One of the more pleasant surprises at this year’s NAB Show was my visit to the Shure booth. What I expected from the venerable microphone and wireless manufacturer was a broadcast spin on the two major wireless products announced at the January NAMM Show: the super-premium Axient wireless microphone system and PSM1000 in-ear monitor system. What I got was all that and more. In addition to those two (impressive) products, Shure had an extensive list of other new products on hand, all of which are scheduled to begin shipping this summer and are aimed specifically at broadcasters.
“We’ve been working with a lot of broadcasters and listening to what they want and need,” said Christopher Lyons, manager of technical and educational communications. “That has really informed our product development process, and a lot of these projects have come together in time for NAB.”
While Axient is poised to become one of the highest-performing wireless systems in the industry, the products introduced at the NAB Show serve the huge installed base of UHF-R systems, demonstrating Shure’s commitment to both platforms. The new wireless products include the UR3 Plug-On Transmitter, the UR5 portable diversity receiver and VP68 omnidirectional capsule. While these new products fill gaps in the UHF-R catalog, each has been engineered with significant design features not found in other products.
While the plug-on transmitter has been an industry staple since the mid-1990s, the ergonomic oval shape of this device makes one of the first to be comfortable to hold. The UR3 is also designed for field use, retaining all previous settings (and even defaulting to “on”) after a battery change. It can also retain a microphone preset list of preferred settings when used with various mics, such as gain, high-pass filter and phantom power (12V/48V/off).
The UR5 portable diversity receiver is perfect for camera-top or other field-production scenarios, with shoe mount, stand strap mount and optional Anton/Bauer mounting accessories. It offers a multitransmitter (MTX) mode that enables the operator to quickly switch among multiple transmitters at the touch of a button and also has an onboard tone generator and headphone output. Power options include a rechargeable Li-Ion pack that provides 10 hours of use, direct DC power input or two AA alkalines.
“What we’ve done is to design these new products to operate with both the UHF-R and Axient platforms,” said associate product manager Bill Oakley. “We’ve also added some nice little touches that set them apart and make workflow faster and smoother. On the UR5 receiver, no competitor has MTX mode, a tone generator or a push-button scan to find an open frequency, at least as far as I know. And, the rechargeable battery system is really robust; it outperforms a pair of AA alkalines by far. With the UR3 Plug-On, we started by making it comfortable for the user, and then added all the programmable features to make life easy for the operator. It’s all about making things better for the user.”
Both the UR3 and UR5 operate across the full 60MHz spectrum that the UHF-R employs, and both are forward-compatible with Shure’s Axient system, with an onboard DSP setting to handle the tone key and companding differences.
On the transducer side of things, Shure had additional news. For wireless users who do field interviews, the company introduced the VP68, an omnidirectional microphone capsule.
“It’s not a huge leap forward, but it’s the kind of tool broadcasters will love,” Lyons said. “You can switch a UR2 handheld from a directional capsule to the VP68 in seconds. It looks nice on camera, has higher output and greater dynamic range than even a Beta 87, and sounds incredible.”
In addition, Shure introduced a new family of shotgun microphones, including the VP89 modular system and the lower-priced VP82. This is another example of the company’s commitment to broadcast, because it discontinued its long shotgun, the SM89, and replaced it with a modular system that accommodates a choice of long, medium or short models, all working with the same preamplifier. In terms of performance, the VP89 retains the SM89’s high directionality and smooth, natural off-axis response, but does so with a reduced noise floor, lighter weight and smaller footprint. The VP82 is a lower-priced, long shotgun with similar performance, but with an integrated preamp and fixed roll off.
“We done a lot of listening to our customers,” Oakley said. “Little things like the 90-deree antenna connectors, the tone generator and all the mounting options on the UR5 — that’s all customer driven. Today’s broadcast world is all driven by workflow, and we designed these products with that in mind, to make everything faster and easier and adding features that no comparable product has.”