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October 26, 2020
When you’re creating a podcast or building up your Twitch following, the last thing you want to do is think long and hard about what microphone to buy. Fortunately, the Shure MV7 is an easy pick for content creators thanks to its dual XLR and USB outputs, a system that simplifies the recording process and makes backup audio files compulsory.
The Shure MV7 is a great tool that captures excellent audio in any situation. We spent a week with the MV7 to see if deserves a spot on your mantle.
Editor’s note: this Shure MV7 review was updated on September 29, 2023, to add the Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB and Rode PodMic USB as alternatives with XLR and USB connectivity, and to update formatting.
Podcasters should get this cardioid microphone because it can be used as a USB or XLR mic—you can even use both outputs simultaneously. Gamers will also appreciate this Teamspeak and MFI-certified microphone for how it simplifies the streaming process. Last but not least, Twitch streamers and YouTubers should consider this microphone for in-studio videos since it’s easy to adjust the sound to your specific content profile.
What is it like to use the Shure MV7?’
The Shure MV7 is an approachable microphone that lacks buttons and switches; instead, Shure outfitted the mic with a touch panel decorated by a row of LED lights to indicate the gain level. The panel also includes a mic mute toggle for on-the-fly changes. On the back of the body, you’ll find an XLR, (a somewhat outdated) microUSB, and headphone jack output. It features other, more premium comforts like adjustable frequency responses — though, you must download the ShurePlus MOTIV app.
The touch panel looks cool, albeit a little out of place on this classic microphone design, but I found it less effective than standard knobs, dials, and switches. It’s hard to make volume adjustments when speaking because doing so requires two hands — one to hold the mic and the other to slide along the touch panel. Although the process isn’t laborious, the problem lies in how touching the mic introduces unwanted noise into the recording. If you need to adjust your gain, be sure that your mic stops moving before you start recording again.
The all-metal chassis appears impervious to scuffs, and it protects internal components like the recording capsule and internal shock mount. You may adjust the metal yoke’s clamping force, or remove it completely.
One of the coolest things about the Shure MV7 microphone is that you can use the XLR and USB outputs at the same time. This isn’t just redundancy for redundancy’s sake — it lets you save both a low-resolution file for reference over USB, and a high-resolution file for post-production over the XLR connection. This is great if you don’t have time to edit an audio file, or if it came out perfectly on the first try. It’s also nice to have as a transcription reference if you’re recording a conversation. Shure includes a USB-A to microUSB cable, and a USB-C to microUSB cable.
Anyone familiar with photography may recognize this dual output setup as something akin to shooting in RAW and JPEG. If you’re working on a time crunch and need to deliver an assignment straight away, the JPEG file is easier to share and manage, but the greater bit-depth RAW file contains more data which affects things like dynamic range.
The Shure MV7 comes with everything you need to start recording, however, there are a few extras you may want to pick up in order to make production easier.
- Microphone stand
If you’re working from a desktop, a compact mounted boom arm is easier to manage. You can even get a proprietary desktop mic stand directly from Shure.
- XLR cable
If you want balanced audio, you can purchase an XLR cable to connect the mic to an audio interface. Shure provides microUSB to USB-A and microUSB to USB-C cables, for USB recording.
- The MV7 does not require phantom power.
It won’t damage the hardware if you pair it with your CL-1 Cloudlifter preamp ($149 at Amazon) though.
How does the ShurePlus MOTIV app work?
You must download the ShurePlus MOTIV app to get the most out of the Shure MV7 USB mic. This software is available on your PC or your Android/iOS device. At first, this may seem like a nuisance, but its utility opens up a lot of possibilities from basic recording modes to easier mic sharing. The app also makes it easy to reference the manual, and the only way to receive firmware updates.
Auto level mode
If you don’t have the time to deal with manual settings, you can rely on Shure’s auto mode to do all of the heavy lifting. Your options are more limited in auto mode, but the tools are very powerful. The mic position toggle is my favorite control because it optimizes the settings depending on your proximity to the microphone. You can have the mic out-of-frame, and set it to far, or keep it in-frame and set it to near — either way, you’re rewarded with a clear product.
The Shure MV7 can capture a perfect recording in an imperfect room.
You can also adjust the frequency response of the microphone with three presets tilted Dark, Natural, and Bright (more on those later). Other options include basic controls like a mic mute toggle and a monitor mix slider. The latter lets you increase or decrease the loudness of your voice through your headphones. If you fancy yourself more of a pro, click on over to the manual side.
The four different EQ profiles harken back to the hardware switches found on the SM7B, but instead of just three options, the MV7 gives you four. Low-voiced speakers who like to lean into the mic will get plenty of use from the high pass and presence boost preset. A limiter toggle sits below the EQ settings; you can enable it to reduce audio clipping.
At the very bottom of the app window is the compressor slider, and you have one of four options: off, light, medium, and heavy. When you increase the compressor effect, you reduce the dynamic range (difference between the loudest and quietest sounds) of the recording. This is a clever tool for spoken word content, but you may want to hold off on using it for singing — at least until you open your DAW for post-production. There’s also a limiter toggle, which is still a means of dynamic processing but with a much greater compression ratio.
You can save the presets within the app, which makes it easy to cycle through a commonly used setting. You can lock the touch panel, so it doesn’t register any touches and reconfigure the settings. A dedicated digital signal processor (DSP) inside the mic remembers the app settings between devices — switching from your PC to your PlayStation 4 doesn’t impact the settings. You can even ship the microphone off to someone else, and when they plug it in, all of the settings will be saved. It can only be unlocked manually from the mic with a convoluted string of gestures.
What pickup pattern does the Shure MV7 have?
The Shure MV7 houses a dynamic recording cartridge with a cardioid pickup pattern, which rests atop a shock mount. Dynamic microphones can take a little bit of abuse without incurring any internal damage, and they’re less sensitive than their condenser counterparts.
The Shure MV7 doesn’t require a preamp, or any kind of hardware interface, to function over USB. It’s also less prone to audio clipping and signal distortion from loud outputs (e.g., you’re recording a podcast and enter a loud fit of laughter). But if you want to make sure you get the most out of it, an interface is a good companion if you’re going to be recording over XLR.
The Shure MV7 affords just a single cardioid pickup pattern. The generalist may shy away from this single polar pattern, but it’s incredibly popular among consumer microphones for its forgiving nature. You can place the mic anywhere (within reason), and it will effectively capture your voice while it rejects off-axis sounds.
How does the Shure MV7 sound?
No matter your level of expertise, the Shure MV7 will produce a clear recording, so long as you avoid common recording problems. There are plenty of frequency responses to choose from, which is great if you have a specific sound in mind.
When you record in manual mode, you have four EQ options: flat, high pass, presence boost, and high pass presence boost. The differences between the four manual EQ presets are less dramatic than the differences between the three auto level presets. Take a few moments to examine the voice band frequency response charts, and listen to each demo below.
All you really need to know is that the flat EQ produces the most accurate audio, and grants the greatest flexibility during post-production.
Shure MV7 (flat) microphone demo:
Shure MV7 (high pass) microphone demo:
Shure MV7 (presence boost) microphone demo:
Shure MV7 (high pass and presence boost) microphone demo:
If you record in auto level mode, you get three sound profiles: Dark, Natural, and Bright. Dark boosts bass notes, while Bright, according to a Shure representative, is endearingly referred to as the NPR tone. The natural sound setting does little to affect how one’s voice sounds, but bass notes are slightly under-emphasized to reduce the proximity effect. I prefer the natural preset with the mic proximity toggled to “Near,” because it yields the most accurate response for my voice.
Shure MV7 (Dark) microphone demo:
Shure MV7 (Natural) microphone demo:
Shure MV7 (Bright) microphone demo:
How does the microphone sound to you?
Should you buy the Shure MV7?
The Shure MV7 hybrid microphone is a stellar performer, and can handle nearly any situation thrown at it. Not only can you record from your desk, but you can also stick it onto a boom pole and hang it above someone’s head during video interviews. Whether you’re the constant collaborator or a lone wolf when it comes to production, the Shure MV7 deserves a spot on your desk. The main glaring issues are the touch controls seem futuristic, but are less useful than knobs, and the microUSB connection is outdated, although it still works, of course.
Listeners who like how the MV7 sounds but don’t feel the need for a USB/XLR combination can save a bit of money with the Shure MV7X (for $179 at Amazon) instead. This uses a standard XLR output and lacks the onboard touch interface of the MV7. When you save money with the MV7X, you also forgo any proprietary software features like the MOTIV app.
What’s the difference between the Shure MV7 and Shure SM7B?
The Shure MV7 takes plenty of features from the SM7B and compacts them into a more portable, adaptable solution, but these mics are built for different purposes. While the Shure MV7 is a stellar microphone, the SM7B is more suited for applications beyond the human voice. It has been used time and time again to record guitar cabs and drums, while the Shure MV7 is mainly for vocal recordings.
Both microphones house a dynamic recording cartridge and afford just one polar pattern (cardioid), but the parts are different. The SM7B is larger than the MV7, and this plays to its advantage because it has room for better cartridge and shock mount components. The SM7B has a much more accurate bass response than the MV7, again an advantage of its size. Shure’s microphones all have a surprising heft to them, a consequence of durable construction.
If you feel at home customizing sound settings, you’ll appreciate the Shure MV7 software. The Shure SM7B doesn’t have a near or far mode, nor does it let you adjust the microphone gain. Those who shirk away at the idea of software-enabled products will appreciate the analog nature of the Shure SM7B. Although you can’t tweak it exactly to your liking, you can rest easy knowing that its complete utility isn’t dependent on software.
What should you get instead of the Shure MV7?
If you’re looking for something vocal-specific and want to stay within the Shure realm, check out the Shure 55SH Series II ($199 at Amazon) and Shure Super 55 Deluxe ($248 at Amazon). These two mics are very similar to one another and both offer excellent vocal reproduction and an attractive Elvis-style design. The 55SH Series II has a cardioid polar pattern and the Super 55 Deluxe has a supercardioid polar pattern which just means the latter is a little more directional than the former. Neither mic requires phantom power which certainly comes in handy if you’re using it for live performance, but they can also be used as great recording microphones.
Another comparably great XLR-only microphone is the Logitech Blue Sona. The microphone has a supercardioid pattern and blocks out noise in the room extremely well. It doesn’t need a preamp thanks to its built-in signal booster, and it has two switches on the base of the microphone for increasing presence or reducing bass frequencies. It does require +24V or +48V phantom power from your audio interface, however. The mic is priced at $349 at Amazon, so it’s a lot pricier than the MV7, but it’s great for any podcasting or streaming setup.
If you want to save quite a bit of money but also benefit from some great hardware and features, the Movo UM700 is a great value microphone. This USB mic costs $79 at Amazon and has a triple-mic capsule array, much like the beloved Blue Yeti, and records 16-bit/48kHz audio files. The UM700 has four polar patterns (stereo, omnidirectional, cardioid, and bidirectional), plus you can use the headphone jack to monitor your recording.
On the inexpensive side, there’s the Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB ($79 at Amazon), which looks like a standard cardioid microphone. You can record via USB or XLT simultaneously. There’s not much in the way of frills.
A more directly comparable option is the Rode PodMic USB ($199 at Amazon). This one comes in several versions, so make sure you get the one that also has XLR connectivity. Like the Shure mic, it comes with Rode’s own software for processing.
Frequently asked questions about the Shure MV7
The Shure MV5C is incredibly different than the Shure MV7. First, it’s much cheaper ($97 at Amazon) and is much smaller. Also, it is specifically designed to be used on conference calls because it comes with a Speech Enhancement feature. Overall, the Shure MV7 is a much nicer microphone than the MV5C, but if you just need an affordable mic for your Zoom meetings, it’s worth considering the MV5C.
Yes you can definitely use the Shure MV7 with Zoom, or whichever video call program your computer uses.