The Shure UHF-R currently reigns as the most widely rented and specified wireless microphone system.
It’s been on the market for four years and has garnered legions of fans.
Let’s look at some of the features and technical specifications that make the UHF-R system tick.
Receiver options include the single-channel UR4S and the dual-channel UR4D. Most often seen, of course, is the dual-channel variant.
Three transmitters are available, including the UR1 standard bodypack, UR1M micro bodypack and UR2 handheld.
The bodypack units are connected to lavaliere and headworn microphones via a TA4, and in the case of the smaller UR1M, a 3-pin Lemo can be ordered as an option.
The handheld transmitter can be outfitted with a wide variety of Shure mic capsules, ranging from the SM58 to the SM86 to the high-end KSM9.
This is indeed arguably one of the stronger aspects of this series – the direct compatibility with Shure’s industry-standard range of capsules.
The handheld transmitter is available in standard black finish as well as the more “sexy” satin nickel. In the past few years, the old rule that “microphones must be black” (otherwise they might reflect light into TV cameras and/or be noticed by the audience) has abated, so this additional finish option fits right in with the current preference of options.
The UHF-R system employs Shure’s proprietary and patented Audio Reference Compander system.
Single-channel UR4S and the dual-channel UR4D (click to enlarge)
Audio companding is a “necessary evil” in any analog wireless system, because otherwise there’s not enough dynamic range available in the link to provide an appropriate full-range musical signal.
The Shure approach is very well regarded by engineers and artists alike for its natural sound quality. Dynamic range is specified as >105 dB, A-weighted, which is quite good - better than CD, in fact. Most high-quality wireless systems today have a similar specification for dynamic range.
Overall frequency response of the system is listed as 40 Hz -18 kHz +1, -3 dB. That’s a good specification and compares well to other high-quality analog systems.
In contrast, digital and digital hybrid systems extend a bit lower and a bit higher, with overall flatter response.
Nonetheless, the audio range of the UHF-R is more than enough to satisfy the demands of touring and installed sound markets, as evidenced by the high level of acceptance.
The UR2 handheld transmitter can be outfitted with a variety of Shure mic capsules(click to enlarge)
Transmitters in the UHF-R line allow for two different RF power settings, which I mentioned in an earlier post is something we’re seeing more.
For the U.S. market, the UR1 bodypack transmitter can be switched between 10 mW and 100 mW. The UR1M microbodypack and the UR2 handheld can be switched between 10 mW and 50 mW.
For Europe, the handhelds and bodypacks all offer selectivity between 10 mW and 50 mW, to satisfy different regulations. The basic idea behind switchable power is that the user can choose between “low battery consumption” and “long range”.