In recent years, everyone has become obsessed with anything ‘Wireless’! Well who needs wires these days… Right?
WRONG!.. Well unless you have a Line 6 wireless system that is.
For most people who play guitar, our faithful guitar cables (yes the very same ones you stand on, bend and cram into your gig bag) actually affect the tone you hear coming from your amplifier. So removing that cable and replacing it with a traditional wireless system can mean changing your tone and increasing the amount of treble you hear.
For anyone interested in learning more about how cables affect your tone, here’s a great article from Sound on Sound which discusses this feature of cables in more technical detail: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov09/articles/guitarcables.htm
So, we’ve established that many guitarists want the freedom of wireless, but don’t want to sacrifice the tone they are used to when using standard guitar cables…. In steps Line 6 with their Relay series of guitar wireless systems. Specifically I have the a G50 here on test, which complies with the new wireless frequency laws that come into effect in 2012. Line 6 was kind enough to send me one of these to review.
I’ve been using this for over a week now instead of using cables, and I must say I’m not in any hurry to go back to cables. I have got 8 hours+ out of a pair of standard Alkaline AA batteries, and I’ve not once seen the signal indicator on the wireless receiver say I had anything less than a perfect signal which is excellent. Not to rely too much on indicators I of course was listening to myself playing and never heard any sort of dropout or interference, and nor did my band mates at a 4 hour rehearsal recently. This isn’t really surprising, as Line 6 quote the following:
“Simple Operation: Power up, pick a channel, and go! No hunting for frequencies, and no hassles. Worldwide.”
“Uncompromising dependability: Multiple sets of antennas, proprietary DCL™ signal protection, and a 2.4GHz broadcast let you relax and perform with confidence.”
One of my concerns was about signal integrity and battery life, but this system has no issues with either. So I can be happy that my signal is safe, and that I wouldn’t have to constantly charge batteries or buy a new set every couple of days!
The cable tone feature also worked really well, and I have it set at around 6 metres of cable (which is correct for me as I usually use a 5 or 6 metre cable) and my tone sounded just right. Again, Line 6 have a quote that explains this:
“Wired Tone: Thanks to superior specs and exclusive VWT™ digital technology, Relay wireless guitar systems sound as good as a high-quality guitar cable.”
The build quality of the G50 transmitter and receiver is very good, and as it’s made from metal it’s built to gig. I had the receiver in the end of my pedalboard, and plugged into my POD HD400 or HD500 (at different times) and it worked well even with the antenna folded flat (so I didn’t kick them while walking around). This didn’t make the signal suffer at all, although I never went more than 20 feet (6-7 metres) from the receiver.
The belt pack transmitter has some cool features, like being able to program your name into it (mine now says Rowbi), a mute switch and a lock feature for the keys so they can’t be pressed when playing. The lock feature is a little bitter sweet for me, and here’s why:
I wanted to lock the transmitter so I didn’t accidentally turn it off or mute it, but at the same time I wanted to mute it while I changed guitars. This meant I’d have to unlock, mute, change guitar, then un-mute and lock again… Not too easy when it’s clipped to your back pocket. But I can understand the idea behind it, and of course the lock feature is to protect us from accidentally turning it off or muting it mid song and looking a fool. So with that as the criteria it works well. I must add that I didn’t end up locking the unit, and never once knocked it and muted or turned it off, so in practice it’s not an issue.
An extra feature of mute, is that there are actually two outputs on the receiver, a main output and a tuner/aux output. When used with a separate tuner, the tuner output doesn’t mute when you enable mute on your transmitter. This would be a great feature to mute the main backline, but be able to still tune up. You can of course just use that as a 2nd output if you use 2 amps, but you then can’t use the mute function, but that’s still a good set of features for different guitarists requirements.
My only other concern is that the unit is shipped with a straight 1/4″ jack socket and the position of my guitars jack socket (I use Les Paul’s and Ibanez RG’s mostly) would be better suited to a right angle jack, with the cable going off to the belt pack transmitter clipped to my belt or back pocket. So I opted to replace the included straight jack with a Neutrik silent right angle jack. This meant that the cable now sat in a better position, and as I used one of Neutrik’s silent jack plugs. it also mutes the signal when I unplug the guitar without me needing to press the mute button.
The Relay G50 is definately recommended and you should try one out if you’re unsure, but if you’re in the market for a wireless system already, there’s just no competition! Get a relay.
Pros: Awesome reliability, and the great cable tone feature make it sound just like a cable
Cons: It only lost marks because of my requirement for the right angled jack. Line 6 have a right angled jack cable available now for the Relay G50 and G90.
Rowbi’s Verdict: Really great piece of kit 9/10
For more information on the Line 6 Relay series of guitar wireless systems, visit: http://line6.com/relay/