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This article was originally published in issue #25
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So you feel your stage performance is a little lacklustre, you want to have more of a Flea type presence on stage, but last time you tried jumping around like a madman you pulled out your lead/pulled your amp over/took out the singer with your lengthy cable/tripped over your own lead, delete as appropriate. Maybe it’s time you invested in a wireless system then?
Wireless systems are nothing new, having been all the rage when they first came out. But the early ones were expensive, unreliable and some players swore they ruined your tone, leaving many bands going back to good old cables. Those days have now gone, and the latest wireless systems are far more affordable, reliable and harder to tell from a cable in a straight A/B test.
There are many on the market today and over the past few years, GI has looked at several of the available alternatives (and you can check out the reviews via our website - www.iguitarmag.com - Ed). This time, it's the turn of Japanese audio giant, Audio-Technica, whose ATW 1101 goes under out spotlight. This system comes with the receiver and channel belt pack. However, rather curiously, ours did not come with the cable that runs from from the belt pack to an instrument, which is annoying as it's not a standard cable you are likely to have lying around the house. This, we feel, is a flaw in Audio-Technica's offering as cables easily get lost, damaged and stolen. Anyway, the correct cable was sourced - time to take it for a test.
As a system the ATW 1101 was so simple to set up. Just it in put the batteries in, turn it on and away you go! There's no fiddling around trying to match channels or get the two parts talking to each other, just plug in and go, now that's my kind of technology!
I took my guitar for a walk round the studio and office building to see how far I could get before the signal started to break up. I made it to the end of the store room which is around 150 metres from the studio. This involved the signal going through thick walls and sound proof doors, so that's pretty impressive and I'm sure on an open stage you would get a great deal more distance from it. I would also like to add that we are running many things in the studio that could interfere with a wireless system. Various Wi-Fis, lights, cameras, computers, PAs etc., but at no point was there any interference. The sound quality seemed good and didn’t appear to change until the point of actually losing the signal. It's an all digital 24-bit operation, and in the 24 GHZ range making it completely free from TV interference and delivering the best sound quality. Up to eight systems can be used simultaneously without frequency co-ordination issues.
So there you have it: a great wireless system that works straight out of the box. The only fly in an otherwise extremely impressive ointment was the issue with cable. Using a non-standard cable is asking for trouble and we'd suggest that if you buy one of these (and there are good reasons why you might very well - it's a fine system) you get several cables and make sure they are always to hand.
That aspect aside, the System 10 package worked flawlessly in our test scenario and, like many such systems, is available in several configurations, so you could easily standardise on a System 10 for your entire band, using up to eight of them, some with mic/transmitters, some with bodypacks and instruments. It's a good system to the sort of technical and build standard you'd expect from a top brand like Audio-Technica. It's not cheap, however, and that cable issue costs it a quarter stars in our ratings. That said, if you're finally ready to go cable-free, add this one to the 'ones to try' list.