One of our favorite brands of all time, Shure, has come out with the MOTIV Digital Microphones series. Up next in our line of reviews, we take a look at their MV51, a large-diaphragm condenser microphone for USB and iOS devices. At first glance we can see the awesome vintage look they’ve brought us, but the microphone also has some nifty features, such as a detachable built-in kickstand, a touch panel with four DSP preset controls, some gain and headphone volume, and more. It’s a great solution for those looking for a budget-friendly mic that brings some decent sound quality as well. Let’s see what the Shure MV51 Condenser Microphone has to offer in detail.
Main features of the MV51 condenser microphone
- 1″ (25mm) microphone
- Integrated headphone output
- Built-in kickstand
- 24-bit/48kHz digital recording
- All-metal construction
- Touch panel with multiple controls
- Frequency response: 20 to 20 kHz
- Adjustable gain up to +36 dB
- Powered via USB or lightning connector
- Mic mute switch
- Weight: 21 ounces
- Comes with USB and lightning cable
Design and features
What’s great about the interface is that the back of the mic includes a headphone out for real-time monitoring, which is a feature in our opinion all microphones should have. As with all of Shure’s new mics, the MV51 is compatible with any micro-USB to USB or iOS device using a lightning cable. We don’t record this way (yet, at least), but as the trend continues to grow, we see why Shure has included this capability. This is especially a plus for you if that’s how you record audio — one of the better iOS microphone solutions we’ve seen thus far.
The built-in kickstand is a super nifty feature here. It can not only stand on it’s own to give you a compact fit (it’s basically the diaphragm with no body), but it can also mount to any standard mic stand (it threads off). Perfect for those recording vocals or merely any instrument in a studio, and especially convenient if you travel.
The cap-touch panel allows us to take a hold of the gain, mute or headphone volume right in front of us. You control the volume by swiping your finger, so just a nifty feature there. The panel itself lights up when the mic is plugged in. We love the usability of this and although it isn’t necessarily better than buttons itself, it works as intended and is conveniently located for use.
Lastly, the DSP modes are a bit wider in variety with the MV51, giving us speech, singing, acoustic, loud, and flat presets.
Overall build and stability
Shure always has a solid build when it comes to mics. As we saw with their other MOTIV mics, they’re built of all-metal so you’re not getting any cheap plastic here. The kick stand is of decent quality as well, although it isn’t a rugged titanium piece of gear, it won’t snap like a twig if you accidentally drop it. The touch panel is also slick, so no complaints when it comes to the overall build.
In terms of traveling, we prefer the MV51 over the MV5, although it’s not like you need to choose between the two. The MV51 however is basically the diaphragm of the microphone with a stand, and if you need to bring it to a studio, just simply mount it to the stand that’s there. Obviously here are some cons to thsi build, being that it doesn’t provide phantom power and won’t give you nearly as much power as a real condenser microphone. However, we’re assuming you’re not interested in the MV51 for that.
The quality of the MV51 comes in at a standard 24-bit/48kHz — and when we say standard, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As we’ve said before, USB microphones in particular (those that are condenser) have come a long way, and the quality is suitable for those in a home studio or are using the mic as a device to communicate (gaming, podcasts, etc). A lot of popular USB mics out there hold 48 kHz rates, but a bit lower in terms of bit-rate at the usual 16. So in comparison to others, this mic stands out with sound quality.
The sound is pretty flat in our opinion, as we didn’t notice any dramatized frequencies, specifically the bass and treble. The overall warmth of the mic isn’t comparable to other popular condenser microphones that need phantom power to operate, but that should be a given for you being that those cost quite a bit more money and need an audio interface or an external source of power (are typically quite bigger than the MV51 as well).
The verdict on the MV51 condenser microphone
In terms of comparing with other mics within it’s class, the MV51 is actually a bit better than the popular Blue Yeti (that one comes in at 48 kHz as well, but only 16-bit). So if you’re choosing between the two in terms of needing a USB mic, we’d go with the MV51 if sound quality is important to you. The only reason we’d stick with the Yeti is because there are more case studies out there in terms of longevity; however, we’ve never had a problem with Shure’s length of use before (their SM58 has lasted us 10 years plus).
If you’re looking for a bit of a cheaper solution (albeit it is a small-diaphragm as opposed to the MV51’s large), read our Shure MV5 microphone review. That one is lower in line of MOTIV Microphones but also is a bit more portable since it’s smaller, so it may pertain to your needs — that is up for you to decide.
All in all, the Shure MV51 Condenser Microphone is a solid solution for those looking for an iOS microphone or merely a USB solution to record instruments or vocals in a home studio, podcasts, gaming, and other low-budget activities. The touch-panel is convenient and the fact that it can be mounted onto a traditional mic stand gives it a very broad variety of uses. We highly recommend it if it’s what you’re looking for.