Pro Audio & Music Industry Trends: Customization

In recent years, we’ve seen a strong trend toward customization across many industries. The most obvious examples are cases, covers, and skins for smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Entire companies are devoted to providing a custom look and feel for our personal electronics.

Musicians have been customizing their instruments for decades, using everything from custom airbrushing and aftermarket electronics to markers and stickers to make an instrument their own. More recently, DJs have taken to wrapping their performance laptops with custom skins with their logo or other artwork. I happen to be a singer and guitar player, and I have always loved modifying my guitars and amplifiers in a variety of ways to help me get “my tone.” (That’s me below, and a close-up of my guitar.) Similarly, as a vocalist, I have viewed my microphone as an extension of my voice…

Stephen Kohler Playing Guitar trends-01b

Customization at Shure: The Evolution

Shure has seen this trend as far back as the 1970s, when we supplied custom-painted or metallic-plated microphones for top artists. Likewise, we’ve had great success with limited-edition product runs in different colors. (Anyone who finds one in time can purchase those; they’re not just for Shure artist endorsers.) And of course, all manner of bling for wireless mic skins has appeared on the market in the form of slip-on sleeves, appliquéd crystals, and other methods.

As microphones have long been a very personal part of one’s audio toolkit, customers have requested the ability to customize and personalize their microphones. To start, we decided to focus on our entry-level handheld wireless systems, BLX and GLX-D® Digital. We wanted customers to be able to make their microphones truly personal, especially customers who are making the leap to wireless for the first time.

With Shure Design Studio, you can design your own transmitter handle, or pick from a wide library of design options.

Shure Design Studio: How It Works, What It Costs

Shure Design Studio - Create custom microphones

In early 2015, after extensive planning, customer research, and testing, we were excited to launch Shure Design Studio. In essence, it is an easy-to-use online portal for designing the perfect microphone handle for you. The site offers everything from basic colors all the way to the ability to upload your own artwork. Once you’ve completed your sleeve design and placed your order, your product is delivered to your door in a convenient timeframe.

There are two levels of customization available. First, there are solid colors, allowing the user to move beyond basic black for just $29. We offer a choice of six vibrant looks: gold, silver, white, red, blue, and pink.

Customized Mic Options

But that’s just the beginning. For just $79, you can use the Design Studio tool to create a fully customized look for your microphone. We’ve got a nice library of adjustable designs available, or you can upload your own custom artwork. That can include your band logo, a religious icon, your name, or whatever else you like. You can input RGB color codes, and there’s even a text tool. If you’re into graphic art, you can download a layout template, then upload your art directly to the site. It’s all fairly intuitive, and there’s a how-to video on the site that shows all the options. The only real limit is rights to trademarked images and, of course, your imagination.

After about two weeks, you’ll get your custom wireless handle, with your personal artwork permanently imprinted. All you have to do is unscrew the original handle, which is now your spare, and replace it with the new one. No need to send it in, no special tools.

Voilà! You have created a microphone unlike any other.

Favorite Features of Shure Design Studio

One thing I really like about Shure Design Studio is its flexibility. Solid colors are accommodated. Plain text is accommodated. A significant library of visual suggestions is also on offer. Users are not restricted to a limited menu, but instead can upload their personal vision and have it realized.

Another nice thing is that you can do this anytime: when you buy your system, or months later. You create your design, save it without providing your personal information (just an email address so we can send you a code to come back and work on it later). We will keep your artwork on file so that when you’re ready, all you have to do is approve the final design and place your order.

What’s more, because both the BLX and GLX-D Digital wireless systems have field-replaceable handles, it’s easy to swap out the stock handle with your customized version.

Not only does Shure Design Studio offer value for live music performers, but also it’s great for houses of worship, corporate presenters and A/V integration & production firms—in short, any person or organization looking to customize their microphones.

Shure BLX (analog) and GLX-D (digital and rechargeable) wireless systems are designed to make professional wireless performance affordable. By making it easy to visually express aspiration, inspiration, or even just identification, these wireless systems offer you benefits beyond sound quality and the convenience of wireless.

In its first year, Shure Design Studio has helped realize the artistic visions of a wide range of musicians, corporations, and houses of worship. We consider that to be…a good start. Stay tuned.

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Stephen Kohler

Stephen Kohler

Stephen Kohler is Senior Director of Strategic Planning at Shure. When he’s not working, he loves to play fast notes on the guitar, chase his two children around the house and smoke selected meats in his monstrous BBQ smoker. He has a first-degree black belt but is too nice to ever use it. He also hopes that ABBA and Ozzy Osbourne will one day share the stage.

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