Shure sm58 help

Hi everyone.

A while ago I bought myself a Shure sm58 microphone to use with my pc. It’s served me well, but as of now, I find that I’m in need of a higher volume whilst recording.
So I’ve been looking up how to properly boost my mic without loosing much quality, and I’ve come across some options. The problem I’ve got now, is that I don’t know which option is the best one, so this is where I’d like to ask for your help.

I was thinking about buying a preamp for my microphone cause from what I’ve read, these preamps should:

  1. Boost my microphone without having to fear quality loss.
  2. Connect through usb. Thus bypassing my crappy sound card completely, so that the quality should be even better.

But I don’t know a lot about the technical aspects of audio, So I’d have no clue weather or not all this is true.

So if I’d go for a preamp, what should I pay attention too, and do you have any suggestions of which one I should buy?
I’ve read about behringer, M-audio and presonus being some popular brands to buy preamps from, but I’d love to hear from you guys what you would suggest.

Some alternatives I’ve also heard about are buying an audio interface with a build in preamp and a converter that would basically convert the microphone plug to an USB output (like the Shure X2U .
What are your opinions on those?

Thanks in advance for any help you could provide me.

You’re treading in messy waters (to cross a metaphor).

My Shure X2U is under investigation for [drum roll] low volume. It may be broken, but under the assumption that it’s not, this is not going to solve your problem.

We know that interface units such as the Focusrite Scarlett, while they may be delightful microphone amplifiers (and nobody has ever said they weren’t), they are not mixers and they create a stereo show with your single microphone only on Left OR Right. Not both.

I have a Shure FP24 field mixer which in addition to higher than desired noise level also suffers from [second drum roll] low volume.

Straight line USB preamplifiers with no volume controls at all are best designed with low volume because while low volume can be fixed in post production, high volume, clipping and overload damage can not. Once you overload a sound track, that’s the end of your show.

My experience has been that the first equipment elevation that does not suffer from bad volume or production management requires three volume controls. A preamp or trimmer, a channel fader and a master output.

Thus we arrive at an actual small mixer such as my Peavey PV6.

I see it’s gone up. It used to be $99 USD. The Macs I use have terrific digitizers built-in so I don’t need a USB conversion. They make one with USB services built-in.

It’s wall powered, so it doesn’t suffer from bad USB power and the only second thoughts I have about owning one of these things is the mystery about how it handles USB monitoring necessary for musical overdubbing. If you’re not trying to create your own orchestra one instrument at a time, this seems to be to be a terrific way to go.

Mixers larger than this mostly all have the required gain and controls and it’s possible to get slightly smaller mixers that do, too. It’s just I have no hands-on with them.


This Behringer unit is smaller (and cheaper).

My impression of Behringer is they make terrific products, but that mixer does not have USB, so you would need a digitizer such as a Behringer UCA202.

That’s my analog Peavey connected to a Windows laptop. That configuration is one of the Hardware Solutions we reviewed for Perfect Overdubbing.


The tiny Behringer mixer does have one feature I don’t like. It has always-on Phantom Power. All of my other mixers and the X2U have the ability to turn it on and off.

Much more expensive microphones may require power from the mixer to work. One way to deliver it is via Phantom Power which sends battery voltage up the mic cable at the same time that the music is coming down. It should not affect or damage microphones that do not require Phantom, but it makes my left-brain engineer squirm in his seat that he can’t turn it off.

This is a broadcast sound shoot I did with the Peavey Mixer, Mac, Audacity and a microphone that requires Phantom Power.


Mixers intended for professional use will generally have separate switches for phantom power on each channel (“per channel phantom”). This comes at a cost, both in money and in control layout space. As you remarked, the Behringer is “smaller and cheaper”.

Mixers intended for professional use

What’s the smallest mixer you know of which can do that?

The “Sound Devices 633” is a pretty compact 6 channel mixer.
Each channel has selectable 12v / 24v phantom power.
Yours for only $3000.

We’ll get two. One for weekends.

I do have a tiny field mixer I like very much. The Shure FP33 – yours for only $1500 USD, and it doesn’t have USB.


Thanks for the fast replies!

I’ve already heard of the doubt-able quality of the X2U, so since you seem to have quite some problems with it too, I think I’d better scratch that option off of my list. Thanks for the extra insight on that matter.

So what you’re saying here is that I’d better not go for an audio interface because of the fact that my microphone only records one channel, am I right?

Thanks for the suggestions. Those 2 do look pretty neat, but I’ve got to say that I’m a bit afraid of buying one of those because they look terribly intimidating. I’d have no idea what to do with half of those knobs and buttons. Also, for as far as I can tell, it seems these have way more inputs than I need. I don’t plan on using anything else than my shure microphone with it, so wouldn’t it be overkill to have that many?

In your second post you mention that you’ve connected your Peavey to your windows laptop by the means of that digitalizer. So if I’d buy a peavey, what do you think would be the best way to go? Buy the one you have with a digitalizer, or buy the second one that can immediately connect through USB? Or is there not much difference there?

This one is indeed a lot cheaper, but except for the lesser amount of inputs and the always on phantom power, does it have anything that makes it worse (or better) than the Peavey you talked about?

On a sidenote: What’s the benefit of having and off and on switch for the phantom power when it doesn’t affect the mics that don’t need it?

Thanks again for all the help.


Probably the most important thing: Never ever use a ribbon mic with phantom power unless the instructions for the microphone explicitly say that you must use phantom power. Most ribbon microphones will be destroyed by phantom power.

You may find a few other microphones that “don’t like” phantom power - I used to have an electret microphone that didn’t work if phantom power was switched on (though it was not damaged by the phantom power).

So what you’re saying here is that I’d better not go for an audio interface because of the fact that my microphone only records one channel, am I right?

You though this was going to be simple…

As I don’t own a Scarlett, I can only guess at it from anecdotal evidence. It’s possible through software drivers you can steer any microphone to any output or create mono or stereo. I just don’t know. I know the Shure X2U will record in either stereo or mono with Audacity – I just tested it – so all the bases are covered. I also know that when people have troubles with the Scarlett they seem to be arm wrestling with the software, not the actual device.

I’m a bit afraid of buying one of those because they look terribly intimidating.

The problem with mixers is there is no way to hide the controls you will never use. I did a dog and pony show at work and I made a picture of our mixer where I blocked out all the knobs they don’t use for day-to-day operation and will probably never use. It looked much more manageable when I did that. The PV6 will happily mix a podcast with four live microphones and two music players, so yes, you will only be using a very small fraction of what it can do. I can’t remember ever sending more than one microphone through mine.

But I know it works and I hold onto proven equipment with white knuckles.

it seems these have way more inputs than I need.

It does, but when you shrink smaller than about that size, you start getting equipment that takes shortcuts or has unfortunate features you really don’t want. I would kill to have my X2U do what I want. It’s got all the parts, indicators and controls, it’s convenient (I have a picture of it sticking out of my jeans pocket) and it sounds good after you amplify the work loud enough.

So if I’d buy a peavey, what do you think would be the best way to go? Buy the one you have with a digitalizer, or buy the second one that can immediately connect through USB? Or is there not much difference there?

What’s the show? I don’t think you ever told us what you’re doing.

What’s the benefit of having and off and on switch for the phantom power when it doesn’t affect the mics that don’t need it?

There is an additional group of microphones that can be damaged by plugging into Phantom Power by accident. Any sound professional will make sure Phantom Power is not applied anywhere it’s not wanted or needed first thing. It’s one of our “land mine” problems.

See illustration. I have one of those microphones. It’s one of the models that can be reduced to garbage by plugging it in with Phantom Power running. So this problem is not an academic fairy tale. It’s sitting in a box next to me.

That’s the crucial bit.
If you (Koz) remember bgravato (participant in the longest topic on the forum), he had a specific need (recording one acoustic guitar) and ended up with a 2 channel ART USB pre-amp and a really nice (though still in the “budget” range) condenser mic (a “T-bone” if I remember correctly) and produced some really good recordings. The point being that he got the right kit for the job.

That would be the Portuguese, wintertime hiker, classical guitarist. I remember him. I didn’t remember how he did it, though. Koz

Hello again. Sorry for being a day later, but I couldn’t type up something yesterday.

I’m really just an amateur in recording, so there isn’t really any show. I’m just looking to improve my equipment to work on some personal projects, like some voice acting and/or singing.
Ultimately, I’d also love to use it for some podcasts, or commentaries.
Should have said something about my goals earlier indeed, so that you guys can help me with a better understanding of my situation.

As for the rest, I can see that you’ve got some really great experiences with the Peavy, so I can certainly understand why you’d suggest it.
Since you seem to say that most of the people you know actually don’t use most of its features, do you think it would be safe for me to use it too without too much prior knowledge?

Thanks for the heads up about that. I don’t have any other microphone except the shure right now, but if I’m gonna look for another one this is something that’s pretty good to know.


Indeed don’t be afraid of the Peavey. It’s got a lot of knobs because they try to make these things a flexible as possible. One “gotcha” to be aware of is that not all of the channels are the same (that’s part of the “flexible as possible” bit.) There is a block diagram on page 13 of the user manual (which can be downloaded from the Peavey website), spend some time studying it and it will probably start to make some sense as to how it all works.

Here’s what a one microphone mixer looks like (illustration). Click the picture.

The controls that are blacked out are turned off, turned to neutral or switched off. You may need an adapter if your headphones have a 1/8" plug instead of the 1/4" plug called for here.

The connection to the computer is on the rear. It’s either USB or standard HiFi RCAs like this.

The analog mixer takes that Behringer UCA202 (or equivalent) to connect to the computer, assuming the normal ratty sound connections on a Windows laptop.

The USB mixer version plugs straight into the computer.

I should go back and see which preamplifier Bruno (bgravato) used with his microphone and guitar. That was simple and worked very well. He started cranking out top quality work at the end of the discussion thread.


Here it is. Yes, it’s still available.

Two “problems” with this one. It has the left/right thing. Anything you plug into the LEFT microphone connection appears as a left voice in a stereo show. It’s easily fixed, but you have to fix it every time. That and because of the limited controls, the volume may be on the restrained (quiet) side, although Bruno didn’t seem to have any problem with it. We know he was doing post-production with his work, so he could have just folded volume correction into the process.

He was playing classic guitar between two and three feet away from the mic, so he wasn’t blowing anybody over with high volume.

It does one thing that I like very much. You can run the unit from its own batteries sidestepping the USB battery noise problem we’ve been having with some posters.

Oh, and it claims to be able to do that fancy headphone monitoring thing where you can listen to yourself when you do overdubbing. That’s where the singing “group” is one guy. First he records the tenor, then he goes back and records the bass…etc. We had a recent post where a country and western singer produced multiple songs where he did everything including harmony lead and background singers.

“OK, it’s Thursday. Today I sing tenor backup with accompaniment guitar. Friday is one of the two drum tracks.”

This is the configuration I used when I wrote pieces of the overdubbing tutorial. That’s why the headphone (earbud) is plugged into the USB adapter instead of the computer or the mixer. That provides Perfect Overdubbing where you can hear yourself live in the mix. You should consider that if you plan on getting fancier later.


Thanks everyone for all the help and info surrounding the peavey. I’ll most certainly keep it in mind when I finally decide on something.

But for now I’d still like to get some more information on the alternatives, like the other one you suggested in your last post, Koz.

What would the easy fix be for this problem? I’m guessing it’s better for me to know that before buying anything with such a “problem”.

My main focus is still to up the output volume of my microphone, and since it’s a Dynamic, it’s already pretty low.
From what I’ve read from Steve, the guy who bought this used a condenser mic alongside this preamp, which is probably what allowed him to play from such a distance. I, myself, wouldn’t be using my mic from so far, but do you still think this preamp will do the trick for me then?

Is this a problem I should expect from a unit that gets its power from the wall too (Like the peavey), or is it something that only occurs when the preamp gets his power from the USB?


I frequently reference “Sweetwater” in my posts. They’re not the cheapest supplier, but they do very well, have good support and their web page has terrific magnifiers on the illustrations. It’s next best thing to walking into the store and holding a product. That and they put jujubes and gummy bears in the bottom of the shipping container.

I bring this up because I’m talking to them about how the headphones work on their USB mixer. That’s the reason I have not been able to recommend the USB version of the mixer. Overdubbing takes very specific headphone connections.

I’ll post back when I find out. Right now I’m getting shuffled between support people until they find one that can answer the question. That and I want to talk to the guy who does the gummy bears.

After Bruno’s ‘Arts Preamp’, I’m afraid I’m going to run out. You have comments on everything I have, know about or have used successfully.

The smaller, less complicated amplifiers tend to get that way with shortcuts and the need to compensate for newbie operators. That’s what usually gives you quiet volume. Again, you can usually make up for Quiet. Overload is fatal.

It does occur to me to ask about your soundcard. The two soundcards I have feature an option that offers “20dB boost” in the microphone channel. Does yours? Root around in the Sound Control Panels. You may not need a fancy preamplifier at all if your soundcard can get louder.

– If you have a stereo show with the voice only on one side –

Import the track if it isn’t there already.
Open the menu list from the little black arrow on the left > Split Stereo Track.
[x] delete the empty track.
Menu again > Mono.

That mono track will play on both left and right in most if not all players even though it’s only one track.

I have occasional need to deliver a stereo show with the same voice on both sides. In that case:

Starting with your mono track from above > Control-D (duplicate).
Menu again > Make Stereo Track.


Sorry. Missed one. We have been getting complaints of people with USB-powered sound equipment getting “frying mosquitos” noise in their performances. We know what that is. That’s the noise a normal computer makes when it’s working, but it doesn’t normally get into the show. Our guess is the computer makers have been creating less and less well-built USB connections and the sound makers have been paying less and less attention to ignoring interference. The combination of those two is not good. You can’t filter out that background screeching whine in post production and it’s possible you just can’t use that computer in that way for sound.