SM57 Bites The Dust!

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germaniac
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SM57 Bites The Dust!

Post by germaniac » Tue Jan 12, 2010 3:09 pm

. . . Never would have believed it if my own eyes hadn't seen the stand tip over and hit the concrete floor. Stone dead. Sprung open the strange spring-clip on the windscreen and the mylar diaphragm just fell out, voice coil and everything. Turns out these mics are merely mortal after all.

About repairs: this one's USA-made, circa 80s or so. I know Shure repairs them still, but what's the consensus on the sound of the new ones? Is it more about the element, the transformer, or both? Worth fixing, or just buy a new one?

Thanks!

Joe

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Post by route-electrique » Sat Jan 16, 2010 11:51 pm

Yeah, also wondering how these new 57LC -models sound ?.
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Post by jakeao » Sun Jan 17, 2010 2:56 pm

That's crazy it actually broke. I've used mine for hammering stuff. :) let us know how is turns out if you decide to get it fixed.
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germaniac
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Post by germaniac » Mon Jan 18, 2010 4:27 pm

Here's the story: Shure will repair any and all SM57s for a flat fee of $55, regardless of the problem. You cover shipping to them, and they cover return shipping. This one needs a new element, which is an $86 part if bought separately, so it's a far better deal to just send them the mic. However, it'll be a while before I can make an assessment of the sound, because my client is a bit short on money right now. . . . Hope to report back here when the mic is fixed.

Regards,
Joe

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Post by jmiller » Mon Jan 18, 2010 4:52 pm

Is it one of the old Unidyne ones?

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Post by germaniac » Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:06 pm

The label around the screen cap says "Unidyne III, made in USA." Don't know exactly when it was made, but generally it's early to mid 80's I think. Still interested in opinions/comparisons on old versus new SM57s. . . .

Thanks,
Joe

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Post by jmiller » Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:38 pm

The original 57's were made in the US up until around the mid 80's or so when production was moved to Mexico, where all "modern" 57s are made.

The common assumption is that the modern Mexican made 57's sound a bit different- generally a bit "brighter" with an audible bump in the high mids. Unidyne-era 57s are said to have an overall smoother tone. The difference supposedly has to do with the way the mylar in the capsule is made. The story is that the original stamping machines were sent to Mexico. This it the part of the story where I personally get confused because on the surface it would seem that this would make the mexican-made elements no different than the original American ones. However, I am known to get bored with stories when they hit snags like this and put my mind to other things.

Nevertheless, there is an apparent difference and it exists in the element itself. I've never done a direct A/B comparison myself but I tracked some guitar cabs recently using Unidyne III's. They did sound smoother than I would have expected from a modern 57 but I did not compare- I did not and usually do not have the luxury of time to do so. At the studio where I frequently work, the owner is very adamant about not using his Unidynes on snares or where they could get damaged as he prefers that they are reserved for recording guitar cabs only. He won't use a modern 57 in that application. In fact I recently mistakenly grabbed one to use as a secondary talkback mic in the control room and he very politely asked that I switch it out for something else.

I guess the short story is that the repair you'd be getting would *supposedly* change the sound of the mic from what it was before. I suppose that's sort of a given anyway, as the diaphragm of a 20+ year old 57 has no doubt been subjected to a lot of exercise in it's lifetime. Still, it's worth mentioning that there are people who intentionally seek out Unidyne III's over modern 57's.

FWIW I do feel that there is a difference, but I am cautious about stating such since I haven't spent a whole lot of time comparing the two.

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Post by AstroDan » Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:34 pm

SM57's have suffered the most damage out of most any mic I've been around. The case of a 57 is no doubt hardcore and there's not a lot to shake on the inside, but that weird "collar" that the windscreen attaches to is a pain and worries me. The windscreen cap is also really brittle and is easy to break.

It's a tank of a mic but it has a really big Achilles Heel.
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Post by germaniac » Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:42 am

Thanks jmiller for the helpful information. I appreciate the objective, cautious, and non-hyperbolic run-down of your experiences with the SM57 in a studio setting. It's good practice to be wary of sensationalism and gear myth-making, which is more often than not self-serving in nature. I have a hunch that decades of use contribute more to the difference in the sound of these mics than any other single factor. . . .

It will be interesting when this mic gets fixed to take a minute and compare it to an old Unidyne. If it's different, maybe there's some method of accelerating the apparent age of the element, say, feeding it a low-level sinewave for several days to "burn-in" the diaphragm. . . .

Thanks again,
Joe

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Post by firby » Tue Jan 19, 2010 8:53 pm

Hi,

I have two old unidyne 545s and a few made in america 57s. The unidynes sound different, one of them I think it is just that the capsule is old. I would probably use the unidynes on the guitar amps and the 57s on snares. I tried both on a couple of snare drums here and the newer 57 sounds better to my ears than the old unidyne.

Anyways, I can't tell you what a unidyne sounds like on a guitar amp because my guitar amp is a POS and it always has a beyer m160 on it.

The unidyne does have something going for it and one of them has a switch on it. It's a good sounding mic but it is not what I need for the snare drum here.
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