Shure MV51 USB/Lightning Microphone Review
There are now several USB microphones which record straight to a computer or tablet, and have sound quality on par with some of their best XLR counterparts which require, at minimum, a preamp and phantom power source.
The latest batch of these USB microphones that I’ve been using sound great, and I have been using many of them as often as, for instance, my trusty AT4040 for recent auditions and jobs.
One of my current favorite USB/Lighting microphones is the Shure MV51.
It’s a large diaphragm condenser cardioid microphone, which gives it a rich warmth for nearly any use. It is incredibly versatile without compromising sound quality, which is why it reminds me so much of Audio-Technica’s spectacular AT4040, and similar mics like the Rode NT1A and NT2A.
The front of the microphone is the perfect combination of form and function. The cardiod condenser is protected by a sturdy, handsome grille casing. The back of the mic features a headphone jack, and a kickstand that easily converts into a microphone stand mount. It’s also where you plug in the included USB and lightning cables.
The lower front of the microphone features easily accessible touch controls. As you can see in the image below, there is a tactile volume slide that can control either monitor sound level or mic gain.
Above the volume, on the right, is the button which toggles between functions. The button on the far left is a quick mute switch. In between, there is a button that switches between “modes” – presets for specific uses like singing, or capturing sound from a musical instrument. Although one of these modes is for spoken word, such as voiceover and podcasting, I tend to use the “flat” settings with no EQ at all, just the raw power of a great microphone and my unfiltered vocals. As with all things, it varies based on the client’s wishes and the nature of the project.
USB Microphones: Ready For Prime Time
Not long ago I would have chafed at the notion of using USB microphones for a professional voiceover job, but there is a new breed that belongs in the same class as some of the best XLR microphones that voiceover artists know and love. If they also include Lighting cables and built-in iOS drivers, so much the better.
It’s remarkable how good vocals can sound when recorded directly into an iPad or iPhone using TwistedWave – it’s similar to the sound I get when recording with an XLR microphone using a Tascam DR-40, and it’s it’s a snap to export the audio to my computer for editing, normalizing and applying any other effects.
You can (and should) also try recording using Shure’s free MOTIV app, which has custom settings and features designed to work with the microphone.
Whether you’re just starting out in voiceover and want your home studio to sound spectacular at a very affordable entry price, or you’re a seasoned pro who enjoys adding new tools to your arsenal, the Shure MV51 is a no-brainer purchase. I recommend it very highly.
Let me know what you think about the mic, or any thoughts you have about voiceover. Feel free to ask me any questions, as well.
I’m going to continue reviewing microphones, audio interfaces, preamps, and other studio equipment I use in future articles, so watch for more studio advice and product recommendations in addition to other articles about voiceover.