Peer review - Shure MX690

David Thomson, Director, Avolution Ltd in Scotland has reviewed Shure's new Microflex MX690 boundary layer microphone.

What we use it for

How many discussions have taken place between Integrators and Architects or Clients about having to “drill” into their brand new meeting room or worse, boardroom table to allow the passage of mic cables to a codec? Over the last year or so there have been a number of wireless solutions released, however no product from an established Radio Microphone manufacturer until now. Based on traditional UHF Radio Mic technologies (with a few extras!) this Shure solution is easy to install, easy to use and it works really, really well!!

What we like about it

I took the system over to CityIS HQ in Livingston and put it through its paces with Fraser Doyle, their Technical Manager. We set the mic and receiver up within five minutes and were on a VC link within ten!
Features include the use of two AA batteries (which are included in the packaging). High quality batteries will last eight hours of active use. Rechargeables can be used but perform for less time.
To switch the mic on there is an On/Off switch on the base. There is also a high pass filter selector and a simple-to-read LCD showing the battery power remaining. The push button on the top surface of the mic (used normally to mute/unmute) also indicates battery condition, steady red for a failing battery, pulsing red for batteries imminently exhausted!
Setting the frequencies is easy, even with multiple mics as there is an IR based, one button push “automatic frequency synchronisation” facility. The system is impervious to mobile phones and PDAs with Shure's proprietary Commshield technology.
There is also a programming button underneath to change some of the top button and indicator functions and to activate the Logic Outs.
We like the Logic Out facility, which when activated presents information to say, an integrated control system on mute status and battery condition which is useful in many installations. A three pin Phoenix type connector is fitted and the use of 0V and 5V is used to indicate status. To enjoy the Logic Outputs, the Shure SLX4L receiver must be purchased as the plain old SLX4 receiver is not fitted with Logic Outputs. There is a small price difference in the receivers.

What we would change

Perhaps the look of the microphone will not be to everyone’s taste. It is perhaps a little utilitarian looking, however it works and it works well. There are already new models en route from Shure and they do look more “cool”!
This microphone system will find homes in many Video and Audio Conference projects due to its simplicity of use, its cost, no cable management issues and of course the quality of the audio. As usual with Radio Microphones there are battery management issues however a small price to pay to keep the De Walt in its case!!!

In use

One mic was set up at the head of a Boardroom Table nearest the VC Screen. This particular table can seat up to eight on each side and two at the far end. Although we would probably recommend two of these wide cardioid microphones on such a table, amazingly just this one mic performed exceptionally well. The voice quality is superb, very natural and any proximity effect was minimal. Shure recommend being within a 130 degree pick up pattern from the mic, however in practice more than acceptable results were derived at 180 degrees.

Operating range: 30m
Battery life ≈ 8hrs (Alkaline)
Dimensions: 43 x 87 x 148mm
Microphone : Cardioid, 50-17,000 Hz response

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