directional, reducing background noise like cheers (or boos) from the crowd!
You can’t go wrong with the Shure SM57, it is one of the best microphones of all time and has been well-loved by professionals worldwide for decades. Here are a few highlights to this popular choice:
- Extremely durable for heavy use on and off stage.
- Balanced frequency response of 40Hz – 15kHz.
- Clean, rich sound production with reduced background noise.
- SPL level high enough to endure above 150dbs.
With so many good things to say about this mic, it is difficult to find a flaw. However, as with any equipment, there will be cons depending on your application. The main fallback of the Shure SM57 is:
- Prone to proximity effect with poor mic placement.
A must-have for any producer or performer’s arsenal, with insane versatility and quality for an affordable price. If you could just have one microphone – this would be the one!
Audix D2 Vs. Shure SM57
Both the Audix D2 and the Shure SM57 dynamic instrument microphones are highly affordable for what you get and function extremely well in a wide variety of applications including on loud percussion instruments such as Toms. Their ability to withstand sound pressure is more or less the same, with the SM57 in the lead with reportedly over 150dbs.
The Audix D2 is almost 4 times lighter than the Shure SM57. The SM57 makes up for its higher weight with insane durability, enough to withstand a drop test ten times at ten feet without losing any input quality. However, both microphones are highly mobile and easy to set up despite their weight and durability differences.
In terms of sound, the Shure SM57 has less high-end overall and slightly more low-end with an overall cleaner and richer sound more suited to a wider range of applications including high-quality vocal recordings with lowered background noise intake.
On the other hand, the Audix D2 has a higher frequency range and very lightweight design, working very well clipped onto the drum ring during use compared to the SM57’s which are much heavier and require more fine-tuned mic placement to get the best sound.
This video compares the sound difference between the two mics miking up an electric guitar amp.
Comparison of Specs
To help you compare the two microphones and decide which one you think would be better suited to your desired application, here is a chart containing the various mic specs.
Min. Frequency range
Max. Frequency range
Definitions of Terms
The frequency response of a microphone is the range of sound a microphone can pick up along with how the microphone responds within this range. It is one of the most important factors determining the sound that a microphone will produce and each microphone’s unique frequency response gives it its defining signature sound.
Firstly, a transient is the initial peak of the amplitude of a sound, for example, the initial hit of a drum. Transient response is the speed at which a microphone’s diaphragm can respond to the transient, either slow or fast.
Sound Pressure Level (SPL)
The sound pressure level of a microphone refers to the decibel threshold a microphone can withstand before the sound output is distorted. For example, if hitting a drum is creating a 130 decibel sound and the microphone recording it has a sound pressure level, or SPL, of 120 dB, the recorded sound will be distorted.
The proximity effect is a phenomenon where an instrument or vocals bass is boosted the closer the source is to the mic. The low-frequency range, below 200Hz, increases and creates a boomy sound that can be used to one’s advantage. For example, when playing an acoustic guitar in front of a microphone, the E string may produce a bass note that is maximized by the proximity effect depending on how close the guitarist is to the mic. However, for drums or deep male vocals, the proximity effect can add depth and richness to the sound.
Is a Shure SM57 good for vocals?
Yes, a Shure SM57 microphone can work very well for vocals. The microphone is one of the most durable dynamic microphones on the market making it an ideal choice for live vocal performances. However, the Shure SM57 can work very well for studio recording as well if a high-quality condenser mic is out of reach.
Is SM57 good for acoustic guitar?
The Shure SM57 dynamic microphone is one of the most versatile microphones ever created with the ability to record almost any instrument well, including acoustic guitar. However, the SM57 is better suited to electric guitar and recording amps as it is prone to the proximity effect.
What is a Shure SM57 used for?
The Shure SM57 microphone can be used for almost any application and works exceedingly well for a wide variety of instruments, especially percussion, electric guitar, and brass instruments thanks to its impressive SPL of over 150 dB.
Every top microphone on the market has its place where it shines the best. Choosing between the Audix D2 and the Shure SM57 should only come down to your preferred application of the microphone, the lifestyle the microphone will be subjected to, and perhaps your budget as well. Either way, both microphones are unbeatable value-for-money and deserve a place in the spotlight with their impressive specs and low cost.
Tim Wells is an experienced drummer and recording engineer. He toured around the world as a live drummer for ‘Rocktronica’ band ‘The Luminous Sky’ as well as performing live locally with many other musicians. He now runs his own home recording studio and is passionate about helping other musicians get the best from their equipment.