As smartphone camera technology has continued to add more megapixels by the minute, it has replaced handheld cameras. Using an iPhone is now commonplace for interviews, home demos, field recording and most things apart from cinema. Arguably, sound quality has fallen by the wayside, as picture quality blinds us to the comparatively low fidelity sound the miniature microphone provides. If there was to be any brand to save us from this audio muck, it would have to be Shure. The Motiv MV88+ Video Kit is a professional companion to your iPhone recording, providing an excellent digital stereo condenser microphone with accessories to make you a pro out of the box.
No instruction manual is needed with the MV88+, sticking to lightning cables and USB-Cs to link everything up. A roll-up pouch houses the microphone, phone clamp, mic clip and cables, though the mini tripod is separate. It’s compact and lightweight enough to fit in a deep jeans pocket. There are four different configurations of the tripod and clamp to serve videography, self-recording, audio capture and desktop recording functions. The clamp and mic were exceptionally sturdy and housed both the phone and microphone comfortably without leaving residual marks. The mini tripod took some getting used to when positioning its legs, however it never slipped during recording.
All recording is done via the free app ShurePlus MOTIV Video, downloaded from the App Store (iPhone only). It’s a highly intuitive interface that would offer more control for mobile recording even without the condenser microphone. The option for quick-change settings on the recording screen allows you to toggle through audio format, resolution, frame rate or sound quality without having to divert through menu screens. The accelerometer function also lets you ensure your recording is evenly set, particularly helpful for self-recording without the mini tripod. The application was seamless, occasionally stalling on a loading screen here and there, something likely to be patched up.
The audio recording can be formatted into WAV, AAC up to 256 kbps or Apple Lossless. Some might bemoan the lack of 320kbps and FLAC, but Apple Lossless is arguably near equivalent. The 48kHz quality recording however is truly exceptional - output to Audio-Technica M50X monitors, it’s almost surreal to hear the fidelity out of an iPhone recording.
If you’ve encountered the MV88 microphone before you won’t be shocked at its performance more generally, as it contains the same electronics per specification. It does purport to receive less radio and cellular interference, though I was not able to qualitatively witness this. In theory, it would benefit live streamers.
The microphone is principally designed for music, a fact made obvious when I recorded my speaking voice. Although the quality of recording is uniformly excellent, I found that unless speaking directly into the microphone I had to crank up the gain to for the desired clarity and balance. Otherwise, broadcast quality of podcasting could be achieved.
Catapulting the MV88+ kit into brilliance is its stereo image optioning. Choose between raw mid-side, mono cardioid and stereo to suit your recording needs, with stereo offering different widths of its recording field (60, 75, 90, 105, 120 & 135 degrees respectively). Recording home demos is obviously best suited fiddling with the stereo settings; the different widths gave me more than enough versatility to record a home band set up with almost impeccable clarity. The mix was as balanced as any high-fi recording mic could hope to attain and is simply unbeatable for guitar or gear demos filmed for YouTube. The sensitivity of the gain and compression ranges is equally excellent, giving you an unexpected amount of control over your unmixed sound. For journalists like myself, it is giddily useful; high fidelity interviewing via mono bi-directional stereo image and then dual-options for field recording through raw mid-side and mono cardioid.
Videos and audio recordings are saved into their usual Apple file slots via the app, making it easy to export them onto your computer or iCloud quickly. It’s a shame you can’t name the files easily, but that’s an Apple OS stipulation.
Short of prescribing this as essential, the Shure MV88+ Video Kit is a vital beginners package for music, media and podcasting professionals. The MV88+ is an unimpeachable condenser microphone for the price, and matched with an astutely designed tripod-clamp and iPhone app system, it provides simple and intuitive control of quality audio-visual recording from your pocket.
Hits and Misses
Multiple phone-mic configurations
Intuitive app control
Excellent stereo image options
Highly compact and affordable