Gear Reviews

Shure DuraPlex DL4 lavalier mic: an attractive alternative to its European rivals?

Late last year I did a review for Shure’s new, rather good SLX-D range of digital radio mics and bodypack. For the pack I used the instrument cable with a couple of guitars to check and review the system. At the time, they had also sent me a TwinPlex TL47 lavalier mic to help test out the body pack but no instrument or lapel mountings for this mic. With a lack of lapel clip and any other form of mountings at home with me, it wasn’t until after the SLX-D review that I took a trip to the warehouse and picked up some bits and pieces.

With the onset of the subsequent post Christmas lockdown, I was able to have a proper play with Shure’s flagship TwinPlex lavalier. This mic features a number of variants, sensitivity and cable-wise, but is essentially a side address, dual diaphragm condenser design that can be fitted with a choice of a flat or a presence EQ cap. 

I have fallen in love with the convenience of this mic, not to mention the broadcast quality sound, as I rarely sit still for long when I’m reviewing and video making! So having the SLX-D lightweight bodypack in my pocket and the TwinPlex Mic clipped onto my shirt has proved extremely convenient over the last couple of months.

Fast forward to March and I was asked if I could check out Shure’s new DuraPlex DL4 lavalier mic, a mic designed to satisfy broadcast needs but with a number of key features that position it very favourably in the stage and musical theatre sound reinforcement market. It also shows a serious commitment on Shure’s part to stop the European mic manufacturers having everything their own way. 

So feeling positively well disposed toward the TL47, and in the interest of keeping abreast of all things mic related and the possibility of debunking those rumours that Shure only makes great rock’n’roll mics, I took delivery of a couple.

If you’ve ever worked in theatre or musical theatre sound you’ll know that part of the challenge is getting the mics on and off the talent in such a way as to preserve as much of the integrity of the source without obstruction and interference.

Getting your mic as close to the talent’s mouth without it being seen, while all the time moving, getting contaminated with powder, make-up or sweat, is a tricky business. Bearing in mind these mics are invariably omnis, I’m always in awe of those special breed of sound operators who are able to ‘dance’ those faders with millisecond precision so that only the words being spoken by any one individual are ever open!

Enter stage left, the Shure DuraPlex DL4. This miniature omni is waterproof and dust proof which means not only is it unaffected by sweat, but you can wash it in water if it does happen to arrive back in your hands caked in whatever! 

It’s also fair to say that being omni and more readily prone to feedback, having a presence cap for the end of the mic is a very interesting feature, but more of this later. The general feel of this lavalier is one of strength and durability; there is no actual exposed grill on the DL4, just a series of patterned tiny holes behind which is a tightly woven mesh to allow the audio to pass, or in the case of the presence cap, one small hole.

The DL4 is available in various colours to suit its application and comes with either a TF4 connector for Shure equipment or Lemo for other manufacturer’s professional radio equipment. 

Like many manufactured products these days there is an IP standard, IP57 which the DuraPlex conforms to for dust and water resistance. However in terms of microphones, very little of the DuraPlex’s competition does!

Engineers know that you’re only as good as your weakest link. It’s also true to say that quality cabling and how your audio chain interconnects is equally as important as the components themselves! 

RF techs and their number twos often take a huge amount of flak from all sides for costume malfunctions, drop outs, cut outs and a whole host of things that can and do go wrong when the talent takes on technology! So having the edge when it comes to how the mic’s audio gets to the radio pack via its attached cable technology is definitely a huge bonus.

One of the first things I noticed on the DL4 — and a feature it shares with the TwinPlex — is how strong the cable is. A common on-stage mishap is belt packs coming loose or more rarely dropping to the floor and slowly pulling the mic out of place. 

Or worst case producing a tiny break in the cable which produces resistance, poor audio, a microphonic cable, dropouts etc. rendering the mic useless.

Another noticeable characteristic of the DL4 cable is how it fails to retain any kinks or bends from previous placement, routing or taping and this definitely makes for easy handling and persistent reuse. 

An absolute must for a tool you want to reuse again and again. I have to say it, this cable is the strong and silent type! Despite numerous attempts to extract some form of microphonic noise from the cable, I was unable to and this was again the same for both the DuraPlex and the TwinPlex mics I have! The cable also has a coating which allows it to be painted with all the usual theatrical tones making it easy to hide and disguise.

Traditionally, microphones have stuck to a familiar process of converting sound into electrical signals. A diaphragm with an attached coil, or a ribbon with a current passed through it, moves over a magnet and produces electrical signals which are then amplified in a couple of different ways: dynamic, electret and condenser. 

MEMS stands for micro electro-mechanical systems and are miniaturised electret microphones within a tiny circuit board or chip. This allows them to be manufactured in a consistent and reliable way and also helps to keep them cost effective. Early and more widely available uses of this technology were in mobile phones.

But of course as with all technologies, silicon microphones have moved on to the point where they have similar frequency responses to traditional electrets and condensers.

This technology all adds up to a consistency in sound quality from one DL4 to another, something which has traditionally proved difficult to do. Many mics are often analysed to produce that matched stereo pair, and as I’ve found in the past from working in studios, an engineer will have their favourite, even from a selection of identical models!

If you thought Shure just made great rock’n’roll mics, think again!

So what do the DuraPlex mics sound like, I hear you ask? I’d have to be fair and say they don’t sound like anything else or don’t borrow any one single mic’s characteristics. 

I’ve always found lavaliers difficult to quantify as the same mic can and does sink or swim at the hands of the engineer using it. 

So in the absence of a theatrical production I have used both the TwinPlex and the DuraPlex on a couple of recent reviews that are available to watch and listen to on the Headliner YouTube channel.

The first which features the TwinPlex is the video: ‘How To Eliminate Ambient Sounds Using Oeksound’s Soothe 2’.

It is featured on the reviewer’s voice, not the singer’s voice, and only has a high pass filter at 100Hz and some mild compression. The TwinPlex sound really opens and shines when it comes to broadcast applications. 

It still retains enough depth and low end to give it that radio and podcast-friendly sound, but this quality and transparency of sound could just as easily find itself at home on a film set or in a TV studio.

The second is on ‘Recording Guitars | Antelope Audio Zen Go Synergy Core’. 

This video features the DuraPlex which also utilises just a 100Hz high pass and some compression, again showing just how transparent and open the DuraPlex is. 

There’s also a moment where I turn my head to read some notes on a key feature, which are on a table behind me, and although it’s noticeable that I’ve turned away from the mic, it’s still able to pick me up clearly.

I personally find it difficult to accurately describe or indeed interpret written word describing how something sounds, so I hope the audio on these two videos really helps to give you a more accurate picture of these mic’s performance. 

The DuraPlex and Zen Go were used on two different takes: the first when I’m facing into the room where you can see the DuraPlex on the tie clip with a pop shield fitted, and the second where I’m more enclosed facing my computer screen in the corner of the room, clearly reflected in the slight changing tone around the mic which beautifully conveys how well it works. 

And although it is only clipped to my shirt, I can imagine it would work equally as well concealed on true talent!

The DuraPlex comes with a presence cap which simply fits over the top of the capsule and gives you a presence boost of around 3-4 db at 10kHz, which could prove very useful depending on where the mic is attached or concealed. 

I found this little cap easier to get on and off in contrast to the TwinPlex’s two caps, which were just a much tighter fit and were harder to grip. All the video sound mentioned above was recorded using the flat response caps.


The DuraPlex is a mic I found very useful and easy to use. It sounds good and comes with a whole host of attachments including a very neat little hard zipper pouch to protect it, as well as having a low noise floor and very good dynamic range.

While the sound of any given mic and the way individual engineers work is all a matter of personal taste, when it comes to price, durability and consistency of sound quality, the Shure DuraPlex definitely offers an attractive alternative to its European rivals. If you thought Shure just made great rock’n’roll mics, think again.

In the video below, Headliner's reviews editor Rick Dickerson puts Shure's DuraPlex lavalier microphone through some unique testing to find out if it's still fully functional when immersed in a large glass of gin and tonic..!