The Best Wireless Guitar System Review
With these reliable and high fidelity wireless guitar systems, you can enjoy the convenience of not being tied to an amp, without compromising sound quality. So free yourself from the hassle of setting up and dealing with cables.
This review of wireless systems is sponsored by Sweetwater. All products here are independently selected by GuitarSite.com. Where available, you can click thru to Sweetwater for more information or to make a purchase.
The Types of Wireless Systems for Guitar
Not all wireless systems are created equal, they can generally be categorized into three types: VHF, UHF and Digital. 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. The most common and more accessible systems use UHF TV frequencies that range from 300Mhz to 3GHz. These offer more reliable operation, but they are limited by the various UHF frequency regulations that varies from place to place. The latest trend in wireless technology are called Digital Wireless systems, which utilize the same frequencies as WiFi routers. Because of their interference free operation, versatility and transparency, they have now become the industry standard used by professional musicians.
How to Choose Which Guitar Wireless System to Buy
If you're most likely going to play in the same venue night after night, and you're not necessarily moving around but want cable free convenience, then you can go for affordable and straightforward UHF guitar wireless systems. 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. For those of you who play at different places and venues, it is best to invest in a reliable digital wireless system. These usually come in rack form which can fit well with your other rackmount gear. Remember that unlike guitar cables where you can simply plug-in and play, even the best wireless system will fail if you do not set it up properly, or if you do not take the time to understand its operation and limitations.
The Top 10 Wireless Guitar Systems:
Line 6 Relay G75 Wireless System
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 you 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.
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
As expected, this wireless system offers the same Cable Tone technology, which subtly changes your guitar tone to make it sound like you're wired. This cable tone effect works by degrades the clarity of the guitar signal by a bit, 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. If you're looking to upgrade, or you're looking for a reliable professional grade wireless system, the Relay G75 is highly recommended. Get the latest price & reviews at Sweetwater.com.
Sennheiser EW D1 Digital Wireless
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, 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.
Pros: State of the art audio quality and auto-configuration.
Cons: A bit pricey and drains batteries faster than others because of its auto-scanning feature.
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 a bit pricey and it drains batteries a tad bit faster, 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. Get the latest price & reviews at Sweetwater.com.
Shure GLX-D16 Digital Guitar Pedal Wireless System
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 output.
Pros: Impressive signal stability, reliability and fidelity.
Cons: Price tag is bit on the premium side
This means that you will get the same clarity even 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 guitar system looks really nice, making it a favorite for many of today's touring artists, including those that do not endorse the product. Get the latest price & reviews at Sweetwater.com.
Sennheiser EW 172 G3 Wireless Guitar System
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.
Pros: High fidelity multi-instrument wireless system with tone shaping features and one button setup.
Cons: The tone shaping features may complicate matters for beginners.
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! If you're looking for an easy to setup wireless guitar system with advanced features, then get the Sennheiser EW 172 G3-A. Get the latest price & reviews at Sweetwater.com.
Sony DWZ Series Digital Wireless Guitar Set
Although not well known for guitar equipment, music gear giant Sony joins this list with their DWZ Series Digital Wireless System, designed specifically for guitar and bass. As expected the result is an impressive and distinct looking wireless system that feature the latest in wireless audio technology. The Sony DWZ Digital Wireless System boasts of 24-bit linear PCM digital transmission with a wide frequency range of 10 Hz to 22 kHz. Unlike older wireless systems, DWZ operates without audio "companding", which results in improved transparency.
Pros: Compact, lightweight and reliable, with impressive battery life.
Cons: The body pack transmitter uses proprietary guitar connection.
Signal drop-outs are also minimized thanks to the company's "space diversity reception system", which allows the system to choose stronger RF signal. The receiver includes 3 simultaneous audio outputs (1 x balanced XLR and 2 x unbalanced 1/4" phone) and allows for multiple powering options the include AC adapter, 9V battery or use of a distributed 9V power system. Get the latest price & reviews at Sweetwater.com.
Audio Technica ATW-1501 System 10 Stompbox Wireless System
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 reliable and transparent operation.
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.
Following the 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. Finally, both the receiver and transmitter are compact and sturdy, and both are very easy to set up. If you are looking for a transparent wireless system that is backed by a reliable brand, then you should check this one out. Get the latest price & reviews at Sweetwater.com.
Shure BLX14R Guitar Wireless System
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 best available frequencies to your transmitter and receiver. And more importantly, you are getting the same signal and physical reliability as found on other Shure products.
Pros: Affordable and straightforward wireless system with up to 14hours battery life.
Cons: Does not have any extra features, and comes with a traditional form factor.
I am not bothered by its lack of features nor do I expect it to have any, because I have my effects pedals for that. Because of its straightforward operation, the BLX transmitter gives you up to 14 hours of use on two AA batteries. And it is versatile enough to handle various instruments and microphones with a number of optional transmitters that are available from the company. 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. Get the latest price & reviews at Sweetwater.com.
Line 6 Relay G50 Digital Wireless Guitar System
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. Even big name bassists like Billy Sheehan approves of the Line 6 Relay technology!
Pros: Best bang per buck road worthy digital wireless system.
Cons: The transmitter is a bit bulky when compared to other units.
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. Other practical features that add to its benefit include battery life meter, sturdy built and quiet operation. Since this is made by Line 6, I won't be surprised if the Relay series will soon offer cable-modeling, where in it will mimic the behavior of various analog cables! Long story short, get this wireless guitar system and thank me later! Get the latest price & reviews at Sweetwater.com.
Samson Airline AG-1 Guitar Wireless System
The Airline AG-1 guitar wireless is specifically designed by Samson to be compact and guitar friendly. The receiver comes in a sturdy stompbox like configuration just like the Nady MGT-16. You can easily add it to your current set up without hassle. The Airline UHF system also comes with miniaturized transmitters that take the place of inconvenient body pack transmitters. The transmitters also comes in two styles - AG1 for traditional jack inputs found on the bottom while AF1 is designed for Strat style, top mounted inputs.
Pros: Versatile connectivity and and comes with guitar-friendly controls.
Cons: Not as sturdy as we want it to be, but will be able to handle normal usage.
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. Samson's roster of professional artists include Richie Kotzen, Herman Li and many more. Check it out at Samson.com. You can get an extra Samson AG-1 Transmitter at Sweetwater.com.
Nady MGT-16 UHF Wireless Instrument System
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.
Pros: Affordable and straightforward UHF Wireless System.
Cons: Extra handling care maybe needed because of its lighter form factor.
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, Johnny Cash 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.
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 is looking to go completely wireless then check out this guide to handheld wireless microphone systems.
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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