The Best Wireless Guitar System 2017 Review

Tired of being tied to your pedalboard and amp? Want to free yourself from the hassles of long cables? Then check out our review of the Best Wireless Guitar Systems, updated for 2017.

Sweetwater

This review of wireless systems is sponsored by Sweetwater. All the products listed here have been selected by GuitarSite.com. Where available, you can click thru to Sweetwater for more information or to make a purchase.

Wireless Guitar Systems have come a long way, now widely used by professional touring musicians for their convenience and reliability. But they are not just limited to professionals who rock big stages, there's a good wireless system for most gig setups and budgets. Here we look at the best of them, featuring top-rated digital and analog wireless systems from a wide price range to cover various performance and budget preferences.

Things to Consider When Buying a Guitar Wireless System

Types of Wireless Systems for Guitar

Not all wireless systems are created equal, they can generally be categorized into two types based on how they transmit audio signals: Analog (VHF/UHF) and Digital.

  • Digital Guitar Wireless systems convert the signal to digital data and transmits them securely via the same frequencies that WiFi routers use. Since the signals are coded, the system becomes more resistant to interference. These systems are also smarter and use frequencies more efficiently, to the point that some can even automate channel/frequency detection and allocation. Because of their interference free operation, versatility and transparency, they have now become the industry standard. The only downside is that they are a bit more expensive for now, but even this will change as production volumes increase.

  • Analog Guitar Wireless Systems are still used by many musicians, thanks to their practicality and accessibility. Older systems run on VHF radio frequencies that range from 30MHz to 300MHz, the same frequencies used by radio and TV broadcasts. These are no longer recommended because the frequencies are susceptible to interference, but they are still viable in situations where frequency use is not an issue. The most common and more accessible systems use UHF TV frequencies that range from 300Mhz to 3GHz. These are more reliable, but are limited by the various UHF frequency regulations that vary from place to place.

Frequency Use

Wireless systems utilize radio frequencies to send sound data from the transmitter to the receiver. Other radio emitting devices like TV, microwave ovens and radio communication devices also use some of these frequencies, so it is important to ensure frequency compatibility when using multiple wireless systems in one venue. Today's wireless systems allow for more efficient use of frequencies and can even automatically choose free frequencies for you. If you're looking to get an analog system, make sure that it will not use the same frequency as other musicians in your group. This is the reason why manufacturers build wireless system with specific "bands", to ensure that when you get two or more units, they operate in different frequencies.

Range

Wireless guitar systems these days have enough range to cover the biggest stages, but in case you need more, you'll want to keep an eye on this specification. For most gigs, you won't be needing ranges that go beyond 150 feet, but you'll have to keep in mind that solid objects between the receiver and transmitter will shorten the range dramatically.

Form Factor

Many professionals prefer rackmountable units because they can easily be secured into rack cabinets. If you don't have a roadie, or you don't have rack gear, then you'll want to consider those with smaller profiles for convenient storage and setup. If you still have space on your pedalboard, you might want to consider stompbox style receivers so all your gear is packed and setup in one place.

The Top 10 Wireless Guitar Systems:

Below are what we consider as the best wireless guitar systems on the market today. Both analog and digital systems are well represented, you can also pick between tabletop, stompbox and other form factors.

Shure GLX-D16 Digital Guitar Pedal Wireless System

Shure GLXD16 Digital Guitar Pedal Wireless System
Retail Price: $449.00

Big name wireless systems maker Shure will not just sit by while guitar manufacturers like Line 6 overtake them. With popular artists like Maroon 5, Alice Cooper, and Fallout Boy endorsing their products, Shure continues to challenge other manufacturers in the market. The GLX-D16 is a digital wireless system specially designed for guitarists, having a receiver that takes the form of a stompbox. This particular wireless system features impressive technology that improves its signal reliability, called "LINKFREQ Automatic Frequency Management". With this technology, the transmitter sends out multiple signals and the receiver will seamlessly switch and choose the best signal to use.

This means that you will get the same clarity as you move around within its 200 feet range of operation. The body pack also comes with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, while the pedal receiver comes with a built-in tuner. While I would have liked it better if the price was a bit lower, the GLX-D16's features and reliability more than makes up for the cost. It also helps that this wireless system looks really nice, making it the favorite of many of today's touring artists, including many that do not officially endorse the product.

  • Pros: Highly rated in the market thanks to its impressive signal stability, reliability and fidelity.
  • Cons: The cable included with the body pack is not as sturdy as we’d like it to be - some people report having to tape it to stay in place.

Line 6 Relay G75 Wireless System

Line 6 Relay G75 Wireless System
Retail Price: $499.99

Known for making the latest guitar gear technology more accessible to the masses, Line 6 continues to innovate and build on their popular products. The Line 6 Relay G75 Digital Wireless System is the upgraded version of the popular G50, providing professional tour capable quality, reliability and versatility, while somewhat keeping the price sane, at least when compared to other systems with the same features. The Relay G75 lets your guitar signal pass through its state of the art interference-free digital 2.4GHz signal, and it does so while maintaining high resolution 24-bit audio quality.

This wireless system offers the same Cable Tone technology that they use on their amp modelers, which subtly changes your guitar tone to make it sound like you're wired. This cable tone effect works by subtly degrading the clarity of the guitar signal, and interestingly, this results in a more familiar tone that guitarists prefer. Like the G50, this pedal has a 200 feet range of operation, but it comes with more channels (up to 16), more I/O connectivity and it has a modern LED display. The transmitter uses two AA batteries which can run for up to 8 hours. If you're looking to upgrade, or you're looking for a reliable professional grade wireless system, the Relay G75 is highly recommended.

  • Pros: Premium wireless guitar system at a more reasonable price point.
  • Cons: With all its features, it requires a bit more reading and time to setup

Sennheiser EW D1 Digital Wireless

Sennheiser EW D1 Digital Wireless
Retail Price: $449.95

One of the downsides of digital wireless technology can be its complex setup, thankfully technology has improved to make it as quick and convenient as your home WiFi router. A good example of this is the Sennheiser EW D1 Digital Wireless, which automatically and quickly sets up your system for you. The transmitter and receiver work seamlessly together to assign and manage frequencies within its 2.4 Ghz range, even when you're using multiple transmitters. In addition, maintenance work is done by the Sennheiser EW D1 automatically, it scans for interferences and changes frequencies seamlessly, when needed, in real time.

On top of monitoring and fixing interference, it automatically adjusts transmission power for improved reliability, and it also optimizes your input signal for maximum dynamics. With all its smart features, its like you have a sound technician living within the EW D1 system! Although it drains batteries a tad bit faster (2 x AA batteries run up to 6 hours), this digital system offers incredible convenience and fidelity. If you're looking for a worry-free plug-and-play digital wireless system then check this out.

  • Pros: State of the art audio quality and auto-configuration.
  • Cons: Drains batteries faster than others because of its auto-scanning feature.

AKG WMS 470 Instrumental Wireless Guitar System

AKG WMS 470 Instrumental Set
Retail Price: $499.99

AKG is mostly known for their microphones and related accessories, yet they join this list with the guitar friendly WMS 470 Instrumental wireless system. At the core of this system is the AKG SR470 analog wireless receiver, which is often positively cited, thanks to its environment scan and auto setup feature. With a few button presses, the system itself will find interference-free channels and frequencies within it's range of operation, and automatically setup the system for you.

This system is available in four versions, each one operating on different bands to makes it easier to setup multiple wireless systems in one venue. Theoretically, you can get up to 48 wireless systems running within these four bands, but you'll probably just be needing a fraction of that. In addition to its convenient connectivity, this system works just as well with AKG wireless mics, making it a flexible tool in case you need if for other uses. Finally, the transmitter's battery pack gives you up to 14 hours of use, more than enough for the average gig.

  • Pros: Versatile, easy to use and reliable.
  • Cons: It uses a special mini-XLR to 1/4" cable that can be hard to replace when damaged or lost.

Sennheiser EW 172 G3 Wireless Guitar System

Sennheiser EW 172 G3 Wireless Guitar System
Retail Price: $499.95

Sennheiser built their reputation on transparent sounding wired and wireless microphones, and it did not take long for them to branch out into producing quality wireless systems for other purposes. The Sennheiser EW 172 G3-A is a UHF based system designed for guitars, featuring a compact body pack that lets you conveniently connect with any type of guitar, and a rackmountable receiver that does not get in the way of your existing rig. And the best part of the EW 172 G3-A is its one button setup that automatically tunes the system for best performance.

After quickly setting it up, the system affords you some tone shaping elements, starting with the "virtual cable length", along with the built-in 5-band EQ. While these features may complicate setup for beginners, advanced users will find them handy for making critical adjustments. Giving it the ability to handle multiple instruments, including bass guitars, this wireless system has a wider AF frequency response, there's even a handy guitar tuner built-into the receiver! The transmitter uses two AA batteries that run up to 8 hours. If you're looking for an easy to setup wireless guitar system with advanced features, then get the Sennheiser EW 172 G3-A.

  • Pros: High fidelity multi-instrument wireless system with tone shaping and one button setup.
  • Cons: The tone shaping features may complicate matters for beginners, and it drains battery faster than usual.

Samson Airline 88 Guitar Wireless System

Airline 88 Guitar Wireless System
Retail Price: $299.99

The Airline 88 guitar wireless is specifically designed by Samson to be compact and guitar friendly. The receiver comes in a sturdy table top profile, which seems to be the favorite configuration of many guitarists because it is easy to store and setup. What makes this system guitar friendly is its miniaturized transmitter, which plugs straight to your guitar, removing the need for inconvenient body packs and short cables. To ensure compatibility with popular guitar types, you can configure the transmitter plug in two ways, be it facing forward to fit into recessed top mounted inputs as found on Stratocasters, or facing downward for non-recessed inputs. Note that this special guitar transmitter is not shown on the video below, and we will update the article when a video is made available.

The transmitter and the receiver feature a host of guitar friendly controls, which include a Power On/Off and Mute switch with red/green LED indicator, a Peak LED indicator and an Input Level control that you can use to compensate for different pickups. The transmitter runs on a single AA battery that can last up to 12 hours, which is impressive efficiency. Samson's roster of professional artists include Richie Kotzen, Herman Li and many more.

  • Pros: Guitar friendly connectivity and controls.
  • Cons: Not as sturdy as we want it to be, but will be able to handle normal usage.

Audio Technica ATW-1501 System 10 Stompbox Wireless System

Audio Technica ATW-1501 System 10 Stompbox Wireless System
Retail Price: $349.95

Audio Technica's System 10 ATW-1501 is another Digital Wireless System that takes the form of a guitar pedal. It is designed to be as convenient, intuitive and pedalboard-friendly, sporting a single foot switch that let you toggle between various output modes and to mute or unmute your wireless signal. Behind this simplistic interface however is impressive wireless technology that allows for automatic setup that you can rely on even when you often change venues.

Following today's digital wireless format, System 10 ATW-1501 operates in 2.4 GHz range, far from TV and DTV interference, and it is more than capable of safely handling your audio signal wirelessly, with its ability to receive up to eight body pack transmitters simultaneously. Both the receiver and transmitter are compact and sturdy, and both are very easy to set up. The body pack is powered by two AA batteries and it can run up to 7 hours. If you are looking for a transparent wireless system that is backed by a reliable brand, then you should check this one out..

  • Pros: Affordable stompbox style digital wireless that is easy to set up.
  • Cons: High fidelity sound maybe too clean if you prefer warm "wired" tones.

Visit Audio-Technica for further details about the System 10 ATW-1501.

Shure BLX14R Guitar Wireless System

Shure BLX14R Guitar Wireless System
Retail Price: $379

Backed by Shure's undeniable reputation in building quality wireless microphones, the BLX14R offers the same rock-solid build and fidelity for use with guitars and other instruments. Gone are the days of complicated setups because this one comes with QuickScan technology, automatically assigning the best available UHF frequencies to your transmitter and receiver. And more importantly, you are getting the same signal and physical reliability as found on other Shure products.

There aren't that many features in this wireless system, which makes operation simple and straightforward. There's just two buttons that let you set the group and channel, along with the main power button. The BLX transmitter is just as simple, with just a simple power switch, giving it increased efficiency that lets it run for up to 14 hours on two AA batteries. The receiver is designed to be compatible with Shure's many other wireless transmitters, including microphones and body packs. If you're looking for a practical and reliable wireless guitar system with big brand backing, the BLX14R may just be the one you need.

  • Pros: Affordable and straightforward wireless system with up to 14hours battery life.
  • Cons: Does not have any extra features.

Line 6 Relay G50 Digital Wireless Guitar System

Line 6 Relay G50 Digital Wireless Guitar System
Retail Price: $349.99

Line 6 has usurped more established manufacturers of wireless mic systems with their market topping Relay series. This line of digital wireless guitar systems continues to dominate in terms of sales, with the G50 being the top seller - thanks to its impressive sound, clarity and reliability. Professional guitarists like Dino Cazares and Robert Cray are convinced that this system sounds very much like an analog cable, and they trust it enough for use as they tour and play professionally. Even big name bassists like Billy Sheehan approves of the Line 6 Relay technology!

The G50 is lightweight, easy to use, and has a maximum range of 200 feet. What makes it stand out is its ability to emulate cable tone, and it does so by applying controlled resistance to your signal, which subtly reduces the top end. The "Cable Tone" knob lets you set the "cable length" that you want to emulate, and you can turn it up to as much as 100 feet. And what's even more impressive is that the Relay G50 is able to emulate cable tone while maintaining a clear and uncompressed signal. Another practical feature is the battery life meter, which shows how much use you still have with the transmitter's two AA batteries, which should give you up to 8 hours of use. Long story short, get this wireless guitar system and thank me later!

  • Pros: Best bang per buck road worthy digital wireless system.
  • Cons: The transmitter is a bit bulky when compared to other units.

Nady MGT-16 UHF Wireless Instrument System

Nady MGT-16 UHF Wireless Instrument System
Retail Price: $199.99

The Nady MGT-16 is a compact 16 channel UHF wireless system, and one of the best in its affordable price category, designed for bass and guitars. You get all the basic features of UHF wireless including 250 feet of range, auto sync infrared set up, and LED indicators for low battery, power and RF reception. The main selling point of the Nady MGT-16 is its small-sized components. While other wireless systems require "belt packs", this wireless guitar system comes with a small bug-type transmitter that can be securely plugged and mounted into your guitar.

The bug-type transmitter even comes in two different plug formats - a 30 degree angled plug designed for the recessed input jack of Strat-style guitars and a right angle plug for guitars that have top or side mounted input jacks. Finally, the stompbox sized receiver will easily fit in your pedalboard for seamless integration into your rig. With artists like Slash and Steve Vai included in their roster of users, you can be sure that sonic quality exceeds professional standards.Check it out at Nady.com.

  • Pros: Affordable and straightforward UHF Wireless System.
  • Cons: Extra handling care maybe needed because of its lighter form factor.

Final Thoughts

Wireless guitar systems are just that, wireless systems... they don't magically make your guitar sound better, nor do they make it sound worse (well at least the ones in this list), so don't expect your tone to magically improve. What they provide is the freedom of movement and reduction of clutter, which can spell the difference between a mediocre performance and an unforgettable one.

If you or your band are looking to go completely wireless then check out the Gearank guide to handheld wireless microphone systems. Gearank now also has a guide using the Gearank algorithm to find the highest rated options: The Best Wireless Guitar Systems Under $500.

As always please feel free to share your thoughts and any experiences, good or bad, you've had with various wireless systems in the comments below.

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Its great to see all these

Its great to see all these Guitar wireless systems. The Line 6 really has far range doesnt it? its good to see even though its wireless it doesnt loose its quality in sound transmition. Wireless is defiantely the way to go if those havent gone that way yet. Thanks for the post.

Carvin UX1000-BP Wireless Guitar System

I have a Carvin UX1000-BP wireless guitar system and it is by far the best unit out there. Line 6 makes a big deal about two things - companding and cable tone selection. But the fact is, "companding" is used to remove interference (generally from AC and/or DC current - and digital is as much susceptible to this interference as is analog)! Ever watch your HDTV and all of a sudden it becomes pixelated due to interference? However, analog systems have less "noise" - and can actually still differentiate between signals. That analog wave is going to bounce off anything and everything (walls and even the atmosphere) and can still be processed; whereas digital is purely line-of-sight and interference can come from objects and other units, as well. As for "cable tone" - that is normally called "EQ". Those selectors are given so that you can tweak your sound - all marketing mumbo-jumbo. What this means is, you are NOT getting the actual sound of the guitar or bass, and have to "select" the cable - yeah, okay. In any case, for the money - and though it's really a Nady unit in disguise - the Carvin UX1000-BP is stellar. Don't know who Nady is? Just some guy who was THE FIRST to use wireless tech for musicians - even won some Grammy's on the side. So, as a general test for sound - hook up all your wireless units to an acoustic guitar and listen. If it sounds like an untethered (no cable attached) guitar - BUY IT.

Hahaha "However, analog

Hahaha
"However, analog systems have less "noise"...whereas digital is purely line of sight..."

AKG WMS 450/470, Carvin UX1000, Nady MGT-16

I agree with "Anonymous" about the Carvin UX1000 system - got one and it's very, very reliable. I'm in two bands - and two of our members both have Shure sytems, and sometimes they don't work; most of the time it's "sketchy" and you have to re-do the infrared sync; but when you're a professional, you don't do "sketchy"! But man do they make microphones!!! We got 5 SM57's and 5 SM58's - can't get any better. Lead guitarist on band #1 used to have a Line 6 G30 by Line 6, then he swithced to a Nady MGT-16. He did a side-by-side comparison and the Nady was on top by a huge margin, even distance wise (yeah, we drove the car down a quarter mile or so down the road!). When it comes to channels, the Nady has more options to pick from that didn't have interference (he lives in a area where there are quite a few antennas - they are made to look like "trees"). Another system that's really great for the money - if it were not for the crazy options and menus (the reading requirement is outtadisworld!) - is the AKG WMS 450. It's been changed to the WMS 470 guitar system but it's the same thing. One caution - the battery life you get is only 6 hours on an alkaline, the Carvin runs on two AA's and goes for 30 hours. Forgot about this one, and ran out of juice mid song! So, change it after every two shows, you're good to go!

I really like the look and sound of that new Line 6 G50.

I really like the look and sound of that new Line 6 G50.

I'm going to save up and get that one next month!

Line 6 Relay has been great

I've been using the Line 6 G50 for a couple years now and love the sound quality. I did A/B of it vs. cable vs. my Sennheiser G2 wireless. The G2 sucked the tone right out of my guitar, whereas the G50 was nearly indiscernible from the cable. Our other guitarist got a G30 and has been enjoying it as well. The G30 signal doesn't seem to be as reliable, cutting out occasionally for no reason. My old bassist had the same problem with his G30 too. Sound is great though.

LINE 6 Sucks !!!!

Line 6 relay G55 is the absolute WORST !!! Unreliable, Dropouts etc. You name it. Never so dissatisfied with a product in my life. LINE6 SUX !!!

Yeah I have the G55 too and

Yeah I have the G55 too and loved it at first then the dropouts started happening. It sounds perfect but it's been unreliable for me, dropping out during gigs in front of hundreds of people. I think I might try Sennheiser next.

Line 6 G50

I'm interested in the line 6 G50
Just wondered if it still functions when bodies etc are in it's line of sight
Or does it have to have a clear line with no obstacles in order for it to function
Will it drop out etc
Thx Dougie

You don't need direct line of sight

You don't need direct line of sight for any of the wireless systems above.

They're designed to work with people moving around each other on stage.

The only time you might have a problem is if you had a wall of people wearing lead-lined suits crowded around the receiver.

stageClix wireless

Why no mention of the Dutch stageClix digital wireless system? Now in it's 3rd version, it works in the uncluttered 5.58G wi-fi band, and the "bug" transmitter has rechargeable batteries that are charged just by plugging into the receiver.
http://mtraudio.com/product/stageclix-jack-and-pack/

Sony ZRXC30 - adds noise!

To Sony:
Detailed Description (FTS) : Issue - Compared to a normal instrument cable, this unit produces a significant amount of noise when using the high gain channel of my EVH 5150 III 1x12 50W Combo amplifier. Comments - For now, it is back in the box, sitting on a shelf in my closet. I am really hopping that Sony will be able to resolve this issue.Summary - Please keep me informed about any software and firmware upgrades for this product. Thank you for your attention.

From Sony:
The ZTX-B01 body-pack transmitter should not be adding any noise, if it is set correctly. With the INPUT switch set to "INST", and the ATT set to "0", you should be getting a clean sound, as long as the AUDIO/MUTING indicator on the transmitter is lit green.

On the ZRX-C30 receiver you should also have a green RF and AUDIO indicator. Using the MAIN OUT of the receiver into your amp, in the SETUP menu, configure the "Cable Tone Generator" to simulate the sound quality of a wired cable connection length you would normally be using. This should be giving you a clean signal.

If after this setup, you are still having a problem with noise, you may have a problem that would require service. I have attached a service form if needed.

To Sony:
My apologies. Please let me clarify.

The body-pack transmitter is not adding noise.

The receiving unit is adding noise.

This is a new unit and I am using it correctly.

Compared to a normal instrument cable, this unit produces a significant amount of noise when using a high-gain amplifier.

I have seen posts by other musicians stating the same issue.

It is apparent to me that nobody at Sony has tried to test this unit in the manner stated in my first e-mail. And quite honestly, I can understand why. Not everyone uses a high-gain amplifier with the gain/distortion all of the way up. But, Sony should acknowledge that this style has become very popular with today's younger guitarists. Myself, I am 48 and love to play old Van Halen.

If you would like, I would be happy to make a demonstration video.

I am really hoping that you will be the one to say to your boss, "Hey, we have a problem here."

Hopefully followed by a pay increase for you!

Thank you very much for your attention.

Impression:
Very rude and have yet to respond.

Maybe I will make that video and post it on Youtube. :)

If you do make that video

If you do make that video please post a follow-up here with a link to the video.

Video: Noise - Sony DWZ Series Digital Wireless Guitar Set

Classic wireless from Smooth Hound Innovations

I'm biased (because I designed it and build it in the UK) but the Classic wireless definitely needs to be in your list. Check amazon.co.uk reviews or basschat or thefretboard or many other places. Why? It sounds fantastic and its automatic and continuous channel selection makes it the most reliable wireless in the digital range. 15 hour battery life and 200 ft open space range help too.

I have used various UHF

I have used various UHF systems on 6 string and bass guitar over the years and they were generally OK. I then bought the Smooth Hound Classic Digital system and it is the best I've ever used. I have lent it to other guitarists and they have all said it was excellent and would buy one. It's only £149 as well. One of the things you need to check and which the reviews above didn't go into detail on is the latency (the extra delay time that it takes the signal to reach your amp as caused by the unit) - the lower the latency the better. On the Classic system it is only 8 ms which is excellent. Also, as a bass player, I want a system that will transmit a signal from about 40 Hz (open E string), but on a 5 string bass with a B string, this is about 30 Hz; the Classic transmits from 10Hz so I'm covered for full range. I can't recommend this unit enough especially at this price. And the service I got from Smooth Hound was exceptional, I needed one in a hurry and rang the owner of the company, he put one in the post that afternoon and I received it next morning in time for my gig that night! Get one, you will love it! I am not connected in any way to the company and don't know anyone who works there, just a very pleased customer that wants other guitarists to benefit from good gear at a good price.

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