Wireless systems have become a popular technology for live vocals.
From vocalists travelling with their own systems to festivals using them to run a less cluttered stage or venues installing them in their racks, there’s a wide range of uses for wireless systems. So, to highlight the products available and how they might fit your needs, we’ve compiled some of the best wireless vocal systems on offer in 2024.
Best wireless microphone systems
Let’s dive right in; here are some of the best wireless microphone systems for live vocals.
One of the most affordable wireless vocal systems you can get, the SubZero SZW-100H is a digital wireless system that comes with a handheld transmitter.
This system is license-free in most territories, featuring up to 16 channels across the 2.4 GHz frequency band.
It transmits audio up to 30 metres, with 16-bit, 38.4 kHz resolution.
The SZW-100H automatically synchronises the transmitter and receiver via infrared for a fast and easy setup.
Its microphone is built to handle the intensity of live performance and can be powered for up to five hours from two AA batteries.
What’s more, the receiver in this system provides balanced XLR and jack outputs, making it easy to connect to mixers, amplifiers, or audio interfaces, with adjustable output volume to achieve the ideal level.
The Shure BLX24/PG58 is Shure’s entry-level system, offering the same excellent sound quality as most of their systems in a straightforward and affordable package.
Its microphone transmitter takes inspiration from the legendary SM58 and offers a 100-metre range with 14 hours of battery life.
The transmitter’s cardioid polar pattern helps to reject noise while offering that same warm midrange and characterful presence boost heard in live performances all over the world. A quickly switchable -10 dB gain control helps you easily prevent clipping too, perfect for louder vocalists.
This system’s receiver provides a ‘ready’ LED to confirm that everything’s ready to go as well as Quickscan, which rapidly finds the clearest frequency available.
Quick pairing between receiver and transmitter makes setup near-instant. Extra monitoring for clipping and battery life then lets you keep track of everything that needs to be managed. Built to last, true to Shure design, this system is compact and ideal for touring musicians.
Sennheiser XSW 1-835 Vocal Set
The Sennheiser XSW 1-835 Vocal Set is another great starter set for live vocals.
Its handheld transmitter includes the capsule of Sennheiser’s e835 cardioid vocal microphone.
Portable and durable, this system is ideal for travelling.
The XSW digital wireless system features automatic frequency management and easy pairing between transmitter and receiver.
There’s also an antenna-switching diversity system.
This provides a clean, clear signal that prevents signal dropouts by switching antenna, giving you a more consistent performance.
Shop now | Sennheiser XSW 1-835 Vocal Set, E Band
The GLXD24+/B58A is Shure’s latest digital wireless system, featuring all-new dual-band technology. This innovative feature allows the GLXD+ range to switch between 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz to find a clean channel, doubling its overall bandwidth.
Automatic pairing makes the system incredibly easy to set up for events with rapid turnarounds like festivals and one-day events. And of course, there’s excellent sound – and convenient license-free operation in most countries!
This system’s receiver also sets up multiple backup channels, capable of automatically switching to cleaner channels when interference occurs. It allows GLXD+ systems to deliver constant and noise-free signals without dropouts.
The transmitter in this system includes the Beta 58A capsule, providing a modernised take on the sound of the SM58. This microphone is more sensitive, focused, and feedback-resistant thanks to its supercardioid polar pattern.
A redesigned rechargeable lithium-ion battery then gives your transmitter up to 12 hours of continuous use and quick-charging in a pinch.
The GLXD+ series might be extremely new, but it’s great for travelling acts or venue installation. And if you’re looking to set this system up in a venue, the rack-mountable GLXD24R+/B58A variant gives you a half-rack-sized receiver that can be easily installed.
Highly expandable, this brand-new range also offers full access to more accessories, like antennas, additional receivers, battery chargers, replacement batteries, and a frequency manager for running large multi-channel systems.
Honourary mention: Bose WT-XLR Wireless Microphone Transmitter for S1 Pro+
Not quite a full system, but extremely useful if you have a Bose S1 Pro+, the WT-XLR Wireless Microphone Transmitter can be plugged into microphone or line-level sources, sending their output to the portable PA speaker.
Although it’s only compatible with the S1 Pro+, we had to include it on this list as it offers up to 30 feet of range without any dropouts.
Plus, it offers up to four hours of battery life and charges extremely easily – just plug it into the S1 Pro+.
Since the PA speaker is battery-powered, with this microphone transmitter, you can enjoy the freedom of a completely wireless performance!
Things to consider when buying a wireless mic system
There are a few things to consider when going wireless for the first time or picking a new system. So, let’s discuss what you need to know.
Licensing is a primary consideration for wireless systems.
When using a wireless system, there are three kinds of frequencies to consider: VHF, UHF, and digital.
Some frequency bands, usually VHF and UHF, may require licensing for legal operation. This is because they can interfere with radio, television, or even mobile and WiFi-based sources, so a license may be needed to avoid impacting your region’s infrastructure and communications.
Different countries will have different regulations. Frequency bands may be owned and licensed by external companies or managed by the country’s government. It’s really important to find out what the regulations are in your specific country, so you can find out if the frequency band your system uses needs licensing.
To make life easier, we attach a licensing map to all of our wireless system listings.
Regions that offer license-free use are marked in green, whereas regions that require licenses are marked orange. Regions marked in red denote a country in which this frequency band is completely banned – which is worth keeping in mind for travelling musicians and performers.
Digital vs analogue
This is a hotly debated topic in all audio circles. Which is better: analogue or digital?
The truth is that both have specific benefits and drawbacks which should be considered for your specific use. And due to the nature of radio frequencies used by wireless systems, there are some significant differences between these system types.
Generally, digital systems have an improved dynamic range and fuller frequency response than analogue systems.
Why is this? In analogue systems, your signal needs to be compressed down to a dynamic range that can be carried on a radio wave. It’s then uncompressed back to its full range at the receiver. This process is called companding, and on cheaper analogue systems, this can result in noticeable artifacts and loss of fidelity.
Digital systems don’t require companding; they’re capable of sending a wider dynamic range and more frequency information via digital audio transmission.
In the case of latency, analogue systems have a significant advantage. They offer such a short delay between signal and transmission that you’d never even be able to hear it.
Digital systems can vary in latency quite significantly. When looking at digital systems, it’s important to consider their latency specifications. Latency is typically noticeable at around 15 milliseconds or later for listeners, although performers tend to notice latency earlier, around 5 – 10 milliseconds.
Ideally, if you’re setting up a wireless vocal system, latency should be below 5 ms, so you don’t notice the difference or feel behind the beat in any way.
Radio Frequency stability
There are some variances between analogue and digital systems’ Radio Frequency (RF) stability, depending on the frequency band. Neither digital nor analogue has a distinct advantage over the other in this area. So once you’ve factored in sound quality, licensing, and latency, it may be worth thinking about channel counts to determine how many wireless sources you can use at once.
This is usually the best representation of a system’s stability. Digital systems in UHF bands offer more channels than analogue systems, but digital systems in the 2.4 GHz range offer fewer than these analogue systems, typically four or five.
Interference is also largely determined by frequency band, not whether a system is analogue or digital.
However, many digital systems provide more features for interference prevention and tend to be more premium as a result.
Frequency managers, antenna, automatic scanning, and frequency coordination offered by digital systems often make it easier to achieve a clean signal that can adapt to sudden interference. It does this by leaping to a backup channel automatically. Unfortunately, these features reduce channel count.
Wireless systems can come at a range of prices that vary heavily.
Some are extremely affordable, as low as £100, and some can get extremely expensive, costing thousands of pounds.
What you’ll need to consider are the features and frequency bands.
A more expensive system typically offers:
- Better sound quality
- Lower latency
- More channels
- Extra features, such as automatic scanning, backup channels, and filtering to reduce interference
- Antenna, frequency managers, cables, and multiple microphones included
All in all, there’s a huge range of great wireless systems for vocalists performing live. An excellent and freeing option that’s becoming increasingly common in live events of all kinds, the technology has developed to become easily portable, highly reliable, and still sound fantastic.
While licensing is a consideration, many of the systems suggested here require minimal licensing – however, please check the licensing maps attached to any of our listings to ensure compatibility within your region.
Want to browse the rest of our range of vocal wireless systems? There are handheld, lavalier, and headset systems available!