Kun Shure MV7 -mikrofonia esiteltiin syksyllä 2020, kyse oli melko ainutlaatuisesta tuotteesta podcast-tekijöille. Alkuperäisessä MV7:ssä löytyy samassa kuoressa laadukas dynaaminen mikki, USB-äänikortti, kytkettävä automaattinen tasonsäätö, sekä kuulokevahvistin. Lisäksi Shure tarjoaa vielä ilmaista Motiv tietokone-appia, joka laajentaa MV7:n ominaisuuksia entiseltään.
Visuaalisesti Shure MV7 muistutti melko lailla firman legendaarista SM7-mikrofonia, mikä ei varmastikaan oli vahinko. Viimeisten viiden vuoden aikana SM7:n suosio on noussut hurjasti, etenkin oivana studiomikkinä laulun ja/tai sähkökitaran vangitsemiseksi. Syy tähän on varmaan – ainakin osittain – se, että edesmennyt studiokonkari Bruce Swedien on käyttänyt sitä tunnetusti Michael Jacksonin lauluraitoihin laulajan ”Thriller” -levyllä.
Shure sai runsaasti positiivista palautetta MV7-mikistään, mutta samalla satoi myös kyselyjä mahdollisesta rinnakkaismallista, joka olisi pelkkä mikrofoni, ilman äänikorttia ym. Monet tykkäsivät MV7:n soundista ja olemuksesta, mutta heillä löytyi laadukas äänityskalusto jo valmiiksi.
Vuoden 2021 loppusyksystä Shurelta tuli vastaus pyyntöihin – upouusi Motiv MV7X.
Muotoilunsa kannalta Shuren MV7X (katuhinta noin 170 €) on käytännössä samannäköinen kuin MV7, paitsi että uudesta mallista ei luonnollisesti löydy alkuperäisen mikin säätimet ja USB-lähtö.
MV7X:llä on oma u-muotoinen kehto (tai ies), jonka ansiosta mikkiä voi käyttää sekä perinteisellä mikkitelineellä että (ylösalaisin) radiostudioista tutussa pöytävarressa.
Sekä mikrofoni että sen kehto tuntuvat hyvin kestäviltä.
MV7X:n isoa vaahtomuovista tuulisuojaa irtoaa helposti vetämällä. Sen alla paljastuu Motiv MV7:n ratkaisevin ero Shure SM7:aan:
Kun poistaa SM7b:n tuuulisuojan, löytyy sen alta hyvinkin pitkä, reikälevyistä tehty metallitötterö. Metallisuojan päätarkoitus on pitää mikin tuulisuojan paikoilleen. Samalla se pitää SM7b:n edessä olevaa äänilähdettä tarpeeksi loitolla mikkikapselista, joka istuu noin puolimatkaa mikrofonin kärjestä mikrofonirunkoon.
Ilman tuulisuojaa Shuren uuden MV7X:n kärki taas näyttää perinteiseltä kapulamikrofonin kärjeltä, joka on tehty tukevasta metalliverkosta, jonka alla on vielä lisäkerros p-, k- ja t-kirjainten aiheuttamista puuskista suojaavaa huopaa.
Shure MV7X:n iso runko ja mikin herttakuvioinen kapseli vähentävät tehokkasti mikrofonin takaa tulevia äänejä.
Koska uutuusmikki on vain hieman yli 15 senttiä pitkä – 550 g gramman painolla – MV7X-mikrofonia voi käyttä hyvin myös lavalla.
Olen äänittänyt muutaman vertailuklipin MV7X:llä ja Shure SM57-mikrofonilla. Koska SM57 on niin laajassa käytössä, jokainen meistä varmaan tietää, miltä ”viiskytseiska” kuulostaa, mikä tekee vertailusta helpomman. Mikrofonit äänitettiin Cranborne Audion Camden EC2 -etuasteella.
Minun mielestäni on vain hyvin vähän eroja MV7X:n ja SM57:n välissä. Genelec-monitoreilla kuuneltuna huomasin kuitenkin aavistuksen verran lämpimämmän ala-middlen, sekä hieman vähemmän terävän preesensikorostuksen uudessa MV7X:ssä.
On totta, että pääsääntöisesti uutta Shure MV7X:ää on tarkoitettu radio- ja podcast-studioon – kuten näkyy mikin ulkonäöltä, sen kehdosta ja isokokoisesta tuulisuojasta. Minusta olisi kuitenkin sääli, jos MV7X:n käyttöä rajoitettaisi hyvin kapeasti tähän sektoriin, koska tämä mikrofoni voisi toimia monissa eri tilanteissa äänitysstudiossa tai konserttilavalla.
Olen melko varma, että uusi Shure MV7X toimisi hienosti esimerkiksi bassorummun tai puhallinsoittimen edessä. Tutustuminen siis kannattaa mielestäni ehdottomasti.
When the Shure MV7 was released in the autumn of 2020, it provided a unique all-in-one package for podcasters. The original MV7 combined a quality dynamic microphone with a USB-interface, switchable automatic level control and a headphone amplifier. Additionally, Shure offers the free Motiv desktop app that further enhances the MV7’s functionality.
The fact that Shure took a lot of visual pointers for its new MV7 model from the company’s legendary SM7 microphone surely didn’t hurt the Motiv model’s sales one bit. Over the last five years the SM7’s popularity has experienced a steep rise, as a fine go-to microphone for vocals and guitar amp duties. This is in part due to the widely publicised use for Michael Jackson’s vocals on his legendary ”Thriller” album – recorded and mixed by the late, great Bruce Swedien.
Shure got a lot of positive user feedback for the MV7, but also many requests to release a straight XLR-version of the new microphone for those who already owned all of the necessary recording equipment.
In late 2021 Shure did just that, introducing the new Motiv MV7X.
In terms of its design the Shure MV7X (price in Finland around 170 €) is virtually identical to the MV7, save for the missing soft-touch buttons and USB-port.
The MV7X comes mounted to a U-shaped bracket-cum-mic-adapter, making it easy to use the mic either on a traditional microphone stand or suspended upside down from an adjustable desktop arm.
The microphone and its yoke look and feel very sturdy and professional.
The MV7X’s large foam windscreen is easy to take off, making it easy to spot how Shure have managed to shrink the SM7:
In an SM7b, removing the foam screen will reveal a very large and long, relatively wide-mesh metal basket, whose main objective is to hold the windshield in place. The SM7b’s mic capsule – or cartridge in ”Shure speak” – sits far back, a bit more than halfway from the basket’s tip to the microphone’s body.
The MV7X’s front end looks very much like that of a handheld mic, beneath its foam shield. Here we have a very sturdy, tight wire mesh, with an additional layer of plosive-filtering foam inside the grille.
The Shure MV7X’s large body and front metal collar combine with Shure’s cardioid capsule to give the mic excellent rejection of sound coming in from the rear.
With a moderate length of just over 15 cm, and a weight of 550 g, the Shure MV7X won’t look out of place on a stage, either.
I recorded a number of clips comparing the new MV7X to the classic Shure SM57. Being one of the most widely used dynamic microphones on the planet means, that everybody knows what an SM57 sounds like, making a good starting point for these comparisons.
To my ears both microphones sound remarkably similar, but not completely identical. The differences I could make out, listening through my Genelec monitors, were a warmer low-mid range, and a less-pronounced and softer-sounding presence boost in the new Shure MV7X.
Yes, the Shure MV7X’s design, construction, yoke and large windshield have been tailored towards radio studio and podcast use. But tying the MV7X firmly to the podcast genre does this mic a bit of a disservice, because it will surely work well in multiple musical situations on stage and in the studio.
The mic worked fine in the applications I tried it out with, but I bet you could put the MV7X in front of a kick drum or horns, and it wouldn’t disappoint. The new Shure is definitely a mic to take a closer look at!
In 2021 short-scale basses are often seen as less desirable, as instruments purely for beginners, but not for ”serious” use.
Back in the Fifties, Sixties and much of the Seventies, a wealth of great music has been recorded by bassists playing short-scale basses. To some degree this was out of pure necessity, as many guitar manufacturers didn’t regard the electric bass guitar as a serious instrument in the early days. Those companies simply used slight redesigns of their guitar models with longer necks and different pickups, in order to have something to sell to the public. Gibson, for example, only released its first long-scale basses – the Thunderbird II and IV models – in 1963, while Gretsch and Guild stuck to their ”modified guitars” well into the 1970s.
Other companies designed their short-scale basses from the ground up:
In 1956 a German luthier called Walter Höfner developed a comfortably light and compact semi-acoustic bass with a violin-shaped body. In keeping with the Höfner Company’s nomenclature this new bass received the rather uninspiring name Höfner 500/1.
This bass might have become a mere footnote in history, had it not been for a young British musician, who ordered a left-handed 500/1, while working in a nightclub in Hamburg (West Germany) with his band. This young bass player was, of course, none other than Paul McCartney, and the Beatles’ global fame from 1963 onwards catapulted the Höfner 500/1 right into the limelight.
The Fender Company, whose founder Leo Fender was the father of the electric bass, introduced its first short-scale bass in 1966. The Fender Mustang was based on their legendary Precision Bass, and was meant as a companion to the company’s Mustang Guitar.
Regardless of their affordable price tags, the models in this review are straight descendants of the Höfner 500/1 and Fender Mustang models.
When the Fender Musicmaster Bass was released in 1971 it was Fender’s most affordable electric bass, making it an ideal choice for beginners, music classes, and – in the late 70s and early 80s – for Punk or New Wave bands. The original Musicmaster Bass used the same body as the Mustang, but sported a redesigned scratchplate and bridge, cheaper machine heads, and a covered guitar (!) pickup.
The Squier Affinity Bronco Bass (current price in Finland around 200 €) has been the brand’s most-affordable bass for many years, until the very recent arrival of the Mini-P Bass, which is a few euros cheaper.
The Indonesian Bronco Bass is clearly based on the Musicmaster Bass from the Seventies:
The Bronco Bass sports the same Mustang-style body, and shares its predecessor’s simple, two-saddle bridge, as well as the 19-fret bolt-on neck. The new scratchplate design, which is clearly Strat/Precision-inspired is much prettier, though.
The satin finished maple neck is a one-piece affair, with the frets directly installed into its curved front, and it offers easy truss rod access next to the top nut. The tuning machines are improved versions of the originals.
Squier’s websites aren’t especially clear on the body material; some places state it is made from agathis, while others mention poplar. Be this as it may, our review sample comes finished in a beautiful Torino Red gloss finish. The bass is also very light in weight.
The single-ply scratchplate holds a powerful ceramic Stratocaster pickup, and the master volume and tone controls.
The quality of workmanship on the reviewed Squier Bronco Bass is simply amazing. I’m old enough to remember affordable instruments from the late Seventies, and this little bass is simply in a completely different league. Everything is clean and crisp. The neck profile is a very comfortable ”C” and the fretwork is very good. The playability of the bass is buttery and there are no annoying mechanical buzzes or rattles. You could basically grab this bass and do a gig.
Due to the very spartan bridge the Bronco’s intonation is never completely spot-on in the higher reaches of the fretboard, but I feel I can live with the small compromises required.
What the Squier Bronco offers is great playability, a healthy acoustic tone, and a surprisingly balanced and full-bodied performance from its single-coil guitar pickup. The Bronco Bass sounds like a ”real” bass played through a quality bass amp.
Höfner’s Violin Basses are currently produced in three model ranges:
The Made-in-Germany range comprises several vintage reissues, reliced basses, and an ecologically-conscious Green Line-version.
Höfner’s mid-price range is called the Contemporary Series (HCT), and it is produced in China. The Contemporary Violin Bass models come equipped with genuine German pickups, but differ slightly in construction by adding a feedback-reducing centre block inside the body.
The most affordable instruments are the Höfner Ignition models (HI). These instruments are also made in China, but offer less painstakingly exact recreations of Höfner’s most famous models.
The Höfner Ignition Violin Bass SE (current price in Finland approx. 350 €) is the newest update of the McCartney-inspired Ignition-version of the Höfner, which adds a few features that have been requested by many fans:
The body’s bass-side shoulder is now adorned with a vintage-style Höfner-decal, while the previous Jazz Bass-style control knobs have been replaced with Höfner’s famous teacup knobs. Additionally, the bass now also comes with a replica of the famous BASSMAN-sticker in the box. During the making of the Beatles’ Get Back/Let It Be film and LP, Paul McCartney had peeled off the sticker from his new Fender Bassman amplifier stack and stuck it to the top of his bass. For some Beatles fans this sticker has since become a legendary piece of memorabilia, which has now been made available to buyers of the Ignition Violin Bass SE.
The Höfner Ignition is a beautifully made instrument that closely follows the most crucial aspects of the German original’s build:
The hollow body of the Violin Bass is made from an arched plywood spruce top and plywood flame maple for the rims and the arched back. The set neck is carved from rock maple, while the rosewood bridge is held in place on top of the body by the downward force of the strings in Jazz-guitar style.
The most obvious difference between German (and HCT) basses and the Ignition is the exact build of the neck. The original features a freestanding, so-called cantilever fingerboard between the neck joint and the neck pickup. The Ignition’s neck continues as a solid block of maple for the whole way, which actually even makes the neck joint a tiny bit stronger. Additionally, while German 500/1s come with (depending on the model) necks made from either two long strips of maple, or a central piece of beech sandwiched between two outer strips of maple, the Ignition’s neck is one-piece maple with a separate piece glued on for the headstock.
For environmental reasons Höfner now uses thermo-treated jatoba wood for the fingerboards on Ignition Violin Basses. The string trapeze is chromed, while the tuning heads are four separate units with pearloid knobs.
The Ignition pickups are actually reissues of rare Japanese Staple pickups, which were used on some ”New Special” models for the Japanese market back in the Eighties. They look similar to the classic Staple pickups on Paul McCartney’s 500/1, but are slightly wider, and – what’s more important – easier to adjust for height than the German originals.
Many players who are new to Höfner-basses have trouble with Walter Höfner’s classic ”Aggregat” control console that also comes installed on the Ignition Violin Bass SE. I hope the above picture will do its bit to clear up which component does what.
It looks like a Höfner, it’s built like a Höfner, and – surprise, surprise – the Ignition Violin Bass SE sounds like the genuine Höfner it is! This is a quality instrument, and very compact and light to wear on a strap. The set-up and playability of our review sample was spot on, making the Ignition SE a fast and comfortable player. The neck’s depth may be a bit chunkier than on many modern basses, but the relatively narrow U-profile means that a Höfner neck sits very nicely in the palm of your hand.
It is true that the Höfner 500/1 (aka Violin Bass aka Beatle Bass) will forever be associated with Paul McCartney and the Beatles, but that shouldn’t lead to the instrument being pidgeonholed as a ”Sixties music” bass. I know what I’m talking about, as I have been a very satisfied 500/1-owner since 1990, and I regularly use the Violin Bass in many different contexts. As long as you don’t need to play slap bass or high-gain Metal, a Höfner will handle anything you throw at it.