Hands-On Review:Shure PSM 600 Wireless Personal Stereo Monitor System.
by Emile Menasché
For the performing musician, few things are more crucial than monitoring. If you can’t hear yourself or your bandmates, you can’t play your best—it’s that simple. Conventional monitors work okay, but they can restrict you in a number of ways. You may have to share the monitor with a bandmate, which means you’ll end up with a compromise mix. Even when you get your own monitor, if it’s freestanding, the speakers are prone to feedback. And worst of all, in order to hear the monitor, you have to stand near it—which takes the flash out of your onstage acrobatics.
A personal wireless in-ear monitoring system solves all these problems. Because it’s personal, you can have your own mix; because there are no speakers involved, you can monitor as loudly as you need without inducing feedback (ear damage is another story). And because it’s wireless, you can prowl the stage like the wildcat you are.
Shure’s PSM 600 Personal Stereo Monitor System delivers excellent sound and impressive performance in a professional, tour-ready package. The construction and attention to detail are high-grade—a testament to Shure’s experience with professional wireless systems.
P6T UHF TRANSMITTER
The PSM 600 consists of three components: half-rack P6T UHF Transmitter, P6R Receiver and E1 earpiece. You connect your mixer’s monitor outputs to the transmitter, which is equipped to handle both balanced and unbalanced signals at either +4 dB or -10 dB nominal levels (switchable with the pad switch). Two combination XLR/1/4-inch connectors make it easy to interface the unit with either professional or semipro gear. The P6T operates both in stereo and mono; if you’re using the latter, you can plug into either of the inputs.
Two 1/4-inch balanced loop outputs let you daisy-chain P6Ts or route the output from the transmitter to a secondary monitoring system (such as a conventional freestanding speaker setup). Shure’s excellent user guide also shows you how to use MixMode to set up individualized mixes with multiple P6Ts.
Front-panel controls include separate input and phones level controls, a stereo/mono toggle switch, power switch and a control that toggles between two transmission frequencies. There are also two (1/4-inch and 1/8-inch) front-panel headphone outputs—a nice touch that lets the front-of-house engineer check your monitor mix. Shure includes a rack-mounting kit with the system, as well as a BNC extension cable to help you position the antennas when the unit is rack-mounted.
If you’re concerned about a wireless’ ability to withstand the rigors of the road, the T6R receiver pack should make you feel pretty secure. Constructed of sturdy metal, the T6R is both rugged and elegant. Even the battery compartment—which flips open without tools—has that high-grade quality you’d want from the gear with which you go to war.
In addition to the 1/8-inch earpiece connection, the top of the unit houses the volume control and the connection for the antennas. The volume control is another one of the PSM 600’s winning details—the shape of the knob and the slight resistance of the pot safeguard against accidental alterations while keeping the control accessible for on-the-fly tweaking. There’s a side-panel knob (with center detent) that lets you manipulate the balance between left and right channels—especially useful in MixMode.
The battery compartment contains the 9-volt battery that powers the receiver as well as a number of DIP switches that let you change the receiver’s mode (stereo/MixMode or mono), alter reception frequency, boost high end (6dB at 10kHz) and turn the limiter on and off.
The E1 earpiece, which fits snuggly in the ear with foam pads, offers very good frequency response and does an excellent job of blocking out the outside world. You can adjust the earpieces for the most comfortable balance between isolation and low-frequency response (I found that the further I inserted the earpieces, the better the low end).
A word of both praise and caution: The PSM 600 is a powerful system, designed to perform in a loud stage environment. It has plenty of headroom, and you can kick those monitors up to dangerous levels (without distortion). On the flip side, if you’re careful about how you insert the monitors, you can block out enough ambient noise to allow you to monitor at safe levels, even on a loud stage.
The Bottom Line
The PSM 600’s sound was clean and consistent, offering great tone and no dropouts—not even when I went past its 300-foot limit. It’s a little pricey, but its solid construction, flexible operation, great sound and easy setup, make the PSM 600 a sure winner.