rigs for guitar/bass
or handheld mic
I NEVER used wireless because of sound and
reliability issues, but digital wireless changed
my mind. There’s no companding, and as long
as you’re within range, forget about pops or the
signal cutting out. And if you go out-of-range, the
signal usually disappears more elegantly than
The Sony DWZ-B30GB and DWZ-M50
systems have much in common: 2.4GHz, license-free
operation over six channels; 24-bit PCM
digital audio; transmitter switches (3-position
attenuator, lock/unlock, mute/power, and
channel select); +12V AC adapter for the receiver;
USB ports for firmware updates; and a compact
size. Choose wideband mode for minimal
interference to other gear, or narrowband for
minimal interference from other gear. Now, let’s
consider the differences.
DWZ-B30GB Optimized for guitar and bass,
this includes a bodypack (which runs on
two AA batteries), compact receiver, guitar-to-bodypack cable, and belt/strap clip. The
receiver also accepts 9V battery power or a
pedalboard’s –9V power distribution—genius
if you want to go wireless to your pedalboard.
The unique, 8-position “Cable Tone” control
is a high-cut filter that emulates the cable
capacitance for seven different cable lengths so
you can match your wired and wireless “sound.”
Outputs are XLR, 1/4" phone, and a second
1/4" phone tuner out that generates audio even
when the system is muted from the transmitter.
With alkaline batteries, Sony estimates about
10 hours’ battery life for the belt pack, and 3.5
hours for the receiver.
DWZ-M50 The mic is a cardioid,
unidirectional dynamic type; the feel, size, and
weight are comparable to an SM58, and both
the wind screen and capsule are removable/
interchangeable. (Sony offers three compatible
capsules, and some third-party capsules are
compatible.) Unscrewing the hand grip accesses
the “set-and-forget” controls, while power and
mute are always available.
The receiver is larger than the DWZ-B30GB’s.
Output connectors are the same, although the
XLR has a mic/line level switch. The DWZ-M50
accommodates two external antennas (unlike
the DWZ-B30GB’s internal antenna) and
has a bright, color LCD that offers menus for
programming system settings, including those of
its built-in 5-band graphic EQ. The display also
provides useful operational data—signal strength,
estimated transmitter battery life (selectable for
alkaline, Ni-MH, or lithium types), EQ status,
and audio output level.
In Use Both systems are easy to set up and
use—just don’t place the receiver close to
RF interference sources (like a wi-fi router).
The DWZ-M50 can choose the clearest
channel, or scan them and display the best
candidates; or, you can choose channels
manually. For the DWZ-B30GB, you need to
try different channels manually to determine
which works best.
When I tested both devices indoors, even
in a space with intervening objects, operation
was 100% reliable to at least 70 feet. Maximum
line-of-sight goes up to about 200 feet for the
DWZ-B30GB and 300 feet for the DWZ-M50,
but lessens with increased interference
or objects (especially walls) between the
transmitter and receiver.
Overall, Sony’s debut of musician-friendly
wireless systems is auspicious. If you’ve avoided
wireless because of analog’s limitations, you
may be very surprised by digital’s offerings, and
what’s more, with these models you’ll probably
be able to afford to go digital.
STRENGTHS: Easy to use. Affordable.
24-bit digital audio quality. Includes some
useful, unexpected extra features like
the DWZ-B30GB’s Cable Tone control
and the DWZ-M50’s automatic channel
LIMITATIONS: You don’t get a $700
mic in a $700 wireless system, although
you can change capsules. The DWZB30GB
has less maximum range than the
DWZ-M50, and a more primitive channel
$499.99 MSRP (DWZB30GB),