I’m pretty SHURE that most of you are familiar with the legendary Shure SM7B. It’s considered by many to be one of the best microphones in the audio industry and has earned an even greater prestige among professional broadcasters in radio, podcasting, and more recently in the world of live streaming. This week came as a surprise to many as Shure has shown us that they have been paying attention! After 47 years since its introduction as the “SM7”, after being the weapon of choice in the studio for many famous artists such as Michael Jackson, Anthony Kiedis, Bob Seager and Eddie Vedder… after being revised only once in 2001 as the “SM7B” and being regarded as one of the best dynamic vocal microphones on the market for years, Shure has decided to bring this legendary microphone into the modern age and get it into the hands of the many who have been contributing to this exploding live broadcasting market. This week, Shure has introduced the MV7 USB Podcast Microphone!
As a live streamer or podcaster, it’s hard to ignore how many are out there currently rocking an SM7B in their setups. Podcasts like The Joe Rogan Experience or Streamers like Shroud and Dr. Disrespect currently use this microphone to help deliver high quality vocals to their audiences. It’s honestly unsurprising to meet so many who would regard this as “the best microphone”. I simply don’t have enough fingers to count how many streamers would LOVE to have this mic in their setup... if it wasn’t for the heavy monetary investment.
Incorporating an SM7B into your stream setup will definitely cost you a pretty penny compared to most other options out there. The microphone itself will cost you $399 USD brand new. On top of that, you will need some kind of XLR audio interface/mixer (prices will vary depending on what you buy.) And lastly, because the microphone has a SUPER LOW output signal, in most cases you will need to invest in some kind of microphone preamp or signal booster (Like a Cloudlifter CL-1) otherwise you may risk having a thin/lackluster sound or possibly even exposing your noise floor of your interface's preamp (or lack-there-of) which results in a constant “hissing” sound in the background of your mic audio. This just isn’t ideal and certainly wouldn’t do a $400 mic any justice. You can expect something like a Cloudlifter to cost you at least $129 USD. Combine this with the XLR cables and mic stand/ boom arm that you’ll need to purchase and… well… I think you get the idea at this point! It’s just not the most cost efficient option for a lot of up and coming streamers out there.
Thankfully, Shure has decided to make a competitive USB microphone with this demographic in mind at a more “affordable” price point. The MV7 can be yours for just $249 USD (more on this later) and at most you may only need to purchase a microphone stand that allows you to position the mic closer to your face as it’s a dynamic microphone that benefits greatly from the “proximity effect” (for those who are unaware, the proximity effect occurs when you distance a sound source from a microphone in a way that drastically changes the tone of the source being recorded). Since It’s a USB microphone, you can just plug it into your computer and use it right away without needing preamps or an interface. It even has the added benefit of packing some very useful features like zero latency monitoring, a headphone/microphone volume mix, a mute button on the mic, a software compressor and limiter…. The list goes on! It even has an XLR connection so you can use the mic in an XLR setup!
So far, many of you are probably wondering why anyone would buy an SM7B for live streaming now that this monster is out on the market. Well, let’s get into that…
Let’s get this out of the way: I currently do not have an MV7 in my possession at the time of writing this article. Therefore, I am forced to rely on the anecdotal accounts of other reviewers. To be absolutely clear: THIS IS NOT A REVIEW. If you would like to check out some reviews (which i would HIGHLY recommend before purchasing), check out this simplified review from Alpha Gaming and this VERY in-depth review from Podcastage.
SPOILER ALERT! You may find a lot of these Pros and Cons to be double-edged swords!
-Price: Compared to the monetary investment required to use an SM7B properly, this price point is compelling for those looking to get that “broadcasting sound” with minimal fuss out-of-the-box.
-Feature rich: This thing comes packed with so many useful features built into the mic itself as well as the accompanying software. Everything from the headphone/monitoring mix, the mute button, it’s software compression and limiting, as well as the staple presence boost and low pass filter switches that would normally be present as physical switches on the back of the SM7B are available in it’s software. This is perfect for those looking to keep their setup minimal and within reach on your operating system's desktop. And if you decide to convert to an XLR setup, you’ll already have a microphone ready to use with it as the MV7 has an XLR connector built into the back of the mic!
-Comparable to an SM7B: I use the term “Comparable” as this microphone stands on it’s own in a lot of ways. That being said; this microphone (despite sounding different from an SM7B out-of-the-box) can be tuned with a bit of EQ to sound on par with an SM7B. Only a little audio engineering know-how can go a long way towards helping you achieve that glorious “broadcasting sound” vs. other options out there. And while it is certainly smaller than an SM7B, it still rocks that iconic look and even comes in both silver and black color options!
-Great signal-noise: For a lot of streamers out there, cancelling out background noise can be a real pain. Especially with condenser microphones like the Blue Yeti or Elgato Wave. For those looking to combat background noise, dynamic mics are a great choice in general. I can say with confidence that this mic does a fantastic job of rejecting/reducing background noise like keyboard presses and mouse clicks or even your shoutty children in the background complaining to mommy about wanting to go out for ice cream in the middle of your stream.
-No exposed wiring: This has never been a deal breaker for me, but if there’s one thing about the SM7B that i’ve always felt uneasy about… it’s that exposed wire going from the capsule to the male XLR connector. I’ve been lucky thus far, however I can't help but imagine a nightmare scenario where I accidentally yank the cable in a bout of excitement while streaming. Or perhaps something manages to cut the cable and now i’m without an SM7B until it gets fixed or replaced (imagine having to REPLACE an SM7B over this?) Let’s just say that I welcome Shure’s decision to change this design for the MV7. I’d also welcome this as a revision to a future SM7-type mic.
-Price: While the MV7 is certainly a much more affordable investment over an SM7B, These two mics don’t exist in a vacuum. There are plenty of other USB options out there with both Blue and Elgato offering some very compelling products in the form of their Yeti ($129 current) and Wave ($189 current) condenser microphones respectively. They may not be dynamic mics, but they both offer competitive and unique features vs. the MV7. This price tag can also be pretty hard to swallow if you’re intending to use it primarily in an XLR setup. The Rode Podmic goes for a mere $99 and (in my opinion) offers a more pleasant and flattering sound out-of-the-box compared to the sound of the MV7 as an XLR. Somehow, This mic sounds different in USB vs. XLR… which is honestly really strange. I have my suspicions (perhaps it’s related to the mic’s built in preamp?) but this would have to be explored in further detail.
Podcastage demonstrates this phenomenon in his review and you can judge this for yourself.
-Features leave you wanting more: I’m grasping at straws a little bit here, but considering the price tag of the Elgato Wave 3 and it’s many software-based features which offer a lot of granular control over your audio mix in combination with its integration with the Elgato Stream Deck; also, the Blue Yeti’s situational flexibility thanks to it’s switchable polar patterns; it’s incredibly difficult to NOT feel like you’re paying for a brand name… which is a complaint typically reserved for a handful of Elgato products (*cough cough* KEY LIGHT *cough cough*). And while this part is just a personal complaint, I would have loved to see more analog features (e.g. a limiter that works on the analog side of the input signal or the presence boost and low pass features as physical switches.) This is mainly because I personally don’t like being reliant on proprietary software to manage my hardware. I can let the limiter go, but those switches as featured on the SM7B would have been nice. Overall, This microphone is fairly feature rich. But at $249, I’d say it’s a bit lacking vs the competition. Especially when you consider this:
-It’s NOT an SM7B: Despite what the marketing may suggest or what it looks like… The MV7 is NOT an SM7B. This is why I called it “Comparable”. They simply do not sound the same out-of-the-box. That isn’t to say that the MV7 sounds bad though! It’s mid-high frequencies seem to be a bit harsher over the 7B and the boomier low frequencies don’t feel as responsive as I would personally expect. However with some basic EQ, you can definitely tame those “trouble frequencies” to get some quite convincing results. So in summary, if you’re expecting a $250 SM7B… keep your expectations low. But know that you are getting a quality Dynamic microphone for live streaming and podcasting.
I want to be clear that I think this is a good product and a welcome contribution to content creators from Shure! This mic is absolutely designed with content creation in mind. However, this microphone may not work out for everyone in every situation. Of course, if you’re a Shure fanboy and nothing can convince you to dislike their products… don’t worry! It will likely be money well spent for you regardless. When I look at the content creation space as a whole, though, It’s apparent that this mic isn’t going to pan out for everyone.
For all of you audiophile content creators out there, It’s pretty likely that you’ve already invested into your setup well enough to accommodate high end gear. If you’ve already got a mixer/interface and a mic pre, you might find the MV7 as an XLR mic to be a little disappointing. A lot of software features will go unutilized when plugged into an XLR mixer or Interface (remember those presence boost and low pass switches?) And the reports of the mic not sounding as good in XLR vs. USB is worrisome at $249. If you’re already spending that kind of money to improve your XLR setup, you might be better served saving that extra $150-$300 for an SM7B and a cloudlifter (if needed). Your chances of getting lucky on the used market price-wise works in your favor as well since the 7B is INCREDIBLY durable and is more likely than not to work well for years moving forward. It may cost $400, but that’s $400 you likely won’t have to spend for decades! If that’s out of your wheelhouse, then consider buying the Rode Podmic instead as (in my opinion) it sounds just that little bit better than the MV7 for only $99!
For those looking to invest more into their audio setup; maybe you're upgrading from a cheaper mic but don’t want to spend over $300 or even thousands... or maybe you have a very hard budget to adhere by? If so, I think this mic is a great option! Especially if you prefer to use a dynamic microphone over a condenser. You’re definitely going to be getting high quality sound with some great built in features that has an added benefit of keeping your setup minimal. Having zero latency monitoring when plugging your headphones into the mic along with being able to blend your desktop audio is a welcome and useful feature for all content creators allowing you to hear your desktop while checking your mic technique on the fly. If you value good background noise cancellation as well then it’s much easier to justify the price tag as this is one of the strengths of this microphone. However, if that’s not important, I'd still consider checking out the Elgato Wave 3 as it seems to offer just a little bit more in features over the MV7. Lastly, If you’re the type to distance your mic at least a foot or so; maybe you prefer to keep your mic off camera for the sake of visual presentation… if so, then this microphone is a terrible option for you along with every other dynamic microphone. You should be looking at condenser or shotgun mics instead.
And for anyone on a budget, I would recommend making due with the many cheaper options available to content creators right now. The Blue Yeti is a frequently recommended microphone for it’s reasonable price and the features it has to offer. It’s flexibility also helps it adapt to a myriad of situations that various streamers might find themselves in and with the right use of audio plugins/filters you can make a Blue Yeti sound awesome! For some, though, $130 is a bit of an ask so a cheaper option might work out better. The Samson Q2U at $59 certainly isn’t the prettiest looking mic. It looks like any ordinary stage mic. However, it’s a dynamic mic that offers enough features for a minimal setup and with enough patience and diligence, you can get this mic to sound great! Perhaps if you can reasonably save up $250, then I would absolutely recommend buying an MV7. If you’re on a really tight budget, though, you’d be better served shopping around for a more cost effective option.
I’m personally really happy to see a powerhouse audio brand like Shure throwing it’s dog in the content creation gear race. Audiophiles like myself can only welcome their contribution which will help more content creators get their hands on quality audio gear with more modern features. I like seeing more companies embracing minimal setups and offering convenient features to this demographic. While I personally feel that mics like the Elgato Wave 3 offer a better value over the MV7, I was relieved to see the features that Shure included with this particular model. And even though it’s not the “$249 SM7B” that many of us may have been led to believe, It absolutely offers a high level of audio fidelity and may set the bar for what’s possible with USB mics moving forward (perhaps a Rode Podmic USB is in our future? *Wink wink*) Only time will tell and I look forward to what the future bring!
This article was done by JawnTheZoz