Why is My SM7B So Quiet?

Picture this scenario: You’ve just invested in a shiny new Shure SM7B, a microphone beloved by many professionals in the field of recording, podcasting, and broadcasting. You plug it in, brimming with excitement, only to find that the sound level is rather low. The question is, why is my SM7B so quiet? You’re not alone; this is a common question among SM7B users.

SM7B Microphone

The Shure SM7B is a dynamic microphone that’s hailed for its excellent sound quality. However, it’s characterized by its low output level compared to other microphones, which is why your recordings may seem quieter than expected. But why is this?

A Look at the Design

The SM7B is designed with an extended frequency response, which means it can pick up a wide range of frequencies. This is excellent for capturing all the subtleties of your voice, but it also results in a lower output level. The microphone is so sensitive that it reduces the need for an amplified sound, hence, the quieter output.

Importance of Gain for the SM7B

The term “gain” in audio is akin to volume. It refers to the amount of amplification given to an audio signal. The SM7B microphone has a low sensitivity, which makes it gain-hungry. So, it requires a high level of gain, which some audio interfaces may struggle to provide.

Shure SM7B Gain Requirements

To get the best out of your SM7B, you may need to set the gain on your audio interface to a higher level. This does not mean that the microphone is malfunctioning; it’s just the way the device is designed. Think of it like a sports car that demands premium fuel to run optimally.

Using a Preamp or a Cloudlifter

If you find the gain on your audio interface isn’t enough to provide a good signal from your SM7B, don’t panic! The answer could lie in using an external preamplifier or a device known as a Cloudlifter.

Boosting the Signal with a Preamp

A preamp can give your SM7B the gain boost it needs. It provides an external amplification source before the signal hits your audio interface, resulting in a clearer, louder output.

The Magic of a Cloudlifter

A Cloudlifter works similarly to a preamp. It’s designed to be a ‘middleman’ between your SM7B and the audio interface. It can provide the additional gain your SM7B needs, while reducing the noise that may be introduced if you turn up the gain on your interface too high.

Proper Placement and Use

The way you use and place your SM7B also significantly affects its performance.

Addressing the Microphone

The SM7B is a cardioid microphone, meaning it captures sound from the front and ignores most of the noise from the sides and rear. Ensure you’re speaking directly into the front of the mic for the best results.

Positioning the Microphone

The closer you are to the microphone, the louder and richer the sound will be due to the proximity effect. A common mistake is to talk from a distance. Remember, this microphone is designed for close-up vocals.


So, is your SM7B defective because it’s quiet? Not at all! This low output is simply a characteristic of its design, and it can be remedied with some additional tools and correct usage. By understanding the SM7B’s needs and meeting them, you can unlock its full potential and revel in the high-quality audio it is acclaimed for.

If you’re looking for the best audio interface for streaming, you should definitely check out our in-depth guide.


Do I always need a preamp or Cloudlifter for my SM7B?

No, not always. If your audio interface can provide enough gain and doesn’t produce a lot of noise, you may not need these accessories.

Is it bad for the SM7B if I max out the gain on my audio interface?

While it’s not necessarily harmful, maxing out the gain on your interface could introduce unwanted noise. This is where a preamp or Cloudlifter could help.

Does the SM7B need phantom power?

No, the SM7B does not require phantom power. It’s a dynamic microphone, which generates its own electric signal.

Can the SM7B be used for both vocals and instruments?

Yes, the SM7B is versatile and can be used for recording both vocals and instruments.

What makes the SM7B so popular despite its low output level?

The SM7B offers a rich and detailed sound that few microphones can match. Also, its low output level can actually be a benefit, as it picks up less background noise.