Which one is the best portable microphone for iOS? Both Zoom iQ7 vs Shure MV88 are compact, lightweight mid-side microphones. They both are great for recording in stereo and mono. They are quite flexible and versatile in terms of placement and usability. However, Zoom iQ7 is currently available at a more affordable price than Shure MV88.
What we will discuss in this article includes:
- The design and build quality of each microphone here
- The available connection ports on each model
- Which mic that is generally more adaptable for different needs
- Which mic that comes with a better mobile app
- The sound quality of Zoom iQ7 vs Shure MV88
- Whether you should choose Zoom iQ7 or Shure MV88 to get the best performance and value
Zoom iQ7: Design and Features
Let us start with Zoom iQ7. It is the sibling of Zoom iQ6 which we previously discussed in Shure MV88 vs Zoom iQ6. However, it is very different from its sibling that it comes with an adjustable pick-up pattern.
The first cool thing about Zoom iQ7 is the compact, lightweight design. It is very portable and practical to use. You can put the mic in the side pocket of your bag or even in your jeans’ pocket. As expected, though, the construction is almost completely plastic. On the top, there is a pair of mic capsules, which are also made of plastic. Although lacking a premium feel, the overall construction should be durable enough to withstand normal daily use.
The position of the two mic capsules on the top can be changed into one of three options: 90-degree X/Y, 120-degree X/Y, or mid-side. You do this by flicking the switch beside the large gain knob on the front of the unit.
The X/Y patterns are great if you want to record in stereo without intending to convert the sound into mono later. The 90-degree setting is good for focusing the recording to the sound from a single direction, whereas the 120-degree setting is good when you want to capture some room ambiance. Meanwhile, the mid-side pattern is great for more flexible mic positioning and for recording stereo sound that can be collapsed into mono.
The large knob on the front is for adjusting the gain. It is solid and precise. Zoom iQ7 also has three LED lights that will warn you when the sound is about to clip. On the side, you can find a 3.5mm headphone jack which will allow you to conduct direct monitoring.
Finally, on the bottom, there is the Lightning connector for connecting the microphone to your iOS device. It has a small removable spacer for adjusting the fit. It is compatible with most iOS devices nowadays.
Zoom iQ7: Mobile App
Zoom iQ7 vs Shure MV88 come with their own apps. Although you can use these mics with other recording apps, including Voice Memos and GarageBand, some of the advanced features of these mics are only accessible from their own apps. Of course, their apps are free, so you won’t need to spend any extra money.
The mobile app for Zoom iQ7 is called HandyRecorder. Here, you can see a more precise and accurate real-time metering so that you can adjust your headphone volume to match it. The mobile app can also start recording automatically upon detecting sound; this is very useful when you can’t reach your smartphone to press the recording button.
You can select the file format between uncompressed WAV and compressed AAC. There are also some EQ, reverb, and compression effects which you can apply to the sound. The quality of the effects is pretty good, but it is still better to do the work on an actual DAW if possible. Finally, you can upload the recordings directly to SoundCloud or share them via email.
Unfortunately, Zoom iQ7’s HandyRecorder is not perfect. Firstly, it doesn’t have any noise reduction feature. Secondly, the user interface looks a bit old and outdated; it doesn’t feel as user-friendly as other mobile apps in the market nowadays. Thirdly, the file management is a bit clunky.
Zoom iQ7: Performance
If we compare the sound quality of Zoom iQ7 vs Shure MV88, there is a notable difference in the bitrate. Zoom iQ7 only records in 16-bit/48kHz, whereas Shure MV88 can record in 24-bit/48kHz. As the effect, you can expect Zoom iQ7 to have less rich and less detailed sound.
However, in practice, Zoom iQ7 still sounds really good. It is able to capture sound with very good clarity and accuracy. It works well on vocals, guitars, and strings. It is still able to capture fine details to a degree. Since Zoom iQ7 is available at a lower price, it can be an excellent alternative for people with limited budget.
One unique advantage of Zoom iQ7 is the versatility. Since you can change the pick-up pattern, you will be able to adapt for different conditions and purposes. The X/Y patterns may require more precise positioning and won’t be able to produce mono-compatible recordings, but they are good if you need to narrow the pick-up angle. The mid-side pattern becomes handy when you can’t find a sweet spot for your mic or when you want mono-compatible recordings.
Shure MV88: Design and Features
Now, let us take a look at Shure MV88. It is also a portable mic designed to work with iOS devices. At first, you may think that it only has one mic capsule, but actually, the metallic grille houses one cardioid capsule and one bi-directional capsule arranged in a mid-side pattern.
Being a mid-side mic, Shure MV88 offers easy and flexible mic positioning along with the ability to collapse the stereo recordings into mono. The mic sits on a pivot, so it can be pointed to different directions.
Due to the large base, Shure MV88 won’t be able to connect to an iOS device that wears an external case. Shure MV88 doesn’t have any headphone jack, so you’ll need to connect your headphones to the iOS device for monitoring. However, the mic comes readily with a wind screen and a carrying case.
The overall build quality is great. The metallic grille feels sturdy. The pivot also feels solid and durable, yet the mic’s position is still easy to adjust. Compared to Zoom iQ7, Shure MV88 is a bit larger and heavier, but the included carrying case makes a nice solution for storage and transport.
Shure MV88: Mobile Application
As mentioned above, Zoom iQ7 vs Shure MV88 have their own mobile apps. In the case of Shure MV88, the mobile app is called ShurePlus Motiv. In general, ShurePlus Motiv is the better mobile app due to having a better user interface and more features.
Through ShurePlus Motiv, you can change the recording mode between stereo and mono. In addition, when recording in stereo, you can also increase or decrease the stereo width. This feature will allow you to be more flexible with the mic placement. You can be a bit closer or further away from the source as needed while still getting a good stereo field.
You can choose the bitrate and sampling rate. Shure MV88 supports 16-bit and 24-bit and can record in 44.1kHZ as well as 48kHz. After recording, you can choose to save the sound in Apple Lossless, WAV, or AAC.
The mobile app also has a five-band EQ, compressor, wind reduction, and left-right channel swap. You can share the recordings via text, email, or AirDrop. You can also save a recording as a video by adding an image.
Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to get zero-latency monitoring with Shure MV88 due to the lack of a headphone jack. When monitoring through a Bluetooth headset, the delay is almost half a second. At least, this will still allow you to make simple adjustments just fine.
Shure MV88: Performance and Sound Quality
In terms of sound quality, Shure MV88 is great. It can record in 24-bit/48kHz. The higher bitrate means that it can capture more sound information at a time, so the sound can be richer and more detailed.
When tested, most vocals and instruments sound great right away. Vocals are captured with excellent clarity and accuracy. Vocals have good presence while sounding rich and smooth. When dealing with loud singers, the compressor can be enabled at the light setting, though this will reduce the dynamics a little bit.
Acoustic guitars usually can be recorded just fine with excellent dynamics and clarity. However, dealing with loud amplifiers can be a bit tricky. Again, the compressor becomes handy for reducing the loudness and prevent clipping. Nevertheless, Shure MV88 is a very versatile mic that can be adapted for a wide range of conditions, even some of the more difficult cases.
The thing to keep in mind when recording with Shure MV88 is that the mic must be very stable. The slightest shift during a recording can throw the stereo balance into a mess. Using a shock mount to keep your smartphone with the mic stable is recommended.
Zoom iQ7 vs Shure MV88
In general, Shure MV88 is better. It has better overall sound quality and performance. The mobile app is easier to use and comes with more useful features, such as wind reduction and the adjustable stereo width.