Head-Fi – March 2018
None that I found
Review Of MIPRO MI-909 In Ear Wireless System
Reviewed by Mike Brunner – Lead Guitarist of RĪvul
Purpose of this review:
I set out to review several different in ear wireless systems and give a real-world test for musicians out there looking to transition from floor monitors to wireless IEM’s. It seems like every band and musician that performs live these days is using in ear wireless or wanting to make the move to in ear wireless.
One of the reasons for this is for lower stage volumes. Taking the floor monitors out of the picture and moving them to a customized in ear mix, is flat out one of the best things that a musician or band can do. When my band first made the switch, we noticed a positive difference in our performance immediately.
Most of my band members were already using wireless instrument systems for our live shows. We were also using in ear monitors for individual practicing. There’s really something to be said about learning a guitar solo from your favorite artist then playing along with the album version of a song or double tracking a guitar part and not struggling to hear either the original or your current output. To actually put this to use in a live setting, makes the music so much tighter, and the band members just simply play better when they can hear everything they need to hear. You not only feel the music, but you can hear every detail of it when using good in ear monitors and your own custom monitor mix. There’s no unwanted bleed through of the other instruments. You simply hear what you need to hear to make you play your best.
Even though I tested several wireless in ear monitoring systems over the last several months, one system stood out above the rest. The MIPRO MI-909 system. Before we get into that, let’s move into some other things like my background.
I’m a gigging musician (lead guitar/backup vocals), a forensic audio analyst, a wireless communications technician, a novice sound engineer, and an avid music lover with a wide taste in music. Being a forensic audio analyst is a plus when reviewing audio products simply because I know what bad audio sounds like and usually know how to correct it. My experience allows me to be familiar with the limitations of my own ears and the equipment I’m using.
My perspective for all my reviews is based on these things. I don’t try to sugar coat things or bloat things to be better than they are. I’m just like everyone else and I want good value for the money in any product.
I’m fair to the manufacturers as well. I always give them an option to respond to any concerns such as quality that I have during my review. I contact them directly and do so before my review is published to allow them to address any issues. I want to provide an honest and tangible review for prospective customers without being unfair.
The MIPRO MI-909 system was provided to me free of charge for the purpose of this review by MIPRO’s US distributor, Avlex. This was done through one of Avlex’s retail clients, C&M Music of Metarie, LA. I wouldn’t normally do this, but I’m throwing a shameless plug for both of these companies because they made this review possible and they have been outstanding in response throughout the entire review. If their customer service is this good, then both of these companies are already a cut above the rest. Pricing of the MIPRO MI-909 at the time of this review was MSRP $900 with a MAP of $659.
Now on to the good stuff.
MI-909T Digital Stereo Transmitter
The MI-909T is a rugged digitally-encrypted rack transmitter. It operates in a 64 MHz wide bandwidth and allows multiple preset compatible channels operation. Delivering up to 50mW output power, it has high dynamic range stereo audio inputs and is able to withstand professional audio mixers’ maximum output levels. Menu settings allow input sensitivity, encryption, EQ DSP processors to be set-up via a rotary control knob. A built-in Scan function enables auto-scanning for an open, interference-free frequency and, once selected, that frequency can sync with the bodypack receiver with a simple push of the ACT button. The MI-909T is ideal for both live applications and professional installations such as language interpretation.
MI-909R Digital Stereo Bodypack Receiver
The MI-909R operates in a wide 64 MHz bandwidth and it has easy to use controls and indicators with a backlit LCD screen. Advanced dual-antenna diversity design eliminates signal dropouts and enhances signal stability. Featuring a lightweight, exceptionally durable magnesium alloy bodypack case, the MI-909R is ideal for professional installations and live applications. Proprietary digital encryption provides secure audio transmission, preventing unauthorized listening in conferences, meetings and language interpretation applications.
The overall build and design of the MI-909 was very good. The transmitter was rugged and should provide years of use, especially when mounted in a road worthy rack mount. The body pack receiver was made with a magnesium alloy back and a magnesium impregnated plastic front which actually felt very rugged as well. It compared well with upgraded metal body packs from other manufacturers.
I initially didn’t like the placement of the antennas on the body pack because they came out of the bottom of the body pack. After using it for some time though I realized this was actually pretty well designed. I realized the antennas were never in the way while at the same time it allowed unrestricted reception from the transmitter.
Navigation of the menus on both the transmitter and receiver was straight forward and it was easy to find the settings needed without referring to the manual.
I had been told when using this system that it was fully digital and that it had been specifically designed for a frequency response of 20Hz-15kHz. This actually makes sense for the intended purpose of the system, live musician monitoring. I often wondered why most in ear wireless systems did not extend to the full 20Hz-20kHz frequency range of human hearing but I learned that it all comes down to one thing, ear fatigue. Ear fatigue is a real thing that can affect musicians or anyone for that matter. Rolling off the highest end of the audio spectrum helps to prevent ear fatigue and allows the musician to keep hearing what they need to hear, the music and their instrument. These systems aren’t designed for audio analysis or for audiophiles that can hear beyond the 15kHz ceiling.
I measured and compared the frequency response of the MI-909 and using a DAW interface and a tone match EQ plugin. This was done by comparing the averaged frequency response from an original uncompressed piece of music and comparing this to the output from the receiver of the MI-909.
The results… whatever was put into the MI-909 came out. There was no added static, harmonics and no loss in frequency up to the advertised 15kHz ceiling of the MI-909. I want to point out that this same test was done with 5 other brands of wireless IEM systems and only one other system had the same performance. Each of the other remaining 4 systems introduced some audio anomaly, reduced frequency response or noise introduced in the output. This was something that wasn’t expected from the other manufacturers. No musician wants any extra noise introduced into the signal chain and we want to hear exactly what we put into it.
The one system that performed on the same level in sound quality had issues such as dropout, range and static in the real world environment. So due to these reasons, it still wasn’t able match the performance of MI-909.
The included in ear monitors were surprisingly good and performed beyond what I expected. It seems these are a single full range balanced armature monitors. They’re not pretty but the sound quality is comparable to most $100-$200 universal fit in ear monitors. If you don’t already own a set of good in ear monitors, these will perform well. Just to disclose the equipment I used for this review, I used my own custom fit IEM’s from InEarz.
Real world application
After mounting the transmitter into a rack case, I took the system on the road. I played 20-30 shows with the system and not only was I impressed with the system, I noted it out performed every other in ear wireless system used by my band not only in sound quality but in all areas of performance.
In each of the 20-30 shows at some point each of the other systems had a drop out. Even if just for a split second, a drop out is a drop out, and this is something that no musician wants when performing a live show. This was all with the MI-909 only being on its low power setting. All other systems were placed on higher power settings when available and needed to minimize dropouts.
After I used the MI-909 system for a few shows, I passed it off to the other guitarist in the band and our bass player to use for a full show while I used one of the other wireless systems. Immediately, I missed the performance of the MI-909. However, I had to get their input for this review and to also make my own comparisons with the other systems at our disposal.
Their thoughts on the MI-909 were identical to my own, it outperformed each of the other IEM wireless systems, not only in sound quality, but in range and reliability.
The real world range of the MI-909 at low power setting was such that in order to beat this system I believe you would have to step into the Top of the Line for other manufacturers. At the high power setting, the MI-909 would compete with even the most expensive TOTL wireless IEM systems.
To review a product that at this price range though, that performed this well secured the top spot for the MI-909.
This isn’t meant to be a tutorial for the MI-909 so I’ll summarize the feature list that were most important to me. came to features. The rack mountable transmitter had a customizable EQ, stereo or mono selection, the ability to lock the settings, open frequency scanning, factory preset frequencies, manual frequency settings and the ability to store those manual frequencies, effortless syncing between transmitter/receiver, and finally ample power from the receiver to power even the most power hungry in ear monitors, and customizable EQ on the belt pack receiver.
Features that stood out to me were the customizable EQ on both the transmitter and the body pack receiver. This allowed me to switch IEM’s and maintain a similar sound signature. My custom IEM’s actually became plugged during one show causing me to lose sound in one ear. I pulled out my backup IEM and quickly tweaked the body pack EQ and voile, no need to adjust my monitor mix at the mixer board.
The other feature that stood out was the ability to manually store my own frequencies. Since I’m usually helping to set up the sound for my band’s live shows, I was able to use my own wireless frequency scanner and plan out my wireless frequency for each venue. I then saved that frequency for each venue my band played at and was able to recall that frequency for the next show. But honestly, that’s me and most bands probably won’t go to that level unless they have a live sound engineer or a wireless engineer setting up their gear. So the built-in open frequency scan was also tested and it performed very well in every venue.
Simply put, the MIPRO MI-909 has enough customizable features to make most other systems in this price range pale in comparison.
When trying to gauge value in any product I look at many areas, build quality, performance in real world situations and any shortcomings. Based on what I found, the MIPRO MI-909 is worth every penny. It outperformed every wireless IEM system I compared it to. To get into the same performance/reliability area of the MI-909, you’d have to spend 2 to three times the amount you’d spend on the MI-909. Even when looking at good quality floor monitors, for the price of two monitors, you could purchase the MI-909 and never have to lug a floor monitor around again or worry about smaller venues and placement of your monitors.
Simply put in my opinion, there’s nothing currently on the market that can touch the MI-909 system. It is absolutely my opinion that the MIPRO MI-909 is the best bang for the buck in the field of wireless IEM systems.
Awesome product from MIPRO/Avlex.