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If you’re interested in recording audio to your iOS device but you don’t like the idea of buying and carrying around a bunch of extra audio gear, the small and portable Shure MV88 mic might be just what you’re looking for.

Special guest Cory Miller joins me today to talk about the pros and cons of this little device from Shure.

Highlights, Takeaways & Quick Wins

  • Pros: Extremely portable, great sound quality (for the price), lots of features and a good iOS app for changing settings.
  • Cons: Cell service can cause interference in the recordings, swivel head is only 90 degrees instead of 180. Not great in windy conditions.
  • Summary: If you want to capture better audio on your iOS device, the Shure MV88 is a great piece of gear for the price.

Show Notes:

  • 5:09 The Shure MV88 is a small microphone (about the size of a golf ball) that plugs into any iPhone with a lightning port. Sells for $150 new in the US, and comes with a nice little case and a windscreen. It has four different pickup patterns; stereo, mono cardioid, mono bidirectional, and raw mid-side.
  • 5:28 It has a iOS app that accompanies it that gives you control over various options and settings like input gain levels, EQ and compressor settings, the various pickup patterns, and more.

Who Is the Shure MV88 Best Suited For?

  • 6:12 Aaron: I think Shure had three people in mind when they created this product:
    1. Solo Podcasters
    2. Amateur Video Producers or Vloggers
    3. Musicians
  • 6:28 If you want to have a portable recording setup with quality better than the built-in mic on your iPhone, this is a product you should take a close look at.

What We Like About the Shure MV88

  • 7:03 Cory: One of my favorite things about the MV88 is that it’s pocketable. I’ve recently started vlogging, and I’d bought a Canon DSLR with some lenses and a Shure Lenshopper Mic.
  • 7:35 So I had this huge camera setup that was massive, and it’d be good for setting up in a studio, but if I’m out on the go or if I just want to quickly record a video, it’s a really inconvenient setup. So I bought the MV88, and I love that I can put it in my pocket and record a quick video anywhere I am.
  • 8:21 Aaron: I second that. I also have a DSLR and some external audio equipment, and I just got tired of carrying it around with me. It added 10 lbs to my backpack and I rarely every used it. This little Shure MV88 weighs nothing and is always ready to go if I want to shoot a quick video or record a quick thought.
  • 9:42 Obviously the audio quality isn’t equal to a more expensive setup like a $300 shotgun mic and a Zoom H4N, but it’s an improvement over the built-in mic and it’s much more portable. And the lens on my iPhone 6S+ is more than fine for personal or vlog style videos.
  • 10:07 Cory: If you want a better lens for your iPhone you can pick up a Moment Lens. If you’re planning on using your iPhone to create content, it’s worth investing $150 for the MV88 and another $100 for an upgraded lens. That’s still nothing compared to what you’d spend on a mid-level DSLR.
  • 11:28 Aaron: Buy a JOBY Gorillapod (flexible tripod) and an adapter for your iPhone, and you’re good to go shoot all kinds of video.

Pros: Extremely portable, great sound quality (for the price), lots of features and a good iOS app for changing settings.

What We Don’t Like About the Shure MV88

  • 15:09 Cory: I used the MV88 a LOT over this past weekend and there were some clips that didn’t capture any audio, or the audio was crackling and spiking. I’ve since heard Do Not Disturb mode or Airplane mode helps with that, but I didn’t know that at the time, so I lost about 60% of the clips I shot. Not a huge deal but it would have been nice to have been warned in advance.
  • 16:30 That’s a downside for me because if I’m out on the go, I don’t want to have to think about switching airplane mode on and off.
  • 17:04 Aaron: Yeah that’s no good. How does it work with Periscope? Have you done any live Periscope streams with it?
  • 17:14 Cory: I have, and I’ve had good results. My friend (and co-host) Kyle Adams also has an MV88, and he’s also had good results with streaming on Periscope; no problems yet.
  • 18:13 Aaron: I should mention here that I haven’t experienced any of those audio issues with clips I’ve recorded, although I have noticed a slight delay or lag when I use it in Snapchat. I believe that’s just the time it takes the app to send a message to the mic to tell it to record, though. Hopefully there will be a fix for that problem in the future.
  • 20:03 Cory: Another downside is that there’s only a 90-degree swivel on the mic. So you can either point it at yourself or out to the side, but you can’t quickly flip it around from front to back (you have to unplug it and turn it around). Again, not a huge deal, but it’d be nice to have a 180 degree swivel.
  • 22:28 Also, it seems to offer mixed results in windy conditions. I’ve recorded some stuff that didn’t turn out very well even with the included windscreen, so just be sure to do some testing (regardless of the mic you use) before you hit record.

Cons: Cell service can cause interference in the recordings, swivel head is only 90 degrees instead of 180. Not great in windy conditions.

Alternatives to the Shure MV88

  • 24:21 Aaron: There was a question earlier about using lav mics and so I wanted to touch on that and some alternatives to the MV88.
  • 24:34 If you’re going to be shooting video or recording audio that is 99% just you (or someone else) talking, then a lav mic like the $79 Rode SmartLav might be a better option for you. If you want a directional mic for less money, the Rode VideoMic Me is only $70 and while it doesn’t have as many features, it will be an improvement to the built-in mic.
  • 24:51 Cory: There’s also the directional aspect; if you’re going to be turning your head a lot or moving around while you’re talking, a lav mic will probably be better than a shotgun mic or a directional mic like the MV88.
  • 26:43 Aaron: You could always buy both. I think where the MV88 is really strong is in run-and-gun situations; where you’re moving around and shooting video or recording audio that isn’t just someone sitting in one place and talking.

Summary:

  • 27:54 Cory: The MV88 is a good buy as long as you understand that while it can give you decent sound quality, it will not sound as good as microphones that cost 2-3 times as much. It’s a strong option for anyone looking for a lightweight solution for recording better audio on an iPhone.

If you want to capture better audio on your iOS device, the Shure MV88 is a great piece of gear for the price.

  • 28:24 Aaron: I agree. Two thumbs up.

You can follow Cory Miller on Twitter and Snapchat, and be sure to check out his podcast, Invisible Details.