Hands-On Review:Shure PSM200 Personal Monitor Systems
Shure PSM200 Personal Monitor Systems
Impeccable reliability and crystalline quality made affordable
By Lew Morgan
To end your monitoring headaches, personal monitors are definitely the way to go. Lower stage volumes; less stage clutter; clearer sound; and no sound combat between monitors, mics, and mains make going in-ear an obvious solution. This truth has resulted in personal monitors popping up on stages everywhere. Long at the forefront of this technology, Shure now provides wired and wireless personal monitor systems that real musicians can afford with absolutely no sacrifice of sound quality or reliability.
Pros and cons
What you stand to gain by going in-ear. If you're the performer, you stand to gain a perfect mix piped from the main board directly into your head. If you go with Shure wireless you can control the level of your own instrument or mic relative to the main board mix. This can alleviate a lot of tension in your band. In my 22 years of band experience, bickering over the monitor mix has created more ill will than any other single factor. And I'm not being facetious here. Even if nobody else in the band goes in-ear, do yourself a favor and get the lead singer a personal monitor system.
If you're the sound tech and everyone in the band goes with Shure wireless personal monitors you can put all your attention where it really counts—on the mains—rather than on trying to get enough of little miss can't-be-wrong in the monitors. You'll also have a lot fewer cables running around the stage for people to trip over. Probably most important, you'll be freed from the never-ending nightmare of screeching feedback caused by giant floor monitors pointed directly at sensitive microphones.
Everybody in the band who helps lug the gear will benefit by the removal of those heavy stage monitors from the setup. Their absence improves visibility for the band and fosters a more intimate interaction with the audience. And of course everybody's ears benefit from lower volume levels onstage.
What you stand to lose by switching to Shure personal monitoring. Aside from the purchase price—which is extremely reasonable—nada.
P2R—the heart and soul
The one indispensable piece of the PSM200 systems is the P2R Hybrid Bodypack Receiver. You can either run a cable directly into this unit or use it for wireless monitoring. In either case just plug in any headphones with a stereo 1/8" jack—preferably Shure's E2 In-Ear Earphones turn up the volume, and you have instant personal monitoring. A 1/4" mix input connects to the board and is equipped with a high/low gain switch. I found that it's not picky at all about the kind of signal you put in. You can crank this baby really LOUD and a limiter with indicator light protects against eardrum-splitting spikes (of course with any audio equipment if you listen too loud and long you'll damage your hearing).
A stiff wire clip keeps it firmly in place on your strap or belt and, combined with a groove in the tough plastic chassis, it serves as a spool for excess cable. When you use the P2R as a wireless receiver, a single button on the side lets you select a channel to match your transmitter. An RF reception LED lights to indicate that you're locked on the signal. It's simple, it's solid, it's what you need without a bunch of confusing controls. And the sound quality is flawless.
E2—excellence in your ears
When I first tried the P2R, I just plugged in a standard pair of mini-headphones and the thing sounded great. I really couldn't imagine how these cyberpunk-looking little E2s could add much. But with the E2s in my ears the full richness of the music came pouring into my aural circuits with crisp, punchy highs and bold, well-defined bass tones.
I extended my test to a band-practice situation and found the P2Rs delivered a far more articulate signal that allowed me to hear myself much more clearly through the mix when I played guitar as well as bass. It was like the difference between pro reference monitors and consumer stereo speakers. From among several provided sleeves, I liked the foam variety that sealed out other noises and was very comfortable.
P2T—freedom in a box
The P2T TransMixer is a small, lightweight, and very simple-to-operate transmitter that turns your P2R into a wireless body pack. Independent level controls on the two 1/4"/XLR combo jacks allow you to mix a signal from your instrument, mic, or amp with the overall mix from the board. So you can make yourself as loud as you want relative to everybody else. And split XLR direct outs let you place the TransMixer anywhere in the signal path. A channel select button on the front gives you 8 channels to choose from while built-in audio limiters on each channel feature tri-colored LEDs to indicate when the signal is clipping.
The power and clarity of the P2T and the P2R together is nothing short of astounding. At rehearsal I plugged the TransMixer into the main board, put on the receiver, and walked all the way out of the building—over 100 yards away with a dozen walls between—before the signal began to suffer brief signal drop outs. Overall, I found the PSM200 Personal Monitor System to be without faults. I recommend it highly to anyone who plays in a band, for performance and practice alike.
Features & Specs:
|P2R Hybrid||P2T Wireless TransMixer||E2 Single High-Energy Driver Earphones|
|P2RE2-H2 PSM200 Wired Personal Monitor |
|P2-TRE2H2 PSM200 Wireless Personal Monitor |