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The Pros & Cons Of A Wireless Guitar System (Buyers Guide)

Wireless Guitar Systems - DJ City Buyers Guide
11th March, 2021
The Pros & Cons Of A Wireless Guitar System (Buyers Guide)

Jump To: Best Value | Best Overall | Best BodyPack System | Best Pedalboard System

Wireless technology is thriving in all aspects of electronic products, with cables almost completely a thing of the past! In particular, the range of wireless guitar systems available has significantly improved over the last few years. Giving you all the freedom you need to move around whether you’re performing live on-stage or just rehearsing with your band. As well as preventing any hazards that come with it, such as unplugging or tripping over cables.

Regardless, if you’re new to wireless technology, choosing the best wireless guitar solution for you can be a daunting task. So that’s why we’ve created the ultimate buyers guide for purchasing a wireless guitar system. Giving you everything you need to know including what to look for, how to use one, and all the pros and cons. We also round out our Top 5 picks for 2020.

Electric Guitarist

What is a Wireless Guitar System

To put it simply, a wireless guitar system offers a wireless solution for playing your guitar. Ditching your traditional jack cables and streamlining the way you play and perform. Just like any wireless solution, your wireless guitar system will typically consist of both a transmitter and a receiver. With your transmitter hooked up to your guitar or bass, and your receiver hooked up to your amplifier or speaker system.

From there, your wireless transmitter will turn the analog signal from your guitar into digital. Sending it straight to your receiver which will then again convert the signal back to analog and amplify your sound through your speakers. So it’s the perfect solution for modern guitarists who love to move around a lot on stage.

Choosing a Wireless System

Just like any piece of PA / Live Sound equipment, there are a number of things to consider before you get set on a system.

First and foremost, the obvious one is your budget, and it goes without saying; the more cash you flash, the better the quality, and the more feature-packed wireless guitar system you’re going to get. But that’s not to say you can’t find a cheap and affordable wireless guitar system that’s going to do everything you need it to do. It all just depends on how serious of a guitarist you are and the exact applications you’re going to be needing it for.

One feature that’s vital when choosing a wireless guitar system is its ability to detect interference within your surroundings. Then, differentiating between both the interference and the sounds you’re intentionally trying to send through. Often referred to as frequency agility, the better agility, the more precise sound you’ll enjoy during your live performances. Not to mention, the more fellow guitarists connected to your wireless system, the more important this feature becomes!

While some more advanced systems offer built-in frequency scanning capabilities. Allowing your receiver to automatically detect and choose the best frequency as you move around. So you’ll always be getting the best quality audio that’s available.

Another thing to consider with your wireless guitar system is battery life. If you’re going to be performing long sets live on stage or heavy-touring; you’ll want to make sure your wireless system is going to be ready when you need it most! Not to mention, you’ll want something that boasts a heavy-duty construction, especially if you’re touring!

Finally, it’s important not to forget about your wireless systems operating range. If you’re only using it for practicing at home, this won’t really be an issue. However, if you’re going to be moving around quite a large stage, you’ll want something that’s going to comfortably cover your ground without the worry of signal loss.

Electric Guitar Player

How To Use A Wireless Guitar System

Although each system will differ slightly, it’s generally a pretty simple process for setting one up. All you need to do is connect your transmitter(s) to your instrument(s), then connect your receiver to your amps. After that, all you need to do is make sure your levels are on-point and you should be ready to belt out your set with complete freedom!

Some units may also require you to manually select your frequency. Though the receiver will typically do a frequency scan automatically and set the bandwidth to the clearest available group and channel. Then, all you’ll need to do is make sure your transmitter is tuned to the same group and channel. But again, these days your receiver and transmitter are often linked automatically!

Finally, it goes without saying, but you’ll want to make sure your wireless guitar system or its batteries are fully charged before your performance. Because the last thing you want to do is lose juice in the middle of an important show!

Radio Frequencies

Radio Frequencies play an important role within Wireless Guitar Systems. So given the fact that so many devices use radio signals to communicate with each other, things can get messy! Traditionally, wireless systems would use either UHF or VHF frequency bands, that both use Frequency Modulation (FM).

Both UHF and VHF frequencies have their pros and cons when it comes to sending the signal from your instrument to your receiver. Suffering the least interference, UHF is currently the best choice when it comes to wireless systems. Although it generally depends on the environment they’re being used in. So one of the most important things to look for is a system that offers a flexible frequency range and that automatically chooses the best one; allowing your guitar to sound clear no matter what the environment. So you won’t need to worry about other devices clashing with the same frequency!

UHF vs VHF Frequencies

These days, many prosumer wireless guitar systems have switched over to the digital realm; and now commonly operate on the 2.4GHz frequency standard (a band approximately between 2400 and 2500 MHz, and the same band as your WiFi). While some wireless systems also operate on specific frequency bands. So it’s important you make sure to select the product with the correct band for your location.

But, even with all the technological advancements in wireless systems; it’s still recommended to keep your receiver in a visual line of sight with your transmitter. Just to be sure you never miss a note!

Pros and Cons

So by now, you know what a Wireless Guitar System does, and you know how they work. But what are the Pros and Cons of each?

Pros

  • Freedom – Especially valuable if you’re performing on a large stage, the freedom to move wherever you like is definitely the biggest pro of them all.
  • No Cables – Less cables = less responsibility. You’ll no longer have to worry about your guitar cables coming unstuck, or worse, tripping over them mid-set.

Cons

  • Batteries – Given that most wireless guitar systems are powered by batteries whether built-in or external; you’ll need to, or at least want to make sure your wireless system is fully charged before each and every gig. And if it uses external batteries, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got fresh ones bought and on standby in case you need them. Because the last thing you want to do is lose connection during the middle of a performance. Therefore, batteries are adding just another thing to the long list of preparations you need to do before each gig.
  • Changing Guitars – If you use multiple guitars depending on the song you’re playing, you’re going to need multiple transmitters for your guitars. You could switch them from guitar to guitar, but during a live performance, you’re just adding unnecessary complications and more opportunities for error.
  • Tone and Sound – A common theme among naysayers, many guitarists believe wireless systems can negatively impact your guitar’s tone and sound. However, that can also be the case if you’re running extra long guitar cables on large stages. It’s also likely to not be a big enough difference that most people will notice.
  • Latency – Finally, something that can be more of an issue with cheaper options is latency. Especially if you’re playing in unison with fellow guitarists, the last thing you want is to be hearing your fellow band members slightly out of time. Thankfully, this isn’t a huge issue with most quality options. Although it’s something to think about.

Top 5 Best Wireless Guitar Systems

By now, you should have enough information at your fingertips to decide whether or not a wireless guitar system is for you. But which one’s are the best? We’ve listed our Top 5 choices below. Including affordable beginner solutions, the best overall, the best bodypack systems, and the best options for pedalboards.

Xvive U2 – Best Value

Xvive U2 Wireless Guitar System

The Xvive U2 gives you a rechargeable wireless system that boasts an extremely compact design; featuring a transmitter and receiver that are small enough that they’ll both fit in one hand. What’s more, you can adjust the jack on both units so they’ll effortlessly connect to any guitar, bass or receiver system without any protruding. For an entry-level solution to wireless guitar systems, the U2 gives you up to 70 feet / 20 meters of operating distance within the line of sight. So you’ll have more than enough room to move around on stage without any issues!

The U2 offers 4 different channel choices at 2.4Hz for license-free use. However, you should always use it at least 3M away from surrounding WiFi signals to ensure maximum clarity and minimal interference.

With 4-5 hours of battery life, you should have more than enough juice to perform most live shows with ease, While the included USB Y-Cable allows you to easily throw it on charge for your next use. Although the U2 delivers an uncompressed signal, there have been reports of it not preserving your guitar’s tone 100%. However, at such an enticing price-point, it’s hard to go wrong if it’s your first wireless guitar system!

SHOP: Xvive U2

Sennheiser XSW-D – Best Overall

Sennheiser Wireless Guitar System

When it comes to best overall, it’s probably no surprise that Sennheiser takes the cake. The XSW-D instrument base set makes it easier than ever to build a wireless system. It’s gig-ready, low-latency and just as easy to use as a traditional guitar cable; providing you with the freedom of digital wireless, combined with renowned Sennheiser quality. Sporting one-button 2.4gHz operation, the XSW-D is extremely easy to use, while boasting an impressive feature set.

For instance, the XSW-D offers a massive 250-foot/75m operating range. So it’s unlikely that you’d ever run into an issue regarding the signal. Like the Xvive, Sennheisers wireless guitar system also gives you up to 5 hours battery from a single charge. As well as a convenient mute function on both the transmitter and the receiver.

Not only is the XSW-D built to last, but it also boasts an extremely elegant design. Connecting to any guitar/bass amplifier or pedal and capturing your instrument without compromising your tone.

Above all, if you’re serious about taking your guitar performance cordless, it’d be hard to go past the Sennheiser XSW-D. However, if there’s one thing that could be improved, it would be an extra charging port or inclusion of a Y-Cable like the U2 that allows you to charge both the receiver and the transmitter at the same time.

Features

  • For Electric, Acoustic, Bass Guitars
  • 1/4″ Plug-On Instrument Transmitter
  • 1/4″ Plug-In Instrument Receiver
  • Easy to Use, Plug & Play Operation
  • Low Latency for Tighter Performance
  • Lightweight Miniature Housing
  • Protected Peer-to-Peer Connection
  • USB-Rechargeable 5-Hour Batteries
  • 5 Systems at Once Max, Up to 250′ Range

SHOP: Sennheiser XSW-D

Shure BLX14 – Best Body-Pack Wireless System

BLX14 Wireless System

A completely wireless instrument system, the Shure BLX14 guitar wireless offers unprecedented sound quality. So good, that you won’t be able to tell the difference between the classic instrument cable alternative.

One of the more affordable complete systems, BLX14 takes inspiration from Shures higher-end ULX series. Sporting multiple microphones and transmitters that can be added and integrated into the system. Boasting a durable construction with world-class design, the BLX14 comes complete with a guitar lead, 1 wireless receiver, and 1 body-pack transmitter. Which also features an adjustable gain knob for complete user control while on-stage.

Requiring only 2 AA batteries to power the transmitter, you’ll get up to 14 hours of continuous use out of them. What’s more, although the BLX14 is marketed as a wireless guitar system, you can also use it for your bass guitar; offering accurate performance when dealing with low-frequency signals.

Available in multiple frequency bands, you’ll have to ensure you choose the correct band for your area.

Above all, the BLX14 is ideal for venues, mobile performers, and function centers.

Features

  • Great Audio Response
  • Transmission Range K14 or M17
  • Includes BLX1 bodypack transmitter, BLX4 single-channel receiver, guitar cable, power supply, 2 AA batteries, and user guide
  • Up to 14 hours of battery life (handheld)
  • Trusted worldwide by industry professionals
  • Great for speeches, vocalists, performers, and presenters
  • Ability to run up to 12 compatible systems per frequency band
  • Durable Construction
  • Up to 100m (LOS) operating Range

SHOP: Shure BLX14

AKG WMSS40 – Dual Wireless Instrument System

If you’ve got multiple guitars or instruments, the AKG WMSS40 is a perfect solution when you’re on stage. With a number of frequency bands to choose from, you’ll have to ensure you choose the correct band for your area. Delivering crystal clear sound, the WMSS40 is the perfect Plug’n’Play solution. So it’s ideal for small stages, clubs, hotels, and gyms.

Comprised of 3 main components, the WMSS40 gives you 2 BodyPack transmitters ( PT40 Mini each with guitar instrument cable ) and the dual receiver (SR40 Mini Dual).

A stand out feature with this system, the WMSS40 gives you a whopping battery life of up to 30 hours with a single AA battery. So you’ll save money on batteries and won’t have to worry about constantly having to recharge your equipment before your show.

Features

  • Wireless microphone system
  • 2x Bodypack transmitters, each with a guitar instrument cable
  • Up to 30-hour playtime with one single AA battery
  • Plug and play operation
  • Gain control on each channel
  • Low battery indicator
  • Lightest handheld transmitter in its class

SHOP: AKG WMSS40

Shure GLXD16 – Wireless Guitar Pedal System

A member of the renowned Shure wireless systems family, the GLXD16 gives you yet another great wireless guitar option. Combining the revolutionary LINKFREQ automatic frequency management technology, with battery rechargeability and quality design and construction.

What makes this wireless guitar system so great though, is its ability to integrate into any pedalboard. While also featuring integrated strobe and needle guitar tuners. But above all, it delivers exceptional digital audio clarity with seamless operation. It’s available in both K14 and K17 frequency ranges and offers up to 15 hours of battery life. While also giving you up to 100 meters of line of sight operating difference.

Features

  • Great Audio Response
  • Transmission Range K14 or M17
  • Includes BLX1 bodypack transmitter, BLX4 single-channel receiver, guitar cable, power supply, 2 AA batteries, and user guide
  • Up to 14 hours of battery life (handheld)
  • Trusted worldwide by industry professionals
  • Ability to run up to 12 compatible systems per frequency band
  • Durable Construction
  • Up to 100m (LOS) operating Range

SHOP: Shure GLXD16

The Final Say

There you have it, our top 5 choices when it comes to wireless guitar systems. Hopefully, you have a better understanding of what they do and how they work. If you’re still not sure and would like some more specific advice, feel free to contact our experienced DJ City staff today. We’d love to help you choose the perfect wireless system to take your guitar skills to the next level.

READ ON: The Best USB Microphones
By: Jamie Larcombe

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