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Review: Shure QLX-D Wireless Mics

My life would have been better if Shure had never even sent me these microphones. I was quite content with the mics I have been using. Was it really necessary for them to tease me with these wireless wonders and then send a big brown truck, armed with call tags, to pry them from my grip? I think not. Cruel and inhumane treatment to say the least. Oh well, welcome to my world.

Our story begins over one year ago, when Shure invited me to try their new (at that time) QLX-D wireless systems. Obliging my request, they sent a QLX-D2 handheld with an SM58 cartridge and a QLX-D14/SM58 Bodypack/Headworn combo. Unfortunately, their delivery was delayed. By the time they arrived it was the “off-season” here in Upstate NY—when I would much rather sit by the blazing fire than load my gear into a snow covered truck in sub-zero temperatures. So, at Shure’s request I prepped the unopened box for its return flight. Time passed, winter turned to spring, and when the snow melted the mics were still here (probably because UPS was unable to get down our icy drive). Long story short: Shure extended the loan so the mics went into active duty.

Click here for specs

After chopping through the thick cardboard shipping box, I found each mic (paired with a QLX-D4 receiver) looking well-rested and ready for some serious action. At first glance I knew I was going to like working with these. The receivers are sturdily cased in metal, the antennas are long, strong and look like they could pull in signals from the planet formally known as Pluto. The power supplies are located mid-cord so you don’t have to deal with plug hogging wall warts that always leave you one outlet short on the power strips. I can tell these will be hard to break and I like that.

Quiet Observations

The QLX-D2 handheld with SM58 capsule has a fantastic feel. It’s hefty and nicely balanced. Whether engaged in song or just making a few announcements, when you bring it to your lips you feel like a rockstar, baby.

The SM35 headworn not only sounds great, but is relatively comfortable wrapped about your noggin. As a DJ/MC for weddings who enjoys moving all over the room, I need a headworn with the lowest possible hassle factor. This one stays in place once you find the “sweet spot” where it feels like it’s not even there. The headworn that I typically use (supplied by a different manufacturer) is of similar quality and has served me well for several years. It too is an exceptionally comfortable and a great sounding microphone. But this Shure is better. It’s a bit more comfortable, the sound is amazing, and at no time was there a black hole in the audio. It has been a fzzzzstttt-free summer.

Like everything else branded QLX-D, the body pack for the headworn feels like it was designed by NASA. It’s solid, durable and heavy enough to anchor a small boat (well, maybe not). My point is, there’s a warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with having gear that’s built to work as hard as you do—this system takes you there and beyond.

Grab Your Suit

To test the wireless performance of the QLX-D transmitters and receivers, we first took them to the North Coast for a wedding on the beach. As it is an excepted fact that sand, water and electronics don’t mix, I decided to play it safe and set-up the PA for the wedding ceremony as far back from the seating area as possible. Typically, I want the PA up in front of the guests so that the officiant’s voice is coming from approximately where they are standing and so that there is minimal delay and echo. This time, that was not going to happen due to the location of the ceremony site.

With the Shure handheld stand-mounted on the beach, and the receiver in the sand-free zone some fifty yards away, I awaited the officiant and bridal party. As the entrance music faded, and the bride and groom took their places, I started to question my decision and feared that I had placed the mic too far away to pick up their voices. That concern quickly faded as even with the sound of the waves in the background, the SM58 capsule caught every word and whimper. So, as the sun sank into Lake Ontario, another couple was pronounced bride and groom and even the squawk of the seagulls came through like crystal. Time to party.

Over the summer, I used these two wireless microphone systems at around 25 wedding receptions. While most of those were DJ jobs, there were several occasions when professional singers were coaxed into providing some impromptu entertainment. How did I know they were truly professionals? Good question. First, they didn’t ask me to play a backing track—they knew how to carry a tune and where used to working without net. Second, their credentials were easy to check with a quick search of YouTube.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I hand off a wireless mic to someone who knows how to use it, I want it to be the best I have. The QLX-D2 (with a little added EQ and compression) in the hands of a professional simply blew the crowd away. On the downside, I have never had a handheld that seemed to attract so many non-professional singers and “rappers.” On countless occasions it was snatched right off my table by juiced-up guests who simply couldn’t survive another moment without destroying “Paradise By The Dashboard Lights.” Their passionate vocals from dead-center in the feed-back zone may have missed the mark, but that mic sure made them look, and feel, great.

And isn’t that the difference between microphones? The feeling you get using it? I have to admit, that when I was out on the floor, doing the introductions or addressing the crowd, it was wonderful being able to hear my own voice clearly and succinctly. It’s sort of like when you drive down the street and see the reflection of you in your car in a store window looking cool as cool can be. Not once did a guest complain “We couldn’t hear you.” Microphones really only have to get one two things right—they should sound clear and intelligible. If they are wireless, they also need to provide fzzzzstttt-free coverage throughout the venue. This one wins on all counts.

The final night out for the QLX-D2/SM58 was for a gathering at our church. As is typical of these events, everyone was requested to bring a dish-to-pass, except for me. I was asked to bring a mic-to-pass as several people would be speaking from locations throughout the congregation. Having already tested this mic’s acoustic and wireless pickup range, I knew that such a task would child’s play. As expected, it came through again with flying colors.

So now comes the worst part, and I have put it off long enough. Time to return these wireless beauties to their comfortable travel containers and call for the man in brown. Forgive the tear, but having spent so much time with these two mics, well, let’s just we’ve formed a special bond. They are simply brilliant, great to work with, sound superb, and as I mentioned previously, can take anyone’s vocal performance to an unexpected new level. I am so going to miss these two microphones.

About the author

Robert Lindquist

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