Smartphone cameras are getting really good, they seem to almost go against the laws of physics with their stabilization. However, the microphones in our phones haven’t evolved at the same rate. If you’re a vlogger or podcaster who is or would like to be heavily reliant on your phone for filming and recording, this is a problem – a problem that Shure’s looking to fix with its MV88+ Video Kit.
The Shure MV88+ mounts onto a phone clamp, which itself screws into the Manfrotto Pixi tripod via a 1/4-inch thread. You could screw it into any existing tripod which has this incredibly common, dare I say, standard thread.
The kit is modular so you can reconfigure it quickly based on what you’re recording. For example, you can have the microphone facing away from you to record some live music, then flip it to horizontal with the mic pointed upwards to use it as a handheld mic for an interview. Or classic vlogging style using the front facing camera with the mic towards you.
We also like that we can set it up to record both sides of the mic so if you’re interviewing someone your questions from behind the phone will also be crystal clear. We’ll get into how you can customize the audio recording down below when we dive into the Shure Motiv app.
As most phones are losing their headphone jacks, Shure has sensibly added a headphone jack to the microphone, so you can monitor your audio quality. It also comes with a windscreen cover to reduce wind noise (or heavy breathing).
How to get the most out of your Shure MV88+
Shure has two apps that you can use with your microphone, the ShurePlus MOTIV app, and the ShurePlus MOTIV Video.
The ShurePlus MOTIV is focused strictly on audio and the video app has an integrated video component to go along with the same level of granular control as the original. One of the major advantages to recording with the apps is that the saved audio is RAW and not compressed. When you use your smartphone’s native camera app there is no guarantee how they audio with be treated after it’s recorded.
ShurePlus MOTIV – Picking the right Mic Setup of the MV88+
Even if you’re not an audio expert you’ll be to easily figure out what the different configurations mean based on the photos that accompany them.
The four options are: raw mid-side (for capturing a mix of directional and ambient sound), mono bi-directional (good for interviews), mono cardioid (ideal for capturing ambient sound around you) and stereo, which also gives you the option of adjusting the width of its recording field.
Choosing the right polar pattern will ensure that you’ll get the best sound out of your microphone. The polar pattern determines where the microphone will pick up or reject so you can focus on the sounds that are most importation to you.
Steriod Width allows you to choose a wide are narrow pick up area, it’s ideal for recording a live performance.
Mono Cardiod is best when you want to face the mic and talk at it. It’s most sensitive to sound sources directly in front of the microphone. The reason it’s called Cardiod is that the sound area is heart shaped. If you’re recording a podcast and you want to reduce background noise, the is the mode to pick.
Raw Mid-Side records the front and the sides and allows for the most flexibility in post-production to isolate the sounds you want after the fact.
Mono Bi Directional records on it’s great for two person interviews since it will reject sound from the sides. Just make sure the R & L letters on the side of the mic are facing the towards the people that are talking and that the mic is evenly centered between the two people talking. Otherwise, one person will be louder since they’ll be closer to the mic.
Turning the limiter on helps to prevent audio clipping,
The compressor helps to maintain your audio quality while reducing loud sounds and reducing quite ones. So you could speak really quietly and it would boost it or scream loudly and it would either pull up the audio or pull it down.
There are 5 preset DSP (digital signal processing) modes within each polar pattern, from left to right we have speech, singing, flat, musical recording and live concert. You choose flat if you don’t want any digital signal processing on your audio.
ShurePlus MOTIV Video
Shure has come out with a video app to go along with its strong audio application. The advantage to using this app over your built-in camera app is that many apps don’t include such a large audio monitor. If you don’t have headphones in and are shooting your self, you’ll be able to have a good idea of what your levels are and what your audio quality might look like with the background noise. Of course, it’s not a replacement for plugging in and listening, but no vlogger is going to do this while running around town. So the ability to monitor while recording is invaluable. You can also head into the microphone settings from the video app and make adjustments to the polar pattern or DPS of the microphone to see how changes might affect your recording.
Tips for recording with the Shure MV88+
When you go to record, you should set the mic gain so the loudest sound is in the middle of the gray area. You can adjust the gain even while you’re recording.
In the app you can also tweak things like gain levels and compression, so it gives you pretty granular control of the audio recording to make sure it suits your situation. The Manfrotto Pixi tripod means you can also place it on a table or do a handheld recording.
In fact, you don’t necessarily have to use the app to record audio or video. If you don’t set it up at all in the app it will shoot stereo width to get everything in front of the microphone. If you head into the app and select any of the other audio patterns the setting will remain saved directly on the microphone. This means that you’ll be able to use any other app, like say the native one on your phone or a third party app like MoviePro.
What’s the in the Box
The kit comes with a condenser microphone, which is paired with a Manfrotto Pixi tripod, a phone clamp, a roll-up carry case, and both USB-C and Lightning cables for connecting to an iOS or Samsung Galaxy smartphone. Shure says that other Android phones will be added to its compatibility list once it’s been confirmed that they support USB audio and have enough power. We tested it with our OnePlus 6T McLaren edition and had no problems, so the list isn’t complete by any stretch of the imagination.
At $249 the Shure MV88+ is a relatively affordable way to add extremely high-quality audio to your smartphone. It’s a great option to turn your phone into a mobile recording studio.
Being able to choose different audio settings along with the microphones ability to be mounted in many different configurations means the hardware is as versatile as the software.
Whether you’re recording live music, interviews, podcasts, or just ambient sound to match your travel videos the Shure MV88+ is your perfect on the go high-end audio companion.