Best List: MV51 microphone by Shure
Looking like something Elvis Presley would rock, the Shure MV51 is a handsome, retro-styled microphone well-suited to podcasting with an iPad or iPhone. Sturdy and portable, I find it great for recording on the go. It’s small enough to throw into a jacket pocket and, because it’s made of all metal, it’s nigh indestructible.
Paired with an iPhone and Shure’s well-designed recording app, it’s a lot more compact than most podcasting rigs, and versatile enough for most recording situations. Best of all, the audio it captures sounds great.
Well-designed, tough and portable
Shure is a long-standing audio brand with a storied 90-year history. Long associated with traditional recording gear, Shure recently jumped into digital audio with it’s Motiv series of USB microphones. All three models, plus a digital interface for traditional mics, work with recent iOS devices.
The MV51 is a large-diaphragm condenser mic designed for recording live music, podcasting and recording in a home studio. (Here’s a good explanation of the difference between condenser and dynamic mics.)
The MV51 is one of the few microphones with a Lightning connection that is Apple MFi-certified (Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad), which means it can be plugged directly into an iPhone or iPad without any kind of special connector or external interface. The MV51 ships with a Lightning-to-USB connector and a standard USB 2 cable. As well as iOS, it’s also compatible with Android, Mac and PC.
The Lightning connection provides power to the mic. When the mic is plugged in, a panel on the front lights up, highlighting buttons to select the input mode — flat, speech, singing and two instrument settings. The different modes adjust the mic’s processing and gain.
The mic has a headphone jack — essential for podcasting and monitoring recordings — and a kickstand for tabletop use. The kickstand’s rubber tip screws off to reveal a standard mic stand connector.
Great sound matters most
The MV51 records uncompressed WAV files at 24-bit/48kHz. By contrast, the popular Blue Yeti microphone records 48 kHz as well, but only 16-bit. Reviewing the MV51 for Macworld, Glenn Fleischman said it is great for recording live audio. Recordings are good enough to use without any kind of post-processing.
My CultCast colleagues Erfon and Buster commented on how good it sounded. Erfon, an audio snob, said it easily sounded as good as the broadcast-quality Røde USB Podcaster microphone I normally use.
Price-wise, the MV51 is comparable to many other large-diaphragm mics, which cost about $200. But it also includes a DSP and iOS interface, which makes it a relative bargain. All in all, the MV51 is one of the best external, pro-quality microphones we’ve seen so far.
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