Shure is the go-to brand for many people when it comes to microphones. With Shure mics being so popular amongst podcasters and traveling musicians, it makes sense that they made an awesome compact interface, too. Mobile recording is the key selling point of the MVi, and in that area, it’s quite hard to beat. But it does have a lot of competition, so let’s take a look at how the MVi stacks up.
Shure MVi overview
The Shure MVi is an iOS Lightning and USB audio interface. As you might guess, that means you can go directly into your iOS devices, which we will discuss in more detail shortly.
There are two things that make the MVi a very popular audio interface for podcasters and musicians. The first is the Shure name; it just carries so much weight, especially with vocalists. The second thing is how compact it is, and that’s thanks to a very streamlined design.
It’s one of the smallest you can find that offers high-quality audio. Coming in under two inches tall, just over three inches wide, and weighing under 11 ounces.
The front panel is a little different from the average interface; it uses touchpads rather than traditional buttons. Along the bottom of the front panel is a touch slider that controls the microphone’s input gain and your headphones’ volume level. Above the slider, there is a step LED meter to indicate where the level is.
By default, the slider adjusts the XLR input gain; pressing the headphone button will switch to headphone volume.
Above the LED meter, there is a microphone mute, button, a mode selector, and the headphone button we mentioned from left to right.
On the back, it’s as simple as can be with one XLR/TRS combo input, an 1/8″ headphone jack, and a USB connector. Underneath the XLR/TRS combo input is an indicator to show when phantom power is active.
Analog to digital resolution is 16-bit/24-bit and 44.1 kHz/48 kHz. The MVi has a class-A microphone preamp that performs very well, delivering a clear and crisp sound.
The preamp does provide 48 V phantom power for a condenser microphone, but only when connected to a computer via USB. If you are using an iOS device such as your iPad or iPhone with a Lightning connection, you only get around 12 V. So, it might be a good idea to use a dynamic microphone rather than a condenser with the MVi.
To activate phantom power, simply hold the microphone mute button for three seconds.
We think it would be fair to say that the Shure MVi is more about convenience and portability than anything else. It does deliver high enough quality, but there are better options in terms of frequency response or EIN (equivalent input noise). So, let’s focus on the primary purpose of this little interface, convenience.
That brings us to the five available modes. The first mode is Flat, and when in that mode, there will be no processing from the audio interface. What you get will be a flat, unaffected signal that you can then edit in post.
The next mode is for Speech, and it might be the most used mode of all. Speech mode does involve some DSP, and it adds some EQ to deliver the optimal settings to record speech. That’s what we mean by convenience; it’s ideal for people who don’t know how to do it themselves in post or people who don’t have time. It’s a wonderful shortcut for podcasting.
Next, we have Singing mode, which works in a similar way to speech mode. The only difference is the type/amount of EQ and compression that is added.
The next mode is Acoustic Instrument, and that can be handy for any acoustic instrument, maybe strings, etc.
The last mode is Loud, which is optimized for recorded really loud sound sources. You might use this mode if you were recording a live band with a single microphone or anything else that comes in very loud.
Overall, the sound quality is very good for what it is, but how you rate it will depend on how you use it.
The build quality is probably the easiest area to score on the MVi. Despite being so small, Shure’s MVi is built like a tank.
The design and build quality of the MVi only goes to highlight the fact that it’s intended for mobile use. It doesn’t matter how much traveling you do or how you travel; if you manage to break the MVi, it’s on you.
When we said the front panel of the MVi was a little different from the average interface, we don’t think that’s by accident either. Shure chose to go with touchpads instead of knobs and buttons for a reason. We believe it’s because they know that knobs and buttons are often the first things to go, either breaking or getting lost when gear gets bumped around on the road.
Now, does that mean we prefer touchpads over regular buttons? Probably not. It’s common for touchpads, especially sliders, to be a bit less responsive. If you have a traditional slider, you grab it, move it, let it go; it’s that simple. With the kind of digital slider found on the MVi, you can find yourself having to reach for it twice because it didn’t quite go where you intended.
However, despite everything we just said, you have to consider the value that touchpads offer in the context of traveling. So, we can certainly see why Shure went down that path.
It’s not so much a software bundle, but you do get the free ShurePlus MOTIV app. The app offers mobile recording for your iOS device along with EQ, compression, and wind noise reduction.
Shure MVi vs. other interfaces
The Shure MVi is an interface that will suit a very specific kind of user, but not everyone. So, here’s what we think when compared to similarly-priced interfaces.
M-Audio M-Track Solo
We wanted to highlight the M-Track Solo because it’s more versatile for around half the price. If you can live without the MVi’s recording modes and with a slightly larger interface, we think the M-Track Solo is a steal. See our M-Track Solo review
Focusrite Scarlett Solo
We talk about the Scarlett Solo a lot because so many musicians and podcasters trust it. Overall quality goes to the Scarlett Solo; convenience goes to the MVi. See our Focusrite Scarlett Solo review
Audient EVO 4
The EVO 4 is a slight step up in price, but it offers far more flexibility. If you are a musician, the EVO 4 is better; if you are a podcaster, the MVi will get the job done faster. See our Audient EVO 4 review (coming soon)
Final verdict on the Shure MVi
Our verdict on the Shure MVi is a simple one; if you podcast, record audiobooks, or anything similar, it’s the ideal interface for you. It takes away the need for any tweaking in post and allows you to work faster. If you travel a lot and want an interface to capture ideas in the moment, it’s great for that, too.
But, if you are looking for a budget studio interface for your music, there are better options. So, in short, it’s a fantastic interface if you need it for what it does best.
- Solid build quality.
- Class-A preamp.
- Five recording modes.
- Easy to use.
- Amazing for podcasts.
- For musicians, there’s better quality at the same price.