Over the last decade I’ve reviewed quite a number of hand–held digital recorders, but I suspect that their market is shrinking fast, thanks to microphone manufacturers making recording attachments like the MV88 for iPhones and other mobiles.
Shure’s design comprises two microphone capsules housed in a single, rotating, cylindrical casing (with a hinge allowing it to be angled by as much as 90 degrees relative to the iOS device), an A–D conversion block, and a Lightning connector. The whole assembly is no more than 67mm long (including the connector) and can be stored in its own avocado–sized zip–up case, along with a foam windscreen. Any iPhone or iPad with a Lightning socket is compatible.
MOTIV is clearly designed so as not to scare novices, but still offers some impressive input adjustments that allow the user to change the shape of the mic’s polar response.
Controlling the mic is done via the ShurePlus MOTIV app, which the host device suggests acquiring from the App Store the instant the mic is attached. MOTIV is clearly designed so as not to scare novices, but still offers some impressive input adjustments that allow the user to change the shape of the mic’s polar response. This is possible because one of the MV88’s capsules produces a forward–facing cardioid polar pattern, while the other is turned on its side and produces a figure–of–eight shape. Different patterns are created by changing the relative levels of the two; the options available being:
- Mono cardioid.
- Mono bi–directional.
- Raw Mid–Sides.
It’s also possible to adjust the stereo setting from 60 to 135 degrees through a series of 15 degree steps, thereby very precisely controlling the stereo acceptance angle.
For setting/controlling levels, there’s a colour–graded stereo meter, a gain control slider, a simple on/off limiter, and a compressor that is increasingly applied when a fader is moved from Off towards Heavy. High–pass filtering is introduced when the Wind Reduction switch is turned on, and there’s a five–band graphic EQ.
To record with MOTIV, the user must head from the Settings page to the Record page, select the desired bit and sample rate combination (options include 16– or 24–bit, and 44.1 and 48 kHz), and press the red button. Once recorded, the file is ready for listening to or sending elsewhere via services like Dropbox.
Overall, the software is very well designed, but so too is the robust all–metal hardware. Even the thin grille that protects the capsules is able to withstand a hard squeeze between finger and thumb. The obvious weak point is the Lightning connector, but its metal construction means it is probably less likely to break than the iPhone/iPad socket it goes into.
iPhones and iPads are often used for filming, so being able to both angle and rotate the mic capsules to target the action is important. For example, in a situation where the voice of an interviewer has to be recorded, there is the option of aiming one node of the bidirectional capsule at the interviewer and the other at the subject.
The mic’s audio performance is roughly comparable to that of my Zoom H6, fitted with a MSH6 capsule, which I find sounds very respectable, nicely balanced and not lacking in the low end, like some competing products.
The MV88 is entering a market already populated by products like the Rode iXY Lightning and IK Multimedia’s iRig Mic Field, but its impressive build quality, flexible recording options and very solid sound performance should win it a good slice of the action.