Recording - April 2016 - 56

Songwriter Recording Solutions

Reviews by Mike Metlay

We've come a long way from the early days of plugging microphones into an iPhone's headset jack and hoping for the best.
Today's music recording gear for iOS delivers high quality and lots of features for the money, with results comparable to those of
gear meant for laptop rigs. In this edition of iOS Music Tools, we're looking at two interfaces and two mics that are ideal for recording songwriters that want to capture their ideas with a good enough sound for professional use.-MM

Shure MOTIV MV51 and ShurePlus MOTIV
$199; app is free; www.shure.com

Shure's new MOTIV line of mobile-friendly recording
solutions includes a clip-on lavalier, two cardioid desktop mics, a stereo mic head that attaches directly to an
iPhone or iPad, and a standalone audio interface. Today
we're looking at the MOTIV MV51, an all-in-one solution
for basic iOS (or Mac/PC) recording. It offers mono
recording, audio playback for headphones, and built-in
DSP to help you quickly optimize your sound.
Mobile recording devices tend to fall into two categories-"go-anywhere" and "rugged." Manufacturers
either build for the lightest possible weight while (hopefully) maintaining a reasonable amount of sturdiness, or they
design products to survive anything-and to heck with the
fact that they make your laptop bag a burden. Shure definitely falls into the latter camp with the MV51. It's over a
pound of solid metal that you could easily use to defend
yourself in a bar brawl. (Don't ask me how I know this.)
Inside the neo-retro casing (with a kickstand that converts to a mic-stand mount), there's a cardioid electret
condenser mic capsule with a frequency response that's
relatively flat, with broad dips centered around 1500
Hz and 3500 Hz and a pretty hefty peak from 5 to 8
kHz, married to a DSP-enabled interface with gain control, headphone level control, and five recording Modes
controlled from a touch panel with indicator LEDs. The
rear of the unit has a minijack for headphones and a
USB Micro-B connector; the MV51 comes with two such
cables, one with a USB-A plug for Macs and PCs, the
other with a Lightning plug for iOS devices.
The MV51 is Core Audio and USB class
compliant; you plug it in and it works with no
drivers needed. Touch the mic icon to mute the
mic, touch it again to unmute. The horizontal
ribbon control sets mic gain (green LEDs) or
headphone level (orange LEDs). The headphone level control is active when you touch the
headphone icon; the amp provides nice clear
sound, but it favors lower-impedance headphones and doesn't get super-loud. The MV51
can record at 16 or 24 bits, 44.1 or 48 kHz.
Touch the Mode button to cycle through the
different options-Speech, Singing, Acoustic,
Loud, and Flat. The first four are settings that
Shure has optimized for different applications:
podcasts, vocals, quiet acoustic music like guitar
or piano, or loud amplified instruments/drums.
56

RECORDING April 2016

The last setting, Flat, removes all processing, and when activated,
you quickly discover that the MV51 is a really sweet little mic-its
proximity effect tends to really kick in when you get within a few inches for that sexy broadcaster voice, and off-axis sound is fairly smooth
out to about 90º or so to the sides. If you give it room, plosives aren't
really a problem, and the same can be said for sibilance.
If you're curious about what these Modes are doing, you can get
a glimpse of them by using the free ShurePlus MOTIV app. This is a
simple mono recorder that also lets you alter the mic's settings: gain
in 1.5 dB steps up to +36 dB, limiter On/Off, compressor set to
Off/Light/Heavy, and 5-band graphic EQ. The EQ settings sound different for every Mode, but they're not
reflected in the app when you select one-unlike the
Limiter and Compressor settings, which are. The five
bands are 200 Hz, 350 Hz, 1.5 kHz, 6 kHz, and 10
kHz, settable in 2 dB steps to ±8 dB.
By the way, this isn't all the app does, but to take
advantage of its more advanced settings, you need the
MV88 stereo mic ($149). When using that mic, the app
can control polar pattern, stereo width, cut low-frequency
rumble/wind noise, and flip the stereo image (so you
don't have to worry about which way your phone is
pointed when you're shooting videos).
The MV51's DSP sounds quite good; the Limiter is particularly effective at preventing overloads with any but
the loudest peaks, and the EQ frequencies are musically
relevant if a bit coarse. If you like the idea of this sort of
control but want to use your own mic, Shure makes the


http://www.shure.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - April 2016

Contents
Recording - April 2016 - Intro
Recording - April 2016 - Cover1
Recording - April 2016 - Cover2
Recording - April 2016 - 1
Recording - April 2016 - 2
Recording - April 2016 - 3
Recording - April 2016 - 4
Recording - April 2016 - 5
Recording - April 2016 - Contents
Recording - April 2016 - 7
Recording - April 2016 - 8
Recording - April 2016 - 9
Recording - April 2016 - 10
Recording - April 2016 - 11
Recording - April 2016 - 12
Recording - April 2016 - 13
Recording - April 2016 - 14
Recording - April 2016 - 15
Recording - April 2016 - 16
Recording - April 2016 - 17
Recording - April 2016 - 18
Recording - April 2016 - 19
Recording - April 2016 - 20
Recording - April 2016 - 21
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Recording - April 2016 - 24
Recording - April 2016 - 25
Recording - April 2016 - 26
Recording - April 2016 - 27
Recording - April 2016 - 28
Recording - April 2016 - 29
Recording - April 2016 - 30
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Recording - April 2016 - Cover3
Recording - April 2016 - Cover4
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