The Joe Rogan Experience is one of my personal favourite podcasts. The guests are interesting, the discussions are intriguing, and the production is excellent. Speaking of production, microphones make up a big part of podcasts!
So what microphones are used in the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast? The microphones used in the Joe Rogan Experience podcast are multiple models of the Shure SM7B. The Shure SM7B is a dynamic moving coil microphone with a cardioid polar pattern.
The Shure SM7B (link to check the price on Amazon) is a popular mic in the broadcasting world for good reason! Let’s discuss the SM7B and its role in the JRE podcast in this article!
The Shure SM7B is featured on My New Microphone’s 50 Best Microphones Of All Time.
*The SM7B is the microphone used in the JRE as of the writing of this article*
What Makes A Great Podcast Microphone?
It goes without saying that no microphone(s) means no show! Microphones are obviously critical when producing a podcast, but what makes a great podcast microphone?
Addressing The Space
Before considering the proper microphone, it’s best to survey the space. The Joe Rogan Experience is recorded in a relatively unchanging studio space. A professional studio-grade microphone would be a great choice.
The permanent indoor setup gives several advantages:
- No wind and therefore no need for a microphone windscreen.
- Permanent mic boom arms can be set up for reduced handling noise.
- Less overall ambient noise level and less variation in ambient noise.
One issue the JRE handles well is that the acoustic space isn’t sound-treated like a professional vocal booth. The low sensitivity of the SM7B rejects much of the extraneous noise in the space.
Favourable Characteristics For Vocal Microphones
We want a certain set of characteristics in a podcast microphone.
In larger, untreated areas like in the JRE, it’s good to have a microphone with lower sensitivity. A lower sensitivity rating means less ambient sound will be captured by the microphone. Low sensitivity typically means a dynamic microphone, like the SM7B.
When in a treated space with little to no ambient sound, a more sensitive condenser microphone may be a better choice.
The benefit with low sensitivity dynamic mics is that they pick up immediate sound sources and tend to reject the distant sounds and room noises that happen in an untreated space.
For more information on microphone sensitivity, check out my articles What Is Microphone Sensitivity? An In-Depth Description and What Is A Good Microphone Sensitivity Rating?
Similarly, a microphone with hum rejection helps tremendously in getting a cleaner signal. This is especially critical when there are electronic devices like computers in the same room as the microphones.
To learn how to rid of microphone noise in general, check out my article 15 Ways To Effectively Reduce Microphone Noise.
An effective shock mount is also crucial for diminishing extraneous handling noise from being captured by the microphone. Some microphones have built-in shock mounts, while others come with external shock mounts. I’d recommend avoiding microphones without proper shock mounting.
For more information on microphone shock mounts, check out my articles What Is A Microphone Shock Mount And Why Is It Important? and Best Microphone Shock Mounts.
Vocal Presence Boost
It’s beneficial to choose a microphone that emphasizes the frequencies related to speech intelligibility. In other words, a microphone with a presence boost. Typically this is an increased sensitivity between 3-6 kHz. The frequency response graphs of microphones are a great way to visualize if there’s a presence boost or not.
For a more detailed read on vocal presence in microphones, check out my article What Does “Presence” Mean In Terms Of Microphones?
Much like the shock mount, some microphones have effective pop filters built into their design while others require external pop filters. Protecting the microphone from plosives/popping is essential for capturing the highest quality speech for a podcast.
To learn more about microphone pop filters, check out my articles What Is A Microphone Pop Filter And When Should You Use One? and Best Microphone Pop Filters.
The Shure SM7B contains all of the above characteristics, making it an excellent podcast microphone. It’s no wonder the JRE podcast choose the Shure SM7B vocal dynamic microphones as their go-to. Let’s discuss this wonderful mic in more detail.
The Shure SM7B Dynamic Microphone
The Shure SM7B cardioid vocal dynamic microphone was designed for voice and is a popular microphone in broadcasting and recording (specifically in studio environments).
What makes the SM7B such a great microphone for podcasting? As alluded to earlier, the answer is found in its specifications.
Let’s discuss the Shure SM7B microphone in a bit more detail, covering the following specs:
- Cardioid Polar Pattern
- Frequency Response
- Shock Mount
- Electromagnetic Hum Rejection
Cardioid Polar Pattern
The cardioid polar “pickup” pattern means the SM7B is sensitive to sound where it’s pointed and it rejects the sound from behind. The SM7B is a top address microphone and so the “top” of the microphone is the direction the microphone is “pointing.”
Cardioid pickup patterns are excellent for capturing the speech of a single individual while rejecting the voices of others (who are positioned away from where the microphone is pointing).
In 1-on-1 conversations, Joe and his guest face one another across the table. Having an SM7B pointed at each conversationalist (the mics pointed in the opposite direction from one another) provides the cleanest signals of each speaker.
When there are multiple guests on the show, the SM7Bs are positioned in such a way to capture their intended speaker while rejecting the other speakers as much as possible.
The cardioid pattern of the SM7B is tremendously consistent up to roughly 6 kHz and so the mic provides little off-axis colouration. This extends the freedom of movement around the microphone without drastically changing the sound of the speaker’s voice.
For more information on the cardioid polar pattern, check out my article What Is A Cardioid Microphone? (Polar Pattern + Mic Examples).
The frequency response of the SM7B is 50 Hz – 20,000 Hz and includes two switchable options: a bass roll-off and mid-range emphasis switch.
Default Frequency Response
- The default frequency response of the SM7B includes a gentle roll-off of bass starting at ~150 Hz down to −5 dB @ 50 Hz.
- It has a nice presence boost of a few dB @ 5-6 kHz.
- And a sharp high-frequency roll-off at around 13-14 kHz even though the frequency range says it captures up to 20 Hz.
Bass Roll-Off Switch
The bass roll-off switch creates a steeper high-pass filter starting at 350 Hz. The switch changes the sensitivity of the microphone to −5 dB @ ~180 Hz and −16 dB @ 50 Hz.
Mid-Range Emphasis Switch
The mid-range emphasis switch increases the SM7B’s sensitivity between 2 kHz and 11 kHz by up to 4 dB.
I’m unsure of which switches, if any, are engaged when recording the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
The presence boost inherent in the SM7B makes it a superb vocal microphone. The increased sensitivity between 5-6 kHz captures more speech intelligibility.
The bass roll-off (in both the default mode and the bass roll-off mode) of the SM7B reduces the amount of popping/plosives in the mic while also reducing the amount of handling noise. The boom arm/stand also helps to greatly decrease handling noise and low-end rumble.
For more information on microphone frequency response, check out my article Complete Guide To Microphone Frequency Response (With Mic Examples).
For more information on microphone high-pass filters, check out my article What Is A Microphone High-Pass Filter And Why Use One?
The sensitivity of the Shure SM7B is rated as: Open Circuit Voltage: – 59.0 dB (1.12 mV).
This is a very low sensitivity rating, which is good and bad. The microphone won’t capture much ambient noise in the large, acoustically untreated room the JRE is recorded in. However, extra actions must be taken in order to “unlock the potential” of these microphones and capture a strong signal.
The primary key is to keep the microphone close to the speaker. “Pull this sucker up!”
The second is to have a strong, clean preamp that will provide enough gain without degrading the signal-to-noise ratio. In the JRE podcast, the SM7Bs are sent through the preamps of the Behringer XENYX X1222USB mixer.
For more information on microphone sensitivity, check out my article What Is Microphone Sensitivity And Why Does It Matter?
The windscreen on the SM7B is the Shure model RK345.
This screen aids in reducing plosives/popping in the microphone along with the bass-roll off and boom stand.
No other pop filters are used in the JRE. Perhaps this is because the podcast is also filmed and pop filters are generally bulky.
Although the SM7B doesn’t look like it has an excellent shock mount, it does!
Shure’s SM7B has an “internal air-suspension shock and vibration isolator.” This shock mount greatly diminishes the amount of low-end rumble and handling noise that would otherwise get picked up by the microphone. The boom arm used in the JRE helps to further isolate the microphone from picking up external vibrations.
Electromagnetic Hum Rejection
The rejection of electromagnetic hum is extremely important in the JRE space. Camera equipment, computers, monitors, and other electronic devices in the room greatly increase the potential for hum in microphones. The SM7B does an excellent job of rejecting electromagnetic hum and is “optimized for shielding against broadband interference emitted by computer monitors.”
What microphone boom arm stand does the Joe Rogan Experience podcast use? The mic stands/boom arms used in the Joe Rogan Experience podcast are Yellowtek M!KA. The Yellowtek M!KA microphone stand is a professional broadcast standard just like the Shure SM7B microphones used on the JRE podcast.
What other popular podcasts use the Shure SM7B?
- Good Life Project
- Y Combinator
- The Breakfast Club
The Shure SM7B is one of my top recommended microphones. To read more about my recommended gear, check out page Full List Of Microphone Brands/Manufacturers.