SM7B vs. MV7: A Shure Shootout

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Anyone in the recording game is familiar with Shure microphones—and anyone in the broadcast world is acquainted with the Shure SM7B. First released in 1973, the SM7B quickly became a standard not just in the world of music, but in radio and, eventually, podcasting.

Now, nearly half a century after 1973, the company has released another mic shurely (sorry) poised to take the digitizing broadcasting industry by storm. I speak of the Shure MV7, a microphone that takes its visual cues from the SM7B, but adds a USB connection into the mix, thereby taking the mic into the 21st century. XLR? USB? Your choice with the MV7!

The company was kind enough to send me both microphones for a side-by-side comparison. What follows is that comparison.

Look and Feel

The Shure SM7B exudes solidity. It looks like the microphone you picture when I say, “microphone in a radio station.” And, if you’ve ever picked it up, you know how solid it feels.

Coming in at just shy of 1.7 lb, the mic feels solid and dependable in your hands.

I can speak to that solidity with a rather embarrassing experience: In my youth, I once dropped a Shure SM7B (not this one Shure, I promise), and it sounded exactly the same ever afterward.

The MV7, on the other hand, is a bit more lightweight in comparison. It only weighs 1.2 lb—a difference of about half a pound, but you notice it. The feel of the mic contributes: The SM7B is longer, while the MV7 is like a snub-nosed .38 to the SM7B’s .45 Colt.

Two things I prefer about the MV7 right off the bat: its cradle and its XLR connection. On the older mic, the XLR jack abuts the standmount, sometimes forcing you into awkward positioning to avoid crimping cables.

Not so with the MV7, which offers a rocking cradle and an XLR jack on the mic itself. You won’t have to worry about awkward positioning when it comes to mounting this on a stand.

The MV7 also offers a wide array of controls on the digital side: a touch tab that handles the volume, as well as mute and headphone-/mic-gain toggles. The back holds the microphone’s promise: an XLR connection, a USB connection, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Sound and Function: An Analogue

The Shure SM7B has a reputation for how it sounds: highly directional, almost obviating any room tone, with a warm sound that doesn’t go hard or harsh on the trebles. Only one “complaint” ever comes up with an SM7B: It practically eats gain for breakfast; you have to really crank the input on a corresponding preamp, often bringing up the noise floor in the process.

Many professional broadcasters recommend you pair the SM7B with something like a Cloudlifter if you want to minimize noise when using it with a field recorder or similar device. In my own studio, with an API 3124 going into a HEDD 192, gain wasn’t a problem.

Indeed, here’s me talking into the SM7B:

EXAMPLE - SM7B TALKING

And now, without further ado, here’s the MV7, plugged into the same preamp/converter combo:

EXAMPLE - MV7 TALKING

The MV7 had much more gain on tap, so brought the preamp input down. One imagines this is a boon for prosumer devices.

The MV7 also has a noticeably different sound—it’s a little less forward in certain midrange registers, and more dominating in others. The mic seems to have a different voicing from its progenitor. Sonically, whether or not you prefer one over the other is a matter of taste; I’d probably go with the SM7B if the MV7 only had an XLR jack, but I wouldn’t be unhappy with the MV7 either. It’s as solid as any Shure mic.

The MV7 is also more sensitive: it is much more liable to pick up windy breath noises and other unpleasantries from the human mouth. It is also more sensitive to sibilances:

EXAMPLE - SIBILANCE, Shure SM7B

EXAMPLE - SIBILANCE, MV7

How’s that USB Connection?

I found that once you plug the mic in USB, that’s where things really start to shine. Here’s a USB recording:

EXAMPLE - USB Recording

With the internal preamp and converters on tap, the MV7 sounds much closer to the SM7B—it has more body and less of a pinch in the upper midrange, at least to my ears. Keep in mind we’re not only comparing different outputs on the MV7, but different interface combinations: the MV7’s combo versus the API/Cranesong HEDD setup on my end.

When I used the MV7 digitally, I preferred to set up the device in aggregate, so I could monitor from my Dangerous Source rather than the headphone jack on the back; this is just my preference for monitoring with USB mics. In Logic Pro X, I was able to set the input device to the MV7 and the output device to my Lynx AES card. This setup created no stability issues, and I was able to recreate the setup on my MacBook Pro’s Logic rig, with the input set to the MV7, and the output set to the built-in headphone out.

I can report there were no stability issues whatsoever with the MV7 when used digitally.

Conclusion

The Shure SM7B has had decades to speak for itself. The MV7, on the other hand, has just arrived on the scene, and it has big shoes to fill in the analogue department. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the MV7—far from it; I’d take it over many similar mics—but the SM7B has a classic sound, as well as a long-standing reputation for durability.

However, the MV7 has that digital edge, and in this regard, it excels. I’ve used an AKG Lyra and an AT2020 USB+ on my voice; I prefer the MV7. I’ve edited and mixed spoken word projects recorded on various USB mics, from those included in Focusrite bundles to all manners of Blues. The MV7 more than delivers compared to the competition in a 48 kHz / 24-bit world.

Which do you think you’d prefer, if you had the chance to choose? Let us know in the Comments section, below!

1 Comments

I've been trying to convince myself that I would like the MV7 over the SM7B. The MV7 is more adjustable and versatile with the XLR and USB connectors, as well as all the adjustments and sound shaping that one can apply when using it as a USB mic. But based on all the comparisons and "shoot-outs" that I've heard between the SM7b and the MV7, I will go for the SM7b. To me, it has a much richer and fuller sound and great off-axis rejection. The MV7 is more prone to sibilance and especially to plosives. In fact, I'm always surprised at the plosive problems in many of the demos of the MV7. I can't attribute them all to bad mic technique because the people doing the demos appear to have sufficient audio experience. The MV7 is a bit of a mess in terms of plosives. However, I have heard one demo using the RK345 pop filter vs the standard one on the MV7, and the RK345 helped a fair bit.

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