Shure recently launched several new devices to increase the quality and simplicity of recording to mobile devices and computers. The MOTIV series has options that utilize Lightning and USB connections. We were sent three models specifically geared toward music makers.
We received the MV88 stereo condenser ($149), the MV51 large-diaphragm condenser ($199), and the MVi interface ($129). In addition to the devices, Shure developed the ShurePlus MOTIV app to provide more control over the recording process.
This small stereo condenser microphone uses a Lightning connection and works exclusively with iOS devices (iPhones, iPods, and iPads). Utilizing Shure’s free app allows you to control the stereo width, polar pattern, and EQ. The stereo width is adjustable from sixty to 135 degrees in fifteen-degree increments, and the polar pattern can be adjusted between mono cardioid, mono bidirectional, and mid-side. The app also offers a limiter, wind reduction, left/right swap, EQ, compression, gain control (from 0 to 36 dB), and five preset level/compression settings to accommodate different recording situations, such as speech or loud music. The MV88 has a hinge that allows the capsule to adjust ninety degrees, and it comes with a travel case and a windscreen for outdoor recording.
Although I had a slim case on my iPhone 6s, the case still prevented the MV88 from attaching to the Lightning port. With the case off, the mic connected perfectly. The first thing I did was set the levels and audio preferences, and then I was free to record directly into the app. The MV88 also worked seamlessly with the native iOS video camera and most other third-party recording apps. However, it’s important to note that the gain can only be adjusted while inside Shure’s app and not during video recording or streaming.
I tested the MV88 in several recording situations: an acoustic guitar/vocal performance, drum practice, a full band rehearsal, and an interview. In each, the microphone provided crisp, clear audio. Documenting musical ideas and sending them to my fellow bandmates was an easy process with the MV88, as was recording impromptu jams, performances, and personal moments for posting to social media.
In addition to capturing great sound, the MV88 offers the highest possible level of convenience. It’s so easy to connect to a device, in fact, that you can be recording high-quality audio, anywhere, within seconds.
This large-diaphragm condenser microphone features a heavy-duty metal body with controls on the exterior surface. The back of the MV51 has an adjustable arm with threading that allows you to place it on a tabletop or attach it to a mic stand. Unlike the MV88, the gain on the MV51 can be adjusted on the microphone itself. This feature allowed me to use this mic for a Facebook Live event with Korn drummer Ray Luzier that required us to be able to quickly switch from low-volume talking to high-volume playing. The mic also comes with a headphone jack, a mute button, and five gain-level buttons.
Aesthetically, the MV51 has a classic look that pays tribute to the vintage 55 Unidyne series from Shure’s early days. Lightning and USB cables are included, so you won’t have a problem using the MV51 with most iOS and USB-enabled devices. When used with the MV51, the ShurePlus MOTIV app provides a limiter and allows you to control compression, EQ, and gain. The mounting options and exterior controls made this my favorite mic of the three for more serious mobile productions where I needed to be able to adjust gain levels without opening software.
This digital audio interface was the missing link in my mobile recording arsenal. While the MV88 and MV51 provide the microphone, the MVi has an XLR/TRS input so you can use any mic that you desire. This allowed me to mike up my entire drumkit and run a mono output from my mixer to the MVi. That setup provided the best drumset sound of the three MOTIV options that we reviewed. The interface has a sleek but rugged metal housing that features the same exterior controls found on the MV51. The unit also comes with Lightning and USB cables, so it’s compatible with most mobile devices and computers.
When the MVi is paired with Shure’s app, you have control over compression, limiting, and EQ, and there’s +20 dB gain boost. The MVi needs to be placed on a flat surface, but we’d love to see some mounting options in the future for attaching it to a mic stand or tripod. I would also love to see a second version of the MVi introduced to include another input for stereo recording.
Anyone looking for simple yet high-quality solutions for recording on mobile devices and computers has great options in the MOTIV series. The MV88, MV51, and MVi are durable, easy to use, and because no external power supply is required, ultra-portable.