What Mic Did Michael Jackson Use?

Michael Jackson is one of the best musical artists to ever live.

As audiophiles we obviously dig even deeper to discover how Michael went about creating his music.

With such deep analysis we often times find ourselves with so many questions.

One of the questions that I run into often is “What mic did Michael Jackson use?”

It’s only natural to be curious which is why I thought I should write out this post discussing the famous Michael Jackson microphone…

With that said let’s get right into this post..

So, what mic did Michael Jackson use?

According to Bruce Swedien’s Session notes, The Shure SM7 professional cardioid dynamic microphone was one of the microphones that was used to record Micheal Jackson’s vocals.

The Shure SM7 was introduced on the market in 1973. Back then, it was designed and launched as the industry standard microphone partly because of its directional focused sound capturing and because of its adoption in radio, television, and recording studio.

SPL and Frequency response

One of the reasons why the SM7 was used and adopted in many audio industries is because it has a wide frequency response and the ability to withstand high sound pressure level or SPL. This makes it usable and applicable in any recording or broadcasting setting.

Engineers are known to use it in recording studios, to pick up a variety of sources such as horns, vocals, electric guitar and bass guitar amplifiers, and parts of the drum kit especially bass drum or “kick”.

It’s ability to withstand high sound pressure makes it an even better candidate for recording drum instruments that can get pretty loud.

Use of the SM7 by other musicians

Like I’ve mentioned the SM7 was an industry standard at one point, it is for this reason that many famous acts from the 70s used it in in recording.

I’m going to list some of the people that used the SM7.

Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger of the rolling stones had his vocals recorded in the mid 70s with two microphones…..an SM7 and a condenser microphone with one or the other chosen during mixdown, or a combination of the two.

Micheal Jackson

Engineer and producer Bruce Swedien used a variety of microphones, one of which was the SM7 to record Michael Jackson’s vocals for Thriller in 1982.

The SM7 is reportedly the only vocal microphone on Pretty Young Thing.

According to Swediens session notes, the SM7 was most likely the microphone used for Billie Jean.

James Ingram

Bruce Swedien is also known to have used the SM7 in 1981 for James Ingram singing Just Once.

The Number of the Beast

The album, The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden released in 1982 employed an SM7 for the vocals of Bruce Dickinson. This is because the microphone can handle high dynamic range, even for heavy metal vocalists.

James Hetfield

 In the early 2000’s, the SM7 was used to record the vocals of singer & guitarist James Hetfield for the Metallica album St. Anger.

Whitney Houston

The engineer Michael Barbiero is also known for having chosen the SM7 in combination with other microphones for Whitney Houston in 1983–1984, heard on her debut album in 1985.

Kid Rock and others

Bassist and engineer Michael Bradford put an SM7 in front of Kid Rock for the album “The History of Rock” in 2000; he had learned of the SM7 from Gerard Smerek.

Sheryl Crow sang into an SM7 for The Globe Sessions in 1998, and Bob Dylan has recorded with it.

 The vocals of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis in “Give It Away” were recorded into an SM7 in 1991, as were the vocals of Maroon 5’s Adam Levine on “This Love”, recorded in 2002. Donald Glover used the SM7 for some songs on the Childish Gambino Camp album in 2011.

Final Thoughts

Micheal Jackson is known to have recorded with; The Shure SM7 dynamic microphone, introduced in 1973.

 According to Shure, seven years of field research went into the designing of what was intended to be the finest unidirectional dynamic microphone ever.

The SM7 uses the same Unidyne III acoustical principle as the SM57 and SM58, but has a thinner and more flexible diaphragm.

Furthermore, the SM7 has three times as many turns of wire on its voice coil compared to the SM57/SM58. This, in turn, reduces the resonant frequency of the mic and, combined with the larger housing, provides rich low-end response.

These days the more commonly used microphone mostly in podcasting work, is the SM7B which is a newer version of the SM7.

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