An innovative analog/digital hybrid that’s ideal for guitarists who are looking to keep their travel gear to a minimum, up their live-streaming game or enter the podcasting arena.
Innovative hybrid XLR/USB design with easy operation
Most impressive as an interface with expanded controls via free app
Lightning cable not included
Pop filter insubstantial
Micro-B USB out is a longterm-durability and future compatibility concern
Noncompatible with latest Apple machines, M1 and iPad Pro
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Every musician needs at least one good mic, and the more flexible it is, the better. Shure’s hybrid USB/XLR MV7 checks a ton of boxes, but musicians might overlook a unit with “Podcast Microphone” written right on the box. That would be an unfortunate oversight considering the versatility of this powerful digital/analog tool.
The MV7 can act as its own interface when connected directly to a computer or iOS device, triggering an impressive modern feature set that’s controllable both on the mic and with expanded features via the ShurePlus Motiv desk-top app. The MV7 can also be used traditionally and was designed with a nod to a Shure icon, the legendary SM7.
The SM7 sounds more refined than the company’s ubiquitous SM57, yet it’s not as fragile and expensive as a fancy condenser microphone. That makes the close-proximity cardioid classic a desert-island mic for many an engineer, including Travis Kasperbauer at Lucky Recording Company in Brisbane, California, where the Go-Go’s recorded their 2020 comeback single, “Club Zero.”
We planned to take the MV7 there for a full complement of comparisons, but that wasn’t going to matter as much if the MV7 couldn’t cut it as a standard live vocal mic, so testing began by running it via XLR into an L.R. Baggs Synapse Personal P.A. for a rehearsal and gig.
The MV7’s strong, high-mid-focused tone was immediately apparent simply by speaking into it, which, of course, is a huge part of the design goal. It’s an excellent tone for podcasting, and singing into it feels a bit different, as that presence really cuts through a mix.
We left the foam windscreen on, because, even though it’s not particularly hardy – which it should be, considering the design intention – it rounds off a bit of the harsh edges and mitigates some of the low plosives.
On a throw-and-go gig, the vocal was clear and present, and we never had to request any EQ or volume adjustments over the course of two sets. Having passed initiation, the mic was ready to hit the studio.
Kasperbauer engineered a session where this writer sang and played a Martin Grand J16E 12-String into the MV7, a 1970s SM7 and a run-of-the-mill SM57.
The MV7’s strong signal sounded fine as an acoustic guitar mic, but not surprisingly it wasn’t nearly as smooth, full and harmonically sophisticated as the vintage SM7. The tone was far more similar to the SM57, but the MV7 was less polished and brighter on the high side, and darker and colder in the low end.
Vocal test results were similar. At Lucky, where everything ran through a vintage API mixing board, the MV7 didn’t compare favorably to its traditional Shure cousins. But that’s where those mics stop and the MV7 starts to shine.
Plug the USB cable directly into the computer – in this case an Apple Mac Pro running High Sierra 10.13.6 – and the MV7 comes alive and alight. The conical mic base now acts as an interface, complete with a headphone jack for direct monitoring.
The digital display panel lights up, and control is significantly expanded upon downloading the free ShurePlus Motiv app (see specs below for a list of its functions). The main takeaway is that you can make basic gain and monitor level changes using the trackpad on the mic, with the row of LEDs acting as an indicator.
Pushing the auto level button puts the mic on autopilot, which is fine when talking or taking a very consistent approach to singing or playing relatively softly. For our trial song, Boston’s “More Than a Feeling,” auto level worked well for the softer verse guitar and vocals, but we could hear the limiter and compressor working hard to attenuate the gain on the significantly higher chorus dynamic.
That’s when we used the app to go into manual mode and find a happy medium for the gain and implement other options, including a high-pass filter, limiter and medium compression setting. It was also fun to turn on live metering and monitor the input level right on the mic itself.
The most important takeaway is that the USB tone was on par with the XLR tone. And while going digital will sacrifice what you gain from a high-end analog preamp, you can compensate for this using the onboard controls, the Motiv app and/or other plug-ins applied “in the box.”
The rugged all-metal Shure MV7 is an innovative analog/digital hybrid that’s ideal for guitarists who are looking to keep their travel gear to a minimum, up their live-streaming game or enter the podcasting arena.
For those seeking a mic suitable for modern digital applications in addition to being quite serviceable for vocals or guitar in the analog realm, this is an impressive jack of all trades.
- FEATURES Dynamic mic with 50Hz to 16kHz frequency range and highly directional cardioid pattern that isolates voice and removes unwanted background noise. Hybrid analog (traditional) or digital functionality with onboard and computer controllability
- CONTROLS Touch-panel interface. Mute on/off. Tap microphone/headphone to toggle between mic gain and headphone volume; hold to access monitor mix; slide finger to adjust levels, indicated by LEDs (green for gain, orange for phones, green and orange for monitor mix blend). Hold both toggle buttons to lock/unlock touch panel
- EXTRAS Free ShurePlus Motiv app (desk-top or iOS) accesses auto-level mode that automatically adjusts gain and offers options for mic position and global tone. Manual mode expands mic control settings, plus switchable EQ filters, limiter, compressor and LED behavior, live meters and Night mode. Savable as custom user presets
- CONNECTIONS Micro-USB out to USB-A or C, XLR out, headphone mini jack
- COMPATIBLITY Compatible with Windows and Mac plus iOS and Android devices with applicable cables, not provided.
- BUILT China
Visit Shure (opens in new tab) for more information.
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Jimmy Leslie has been Frets editor since 2016. See many Guitar Player- and Frets-related videos on his YouTube channel (opens in new tab), and learn about his acoustic/electric rock group at spirithustler.com (opens in new tab).