Shure is a name that is synonymous with wireless mic and monitor systems. Its most recent entry into the wireless mic arena is the Shure ULX Professional Wireless Microphone System.
The ULX UHF system I tested included the ULXP4 diversity receiver, a ULX1 beltpack transmitter, WL51 cardioid sub-miniature lavalier microphone and a Beta 87A handheld microphone transmitter. (Note: The basic ULX package contains a receiver [Professional, tested here, or Standard] and either a beltpack transmitter or a handheld transmitter [with choice of capsules].) Prices range from $1,486 for the receiver and Beta 87A package to $1,542 for the receiver, beltpack transmitter and WL51 lavalier package.
The Shure ULXP4 diversity receiver comes standard with two 11-inch hinged rubber antennae, a power adaptor and rackmount hardware. The front panel of the ULXP4 receiver is direct and to the point, with an RF strength/presence LED stack, A/B antenna diversity indicator and transmitter strength LED stack. The LCD display window offers quite a bit of information.
First, the squelch indicator alerts you that squelch mode is engaged, flanked by the channel scan indicator, which lets you know that the unit is searching for a clear receiving channel, transmitter battery strength, and group/channel and frequency displays. The Shure ULXP4 has friendly controls for channel changing and assigning that are accessed through separate menu and Function Set buttons, and the display control knob allows you to scroll through all the frequency and menu functions. The rear panel of the ULXP4 receiver is well laid out, consisting of a power connection, XLR signal output connector with line/mic level switch, a TRS 1/4-inch output and two BNC antenna connectors.
The Shure Beta 87A handheld transmitter accompanied the package and is an equally friendly component to the system. The display window of the microphone gives an instant view of the status of the unit, showing the group and channel as well as battery strength indicator. Just below the display window are the controls for changing the transmitter frequency and a green LED to indicate that the mic transmitter is on. Shure provides what I like to call an “Idiot Sleeve” that slides over the controls, keeping performers from playing with the controls at inappropriate times. The battery door is at the bottom of the handheld unit, and threads on and off, allowing a 9V battery to be positively connected to the battery leads.
The ULX1 beltpack transmitter for the lavalier (clip on) microphone is identical in operation to the handheld unit, with identical display window and controls. The battery door is an actual hinged door that accommodates a 9V battery as well.
Incidentally, both the beltpack and handheld transmitters say “Bye” to you when you turn the unit off – nice touch!
The WL51 microphone that Shure provided is a subminiature cardioid condenser capsule, measuring about 5 mm across, and comes with a variety of clips, mounts and windscreens. It connects to the beltpack transmitter via a miniature four-pin connector. The entire package comes in a suitcase style box that you could actually use for transporting the entire system.
One of my regular test subjects is the Phoenix Symphony, a client of mine for 17 years. It offers the perfect battlefield conditions to check out the noise, dexterity and subtleties of any microphone, especially a wireless system. I employed the ULXP system on two shows with Doc Severinsen, featuring a guest vocalist. On both occasions, I found the Beta 87 handheld microphone to be clear and natural, and absolutely succinct in enunciation. The RF signal path was very quiet and offered no apparent coloring of the original vocal signal. On each of the gigs in downtown Phoenix, I engaged the Frequency Finder application. The onboard RF frequency analyzer worked exceedingly well and found clear unobstructed channels. On several other Symphony shows we tried out the lavalier mic and beltpack combo and found it to be very nice. I must say, I have not found many lavalier mics that I have liked, but the WL51 definitely changed my opinion. It was easily EQed (I inserted a dbx 2231 graphic EQ into the lav subgroup) with only minor cuts on no more than 15 of 30 frequencies. The WL51 sounded remarkably natural and full-bodied, and again, the RF signal path was totally quiet.
On a recent show I used the ULXP rig with a couple of 1980s Funk bands, Lakeside and Con Funk Shun. The handheld 87A microphone responded exceedingly well to much higher SPL applications, and with regard to monitors, it EQed quite nicely, giving the lead vocals a nice “edge” in the mix.
I was pleased with the Shure ULX wireless mic system. I used it on more than 15 shows and each time it responded quite well to all the tests. I found the Beta 87A handheld mic to be an excellent choice for high SPL monitor applications, yet it also had the dexterity to handle the quiet vocal passages with symphony shows. I was equally impressed by the quietness of the RF path, with none of the hisses, clicks or pops sometimes found in the RF genre. The RF filtration in the ULXP4 receiver was of the highest quality. I never experienced any adjacent channel signal presence.
The Shure ULXP is a very nice unit, constructed well, sounds excellent, and should provide many years of problem-free service.
Contact: Shure at 847-866-2200, www.shure.com.