Professional Sound - August 2022 - Page 23

Shure KSM11 Wireless Vocal Microphone

By Benjamin Josh

The KSM11 , Shure ’ s new wireless cardioid condenser microphone , has introduced me to a world of clarity I hadn ’ t realized was possible for my own live vocal tone .

One night early in my career I showed up to the venue and they handed me the only vocal mic they had , an old and beat up Behringer XM8500 . They may as well have handed me a half-eaten Subway sandwich , as singing into a soggy cold-cut sub would have done just as much to serve my performance . Ever since that night , I always keep a vocal mic in my gig bag just in case . I ’ ve spent my life working toward achieving good vocal tone , and I want that tone to be represented properly by my mic . Personally , I opt for the classic — the SM58 . It feels like home to me : familiar , dependable , tough , and affordable . I sing at a medium volume , which bodes well for mics like the SM58 . For a high-volume singer , I ’ ll always recommend the Shure BETA 58A . I find it acts as a mild limiter , keeping the performance energy high while not busting everyone ’ s eardrums during loud sections .
A few weeks ago , Professional Sound magazine reached out asking to test the new KSM11 wireless cardioid condenser microphone for review . I ’ ve used wireless SM58 microphones in the past , so I was excited to try out the newest wireless model from Shure . I decided my weekly “ Dueling Pianos ” gig would be the perfect place to try it out , as I mix the sound for the show myself . My counterpart in the show would be using a wired SM58 , so I could do a side by side comparison . When I set up the wireless system and turned it on , the first thing I noticed was … nothing . I mean , complete silence . I could turn the gain up to near feeding back
without hearing that faint , familiar hiss . I was using it with a Shure QLXD4 wireless receiver - I ’ m assuming that probably played a role , but the silence caught me off guard . I leaned in for a routine mic test , “ check one two ,” and was immediately awestruck . One word flooded my mind : clarity . I hadn ’ t even touched the EQ , but it already sounded crisp and pristine .
As we soundchecked a few songs , I was increasingly blown away . The frequency response felt even . Low notes seemed to resonate and cut through as clearly as high ones , even into my falsetto . I ’ ve never experienced something quite like this while singing live ; I always feel the need to slightly push the volume of my lower notes to maintain continuity with the higher ones , otherwise they don ’ t cut through . With the
KSM11 , this wasn ’ t necessary . It almost felt like I was in-studio listening back to takes of my processed vocals . Before we finished soundchecking I realized … this really wasn ’ t fair to my counterpart using the SM58 . Oops . Once I finished EQing the SM58 to try and match the clarity of the KSM11 , we were ready to perform , and the show went off without a hitch . Upon getting home from the gig , I was now excited to try it out in my home studio . Even in that setting , it still held its own against my multiple condenser and dynamic vocal mics .
With the KSM11 , I was able to maneuver through my range with ease , trusting that the mic would do the work of pushing my vocals to the front of the mix where they belong . It increased my confidence , allowing me to be more comfortable and loose on stage . Any performer will tell you that feeling comfortable is of paramount importance when it comes to giving their best performance . Last year , I upgraded my keyboard from an RD Series Roland to a Nord Stage 3 , and having better keyboard tone gave me a new level of confidence on stage . While using the KSM11 , I could feel that confidence reaching new heights . As musicians , we need to believe in ourselves if we expect our audience to believe in us . Trusting our equipment means one less thing to worry about . When you know you ’ re sounding your best , you can start to just relax and have fun . So , if you ’ re looking for pristine and honest live vocal tone , the KSM11 is a must have .
Benjamin Josh is a Canadian singer-songwriter , pianist , producer , and music director based in Prince Edward Island . He was the winner of Music PEI ’ s 2022 Musician of the Year award .
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