Life is easy for podcasters when you consider the choice of mics available. Most people buy a Rode PodMic, Blue Yeti, or any other ‘starter mic’ and think they are set for life. Eventually, a serious case of GAS sets in (that’s Gear Acquisition Syndrome for the uninitiated) and they want to take things to the next level.
And often, it’s warranted, because the PodMic and Blue Yeti are both subpar in comparison to many other alternatives on the market such as the Shure MV7 & SM7B.
In October 2020, Shure threw its long-awaited hybrid XLR/USB microphone into the fray, sending podcasters and content creators into a frenzy when they launched the MV7. Partly because of this, I wrote a post that contemplates if the Shure SM7B is still worth it in 2021. As logic dictates, it’s now time to gauge how the two siblings stack up against each other in a side-by-side comparison.
But should we even have this discussion if I declared Shure SM7B to be better in audio quality than the Shure MV7?
Yes, we do! And here is why – that statement only takes into account audio quality, which is only one of many factors while purchasing a mic. Is it really significant enough to override the extra features, ease of use, and USB connectivity of the Shure MV7?
I do feel like these two dynamic microphones are built to complement rather than compete against each other. Why would the Shure engineers go to such great lengths to undermine the SM7B? Nevertheless, most of us need to pick just one…
But as someone who owns both, I’ll share my insights to help you figure out which is the right choice for you.
SM7B vs MV7: Verdict
Ultimately, the SM7B still rules the roost. Aside from the fact that it sounds just a tad nicer for podcasting, it’s also a more versatile mic for recording other instruments as well.
Pro-grade, best for studio applications w/ audio interface
USB connection + XLR connectivity
Better for musicians: recording vocals, guitar cabs, and instruments
Recording interviews on the road
Sounds full – more warmth, rich lows
ShurePlus MOTIV app
An industry standard with a storied history
Shure MV7 Overview
The MV7 microphone is Shure’s conscious effort to create the ‘podcasting mic’. They have studied the needs, surveyed the market, and designed a solution that caters to tangible demands from the podcasting world.
It’s their attempt to create a microphone bar none. That is why the MV7 accentuates the key vocal frequencies in the mid-range (for that brighter “NPR tone”). It offers connectivity via USB, a touch panel, and the Far mode – something video podcasters have long been yearning for.
In other words, this dynamic microphone is podcast-centric – and you can see that in every setting in every mode of the MV7. You can check out my take on the newcomer (and the ShurePlus MOTIV app) in my Shure MV7 review.
SM7B’s claim to fame is its fullness and tone color, with a gratifying palette of lows. This affable tone made it a staple of the radio and broadcasting industry. While it excels at that, you can read more about its salient features in my review.
MV7’s back panel has a USB Type B connector, XLR output, and headphone connector. SM7B features EQ / rolloff switches and an XLR output on the rear. MV7 has a slightly inferior integrated windscreen (built-in) compared to the foam screen of the SM7B.
Shure’s SM7B nails the low-end and sounds noticeably fuller than an MV7. You can bridge the difference in sound quality with some clever EQ or post-production on MV7 recordings, but that involves extra effort.
The SM7B needs you to stay up close to the microphone, within 6 to 7-inches. As you come up to it, your voice sounds deep, rich, and instantly makes you feel like a professional broadcaster.
Conversely, even with compression, the MV7 isn’t as impressive up close. The plosives are noticeable enough to bother me. Some sibilance is also present, especially when the compression is set to heavy on the app.
Again, you can fix that with some de-essing (check out my roundup of the 7 best De-essers in 2021) or you can swap the MV7 foam with the SM7B screen (A7WS) – an ingenious idea that YouTubers have been advocating.
Shure MV7’s Far mode (on the app) is more obliging to streamers and content creators who want more flexibility in positioning the mic. There is no breath noise and it doesn’t pick up plosives. It sounds significantly more intimate and makes it easy to frame a clear shot while shooting videos.
Shure SM7B is less sensitive in comparison. You need an in-line mic preamp like a FET head or Cloudlifter CL-1 to add gain to it. The MV7 has a built-in gain switch (+36dB) and is more likely to pick up room sounds when boosted.
SM7B’s 150 Ohms output impedance is also significantly better than MV7’s 314 Ohms. Anything below 200 Ohms is essential for high-quality audio when you are running long cables. The Shure MV7 will lose a touch of audio quality in those cases.
The SM7B has a frequency range of 50 to 20 kHz compared to MV7’s 50Hz to 16 kHz range. The extra high end means the SM7B will do a better job at recording vocals and guitar amps. While the MV7 can do a decent job at that too, it is nothing to write home about.
With two XLR dogs in the fight, you finally notice how differently the MV7 is voiced. Its focus is in the upper mids (2.5 to 10kHz). This is where the bulk of the ‘vocal magic’ happens. It renders a crisp (and somewhat bright) tone with clarity but not as much low end as the SM7B.
The XLR out on the MV7 also draws on the built-in gain (+36dB), which makes it easier to use without an in-line mic preamp. Although, it still doesn’t sound as deep and smooth as the SM7B.
As you can see, the SM7B has a tiny 5kHz boost and a dip in the low-mids when set to flat. In the chart above, the dashed line shows the change in the frequency response with the high pass filter activated. The dotted line reflects the changes with the mid-range emphasis (presence boost).
Shure MOTIV App (MV7 Only)
The MOTIV app is sheer brilliance, and one of the best features available with the MV7. It is available as a desktop and mobile version, both of which can access the entire gamut of sliders and settings or use the Auto Level Mode.
This allows you to manually tweak the mic gain, EQ, monitor mix, and click the mic mute when you need to. Each manual setting can be saved for future use and any of the three modes – dark, natural, bright – can be set to be the default signature tone.
I won’t get into all the details but you can read more about the MOTIV app in the aforementioned Shure MV7 review.
Not all of us are Joe Podcast with Wingman Jamie to buttress our sound snags. When things go wrong during a recording, the ShurePlus MOTIV app is responsive and reliable. The touch panel is a blessing, and the built-in zero-latency headphone monitoring gives you flexibility, control, and convenience.
In my opinion, it works just as well with a laptop on the go as it does in a full-blown studio with an XLR mixer.
This enables you to start with a substantially cheaper budget using a Shure MV7 with your laptop. The functioning XLR setup can wait until you see some tangible growth to justify the investment.
Not only does the SM7B cost more, but it also demands an audio interface and a Cloudlifter-like device. On the other hand, Shure MV7s USB and/or XLR ensures that beginners can future-proof for when they add an interface later.
SM7B vs MV7: The Final Say
MV7 entices you with both USB and XLR connectivity, ‘Far’ mode, the MOTIV app, and on-mic controls within an arm’s reach. Conversely, SM7B’s signature warmth helps it retain the ‘gold standard’ status by a sufficient margin to feel any heat from the MV7.
It boils down to whether you prefer a USB dynamic microphone with ease-of-use at a more affordable price or the inimitable fullness of a more expensive mic and the additional setup costs involved.
Ultimately, you must pick between two studio-quality broadcast microphones, both of which have an undeniably professional sound. Either way, both these models will continue to rank high in the pecking order as they dominate the next generation of audio and video podcasts.
For me, I would keep the SM7B if I had to pick one. It’s just a better all-around mic, whereas the MV7 is restricted more to podcasting. It also fits right into my setup as I already have a preamp and interface. However, I also bought the Shure MV7 for portability. I can take it with me and not risk damaging my more expensive SM7B.
I’ve highlighted the key differences and how both can be handy in different scenarios. You can take the wheel from here. An honest assessment of your setup, needs, expertise, and budget will unravel the right choice for you. If not, get both and blame it on GAS.
Make sure you check out my individual reviews of both mics here: