Thursday, March 1, 2007

Shure SLX wireless microphones

I just purchased and received 3 sets of Shure SLX wireless microphone systems - 2 for my church & school, and 1 for myself for the next time I need to help with a gig.

Each set consists of a SLX4 wireless receiver, a SLX2/Beta87A microphone, and a SLX1 bodypack transmitter with a WL183 microphone. (Understanding that only one microphone can be used per receiver at once.)

Just some thoughts on the SLX series in general:

  • Pros:
    • Frequency agile - 960 operating frequencies over 24 MHz of bandwidth. In the event of interference, other channels are still available, rather then rendering the set useless.
    • UHF diversity. (True Diversity, predictive.)
    • Excellent sound quality:
      • Uses Shure's same world-renowned microphones as their wired and top-of-the-line UHF-R wireless series.
      • Equipped with Shure's patented Audio Reference Companding.
    • Uses AA batteries, which are typically cheaper than 9V, and with no real noticeable difference in battery life. (>8 hours typical with alkaline batteries.)
    • 3-segment battery meters on the transmitters.
    • Comes "loaded", leaving few accessories left to buy. Includes:
      • Rack ears for rack mounting.
      • Protective, stackable bumpers for use outside a rack.
      • Cables and connectors for front-mounting the antennas.
      • Zipper microphone bags.
      • Batteries.
    • Everything "feels solid".
    • Relatively affordable. 1 entire set as described above can be purchased for less than $1,000.
  • Cons:
    • No signal strength meter on receiver, other than a "ready" indicator, and indication of which antenna is in use.
    • No battery level meter on receiver, other than a "low" indicator.
    • 1/2-wave antennas would be desirable over the supplied 1/4-wave antennas.
    • The mute function on the transmitters is turned on and off by pressing the same button. The status indicator changes from green to orange when in mute, but unlike a lever or slider switch, doesn't provide for status "by touch".
    • Usable frequencies are split between bands (3 in the US), with each band only available in different models, rather than making all supplied bands available on the same receiver. (If one band is full or unavailable, a different receiver/transmitter must be used.) This requires transmitters to still be matched with receivers to some extent, which may not be expected with frequency agile. However, this is surprisingly also the case even with Shure's top-of-the-line UHF-R series.

Overall, I'm pleased with the choice. A few of the UHF-R series would be great, but after looking at over twice the expense with no real improvement in quality, I can't justify the expense. Combined with the fact that no one will even be near the receivers most of the time, the lack of additional meters is almost a mute point. :-)

No comments: