I would like to begin with a little bit of Shure trivia. First; Shure began in April of 1925 and built their first wireless microphone in 1953. I was pretty amazed by this info. Moving into the present, Shure has been at the forefront of the battle with the government and cell carriers for bandwidth in which to operate wireless mice and monitors. And—really important for houses of worship or local sound companies with very tight budgets—while they have been innovating with high end systems that are all but immune to interference (Axient, anyone?), they have not forgotten about us down on this end of the scale. The BLX Wireless System is solid and you can buy a dual receiver and a couple of handhelds or a handheld and a guitar pack for less than $550 at a half dozen different online retailers. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Very often a piece of gear is coming my way for review and I don’t really know much about until I open the box. When the Shure BLX system arrived I was very happy to see that Shure had sent the BLX88 Dual Channel Receiver model. Obviously more is better in the audio world so getting two receivers in one was a treat. Not only did I get the dual receivers but Shure sent all the transmitters that go with the system.
Ok, here are some of the features that make this wireless system cool and pro. First Shure uses its H8 band. These are frequencies between 518 to 542 MHz which are well outside of any of the frequency spectrum being fought over–at least today. Plus, signals in the 500 band do better with things like walls and other obstructions. And that means fewer dropouts.
The receivers incorporate one touch “QuickScan” technology that detects the most interference free frequency and sets the channel to it for fast set-up. The antenna is internal which makes then super easy to place (and gives one less thing to break on a gig) and microprocessor controlled for minimum interference. A pair of good AA batteries are rated for 14hrs of operation. However I probably put twenty hours of use on the pair I installed in my handheld microphone. Also the handheld microphone uses a BETA 58A cardioid dynamic mic capsule and the performance was close enough to a wired Beta 58A that it was a breeze to get into the mix without weird frequencies popping up or feedback. And lastly the BLX wireless system includes handheld, head-set, lav microphones and instrument mics, plus guitar transmitter packs. And Shure sent us one of everything. Christmas came early… There you have it. Let’s get to the live events.
My first outing with the Shure BLX Wireless System only involved using one side of my dual receiver gear but it performed flawlessly. I hooked up the BLX1 bodypack transmitter and the PG30 head-set mic. The transmitter synced quickly to one side of the receiver and sounded great. I was running sound for a church seminar with a sole preacher conducting the teaching. In this type of scenario I simply want the transmitter and receiver to work seamlessly and the microphone to sound natural. The Shure covered both bases.
I was mixing about 50 feet from the speaker and never experienced any drop-outs or weird audio anomalies. My next date was with the BLX was a three-day event with a wide variety of bands. I set up the Beta 58 handheld mic exclusively on one side of my receiver and used it on the MC and the lead singers for my bands. The other side of the receiver was reserved for the PG30 head and the BLX1 body pack transmitter. As I mentioned earlier set-up is a piece of cake and the sound quality of the transmitters is very good.
I used it for three days with a dozen different singers and it always sounded great. Not only that, but I used one set of batteries for the entire three days and I still had some juice left. The rest of the transmitters are good but we all have favorites. I actually liked the Beta 58 hand-held microphone best.
To sum the Shure BLX wireless system up, I would say for the money it performs beautifully. Every piece of gear is weighed against its price and this one offers a lot of bang for the buck.