Design Gratitude #6: The Shure SM7B Microphone
Also: Elizabeth Alli, Linkedin cringe, and a design systems Spotify playlist
Hey friends! 👋
Thanks for sticking with me.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…
Design gratitude 🙏
This week I’m grateful for the Shure SM7B microphone.
Are you like me and listen to a borderline unreasonable number of podcasts? Or maybe you’ve heard of an album called Thriller by a little artist named Michael Jackson? In any case, you’ve probably heard this mic in action.
It’s long been a staple in professional studio environments, but with the rise of awesome home studios and workspaces like the ones featured in Workspaces.xyz, these days you can find it just about everywhere. (See the workspaces of Adam Elmore & Alex Davis as examples)
As far as studio mics go, it’s neither cheap nor expensive. It does take a bit of extra finesse to set it up for the best output, but the results are pretty much always stellar. If you’re looking for something simpler, Shure released an evolution of the SM7B called the MV7 that has also gained a lot of traction for home audio purposes.
So why’s it a good design? Let’s count the ways.
Rams principle #2: It’s useful
Simply put, the SM7B is the definition of a workhorse design.
Track a vocalist, record a podcast, mic your guitar, the list goes on… If you have something to record, the SM7B will do at least a solid job if a not a great one.
With a built-in mic cage and pop filter as well as the option for a mechanical arm attachment, its flexibility is unassailable.
Rams principle #5: It’s unobtrusive
The SM7B seamlessly blends in with its surroundings.
It’s traditional matte black finish doesn’t draw attention; it just gets outta the way so that you can focus on making whatever audio you’re after. Because it’s designed to mount to an adjustable arm you get incredible range in terms of positioning the mic for recording purposes.
I have one attached to my desk. I pull it into place when I need it and push it back outta the way when I don’t. Unobtrusive, to a T.
Rams principle #7: It’s long-lasting
You feel the quality the second you pick up a SM7B.
The thing is built like a tank.
One particular design decision that contributes both to its usability and durability is the built in metal cage that surrounds the mic itself.
Mics have to walk the line between exposing the sensitive core for better sound capture while protecting it for long-lasting use. There are many different approaches depending on the use case, but the SM7B’s built in cage and filter do an excellent job of both guiding users to use the mic correctly while protecting it from accidents in a constantly shifting studio environment.
Coffee break links ☕
Designer of the week 🎨
Elizabeth Alli - Design teacher and founder for DesignerUp
As a founder, Elizabeth does a little bit of everything! She’s focused on teaching, so if you’re a junior designer looking to improve your skills she definitely has something for you. But at the same time, she has great pieces for more seasoned practitioners too!
In particular her YouTube series on a practical approach to color stood out to me as something I’d love every designer to dig into. Give her a follow, subscribe or just say “hey”! She’s been super kind to me and my work even when I had like 100 followers.
We appreciate you Elizabeth! 🙏
An article to read 📖
Why is Linkedin so Cringe? by Trung Phan
I’m sure you’ve all experienced the Linkedin cringe by this point. You know how it goes… as summed up by Pablo Rochat: “I’m humbled and honored to announce that I am humbled and honored”.
This piece by Trung Phan is a fascinating dive into the product and design forces at play within Linkedin that incentivize that kind of behavior.
In this case it’s a minor inconvenience, but I think it’s a useful reminder of how the design decisions we make when building information products always incentivize some kind of behavior. As the Center for Humane Tech puts it: “We are constructing the social world” and so “technology is never neutral”.
The Spotify playlist you didn’t know you needed 🎵
Jan Toman is a great follow if you’re into design systems and he just dropped this Spotify playlist to accompany us on our systems-y endeavors.
The song names he managed to find for the playlist are just so on point. 💯
It made me smile in a big way and I hope you get some joy from it too.
Signing off 🖖,
Recently on Design Gratitude 🔙
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