Best Audio Interfaces for Shure SM7B – Ideal Companions!

Author: Tomas Morton | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

The Shure SM7 is a legendary microphone that Michael Jackson used on his "Thriller" album, and it has been a favorite for rock stars like Sammy Hagar and Sheryl Crow. Even some pop stars today, like Charlie Puth, have used it too.

Now, the SM7B is the newer version of the SM7, and it has even better noise shielding for electrical interference. It is a great choice if you want to record vocals but do not have an isolation booth. This microphone is especially good for podcasts and clear vocals, and it has some tone controls so you can roll off the bass or adjust the presentation.

If you want to get the most out of this microphone, it is a good idea to pair it with the right audio interface. Here are some of the best audio interfaces that would go great with the Shure SM7B.

The 6 Best Audio Interfaces for Shure SM7B

1. MOTU M2 2x2 USB-C Audio Interface

I've owned a few different MOTU interfaces before, and now I have this one too. MOTU is a big player in the portable interface game, famous for using top-notch parts to make sturdy and dependable devices. 

I was really impressed by the clean signal I got from the mic inputs on the MOTU M2, especially since the SM7B mic doesn't need a lot of color from the preamp.

Latency is a big deal when you're picking out an audio interface. That's the delay between when you make noise and when you hear it come out of your speakers or headphones.

The buffer size on your computer plays a big part in latency, but MOTU's drivers are great at reducing latency in real-time. That's another big advantage of the MOTU M2 interface.

One downside to MOTU interfaces is that they can be a bit trickier to use than other smaller interfaces. In my opinion, the software and mixer they include can be a bit tough to figure out sometimes.


2. Solid State Logic SSL2 USB Audio Interface

SSL is a well-known brand that produces top-notch consoles that have played a significant role in shaping the sound of recorded history. 

The SSL 2 interface has a feature called 4K enhancement, which adds a vintage circuit into the preamp path. This circuit is taken from the design of their famous SSL 4000 consoles from the 80s.

The SM7B microphone already sounds awesome, but when paired with the SSL 4000 feature that comes with this audio interface, it's even better. It's not just hype; it's seriously amazing. While other audio interfaces have DSP emulations of vintage hardware like the Universal Audio Apollo units, SSL uses legitimate analog circuitry for the 4K boost.

Another great thing about using this interface with the SM7B is the ultra-low noise circuitry that SSL uses on all their audio interfaces. Since the Shure mic is probably going to be used in a room with a lot of electronic equipment, like a control room of a studio or a podcast situation, it's really important to have low noise gain with great circuitry.

The only downside to this interface is that it's a little heavy and bulky compared to others. But hey, good circuitry has some weight to it, so it's not really a big deal.


3. Audient iD4 MkII USB-C Audio Interface

My studio partner who plays guitar is all about the Audient iD4 interface, and I have to say, I'm really impressed with it too. It's a great piece of gear for recording on the go or doing remote recording, and it's not just for guitarists - singers can use it too. 

The interface has a JFET DI input that provides super-detailed sound and gain for guitar pickups, which is why it's a top choice for guitarists.

But there's more! My friend is also an amazing singer/songwriter, and I've heard some awesome vocal takes from him on this interface. The preamps are seriously impressive. He uses the Shure SM7B microphone because he's always on the road, and the Shure's directional mic is perfect for isolating vocals from noisy environments like hotel rooms and backstage lounges.

He did a ton of research before choosing this interface for his laptop recording setup, and I trust his judgment - the results speak for themselves! Whenever I've recorded him in the studio and transferred files to my system through the Audient, the sound is super clear and detailed. 

And it's a great match for the SM7B, which has a more natural and darker sound than other mics. This interface is small and perfect for podcasters and those recording in smaller spaces, as it doesn't take up much desk space. This may be why so many SM7B users like this interface - it is small and cute.


4. Steinberg UR22C USB Audio Interface

Steinberg is the creator of the Cubase program, which is known as a top-quality professional DAW. This interface also includes a free version of Cubase AI, which is a great lightweight introduction to the program.

One standout feature of this interface is its high-quality microphone preamps. On the UR22C, Steinberg used Class A circuitry, which is typically found in high-end preamps from companies like Manley, Avalon, and Millennia. Pairing this with the Shure SM7B microphone will result in excellent recordings.

So here's the thing, the coolest part is that all the stuff you need to plug in is right on the front of the interface. This is perfect for when you're jamming with a singer, because you can sit next to each other. Plus, the interface looks slick and is super easy to use.

The use of USB 3.0 is another positive aspect, as it allows for low latency monitoring with mix balance controls.

The only downside is that the interface does not have visual meters for monitoring. This seems like an oversight, given the amount of visual feedback on the front of the interface. The peak button only shows when clipping has already occurred, which is less than ideal.


5. Universal Audio Volt 2 USB-C Audio Interface

Universal Audio is one of the companies that has been making the best hardware and software emulations of classic gear for years, no doubt about it. Their Apollo line of interfaces is in the top three, in my opinion, when it comes to quality and audio conversion.

Their latest compact audio interface called the Volt 2, has a really cool vintage-style look that almost makes them look like a heritage piece from their early interfaces, which is pretty sweet if you ask me.

But don't let their looks deceive you; this little guy packs a nifty punch in the preamp department. It has a mode called "vintage" that lets you add some nice tube-like saturation, very similar to their classic vintage 610 preamps, which were some of the most sought-after pieces of hardware of their time.

This makes it a great companion for the Shure SM7B, as it adds a nice color and warmth to its clean and present sound. I have always liked pairing dynamic microphones with vintage tube preamps to give them a bit more of an edge, and this is just perfect.

My only beef is that they didn't add an XLR output on the back of the unit for a more standard, balanced output to other gear or mixing boards.


6. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd gen

Focusrite has been producing high-end audio equipment for a long time. This is an updated version of their Scarlett 2i2 interface, which is currently the best-selling audio interface.

In order to make the preamp sound even better, they added some vintage ISA console transformers. People always compare ISA circuitry to Neve, which gives that dope low-mid warmth and high sheen when you're recording with a mic. The Scarlett 2i2 3rd gen is the perfect match for the Shure SM7B.

They future-proofed it by adding support for the iPad Pro, so you don't have to worry about it becoming obsolete. They also reduced the latency and included the AIR high-end enhancement in the path. If you're a broadcaster or podcaster, this interface combined with the Shure mic could be the answer to all your problems.

The gain is super clean, the Shure already has a full-bodied sound, and the preamps have that vintage vibe without getting too dirty. Plus, it comes with some premium software and plugins from Softube, Ableton, XLN, Brainworx, and (of course) Focusrite. All in all, it's a great package!


Choosing an Audio Interface for a Shure SM7B

Back in the day, there was always a huge difference between an audio interface and a good microphone preamp. Everyone just assumed that any audio interface would have a second-rate microphone preamp that would be noisy and lack good tonal capabilities. But all of that has changed!

With any of these audio interfaces, you don't need to have a separate preamp like the Cloudlifter or even a Warm Audio vintage-style preamp. Both the SSL audio interface and the Universal Audio ones come with actual circuitry to deliver the sweet nonlinear color and saturation capabilities of the old tube and transistor programs.

All of these preamps have enough quality gain to not only deliver a pristine quality signal from the Shure SM7B but also enhance its already present sound.

So, what really tips the scales on choosing just one of these interfaces over the other? Here are a few ideas to consider when making the right personal choice.

Preamp Type (Clean vs. Vintage Style)

So, you know when you look at photos of big studios with all those fancy hardware in the racks and think, "Wow, that's impressive. But why do they need so many?"

The thing is, each piece of hardware has its own unique characteristics and sounds. A Manley tube preamp and a Neve preamp, for example, sound completely different, even if they're both awesome.

Anyways, that's kind of how I see the audio interfaces in this article. The SSL and UAD both have vintage vibes and they even come with mixer software to add more preamp emulations while you're recording.

With the Volt, you can keep the vintage circuit off if you want a clean gain input, but then use a plugin emulation of an API or Neve in the software interface to add some character.

The Steinberg, MOTU, and Audient are a bit more "linear," which just means they have low distortion, noise, and color. There's nothing wrong with that, though, because the SM7B microphone sounds great even without any extra character. It's really up to you whether you want that "non-linear" vintage sound. 

Basically, we're talking about the sweet, beautiful, and subtle distortion that we call warmth or vibe.

Converters

OK, so this is the most important part of picking an audio interface, and the only real way to decide is to actually use them and compare them. You can read all the specs you want, but you can only tell how good a converter is by listening to the recorded audio, ideally side by side with other interfaces to compare.

Basically, the converter takes the analog sound and turns it into digital data. How good it does this depends on both the circuits and the clocking of the interface. It's all pretty technical, but ultimately you just know when you hear a good conversion. That's why mastering engineers spend so much on this part of their audio setup.

Software Features 

So basically, many of these interfaces are quite similar in terms of their physical specs and performance. They all have super high-quality recording abilities and can go up to a 192K sample rate.

Some offer 24-bit and others 32-bit, but honestly, it's not that big of a deal. The difference between 32-bit floating and 24-bit is way less significant than 24-bit and 16-bit. It’s hardly noticeable.

But what's really worth paying attention to, in my opinion, is the software side of things. For example, even though you can use universal audio plug-ins with any audio interface now, there's a special way that they work on Universal Audio interfaces that's pretty cool.

They modeled the input flow differences, so if you're using a vintage preamp, the volt will match the impedance of how the mic input reacts in the real physical world. That's pretty neat! But you won’t get that on a non-UA interface, and that could be something you care about.

Also, MOTU and Focusrite are both known for having amazing drivers that lower the latency. And that's super important if you want to sound great while recording on your Shure SM7B, right? 

So when you're doing your research, make sure you look into all the software-specific capabilities of these interfaces because there might be some things you didn't even realize you needed. It could be super important for your specific workflow.

Final Thoughts

I've always been fascinated by finding the perfect combination of a mic preamp and audio converters. I've tested so many different combinations to find that magic. But you know what's even better? The latest advancements in portable audio interfaces make this old debate moot.

You don't even need a lot of external rack gear anymore. Sure, some people might still want them, but trust me, you don't need any. And that's amazing because now we can make great music in smaller spaces. I love that high-end companies keep making better interfaces each year to make my microphone sound even better.

It truly is a great time for anyone who's getting into recording for the first time or even those who are already advanced pros. I feel like the playing field has been balanced, and you don't have to be a platinum-selling major-label producer to afford quality tools. I think that's very inspiring!

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About Tomas Morton

Tomas is a record producer, engineer, and synthesizer enthusiast based in Pasadena, CA. He received training at Berklee College of Music in Boston and the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA. When not in his studio, he can often be found scouring garage sales or Craigslist ads for vintage gear treasures.

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