A Couple Quick Notes on the Shure PSM 900

I twittered today that I thought it would be insane for anyone in the market to buy new IEMs to go with anything other than the Shure PSM900 that is just hitting the street. Unfortunately Twitter doesn’t give me enough room so here’s why I feel confident in saying what I said.

We got a listen to a preliminary version of the 900’s earlier this year just before they were announced and today I got another listen in our room. They sound great. The sound quality is a BIG improvement over everything else on the market right now. EVERYTHING ELSE. I think these are the best sounding IEMs. Period. Volume for days and days and stereo imaging that is awesome. But that’s not all.

The RF performance on these is great. I walked all over our auditorium today and couldn’t get them to drop out. I had the antenna touching bare skin. I tried hiding behind walls. I even left the room. It just kept on working. I think Ed got his receiver to drop out, but he had to leave the building to make it happen. When it does drop out, though, it doesn’t have that awful whipping sound most RF gear makes when it drops out. Shure has done some magic with a muting circuit of some sort that makes dropouts bearable when they happen which means it will be much less distracting for your musicians using them. I got to hear this in action earlier this year when we got a listen to the earlier version.

There are also some nice features on the PSM900 that I like. For starters, there is CUE mode. Our monitor engineers wear the same wireless belt packs as our musicians so they can hear what the musician hears. If they had a PSM900 pack in cue mode, they could cycle through the mixes right on their pack. Based on the strong RF performance, I could probably even have a pack at FOH so that I could flip through musician mixes to potentially help troubleshoot a mix issue. We could probably also give one to a music staffer who could cycle through and listen to each musician’s mix to listen to what they’re doing. There are probably even more applications for this feature, but you get the idea.

Another great feature is the antennas on the receivers are detachable and easily replaceable, and they use the same antennas as the UHF-R bodypacks so I’ve already got spares laying around. With our current G2’s, when an antenna breaks we send the entire beltpack in for repair.

Finally, let’s look at the price. Both the PSM900’s and Sennheiser G3’s are going to street for around $1000 a channel. I’m told the Shure’s will be packaged with their new SE425 earbuds which are the replacement for their E5’s. The G3’s come with the Sennheiser IE4 which you can buy on the street for $50-100. Ultimately, you’re probably going to pay a little more per channel with the Shure, but I think you’re also getting more for your money. I bet if you’re buying enough channels you could shrink that price difference a bit, too.

The other side of this is if you’re in the market for used IEMs, there are probably going to be a lot of the G2’s and G3’s up for sale soon as more and more people start hearing the Shure’s. But don’t get me wrong, I really dig a lot of Sennheiser stuff and you’ll probably find an equal mix of Sennheiser and Shure stuff on our stages. But if I had to replace my G2’s right now, which I’m not, I would go with the PSM900’s.

If you’re budget doesn’t allow for new IEMs, I would keep my eyes out for a lot of used IEMs to start becoming available because when people start using the 900’s, they aren’t going to want to use anything else. I might even know some people with some units in good condition…..

David Stagl

One Response to “A Couple Quick Notes on the Shure PSM 900

  • Ooh goodie. Hopefully this will drive a lot of G2’s to the second-hand market. This could do nicely for us when we want to make the transition to IEMs. The 900s are out of our price range, but the G2’s are right up our alley.