What’s the Difference Between the SM58 and the Beta58A?

Our technical team here at Shure UK are regularly asked to describe the difference between our classic SM58 and its closely related cousin, the Beta58. Firstly, let’s be clear: this is not a question of better or worse – both microphones are characterised by outstanding sound and performance. However, each model has key fundamental strengths suitable for different applications. Here are some of the key differences to bear in mind…

SM58 vs. Beta58A

Polar Pattern:

Perhaps the most obvious difference is the microphone polar pattern. The SM58 has a cardioid polar pickup pattern, while the Beta 58A is a supercardioid. The polar pattern subsequently affects how you should use the microphone and where it would be most appropriate.

As you can see from the diagrams, a cardioid microphone will reject best from the back while a supercardioid microphone will reject better from the sides. Both microphones pick up sound best from the front, but a supercardioid polar pattern has the added advantage of being more directional and therefore less susceptible to feedback when using correctly placed stage monitors.

Output Level:

Due to its neodymium magnet, the Beta 58A has greater sensitivity and a 4dB hotter output than the SM58

Frequency Response:

The Beta58 has an extended low-end and high-end compared to the SM58. This does not necessarily mean the Beta58 is better, and depending on the style/tonal characteristic of your voice, you may or may not benefit from the extended frequency response.

Handling Noise:

The Beta 58A is quieter than the SM58 due to its advanced pneumatic shock mount system

Grille:

The Beta 58A has a hardened grille, which makes it more difficult to dent.

Summary

To summarise, the Beta58A is no doubt an upgrade for many applications, but in some scenarios, these upgrades can also be a hindrance. For example, if you’re performing in a heavy-metal band, and you typically shout or scream into your mic – you may not want the extra sensitivity and detail of the Beta58. It’s all a matter of application and taste – which do you prefer?

For further information on choosing the right microphone, you may find our previous post on “How to Choose the Right Microphone” helpful.

Further mic comparison posts available on this website:

SM58 and the Beta58 Comparison

Sm57 and SM7B

SM57 vs Beta 57

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Marc Henshall

Marc forms part of our Pro Audio team at Shure UK and specialises in Digital Marketing. He also holds a BSc First Class Hons Degree in Music Technology. When not at work he enjoys playing the guitar, producing music, and dabbling in DIY (preferably with a good craft beer or two).

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23 Comments

  • Grant Black says:

    I use in ear monitoring and am contemplating a new mic. I have used an SM55 but this seems to have a small buzz in my IEMs not audible in the mix FOH. I have tried different other brands but now have decided on an SM 58 or beta58. Can’t make up my mind on which. I sing Celtic backing vocals. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks.

  • Pedro Errazuriz says:

    I’m a bass singer. which of these two would be better for generally low notes? in rock music but also many other types.
    thanks!

  • Piyush Sharma says:

    Price of Shure SM58 in US is $99 and in UK is £95… You do know that $1 is not equal to £1… can you explain why the Shure Mic is £20 more expensive and costs actually more than the US price?

    • shureUK says:

      Hello. Thanks for your question. The UK market is very different to the US. If you would like to understand more, please feel free to contact us on social@shure.co.uk and we can direct your enquiry to the appropriate staff. Thank you.

  • Jonathan Benitez says:

    I wonder if Shure is planning to create a mic which has the same features of beta58a but with the same polar pattern of the sm58.

    • shureUK says:

      Thanks for your comment. It’s difficult to achieve. The creation of a super-cardioid polar pattern contributes to the slightly different frequency response. When creating a dynamic mic, it’s really a case of the designers vs physics. However, we have created a new dynamic mic that pushes the boundaries of physics quite a bit; have you seen the KSM8 yet?

      Here’s a bit of detail for you: http://shureuk.wpengine.com/what-is-dualdyne-understanding-the-shure-ksm8/

      • Jonathan Benitez says:

        Did some research and went through some reviews about it. Sounds like a super awesome mic but i still have to convince myself with it’s price. Thanks for letting me know anout this mic.

        • shureUK says:

          No worries. Yea, it’s certainly a step up in price. How are you using the mic? Perhaps we can help recommend something for you based on application?

          • Jonathan Benitez says:

            I use it for screaming and singing. We practice in a small studio, just enough space for instruments and amps. My problem is my voice can’t be heard unless i cup and sing super close to the mic which makes the vocals bad; or they have to decrease the amps volume which they find boring.

          • Mark says:

            Hi what would you recommend for micing up a sax? Studio and stage? Thanks. Currently use SM58, would a Beta be better for that purpose? Thanks Mark

  • mattia says:

    Hi! i find this discussion extremely helpful, i got a question, i need to scream, to beatboxing and doing jew’s harp, plus i want to play more music genre so i need it to be versatile what do you suggest me? thanks a lot

    • shureUK says:

      Hey. Thanks, glad to help. A lot of the beat boxers really enjoy the SM7b in the studio. It has a full, round sound and slightly extended frequency response compared to the SM57 or similar live mics. You could use it to record your jew’s harp, but you’ll get a more natural tone using a condenser mic in this case. When all is said and done, a lot of this depends on personal taste. Hope this helps.

  • Jeff Garbutt says:

    When you say “the Beta 58A has greater sensitivity and a 4dB hotter output than the SM58” – can you please define what “hotter output” means ?

    • shureUK says:

      Hey Jeff, It’s just another term for louder. The output is 4dB louder. For what application are you looking to use the mic? Perhaps we could advise? Cheers

      • Jeff Garbutt says:

        I’m a square dance caller. My microphone needs to be clear, help me avoid feedback and have enough volume to deliver the commands that the dancers need so that they can dance. In the 1990s I used to use an AKG D1200E – then I used an AKG 2700. I noticed that the D1200E had more volume output than the 3700. About 10 years ago I switched to a Shure SM58. I then switched to a Shure SM58A beta. I also noticed a difference in volume between these two. By that I mean that the softer mikes needed to have the volume up one or two more volume settings than the others. I then started to started to look at the specifications to work out what was happening and noted that the louder mikes had higher sensitivity. I assume sensitivity means that the higher sensitivity mikes are more efficient at reproducing the input signal, so they need less amplification. Or is it some other feature that causes the microphone to sound louder? Other callers are starting to switch from AKG to Electro Voice ND 767 – and just looking at the specifications they also have a high sensitivity. But I think I am going to stay with the SM58A beta.

  • Chaz says:

    That’s funny that you mention that the beta 58a would be worse for metal, because I’m a metal vocalist (both screams and cleans), and I chose the beta over the sm58 and sm57 because it was so much louder and clearer. Maybe the sm58 is better for the guys who have to cup the mic 🙂

    • shureUK says:

      Hi Chaz. Thanks for your comment. Every voice is different; there are no rules, just guidelines. The rules were made to be broken, as they say. In your case, it sounds like the extended frequency response is helping you cut through the mix – totally valid. Cupping the mic would never be recommend, it blocks the ports that we use to create polar patters, and would therefore fundamentally change how the mic picks up sound – rarely in a good way! Cheers and we’re glad the Beta58 is serving you well.

  • Mike says:

    Soooo prefer the sm58 over the beta purely because i prefer to setup my pa’s based on cardioid patterns to avoid feedback. If you have multiple singers in your group, you want uniform cardioids to know where you stand. Supercardiods are too much of a puzzle for me some time depending on the venue floor space.

    • shureUK says:

      Thanks for your comment mike. You’re right, if used correctly super-cardioid patterns can help with feedback. If you’re using a cardioid pattern, it’s best to place the monitors directly behind the mic. For super-cardioid mics, the monitors should be placed just to the side at the rear – facing the ‘dead-spot’.

      Take care, and thanks for reading 🙂

      • Mike says:

        I do agree with what you said about performance/sound though. A powerful loud, guy will prefer the sm58 (in theory) while someone with a softer/higher voice like a female soprano or a male using falsetto (think Bono, Darren Hayes, Justin Bieber) would prefer the extra boost and response of the beta 58a (again in theory). Why I say in theory is because as a sound tech you can make adjustments with an e.q mix etc. to make them comparable to the other. They’re as a good as each other I guess.

        • Joe Smith says:

          um – what? Bono doesn’t sing with a falsetto. Further, a “powerful, loud guy” won’t necessarily prefer or be better served with the the 58, any more than a softer/higher voice with the Beta…in theory or reality. And cardioids are more prone, not less, to feedback than super-cardioids. You are right in that (and as shure has diplomatically pointed out with all their mics) neither is necessarily better than the other.

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