The 10 Best Wireless Guitar Systems
10. Nady U-1100 GT UHF
9. AKG WMS 40
8. Line 6 Relay G30 TBP06
7. Line 6 Relay G50 Freedom
6. Sennheiser Evolution D1-CL1
5. Shure GLXD16 Z2
4. Shure PGXD14
3. Audio-Technica 10 ATW-1101/G
2. Xvive U2 Rechargeable
1. Shure GLXD14R-Z2
Musical Freedom, Innovation, And Expression
If you're planning to perform on stage with your fellow musicians in front of a large group of people, there are two things to keep in mind. First is the assurance that your performances are loud enough to reach everyone in the audience, thanks to the use of powerful amps. The second consideration involves what you and your band plan to be doing while you're on that stage. Musicians with a lot of energy shouldn't have to worry about the potential hazards of tripping over bulky cords as they move around a stage with a lot equipment. Use of a wireless guitar system will help prevent such dangers and allow you the freedom of movement to perform where you want and how you want.
As a high-tech replacement for the guitar cable, the wireless guitar system is an electronic device that transmits an audio signal from a musical instrument directly to an amp and/or speaker without the need for a physical connection. Leveraging a certain radio frequency band, the system uses a transmitter to send signals from the instrument to a nearby receiver, which ultimately decodes the signal and feeds it into an amplifier on stage.
Depending on the methods by which their audio signals are transmitted, wireless guitar systems are categorized into either analog or digital devices. With an analog system, audio data that travels from transmitter to receiver must first be compressed by the transmitter, converted into a frequency modulation signal, and then expanded by the system's receiver before flowing into the amp. The compression/expansion process is a trademark of the analog system and is often referred to as companding.
Analog systems run on either Very High Frequency or Ultra High Frequency bands. Used by many radio and television broadcasts, VHF frequencies fall within a range of 30 to 300 megahertz, whereas the UHF frequency range extends from 300 megahertz to as high as three gigahertz. Though practical and common, VHF frequencies are more susceptible to audio interference and quality loss than UHF frequencies. Finally, the process of signal compression and expansion results in a certain degree of quality loss and FM noise.
By contrast, the digital wireless guitar system eliminates the need for signal compression entirely by first converting and encoding the instrument's audio signal to digital format and finally transmitting it securely using the same types of frequencies that Wi-Fi routers use. Digitally encoding an audio signal minimizes interference and quality degradation as it travels between the transmitter and receiver, which means that the signal retains the same quality as the original audio input coming from the guitar, even by the time the sound reaches the amplifier.
Jamming Wirelessly And Wisely
One of the most important considerations to make before investing in a wireless guitar system is the device's frequency agility, meaning its ability to both detect possible interference scenarios and avoid them without sacrificing the quality of the audio itself. This is a crucial feature in one's quest for sound precision during a live performance, particularly when a situation involves several musicians on stage trying to be at their best rather than being at the mercy of their equipment. Additionally, the more equipment involved, the more that frequency agility comes in handy to prevent issues like intermodulation. Some wireless guitar systems even have built-in scanning capabilities that allow their receivers to automatically detect and choose the best frequencies to use. This ensures that audio clarity is properly maintained, regardless of whether your band moves around the stage a lot during a performance.
If you think extended jamming sessions are in your future, then look for a system with long-lasting rechargeable lithium-ion batteries powering its components, so you don't run out of juice in the middle of a set.
Operation range is another important factor to keep in mind, depending on the size of a venue. Many options offer up to 200 feet of room to move around a stage without experiencing any signal loss, but it's still a good idea to keep the receiver within a transmitter's line of sight.
Next, consider the durability of the receiver and transmitter. One should look for options with all-metal construction to withstand any potential impacts or drops during a performance.
Finally, think about the size of the venues at which you'll be performing, as well as the number of instruments involved. This will help inform your ultimate decision with respect to how many channels your device of choice will need to handle.
A Brief History Of The Wireless Guitar System
One of the first conventional wireless guitar systems adopted by professional musicians was the Schaffer-Vega Diversity System, released in 1975 by American inventor Ken Schaffer. It was the first cordless solution to provide both reliable sound and freedom of movement, making more elaborate performances possible on multi-level stages and in large arenas. The device was eventually adopted by famous rock bands including The Rolling Stones and was adapted for use as a wireless microphone system in 1976. Schaffer also acted as publicist for such famous American rock stars as Jimi Hendrix and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, among others.
John Nady released his own wireless guitar system in 1976 called the Nasty Cordless. This device had the advantages of a lower price point than the Schaffer-Vega Diversity System, while being significantly easier to use than its predecessor. Nady's design also delivered an improved signal-to-noise ratio due to his newly-developed and patented companding technology. By the 1980s, Nady's invention was the popular choice of systems among many of the top-performing rock bands of the time.
Today, the digital wireless guitar system is considered the industry standard for professional performances, thanks to its capacity for signal quality preservation at extended ranges, as well as its capability for intelligent frequency management to ensure the highest quality and most authentic sound possible.