A compact mic from one of the world’s leading manufacturers that clips right into your Lightning connector. By Alex Wilson.
iPhone video has advanced by leaps and bounds over the past decade, but the accompanying sound recordings have struggled to keep up. For reasons most likely to do with the size requirements of decent microphones, audio recorded on an iPhone’s native hardware suffers from almost deal-breaking issues: it’s thin and scratchy, until an explosion of bass-heavy proximate noise eats up all the headroom and smears the recording with nasty distortion.
PHONING IT IN
The Shure MV88, then, has the potential to be a game-changer for anyone who’s ever had a serious reason to record audio with their iPhone. It will certainly find a home with podcasters and content creators on the move, but can also be a handy asset for musicians of all stripes. Let’s have a look at the solutions, both hardware and software‑based, that the MV88 provides to the plague of bad phone sound.
The MV88 plugs into your iPhone via the Lightning connector (the same part where you attach the charge cable). It’s got two ten-millimetre capsules – one cardioid and one figure-eight – that provide a mid/side stereo image. In terms of digital audio spec, it can record up to 24-bit/48kHz and capture frequencies between 20 and 20,000 hertz. This is comparable to studio-quality equipment.
The capsule itself can be swivelled in its Lightning mount, although be aware that movement is not 360 degrees. Some degree of phone stabilisation and placement will be important if you need to position the MV88 just so.
In terms of actual sound quality, the MV88 feels comparable to the industry standard Zoom H4N, providing a recording that, while not perfect, is highly usable and free from any frustrating artifacts or problems. Ultimately, the comparison to the H4N is not to extol the MV88s sound quality — it’s fine, but won’t blow the mind of any audiophile. It’s instead to highlight how much quality is packed into the MV88s tiny 40-gram frame. With this attached to your phone, you have a recording solution comparable to the industry standard that’s easier to charge, carry, control and connect to the cloud.
In fact, the optional, free MOTIV app, which can be used in tandem with the MV88, is perhaps what gives it the edge. Not only does it provide advanced control based around EQ, compression and the stereo field processing, it also provides built-in syncing support with email and other third‑party apps like Dropbox. Adding to this, the MOTIV app has recently added video recording support, really upping the ante in its efforts to provide the most functionality to users wanting to create and record on the fly.
However, users are not bound to Shure’s software. The hardware requires no driver to run, so you can use whatever software you like, including Apple’s native voice recorder, to control the MV88 without any issues whatsoever.
This kind of convenience offered by the MV88 will likely be king in a music industry driven by viral content and constant engagement. It’s so easy to see how musicians could record a rehearsal, live show or writing session and upload quickly to social media, without having to worry that the sound of their music is being compromised by the limitations of a phone’s built-in microphone.
The MV88 isn’t cheap as chips, but it’s also priced reasonably. The only big issue I see with it is that it’s designed only for iOS devices – I don’t see why Shure couldn’t have made this great product available for users of different devices.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you have an iPhone and want a mobile recording solution, this is for you.
TOP 5 FEATURES
• Stereo mid/side recording
• Lightning connectivity
• Lightweight at 40 grams
• Recording quality up to 24-bit/48kHz
• Free MOTIV app
• Highly portable
• Incredibly usable and versatile MOTIV software
• Only supports iOS devices
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