The idea of being free to rock out on stage without fear of tripping over your XLR cable is a dream for any vocalist. The reality is that even the best wireless microphone could mean your freedom to roam the stage comes with some compromise. What we mean by compromise is the signal quality. In fact, there is nothing to suggest that a wireless signal will be as clean or strong as a wired signal. Wireless microphones convert audio signals to radio signals which are then sent through the air from a transmitter to receiver.
Some absolute purists will tell you that there is never an acceptable compromise when it comes to signal quality, but that isn’t realistic. Wireless technology gets better all the time and the gap in quality is getting smaller. The thing that matters most is what’s audible to the audience and if they are going to notice inferior quality. That’s most likely not because wireless technology has come a very long way since it first came on the scene.
Why Use a Wireless Microphone?
The biggest advantage of using a wireless microphone is the freedom to move around as you like. Imagine a group like the Wu-Tang Clan running around the stage, each member with a wired microphone. Are you picturing a smooth performance or people falling over? The same could be said for a field reporter chasing a moving story with their camera operator. Do they really need cables at their feet threatening to embarrassingly take them down?
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From performing on stage to public speaking and live television broadcasts, this is invaluable. It also gives any performance a much cleaner look with fewer cables being dragged around. Even in some situations where wired microphones will do, there is a cost factor to consider. High-quality cables can be expensive, and if you perform regularly you will know that cables can break. A good wireless microphone could save time and money in the long run.
How Much Is a Wireless Microphone?
You can buy wireless microphones for as little as under $50 or you could spend over $1,000. The thing that matters most is that the signal is as stable and noise-free as possible. In theory, the more you spend, the better quality transmitters you should get, providing better performance. As with anything, there are always exceptions to that rule.
As a guide, if you spend a few hundred dollars, you can get something that suits professional use. We looked at some of the best wireless microphones available and put together our top 10 choices. We must say, it’s a very subjective top 10 list because different microphones suit different purposes. So, in no particular order, here are 10 of the best to give you something to think about.
1. Shure SLX2/SM58 Wireless Microphone
Ask any vocalist what the most common performance microphone is and they will most likely say the SM58. The SM58, famous for its fantastic response, has been an industry standard for a very long time so introducing a wireless version was a logical step. The SLX2/SM58 is a cardioid microphone, meaning that it detects noise uni-directionally. That makes it ideal for performers, as it easily isolates vocals from background noise. There is also a built-in spherical filter that minimizes any harsh plosive sounds.
The first step towards making sure a wireless microphone transmits a clean signal is making sure that it picks up clean audio, which the SM58 does very well. Shure’s SLX wireless system is one of the most rugged and road-tested around. In fact, the SM58 itself should withstand life on the road and all that entails. The wireless technology is Shure’s Audio Reference Companding which sets new standards in the area of noise limitation. A pneumatic shock mount system helps reduce handling noise on receiving the signal too. The SLX wireless system has a frequency response of 50-15,000 Hz and both transmitters have matching frequency presets to allow them to connect easily.
- Industry-standard model
- Innovative wireless technology
- Built to last
- Microphone only
The SLX2/SM58 is an ideal choice that ticks all of the boxes. It comes from a trusted manufacturer and it’s the wireless version of an industry-standard microphone. It minimizes noise extremely well and, even after a few bumps and scrapes, it will still perform as it should. It’s one of the best wireless microphones for any performer.
2. Audio-Technica System 10 ATW-1102
Audio-Technica is another name that holds a lot of weight when it comes to performance and broadcast equipment. This system they put together offers a complete set-up without costing an arm and a leg. It’s a high digital fidelity, meaning it has a straight forward 24-bit operating set-up.
This mic maintains a signal completely free of interference by functioning within a different range compared to TV and DTV interfaces. Adding to its user-friendly appeal, it has an instantaneous channel selection feature. Transmitters and receivers display a unique identity that is clear and easy to read. They can simultaneously configure multiple pathways and utilize space and time diversity to help maximize signal integrity.
- Extremely user-friendly
- Noise-free bandwidth operation
- Space and time diversity
- A complete system
- Better build quality available in the same price range
This is another great option if you want a trusted and reliable brand name. It’s extremely easy to use, everything is very clear and simple so there shouldn’t be any major hiccups during use. The unique ID’s and instantaneous channel selection make sure of that — a rock-solid all-rounder.
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3. Sennheiser EW 135P G4-G
This is another full system rather than just a microphone and pick-up, which reflects in the extra expense. It’s a handheld system, built for field operation, providing professional-grade audio which makes it perfect for interviews and news reports. The Sennheiser specifically responds to spoken word and cancels out any random background noise.
It has 1680 ultra-high tunable frequencies and 12 compatible frequencies which can be auto-scanned. The bank of compatible auto-scan frequencies makes it a bit more user-friendly when getting started. There is some menu-diving when accessing certain features, but the menus themselves are pretty straight-forward. Sennheiser includes lots of useful accessories in this bundle too which adds value for money. Operating in the G frequency range of 566-608 MHz, these wireless microphones have a great response.
- Complete system
- Great for fieldwork
This is a great little compact system. It’s perfect for any fieldwork, whether that’s reporting the latest news or recording interviews. There is a little bit of menu-diving to do, but you can expect that with such a small system. The quality is genuinely professional-grade and optimized for the spoken word. If you have an event to cover and want to travel light without sacrificing quality, this is for you.
4. Shure BLX288/PG58
We have already looked at the SM58, now we have a system that comes with two premium-quality SM58 wireless microphones. This dual-channel BLX288 system has an integrated PG58 microphone cartridge. The SM58s are updated versions, which come with a metallic finish grill and an overall more rugged build quality, which says something because they last. XLR and quarter-inch jack outputs make them a very versatile option. They have a huge operating range of 91 meters, which should keep even the most ambitious performer in range at all times.
The SM58’s broadcast on a 24MHz bandwidth with a one-touch QuickScan feature to maintain a clean signal. The QuickScan selector locates and allocates the optimal (available) channel to avoid interference. To help you fix any potential problems quickly, there are color status indicators for visual feedback during use.
- Comes with two SM58 microphones
- XLR and quarter-inch outputs
- QuickScan function
- Updated design
- Status indicators
- Expensive, but you get two
Any system that comes with two SM58 wireless microphones can’t be bad at all. It provides professional quality audio which generally comes with no interference, thanks to the QuickScan function. That function also makes it very easy for anyone to get started with, and the status indicators provide clear visual feedback. If you ever go beyond the 91 meters operating range, you don’t need a better system, you need to take a break and stop moving so much. This one is as no-nonsense as it gets — great buy.
5. Sony ECM-AW4
Now for something a little bit different from Sony. The ECM-AW4 is a complete battery-powered Bluetooth wireless microphone system. It works with almost every kind of camcorder or DSLR camera making it ideal for covering events, news, or interviews. The transmitter comes with a built-in microphone or you can add an external microphone with a 3.5mm output.
One of the most useful features of this system is that the receiver has a talk-back function. That function allows the person operating the camera to communicate with the microphone operator. And the mic has a range of 150 feet, so there are lots of scenarios where talk-back could come in handy. Both the transmitter and receiver have a 3.5mm headphone output. If you want to mount/wear the microphone and receiver, the system comes with a belt clip and an armband.
- Talk-back function
- Small/compact units
- 150 feet range
- Only three-hour battery life
If you work with a camera operator, this could be the system for you. It’s great quality and has more than enough range for any interview or field report scenario. Plus, the talk-back function is fantastic. It allows a camera operator to discreetly act as a director guiding the microphone holder. Some included accessories are a nice touch too — a very nice package.
6. innopow WM333
This one is aimed at a slightly different market. The innopow WM333 is great for hosting and presenting small events like karaoke nights, weddings, and birthday parties. It’s easy to set up straight out of the box, with its automatic transmitter set up to help the transmitter and receiver synchronize quickly and easily.
Pairing the transmitter and receiver frequencies is a quick process too, but finding a channel with no interference takes patience. There are 40 selectable frequencies available for each of the 80 channels. The system comes with two metal cardioid wireless microphones. The wireless microphones are unidirectional, making them great for capturing speech clearly. It has a 200 to 240 feet range and a battery life of 14 to 17 hours.
- Cheap for a two-microphone system
- Great for hosting/presenting
- Not professional-grade audio quality
This is one of the more budget-friendly systems, ideal for getting the job done without spending too much. If you are a serious performer or creating high-quality content, this isn’t the system for you. However, if you need to address people in public or at an event where your message is more important than having perfect audio, this is a great buy.
7. TONOR UHF Wireless Microphone
Here we have another budget-friendly pick: the TONOR UHF. This single handheld option could be the right choice for you. It’s a cardioid dynamic microphone that leaves a little to be desired in the build-quality department. It doesn’t feel anywhere near as rugged as something like an SM58, but at this price that shouldn’t be expected.
The upside is that it’s incredibly easy to set up and put to work. The signal is stable, if not perfect, and the transmission is clear. There is an operating range of 80 feet, which is enough to cover a lot of applications with free movement. The TONOR UHF provides 10 ultra-high frequency bands with 8-hour battery life. It’s rechargeable via USB with the cables provided. It also supports Bluetooth and can stream audio from other devices.
- Very cheap
- Simple set up and operation
- Low build-quality
There are clear negatives for this microphone when you compare it to other models in our list. But you shouldn’t let that deter you from trying it out, though. It costs less than $50 and delivers more than $50 worth of value at the end of the day. It’s good enough for small public speaking situations, but it’s unfair to compare it to more expensive microphones. At this price, you can’t go wrong.
8. Phenyx Pro PTU 5000
The Phenyx Pro is another complete system that potentially offers the best value for money on our list. It provides four separate channels and comes with a dedicated wireless microphone for each. The sturdy metal construction is extremely tough and can be rack-mounted into a professional rig.
The dynamic microphones str unidirectional and share some design features with more expensive microphones. Simple touches like each microphone and channel being color-coded make it easy to set up and operate. They have a max operating range of 80 meters and function within the 530 to 580 MHz range. There is a very useful LCD that makes the system easier to navigate when keeping an eye on all four channels.
- Four dedicated wireless microphones
- Solid build quality
- Quad-channel system
- User-friendly interface
- Higher quality options in the same price range
The verdict on this system is pretty simple, and there are no real negatives as such. It’s one of the best-built systems on our list, it comes with four microphones, and it’s easy to use. The only issue could be that if you only need one or possibly two microphones, your money could be better spent elsewhere. Outside of that, there are no real complaints.
9. FIFINE Microphone K025
We have the last of our real budget-friendly wireless microphones here: the KO25 from FIFINE. The idea behind this microphone is to be as simple as possible, from set up, to use, to build quality. The transmitter and receiver come pre-paired so it’s literally ready to go straight out of the box. The cardioid pattern microphone cancels out the most unwanted background and handling noise without losing vocal quality. It’s a less sensitive dynamic microphone than many others and best results come when speaking at a distance of around three inches from the microphone.
Ultra-high frequency gives it a more stable signal transmission making it suitable for both indoor and outdoor events. Another nice touch is that if you have more than one of these sets, each has a unique ID so you can easily use up to four at one time with no interference. The KO25 gives you an operating range of around 80 feet from the receiver and around 4 hours of use with the most basic AA batteries.
- Cheap option
- Simple as can be
- Great for DJs
- Not as stable as better quality wireless microphones
- Plastic rather than metal construction
In a way, it’s harder to find fault with this wireless microphone than it is with much better ones. The reason we say that is because it’s all relative to the price, of course. For performers who want complete freedom to run around, you’d probably experience some issues with transmission quality. This microphone does have an operating range of 80 feet, which is plenty, but it’s not consistently stable with the most animated performers. But, for a DJ or speaker who doesn’t stray too far from the receiver, the quality is good enough.
10. Mikme Wireless Recording Microphone
Rounding up our picks, we have something very different from the rest: the Mikme wireless recording microphone. This sophisticated little microphone has a one-inch gold plated condenser capsule. The capsule is supported by a built-in spider suspension that blocks any handling noise. The biggest difference with this microphone is that it’s a completely standalone unit — no extra receiver. Its square metal casing looks super sleek although very different than what we are used to, but it’s functional too.
It works in two ways, either standalone with one button recording or paired with your phone via the Mikme app. The app lets you record video on your phone and audio through the microphone, but here’s the good bit, it syncs the audio to your video perfectly. There are 16GB of internal memory, and you can connect to a computer or external storage via USB. There is also an input for headphones or a DSLR camera to upgrade your camera’s audio quality. You can even record directly into your DAW when connected via USB.
- Solid construction
- One-button recording
- Mikme app
- Serves multiple purposes
The Mikme wireless recording microphone is for creating rather than performing. So, it’s not the one to buy if you are performing or giving a presentation. However, if you want to capture a performance, interview, city soundscapes, and so on, then it’s perfect. The app being able to sync audio and video so effortlessly is a godsend for bloggers and content creators. It’s super easy to use and it records with incredible detail. The only downside is the price, but if you are a content creator, it’s certainly worth a look.
There was a time when it seemed like wireless microphones were only seen on television or at high-end events. These days, there are lots of affordable options for budding musicians, journalists, and filmmakers. The main thing you need to focus on is your primary use for the microphone. Most options are pretty useful for a few different applications, but there’s no point sacrificing quality for versatility if you only want to do one thing with the microphone.
Make sure it takes care of your primary function first, then everything else is secondary. Apply common sense when it comes to things like operating range too. For example, if you are a DJ, a high-quality microphone with a 40-foot operating range is better than an average-quality microphone with a 300-foot range. When you make a purchase, keep in mind there are some legal issues.
Now, it’s highly unlikely that you will even need to consider this, but it’s worth mentioning. The general public can’t legally use some frequencies, and most systems you can buy stay away from them. But some old systems may still operate on frequencies that were previously legal, so be sure to check your mic.
Last update on 2021-06-14 at 13:17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API