The SM7b is a great mic and, with the right preamp, can be the center vocal mic in a professional studio. Not only does this mic sound great on vocals (especially male, in the heavier styles of music), but also on guitar cabinets, snare drum, hi-hats and the occasional bass drum. This was the mic used to record the vocals on the highest selling album of all time, Michael Jackson's Thriller!
I mentioned above that this can be a great mic, with the correct preamp. The major downfall of the SM7b is it needs a lot of gain to drive it. If you're dealing with quieter vocalists and sources, 60db of gain in your preamps might be cutting it a bit short, since most preamps tend to get noisy in the last 20-25% of their range. This microphone is NOT particularly stunning through stock preamps in most interfaces (even the $2000 ones), fairly bland and similar in sound to a SM57/58. The mic REALLY comes to life with an excellent preamp, such as those offered by Universal Audio and API. Don't get me wrong, you can still get excellent results from it with lower end preamps, but don't expect it to sound significantly better than condensers in its price range (used), through one.
When it comes to dynamics, I go to Shure. Granted, that opinion had been because of their SM58 alone, but no more. When I was looking for a mic to handle what I call "long haul" digital narration projects (well, okay, that and I wanted to buy another pro-grade microphone. Can you blame me?), I ultimately came down to two mics (say 'em with me now): the Electro Voice RE20 and the Shure SM7B. My voice is low and at it's lower and quieter moments has a bit of a rumble, so after a few voice tests at a local shop, I went with the SM7B. It handles my voice perfectly with no thinning or dampening. I've never been happier. One note: you're going to need a good amount of clean gain to drive this puppy. I pair mine with a Grace m101 and it absolutely soars!
This mic picks up all the nuance and character that I want while also providing amazing ambient noise rejection. I can record in any room in my house and the sound is nearly the same in each place. And while I wouldn't call this microphone a jack of all trades, that doesn't stop me from telling you that I love this microphone! You will too.
Sonically it sounds great, ideal for fattening whatever your trying to record and with good EQ'ing, even an amateur will hear the difference!! It makes a great impression, any talent walks into your studio and sees an SM7 and it will say a lot about you as an engineer. If I must be a bully, it doesn't get a 5 because you do need a preamp with a lot of gain. The only mics that stand up to the SM7 cost $3000+ dollars, and even then, the SM7 STILL stands amongst them!
You see these in a lot of radio studios and recording studios alike. I never tried one of these because I was under the impression they were strictly for voicover work. How wrong I was. This is a dynamic mic in function but I believe the sound is more in the condenser range. It's one of those acts like this but sounds like that mics you see pop up. Apparently it's meant to be a very balanced mic and I'd say that's a fair description. It's a very neutral sound.
Oddly enough, I first came into contact with one of these during a live session recording. I had seem them before being used on vocals, but in this particular setting I was given one to use on my own vocals. I looked at the engineer like he was crazy. It was a live acoustic session. I had a guitar, drums, and an acoustic bass, on top of me singing. The engineer assured me it would sound good. SO we did it. Ended up sounding great. There's something about this mic that makes it sound very at home with acoustic instruments on vocals. I later bought one and tried a lot of experimenting with it, and found that it did much better in laid back mixes than full band mixes. To be fair, it's very hard to find a mic that fits both these situations. Most only do one well. I really like the SM7B for vocals in acoustic music. I cut a whole album with it actually. I've come to the conclusion that for home recording on a budget, this is very solid vocal mic. You really can't go wrong for the money. It does require a bit of EQ based on what sound you want it to have because of how inherently neutral it is. Honestly though, I found that half the time is sounds pretty good untouched. It can be boomy if you have a low voice. But no worries. Just cut it at 200 hz.
The reason that the Shure SM7B is so well loved in recording studios and live applications all over the planet is because the microphone is unbelievably smooth sounding. It imparts this odd pre-compressed sound. It tames harshness. It tames the sibilance of any singer and anything else, really. That's why it will always find a home anywhere it goes. The Shure SM7B lends itself well to lead vocals, especially, because this smooth response and small natural presence boost (you can boost it more with a switch on the bottom on the microphone, as well as a high pass/low cut filter) allows lead vocals to cut incredibly well through a dense mix. The Shure SM7B's frequency response, in tandem with its taming nature, makes it incredibly ideal for raspy and shrill vocals. This is why Michael Jackson so legendarily recorded "Thriller" on this very microphone. This is why it is so well-reputed for metal; the taming cuts down the harshness of growls and screams.
With this versatility, however, (it also excels on guitar cabs and kick drum.) the Shure SM7B has one flaw: because of the cutting nature of the SM7B's frequency response, it is very mid-heavy, making it slightly honky. In conjuncture with said honkiness, there is a distinct narrowness to the sound; the microphone, despite it's ability to sound incredibly BIG, (it is, after all, a broadcast microphone.) it still manages to sound very small at the same time. I can't really describe it; you have to find clips of the SM7B to understand what I'm saying.
However, that's all subjective, and if there were to be an objective gripe I have with the SM7B, it is the low gain of the microphone. You need a POWERFUL preamp to drive it; I would say that you would need at LEAST 60dB of quiet gain.
This microphone will always find its way into studios because it just WORKS on everything.
However, keep in mind that if you're a project musician, you shouldn't listen to a bunch of gearheads talking about this microphone. They are enamored with the ease of its use and its versatility, but understand that there is probably a microphone far more flattering on YOUR voice, and you should shop around.
But I will tell you that you won't ever go "wrong." You could certainly do more RIGHT though. Especially at $350.