Back when USB microphones were a new technology, they sounded horrible and were overly noisy. I admit that having been there in the beginning, my personal biases always drift towards USB microphone equals bad. However, this is no longer the case (mostly) as audio technology continues to advance. For this review we are looking at the Shure MV88+ Video Kit where I’ll:
- Test for microphone performance quality
- Discuss Build quality
- Discuss Ease of use
- Test for USB interference issues
- And more!
Please note this kit was provided free of charge for review purposes. We also use affiliate links in this review which means we may earn a commission should you choose to buy through them, at no extra cost to yourself. Read on to see how the Shure MV 88+ Video Kit stacks up against my gruelling testing regimen!
What is the Shure MV88+ Video Kit?
The main attraction here is the microphone itself, the MV88+. This microphone is a stereo USB condenser microphone. This means there are two capsules instead of the usual one to capture sound. I’ll explain this a bit further on in the review.
The Shure MV88+ seems to be geared towards mobile recording with a cellphone as the interface. It can be connected to a computer and used via a desktop app. However, the cable to do so is not included in the box. Since this is not provided, I’ll be sticking only to what the kit can do out-of-box.
For more information on compatibility and specs, check out the Shure MV88+ Video Kit product page.
The Shure MV88+ Video Kit Out-of-Box
This kit comes with:
- Tripod stand
- USB C and Lightning cable for cellphone connection
- A travel case with compartmentalized pouches
- The mic with a foam shield
- Mic clip that connects to the stand
- A start-up guide with easy-to-understand picture instructions
The Shure MV88+ Video Kit: The Build Quality
This kit gave me quite the surprise. It is fairly lightweight. Yet, everything is sturdy. The mic clip in particular really hugs the mic – no worries of slippage or movement here. The tripod, again lightweight, is sturdy, too. It won’t fall over easily. The neat thing with the tripod is that it’s able to adjust the angle of the stand that holds the cellphone and microphone. Why is this neat? It means you have some customizable options for mic placement techniques to change the angle if you run into pesky popping plosives!
The cellphone holder is adjustable, so just about any cellphone should be able to fit securely. This microphone itself is tiny compared to most microphones, but this doesn’t affect its performance.
The Shure MV88+ Video Kit: Recording Tests
I recorded with the light compressor setting with the limiter on. The Motiv app seems to have improved greatly since I used these features when reviewing the MV7. The results are noticeably more transparent on the audio. With these settings, I was able to achieve a recording level of -20LUFS with -3.72 and -2.85db true peak.
As far as USB-only microphones go, I’m pleased with the tone. There is a very slight hint of warmth.
Note: It is normal for the true peaks not to match with stereo microphones.
Recording Tests: Plosives
You probably heard some popping plosives in the previous recording. To potentially remedy without editing (why work more if you can fix it at the source) I tested to see what the “moving the head back” technique would do to the tone.
It’s not a huge difference in tone, which is good. That little bit of warmth disappears. However, with a little EQ this can be fixed up easily.
Recording Tests: Off-Axis
This is where the benefit of a stereo microphone comes into play. As a result, an off-axis danger zone is going to be a lot wider than your traditional microphone with one capsule.
I move the same distance to each side that I always do for every microphone review – which is only the amount I can move my torso in a chair with arms. If you listen on headphones, you will actually hear my voice drift to the right and left respective to each movement.
The tone change is so slight that the majority won’t notice. As a result, now you have your voice drifting between channels! Fixing this is easy by converting stereo to mono.
Remember to turn your phone to silent or do not disturb so that the notification sounds or vibration from the phone through the stand doesn’t leak into your recordings!
Recording Tests: USB Interference
I am always hesitant to use USB devices in audio because they are susceptible to interference from the devices they plug into – even more so in a cellphone recording environment. However, my fears were unfounded this time. There was one bar of a hum (the form interference takes). Though, it was in a frequency inaudible to human hearing.
The Shure MV88+ Video Kit: Ease of Use
There is a Shure Motiv Audio and a Shure Video app for Android and iOS. Motiv Audio is used when only wanting to record audio, and Motiv Video is for audio with video via a cellphone. Since we at the Podcast Host are all about podcasts, I focused mainly on the Shure Motiv Audio app.
Shure’s app is where you will be spending most of your time. The layout is simplified, and with some basic audio lingo knowledge, you should be able to utilize all the features. Such features include:
- Virtual limiter and compressor
- High Pass Filter
- Stereo width configuration and polar pattern selection
My only “gripe” with the app was that you could only record in 16-bit audio. It would be preferable to record at 24-bit. If you’re unfamiliar with bit depth, think of 16-bit as standard definition on a TV, with 24-bit as HD, and 32-bit as 4K and above.
Our Rating: 4/5
- Price: 3.5/5
- Performance: 4/5
- Ease of Use: 5/5
- Build Quality: 4.5/5
Shure MV88+ Review: Conclusion
The Shure MV88+ Video Kit is great if you are a podcaster on the go or want to do podcasting and video blogging. Its price tag comes to approximately $249 on Amazon. If you don’t plan on needing video or walking around filming and recording via cellphone, I think the Shure MV7 would be a better pick for the stationary podcaster. The tone on the MV88+ isn’t bad, but the MV7 definitely blows it out of the water and is only a little bit more in cost (the trade-off is the MV7 isn’t very mobile). This kit is definitely for a person on the move or an introductory video blogging setup. If that’s you, then this kit is for you!