Shure SM58s vs JW Davis Model DM-904L

Shure SM58s vs JW Davis Model DM-904L

Here we have a mic that a good friend of mine is letting me borrow. Red Reynolds… legend in his own right, and a tremendous TX country artist regularly plays at the Texas State Fair here in Dallas. And this last year another performer (I think?) sold him a set of 3 handheld microphones. These mics are “JW Davis Model DM-904L”. They bear a striking resemblance to a Shure SM-58S (The “S” is for switch). The grille is just a little larger on the JW Davis. Here the two are next to one another in a picture, and in sound.

SM58S
DM-904L

The 58 belongs to someone who gave it to me to fix. But I am not sure who that is anymore. I wish I could remember so I could return their mic! But you can see that the two mics are similar in appearance. And I would say they share that similarity in sound. But like their appearance their sound is not identical. This measurement was based on ONLY the scripture verse from my two recordings.

And for full disclosure I am using the same preamp with the same settings on both mics. This is a Seventh Circle A12 that I built from scratch with a GAR2520 opamp that I just built in the driver’s seat. This preamp is by no means my most scientific. For that I would probably use one of my IC opamp based pres, but what fun is that? So, this preamp might be giving a subtle coloration to the two microphones. But in equal measure so it does not invalidate the test.

The above is an examination of the difference between the sound of the two mics. That EQ curve is what you would apply to the SM58 to get the sound of the DM904L. The two most notable differences in the sound are a ~2dB drop centered around 150Hz and a 3-4dB “presence boost” from 2k-10k. That wild scoop ~17k is probably of little interest as these mics really are not doing much in that area at all…

The 150Hz drop does make the 58 sound a little beefier than the JW. But the boost in the high end is much more evident, and frankly typical from just about all the Chinese mics I have ever used (LOTS… I am gonna do a Studio Projects C1 modification shootout next). This means the JW is just brighter sounding overall.

These sonic differences are in the realm of taste, and are nothing a little EQ can’t “fix”. You could very easily make one mic sound like the other with a little boost/cut around 150, and a shelf/rolloff starting around 2.5k and up.

Other qualities like output level, self noise, handling noise and build quality seem comparable across the two mics. I’d say you could hammer a nail with either one, but for that purpose a SM-57 is preferable.

So, in my opinion this is the sort of thing that is down to preferences. If you find yourself always “brightening up” the sound of a 58 then, this JW mic would make your job easier. But if you like the warmth of the 58, then you might want to just stick with that since you are going to have to apply a little EQ to get the JW mic to have that same sound.

Thanks to Red for letting me compare them!