In this post I'm going to talk about the little Shure MV5 USB microphone. Okay, let's take a closer look at the Shure MV5. Now, my first impression of this microphone is it does feel a little bit light and plastic-y. It comes though with a sturdy little stand and it does look very neat when assembled and placed on your desk. It has a quarter-inch screw front so you can attach it to any standard camera tripod which might be handy if you're out and about with it or you can use a connector like this to mount it to any microphone stand.
Comparison-wise, I guess it looks a little bit like a mini version of the Blue Snowball. I'd say on first inspection, the Snowball felt more robust but the Snowball is a much bigger microphone, not nearly so portable and unobtrusive. Now the Shure MV5 is a small portable mic with a number of interesting features. And what I'll do is I'll focus on what makes this mic a bit different to the sub-$150 USB mic competition.
It is a bit more expensive than mics like the Blue Snowball and the Samson Media. So let's examine if it's worth it. Let's start with connectivity. Out of the box, you get the microphone and stand, plus a USB cable and a lightning cable. Compatibility-wise, it connects directly to Mac or PC via USB, and to any IRS device with a lightning port. Now, many USB mics are USB only so the addition of the lightning cable is excellent if you want to use it easily with your iPad or iPhone. Now, I should point out that the included cables are only one meter in length, which is quite short.
So you can record using a USB extension. It easily plugs and plays on the PC. On your iOS device, you install the Shure MOTIV app. You can then use that app to record and to control the mic. It also gives you extra features. You can adjust EQ further within the app zone but it will also work in GarageBand, any video apps that you want to use, and I've also tested this mic on my Android phone using an OTG adapter and you could use it on the current generation of iPads by using the correct Apple USB-C digital multiple adapter.
Now, bear in mind, you may not get the full functionality of the Shure MOTIV app on Android or on the newer USB-C iPads but the mic itself will work and give you a good result.
So, there's a big difference in the kind of audio quality you can get if you use a microphone like the Shure with the open camera app on an Android phone. All I've done is connected it using the OTG adapter and I've just tested the mic out using the Shure app before I started at the open camera app.
Right, moving on to the details of the hardware. On the back, you have the connection port and also a headphone port for real-time monitoring. This will allow you to record yourself along with backing tracks and hear yourself at the same time. You can also mute the mic and then use the MV5 as your playback device, listening through headphones. The flashing lights make it quite obvious you've muted the mic, so hopefully you will spot that if you then decide to do some recording. Although, you can also hear through the headphones very clearly if the mic is on or off.
There is a headphone volume adjustment on the mic. Now, bear in mind, the Snowball does not have a headphone port so you cannot direct monitor with that mic in the same way that you can with the Shure MV5. Spec-wise, you can choose between two sampling rates, 44.1 and 48 kilohertz, and you can also record and stream up to 24 bit. Now that 24 bit option really does differentiate the MV5 from other sub-$150 mics, which are generally only 16 bit. It gives you more headphone when you're recording and streaming.
And now, here is another thing that makes the Shure MV5 a bit different to competition. It has three recording presets. I'll just quickly cycle around these. So the three recording options you can choose from are vocal for speech and singing, and an acoustic instrument setting, and then the flat recording mode. In the vocal mode recording the signal processing within the mic seems to boost the signal quite a bit. And as I say, I have reduced the gain to about 60% on the mic. When I'm recording in the flat mode, I'm using nearer 80%. The microphone acoustic instrument mode wishes you to push the gain back up again because it's a quieter mode than the speech mode.
It's that speech mode that really seems to boost the signal quite a bit within the mic. Now, these presets are using DSP or digital signal processing, within the microphone to adjust EQ and compression. The idea is you can use the mic out of the box with oven-ready recording settings for different setups. So whatever it is you want to record, by changing the mode and mic position, you should be able to get a really good result. It's also a good feature if you want to live-stream. You have different options for how to set the mic up. Just to clear up a potential confusion, the recording modes on this microphone do not change the pickup pattern or polar pattern. That polar pattern is fixed. This MV5 has a cardioid pattern, which is directional, so the front of the mic is picking up the sound. So if I were to go to the rear of the mic, you can see that the sound is not being picked up the same.
As a comparison, the standard Blue Snowball, not the iCE version, allows you to switch between cardioid, omni, and cardioid with pad, so you get a choice of pickups. What Shure has done here has taken a different approach. The pickup pattern is constant. The modes change the EQ and compression for different recording scenarios within the microphone.
Now, although I was a little underwhelmed with the feel of this microphone,I am impressed with the recording quality. I think the recording result from this little microphone is excellent. It's high quality and there's very little background noise. Some USB mics are quite noisy with a constant background hiss, especially those in the sub-$150 price range.
So let's have a quick summary and go through the pros of this mic. I think it's quite a neat design. It's got those different recording modes. It's multi-platform out of the box. It's got that 24-bit recording. It's low noise. High quality recording. And it's got that mic mute feature. Now, a few negatives. Those newer USB-C iPads will require an adapter, they're not cheap. And the app does not have so much functionality. The cables are a little bit short so you might be a bit restricted where you can place the mic and your video device. The microphone build is a bit plastic-y and cheap feeling compared to the Samson Meteor and the Blue Snowball.
I just don't know what, how robust it would be in the long term but sitting on your desk, it would be fine. It's a little bit pricey. You are paying a premium for the Shure brand and recording quality, so it's not the cheapest mic on the market. So summary, if you want a small desktop microphone for podcasting, live-streaming, voiceovers, it does the job very nicely.