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For those with a keen eye for microphones, it's not hard to miss the unique black, barrel shaped microphone that is the Shure SM7B appearing in more and more social media videos. Whether it's podcasting or singers in live recordings, the iconic dynamic microphone captures vocals with a natural and detailed result. However, to get the best out of it, one would need additional equipment from amplification to interfacing to the computer, not to mention the know-how to use them.

That is why the Shure MV7 makes sense. Looking like the baby brother of the SM7B, it promises to offer amazing vocal capture while only needing a single USB cable. Can the MV7 do justice to the iconic microphone that it was inspired by? Let's dive in to find out.


The Distinct Look

The Shure MV7 microphone's aesthetics is unmistakable, which is great since it actually adds to the video content if you're going for the radio station DJ/pro podcaster look. The barrel shaped body of the MV7 is not as long as the SM7B, therefore taking up less space on a desktop and has good maneuverability.

The microphone body is held in a rugged black metal yoke, and can be tightened to hold the microphone at specific angles. Other than the distinct look, one of the strengths of MV7's form factor is that it can either be positioned in-line with the microphone boom, or at right-angles to it - either way keeping its weight distribution balanced, and not causing any torque on the stand which can cause accidental movements.

The biggest external difference that the MV7 has from its predecessor is the I/O ports being now placed at the end of the barrel (The micro-USB port, XLR port and a 3.5 mm audio jack for monitoring), and the extra on-board touch controls and LED meters.


Noticeably Better Vocals

It's one thing to inherit the good looks, but can the MV7 live up to the legendary sound of the SM7B microphone? Upon connecting the MV7 up for the first time, I immediately noticed a presence of vocals that I haven't heard of from other USB condenser microphones I've tested before. There is a 'zeroed-in' quality to the sound, as if I'm in a quiet recording booth - though I'm in an open office space.

I wanted to put this to the test, not only to my own ears - to avoid bias. So I put them to blind tests by using the MV7 with some colleagues during daily video conferences - without telling them that I'm using a new microphone. The result was immediate: more than half of my co-workers noticed the improvement in sound quality and asked if I'm doing something new with my microphone setup.

The conclusion is quite clear: the MV7 stands a head taller than other USB microphones when it comes to vocal pick up. Whether it's for recording, streaming or video conferencing, the improvement in sound quality is very noticeable.


ShurePlus MOTIV App Enhancement

Under the foam windscreen, the MV7 actually looks quite different from the SM7B, and it looks more like a typical dynamic microphone. So what makes the MV7 sound so good is probably not because of hardware alone, but its use of software.

I actually verified this through a XLR connection with the MV7 microphone, and found that the recorded sound via its USB connection, enhanced by the MOTIV app is vastly better. So using this microphone with its included software is highly recommended, downloadable for free from Shure's official website.


With the MOTIV app, there are two adjustment modes: Auto Level or Manual. Auto Level simplifies the parameters to Near/Far mic placement and Dark/Natural/Bright tones, which is all most of us would need. If you're more particular about your sound characteristics, you can go Manual mode, where you can adjust the Gain, EQ, Limiter on/off, and Compressor level to your liking.

Both modes include the functionality to save your favorite settings, so that you can quickly access a consistent sound for your Podcast or video conferencing.


On-Board Touch Controls and LED Meters

Another major addition that the MV7 has over the classic SM7B is its electronic hardware: touch controls and LED live meters.

The touch controls allows you to adjust the output volume on the fly, adjust the monitoring headphone volume, monitor/playback mix and also a mute button. Since these are capacitive and not mechanical controls, you are also able to control these variables in the MOTIV app.

The LED live meters allows you or an engineer/director to observe visually where your output volume is at, if it's peaking and needs adjustment. The dynamically moving lights also add some visual candy for live streams or video conferencing.


Mobile Device Connectivity

With a micro-USB to USB-C cable included, I got a pleasant surprise when I realized that you can use the MV7 with mobile devices directly as well.

The MOTIV app is available for free on the Google Play store and the Apple App Store, and offers even more functionality than the desktop app. It has identical adjustment modes as the desktop app, and additionally it allows the user to record directly in the app.


Final Verdict

With the significant rise in microphone use due to the recent shift to work from home, the Shure MV7 definitely gives its user an edge in superior sound quality. It is an alternative to the SM7B setup that skips all the complications, only needing a single USB cable to connect to the computer while offering a sound quality that resembles its predecessor. Shure's accompanying software deserves serious credit for its contribution to the excellent result, both for the computer and for mobile, opening up new possibilities in pro-level recording to even beginners to the podcast/streaming scene.


For its simplicity, and excellent resulting sound quality, we're awarding the Shure MV7 the IBTimes Staff Pick badge, and recommend it for those out shopping for a new microphone for streaming and recording.

David is a tech enthusiast/writer who is often on the move, but since the lock-down is on a mission to explore gadgets to improve his 'home work'. This is a contribution to an ongoing IBTimes review series on gadgets for Home Productivity.