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Author Topic: Shure QLX-D Wireless (VHF, V50 band)  (Read 107 times)

Jonathan Woytek

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Shure QLX-D Wireless (VHF, V50 band)
« on: April 16, 2018, 10:45:50 pm »

Hi all. Here follows a short review of the Shure QLX-D bodypack wireless, VHF (V50) band. Please feel free to ask any questions you might have.

I do a lot of theatre work, and recently started to build my own inventory of bodypack wireless microphones. I've used lots of systems, from the baseline Audio-Technica to Sennheiser Evolution to Shure analog to Lectrosonics Venue digital, but I didn't really own anything other than a couple of ENG-style Sennheiser Evolution units with the portable receivers that I used for some video work. With the post-600MHz sale RF changes mostly known in my area, I decided that it was a good time to start looking into building some of my own inventory for use on my shows and as rental for other shows in my area.

I had narrowed my choices to the newer Sennheiser Evolution units and the Shure QLX-D. I really wanted to go digital, as I have had excellent experiences with the Lectrosonics units, but I don't have the Lectrosonics budget. Also, since I am now using a Yamaha CL console for most of my musicals, I was keen on the integration available with the QLX-D units. The Evolution units come in at a great price, though, and they generally sound quite good for the price. The 300/500 units start to run pretty close to the QLX-D price, but they're still a decent amount less.

For the Sennheiser units, I was really only looking in the Sennheiser A-band range (500MHz-ish). There's still a good bit of free spectrum in our area (greater Pittsburgh) in that range, so that wasn't a problem. For the Shure units, I was looking at a couple UHF bands and the recently introduced V50 VHF band (174-215MHz). My thoughts were that if I'm going to be renting these out to other people around here who are likely using my gear as add-on to existing systems, there is a greater chance of overlap if I'm supplying UHF gear, so the VHF gear has a better chance of finding free spectrum.

What finally swayed my decision was finding a pair of V50 band QLX-D bodypack units at a local shop in their customer return section. I added some Countryman B3's for theatre use, some Shure WL93's for clip-on/backup, the Shure antenna combiner kit, and got a rack and Pelican ready.

The back of the units have the standard complement of BNCs for antenna A and B, XLR out (switchable mic/line level), power connector (units are supplied with a line lump supply--thank you Shure!) with strain relief, and an ethernet port for configuration and monitoring.

The QLX-D units have a pretty intuitive menu system, though some of the abbreviations they use require some head-scratching/manual reading. I used the menus when I was initially playing with them and to get familiar with basic operation, but did all of my actual configuration and testing with the receivers interfaced to Wireless Workbench. This is really the way to go with these units. I used WWB to do the initial configuration of the receivers, scan the band, and assign frequencies. Then, with a simple press of the "sync" button on the receiver, I held up the transmitter and it was programmed within seconds. That was the fastest mic setup after RF coordination I have ever done.

The transmitters are high-quality metal cases that seem to be designed for maintainability. Antennas are removable (and hence easily replaceable) using SMA connectors, and the audio connections take cables terminated with the Shure standard TA4F. My units actually came with the instrument cable, which uises a threaded TA4F. The bodypacks will take the threaded TA4F or the microphone-style button lock. The bodypacks are slim and not bulky at all. They take either two AA's or a rechargeable pack. There is a little pad inside that must be repositioned if using the rechargeable pack. The menus are again pretty easy to understand, and the instructions to lock and unlock the menus on the transmitter are printed right under the buttons (again, thank you Shure). I am using AA's and found that I got over ten hours of time on a single set, which is kind of insane. I could easily get two five-hour show events on a set of batteries.

Above, the two QLX-D transmitters are on the left. They are a little thinner than the Sennheiser Evolution G2 transmitters next to them, and just about as wide.

One of the things I was a little worried about was the antenna length on these units, both on the transmitters and receivers. The receivers come with BNC antennas that are about 18" long, so they fold easily on a front-mount rack panel and don't need to be removed to close up the rack. I used the Shure passive antenna combiner to run a single set of front-mount antennas for both receivers. The transmitter antennas are a little longer than the UHF equivalents, but were still easy enough to hide and did not cause me, the actors, or the costumers any additional stress.

At the venue for the show I just completed, I'm mostly forced to keep my recievers at FoH, which is about 125 feet from the stage (the receiver racks are just to the right of my console in the above photo). At this range, I was a little nervous about not having directional antennas for these two units, but they performed flawlessly. I did a few range checks with WWB with packs mounted on actors during rehearsals, and had no signal issues until they walked well off-stage.

I had zero issues with these mics during the show. I took a risk by putting them on my leads, but I also knew they'd get a workout. Both had strong vocal power and good range, so they would give the audio path good exercise, and would allow me to hear if things were going to break down at their limits. I had a few rehearsals to run them through their paces before deciding if I would keep those on the leads or swap them out, and I never had to think about making that swap.

Shure made a good bet on this line, I think. I could never see myself getting into ULX-D without having a strong rental income, which isn't going to happen in this area. The QLX-D is a great fit for me, where I want to have a digital transmission path with all of the associated advantages (telemetry, etc.) and network connectivity, but I don't need the additional ULX-D features or price premium. I'd love to have Dante, but it wasn't worth it for me in this case.

Please feel free to ask any questions you might have.


[edit: I linked the images incorrectly and had to fix that. Oops.]
« Last Edit: April 16, 2018, 10:51:35 pm by Jonathan Woytek »
Jonathan Woytek
Dryrose Productions
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