For nearly a century, Shure has been at the cutting edge of audio electronics. Its reliable, high-quality equipment has been used everywhere from the Super Bowl to the Oval Office, its iconic microphones by everyone from Elvis to John F Kennedy. Shure’s wireless systems have long been the go-to kit for sound engineers on concerts, speeches and shows.
But it’s not just Shure’s world-class wireless receivers that theatre technicians will be desperate to get their hands on. After extensive field testing, the company has introduced a revolutionary new product range, one which means it can now deliver a superior end-to-end solution for any live event: TwinPlex lavaliers and headsets.
“Every process had to be invented to make this product possible,” says Shure’s senior project manager John Born. “We needed a whole new way of thinking to make this microphone so small and so precise, so we have an entirely new facility, entirely devoted to developing TwinPlex.”
Designed to dovetail perfectly with their existing wireless systems, these new subminiature microphones are essential for any theatrical production. And, as top-notch quality is essential to everything Shure does, it was determined to make sure its lavaliers and headsets were the most durable, best-sounding ones on the market. To do so, it paid attention to three key goals: sound quality, cable durability and sweat protection.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” says Born, “but innovative products never are.”
Shure’s expert engineers came up with a ground-breaking way to ensure the highest quality sound. TwinPlex lavaliers and headsets have a dual-diaphragm, omni-directional design: two parallel diaphragms, as opposed to one, offering twice the surface area of other 5mm microphones.
Not only does this innovation make for bigger, warmer, low-frequency response, better extension and a smoother top-end response, it is also a godsend for theatre engineers, as it ensures reliable and consistent off-axis performance – an essential factor to compensate for an actor moving their head, or a mic drifting during a show.
Put simply, the dual-diaphragm design ensures the mic is always facing the sound source, so not a single word is lost. And, thanks to the innovative positioning of the electronics between the diaphragms, instead of behind them, Shure has managed to achieve unbeatable sound quality without compromising on size – these subminiature microphones are barely 5mm in diameter. They are, says Shure, “the best sounding lavaliers and headsets you’ve ever heard”.
As the cable is often the first element to fail in a lavalier or headset, Shure put together a dedicated team to seek out the most reliable cable available. After a year of searching, the team found a high-end medical company that used a unique cable construction and set about co-designing the TwinPlex cable.
The result is a discreet but extraordinarily durable 1.1mm cable that survived for more than two weeks in Shure’s punishing Cable Flex test machine – more than 100 times longer than anything else tested. It’s ideal for theatre work, as it is extremely thin, allowing it to be threaded through costume and wrapped in an ultra-flexible, paintable jacket that resists drying out and cracking. It is, says Born, “the thinnest, most durable cable the audio industry has ever seen”.
But a superbly small, superior microphone and a remarkably reliable cable mean nothing without extensive sweat protection. As anyone who has performed on stage under lights will tell you, things get very sweaty, and subminiature microphones can be dramatically affected by that sweat, either by degradation of sound quality, or complete failure.
That’s not the case with TwinPlex microphones, though. Shure has even invented a new test system – the SweatBot – to ensure its lavaliers and headsets were entirely sweat proof. Engineers dripped artificial sweat on to microphones, caught them as they failed, then analysed what went wrong.
The team’s findings led Shure to yet another innovation: a cap on the element itself that prevents sweat and moisture entering the microphone. Nano-coated with a super-hydrophobic layer, Shure’s cap means sweat simply rolls off the element’s surface and doesn’t even get close to affecting its performance. Shure’s final model resisted weeks of artificial sweat testing under the SweatBot.
So, with TwinPlex, Shure has created a revolutionary range of lavaliers and headsets – small microphones that provide big sound, resist sweat and come with discreet, durable cables unlike anything seen in the audio industry before. They will integrate seamlessly into existing systems, as they are available in a range of sensitivities, colours and connectors.
Don’t just take Shure’s word for it, though – prototypes of these products were tested everywhere from the Oscars and Jimmy Kimmel Live!, to stages in both London and New York. And so successful were those prototypes that many are still being used today. Proof, if proof were needed, that Shure’s endlessly innovative approach to audio technology always results in reliability and ultra-high quality.
To see Shure’s TwinPlex range, and to hear testimonies, visit shure.com/twinplex