Happy Birthday to the MXA910
February 2021 was the fifth birthday of our much-loved MXA910 Ceiling Array Microphone. Craig Collin in Shure’s Scotland UK office reflects on how this microphone has become a defining product for Shure and the AV industry as a whole.
How time has flown. It doesn’t seem like five years ago that Microflex Advance took pride of place as the jewel on our stand at ISE that year. So strong are its capabilities and the market-adoption of this game-changing product, it’s hard to imagine a world without the award-winning MXA910. It is literally everywhere.
Originally designed to be overhead in corporate meeting spaces around the world, the ‘910 quickly proved to be a versatile performer in various different applications and orientations.
Most importantly it gained a strong reputation for quality, versatility and audio quality in the meeting room marketplace. Today it is trusted by many to capture a room effectively and without stress whist maintaining the highest regard for audio intelligibility.
Multi-function spaces are also a common habitat for ‘910’s to live, work and perform; particularly with the recent lean towards passive “touchless” audio solutions it makes its mark again as the go-to option for dependable solid performance and superior sound. The integrated DSP capabilities and enviable feature-set coupled with exceptional audio quality enable it to be a powerful front-end to any flexible and dynamic collaboration environment.
I’ve seen the MXA910 be applied to more curve-ball use-cases too. Following the non-touch approach to audio and with an aim for keeping things as simple for the end-users as possible I see Higher Education institutions and large corporations worldwide opting to deploy these units in live environments in addition to simple videoconferencing rooms. Rooms where the purpose of the microphone is not just to capture audio for a far-end or lecture-capture experience, but also to reinforce the audio back into the room itself, in many cases eliminating the need for presenters or lecturers to wear a wireless mic or be tied to a podium-mounted unit. This scenario is only made possible by the ability of the 910 to form multiple, exceptionally accurate lobes and to maintain control of these pick-up areas at all times whilst still being able to adapt to real-time changes in the room.
One stand-out use-case of the ‘910 that I’ve personally seen stunning results in is that of voicelift. I’m not talking about voicelift in the sense of picking up a small area of a room and relaying that to the rest of the room – sort of like a PA-type setup. I’m talking about large-scale spaces that would otherwise be acoustically challenging for participants to be heard by other teammates. The scenario of working in a large room whereby anyone in the room can be heard anywhere in the room, by everyone and at a nice workable level. I’ve deployed and commissioned multiple MXA910’s as the front end of this type of system that maximises the power of lobe control and directionality. It is truly awesome to witness. Proper voicelift is an amazing way to create very efficient working collaboration spaces and the MXA910 really has set the bar as high as possible. End-Client reactions to this type of installation are always great to see.
It’s not just corporate, education and meeting spaces either. Broadcast is a sector that wasn’t in the design brief of the MXA910, however I know of numerous sites that now deploy the MXA910. Used either as a studio back-up unit or used as a primary source by mounting the MXA910 overhead or into tables for panel-show transmissions. Such is the high quality and natural sound from the unit, we know that the MXA910 has been used in favour of the lapel mics worn by the presenters. It provided superior on and off-axis performance and a neutrality of audio tone that is normally associated with problematic omnidirectional lapel capsules.
I know it’s easy for me to talk about the MXA910 because arguably I’m one of its biggest fans. The sheer versatility, control and audio quality that comes from this mic has meant that most users of the product seldom see the need to look anywhere else. What this microphone does is make life easy. It solves problems and allows a freedom in system design that is seldom seen in a product like this. More recently the MXA910 has welcomed the MXA710 linear array units to the family. The offering just keeps getting stronger and the possibilities more diverse.
In the wider marketplace it continues to strengthen the position of Shure as market leader. An exemplar of how audio can and should be. An innovator always striving for excellence. In so many ways the MXA910 has become the SM58 of the corporate systems and integration arena, not least because it’s the mic that everyone else compares to. And similarly it is the mic that continues to dominate and lead the market, for good reason.
So whilst we didn’t get out to ISE last month to celebrate properly, I raise a belated glass to the Microflex Advance MXA910. Happy Birthday my friend!