If anything like me, you hate wires. If you’re a musician and/or speaker that likes to use the whole stage or go into your audience, wires are annoying. You need to make sure you aren’t getting tangled or tripping (no one wants to face plant in public), you can only move so far, it just sucks.
Getting the best wireless microphone is the way to go. But you may find that inferior quality microphones keep losing signal or have a shorter distance you can move from the receiver than better quality mics. You also want a rugged option that can stand up to the rigours of touring and/or your antics. No one wants a mic that breaks the first time you drop or bump it, especially during a performance.
So here’s a look at some of the best wireless microphones.
What to Look for in a Wireless Microphone
Choosing a wireless mic isn’t quite as simple as just picking a wireless mic. You should also know, that it’s not just a microphone that you’re buying. It’s also a transmitter (which converts and transmits the audio signal to the receiver) and a receiver (receives the signal and converts it back to an audio signal to be used by the system).
Depending on what you want to use it for and your preferences, you have a few options:
The Type of Wireless Microphones
Handheld Wireless Microphones
Handheld wireless mics look like wired dynamic microphones. Most wireless microphones are in fact dynamic mics meaning they have a coil that moves up and down around a magnet to convert audio signals to electric signals (the speakers then convert the signal from electric to audio). You also get wireless condenser mics, but they don’t use phantom power like their wired versions.
These mics are rugged and hold up well for performances or speaking. You can pop them into microphone stands to have your hands free or just hold them as you move freely around the stage or in the audience.
Headset Wireless Microphone
You can find these wireless mics in two forms. The more discreet thin over ear mic or something more robust looking and noticeable like those that fitness instructors use that’s more like an alice band that goes over or around your head at the back.
These will typically be connected to the transmitter in the body pack that you keep clipped to your belt or in your pocket. Some of these microphones also come completely wireless so there’s no wire to the body pack. Make sure you have back up batteries.
If you move around a lot, these are good since they stay the same distance from your mouth at all times.
Lapel or Lavalier Microphones
Although these are less commonly used by musicians, they are an option, particularly if you’re also going to be talking. They work with a transmitter in your pocket or on your belt the same as with the over ear mics but they clip onto your collar or the neckline of your top.
They’re maybe not the best for performing, except in the theatre or tamer environments. They might get in the way of a guitar strap which is never good. But if you like these, go for it.
If your shows are longer, you want a mic that will stay on the entire time. If you perform daily, it helps not to have to change the batteries or charge the receiver every day. The only thing is that if you prefer something smaller, you may get less battery life than something with a bigger pack.
More range comes with a higher price tag typically, but if you perform in bigger venues and like to use the whole stage and possibly the room, you need to make sure you have good range.
If you perform in smaller venues, range becomes less of an issue. But you still want to make sure that you have enough range to accommodate slightly bigger venues as well as small ones. You never know where your music will take you. Just don’t get an expensive microphone with a huge range if you aren’t going to perform in huge venues.
Pick Up/ Polar Patterns
Polar patterns are how the microphone will pick up sound. For performing on stage, cardioid and supercardioid are good choices snce they will pick up your voice and not much else. If you go omnidirectional you may pick up too much of the other sounds and muddy the signal. Hypercardioid microphones will pick up just your voice, but you need to sing into it precisely. So it’s not a good option for energetic performers.
Analog or Digital
Each has their pros and cons. With analog, you might have interference from radio interference (RF) and electrical equipment, but you’ll have immediate real time sound. With digital, you don’t get interference, but you may experience latency. Latency is the delay in the signal conversion resulting in an audible delay through the speakers. Digital mics convert the audio signal into binary code.
As you may have guessed from the above point, if you choose a digital wireless mic, you need to make sure the latency is low. When you’re playing with a band and the sound of the instruments comes through the speakers in real time, you don’t want your voice lagging behind.
There are three frequencies that wireless microphones operate on. VHF (49Hz to 216Hz), UHF (up to 300MHz), and 2.4 GHz.
You’ll get a lot of range on the VHF and better quality, but it may be prone to interference. UHF will have less interference and works well if there are multiple systems being run simultaneously, but you sacrifice a bit on the range. 2.4GHz is crowded by Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and has shorter range. But it may also be more affordable. If you choose the last mentioned, go for newer technology for better quality.
Also, if you happen to perform in different countries, check with frequencies they use and what’s legal. Else you might buy a system or mic that you can only use in certain areas. You should also check out if you need licensing to operate on certain frequencies in the area and the regulations for the year. Yip, it’s a headache, I know. You should be good to go for the most part though.
The Best Wireless Microphones
The best wireless microphones don’t come cheap although their prices range quite a bit. The budget mics are listed first and the price goes up as you go down the list.
Tonor TW-260 Wireless Handheld Microphone- Best Budget Option
This mic won’t set you back too much. The Tonor TW-260 has quite a bit of range, up to 200ft and isn’t susceptible to RF interference thanks to the UHF frequency band it operates in. You can adjust the frequency as needed. You get between 6 and 8 hours of use with AA batteries. This mic comes as a system so you don’t need to purchase the receiver separately. As a bonus, the receiver is rechargeable.
Most people find that the sound quality is pretty good, but it can be prone to feedback if you stand in the wrong spot. Some people experienced the sound as muffled and dropouts.
- Less susceptible to RF interference
- You can adjust the frequency band
- The range is up to 200ft
- You can use it for up 6-8 hours
- The receiver is rechargeable
- Good sound quality
- Cardioid pick up pattern
- It comes as a system
- Rugged metal construction
- Prone to feedback if you stand in the wrong spot
- Some people experienced a muffled sound and dropouts
Phenyx Pro PTU-7000A Wireless Handheld Microphones x 4- Best Budget Multiples Pack
If you need multiple microphones with a system that has multiple systems on a budget, the Phenyx Pro PTU-7000A is a good option. You get four wireless microphones and a receiver that has four XLR outputs and allows up to 40 systems to be used simultaneously. The UHF frequency can be adjust as needed and is clearly displayed. You can control each mic separately in terms of volume and frequency too.
The range is up to 328ft (as long as you are in line of sight of the receiver, no walls) and the battery life is up to 16 hours. The antennas on the receiver also to help prevent interference. You also get four color-coded anti-roll rings to tell them apart and to keep them in easy reach if dropped. The metal design is rugged and the system comes with 12-month warranty.
Most people are happy with the sound quality and the fact that they’re low noise microphones. Some people are even happy to put the sound quality up there with a Shure SM 58 (Industry standard). A few people are unhappy with the sound, battery life, and durability.
- You get 4x handheld mics and a receiver with XLR outputs
- The range is up to 328ft
- You can adjust the frequency as needed
- Each mic is controlled separately
- Good sound
- Low noise
- Battery life is up to 16 hours
- You get 4x color-coded anti-roll rings
- 12-month warranty
- Some people found the sound quality poor
- A few people experienced short battery life despite 16 hour claim
- Some people found the mics didn’t last long (possible defects)
Bietrun-WXM05 Wireless Headset/Handheld Microphone- Best Budget Headset Mic
If you prefer a headset, the Bietrun-WXM05 will do well. It’s suitable for speaking and singing hands-free. As an aside, this mic is also compatible with PC. The receiver can convert from a ⅛ inch jack to a ¼ inch jack and takes 2.5 hours to recharge. The battery life is around 6 hours.
It’s low latency with a range of up to 160ft. It uses the UHF frequency band and is low noise. You can switch it to handheld mode if you prefer too. It comes with a 12-month warranty and free replacement service.
It’s true that most people use this as a mic for talking over PA systems outdoors and in gym environments, but a few people have successfully used it for singing. Some recommend using it with an EQ for singing. Many people agree that it outperforms its price point.
A few people found the battery life is below what is stipulated, the sound quality poor, and that the mic stops working after a few months. Some units pic up ambient sound and cuts out.
- You get to be hands-free
- The range is 160ft
- The receiver is rechargeable and suitable for PC and PA system
- Low latency
- Low noise
- Comes with a 12-month warranty and free replacement service
- Best for talking
- Some units have poor durability
- A few people found the sound quality poor and cuts out
- Some people said the mic pics up ambient sounds
JK MIC-J 071S Pro Headset Headworn Microphone
This unobtrusive JK MIC-J 071S Pro Headset is great if you want a lightweight, hands-free option that isn’t in everyone’s face. The price point is good for those on a budget and it’s compatible with Samson and AKG receivers. It’s sweat and dust-proof so good for outdoor events and performances and for those who perform energetically. It also prevents wind noise well. The frequency response works well for vocals (20-20KHZ).
People say it fits snuggly and comfortably and that it has good sound quality. It doesn’t come with its own receiver, so be aware of that. There is a complaint about it being prone to feedback.
- Fits snuggly
- Low profile design
- Is sweat and dust-proof
- Good sound quality
- It’s compatible with AKG and Samson receivers
- It’s good if you already have a receiver
- It doesn’t come with a receiver
- One complaint about it being prone to feedback
Samson Go Mic Mobile HXD2 Handheld Transmitter
The Samson Go Mic Mobile HXD2 Handheld Transmitter comes without a receiver. If need be, you can purchase the Samson Go Mic Mobile Professional Digital Wireless System which comes with two microphones. It will only work with this receiver. Operate the microphone on either VHF or 2.4GHz as needed. The battery life is up to 20 hours with a lithium polymer battery. This is a low latency microphone.
The frequency response works well for singing or micing up instruments (10Hz-22KHz). You use it over a PA system as well as on a computer, laptop or phone. Most people like the sound quality. But there are people who found their microphones breaking quite early on and cutting out.
- Good frequency response
- Use it to make videos or sing
- Low latency
- The battery life is up to 20 hours
- Good for if you already have a receiver
- The sound cuts out for some people
- Some people’s microphones broke early on
- It doesn’t come with the receiver if you need one
AKG Pro Audio DMS100 Digital Wireless Microphone System- Vocal Mic
As names go in the industry, AKG is pretty well-known and the quality is good. You can choose between the AKG DMS100 vocal microphone or the AKG DMS100 instrument microphone. Each will have a frequency response that is best for these needs.
The system operates on the 2.4GHz but has built-in AES 256-bit encryption to protect the signal. The range is limited because of this to around 50ft. Battery life is around 8-10 hours.
Most people find the sound good, but state that it does take EQ to get it to really sound good and minimize the noise from handling. Some people found the construction cheap compared to higher priced AKG microphones.
- Connects easily
- The system has built-in AES 256-bit encryption to protect the signal
- Battery life is up to 10 hours
- Good sound quality (may need some EQ)
- The range is only 50ft
- There is some noise from handling
- Some people found the construction to be of poorer quality
AKG Pro Audio C520 Head-Worn Condenser Microphone
The AKG C520 Headset Microphone is a great option for musicians or anyone who wants a hands-free microphone. It’s designed for singing and talking, with a warm tone (as most condenser mics tend to have). It connects to any AKG body pack via a mini XLR cable. The mic capsule is on a flexible shock mount for good noise reduction further aided by the cardioid pick up pattern. The capsule also has a moisture shield.
It runs on the VHF frequency band. Most people are happy with the sound quality and its durability. There are very few complaints but those that exist are about defective microphones and that the treble is lack luster compared to the mid and low frequencies.
- Designed for use with vocals
- Good sound quality
- Moisture shield
- The capsule is mounted on a flexible shock mount for noise reduction
- Cardioid pick up pattern
- A complaint or two about defective units
Shure PGXD24/SM58-X8 Digital Handheld Wireless System- Wireless Industry Standard
This is the wireless version of the industry standard SM58. It comes as a system and is one of the more affordable models in the range. The range is 200ft allowing you to move freely. The receiver operates on 48KHz UHF and the body pack provides 26dB of audio gain. It offers up to five compatible channels per frequency band. Use the one touch feature to automatically connect it to the clearest channel.
The pick up pattern is cardioid offering good noise reduction. You will get nine hours of use with AA batteries. You get a case to keep the mic safe too. Most people are very happy with the sound and durability. The complaints are mainly about defective systems or not getting a manual. It comes with a 2-year limited warranty.
- Reliable brand
- The range is 200ft
- You can use up to 5 systems simultaneously
- Good noise reduction
- Rugged construction
- Up to 9 hours of battery life
- The body pack provides up to 26dB gain
- Good frequency response for vocals and most instruments (15-20KHz)
- 2-year limited warranty
- Some people get defective systems
Shure SLX2- SM58 Wireless Handheld- Wireless Industry Standard
The Shure SLX2- SM58 is one of the best quality wireless mics. You do need to already have a receiver or need to purchase one if you’re going to buy this mic. It has a cardioid pick up pattern and provides 8 hours of use with AA batteries. You can see how much longer you can use it with the handy LCD screen.
It comes with frequency and power lockout as well as a mute function. It’s designed for use with vocals and a has a unidirectional pickup pattern for noise reduction. The range is around 300ft. Enjoy automatic frequency band sync up. It comes with a 2-year limited warranty.
Most people are happy with the sound quality, the fact that there’s no RF interference, and the durability. The main complaints seem to be unfounded as they are complaining about not getting a receiver and not getting cables for the receiver.
- This is the industry standard
- The range is up to 300ft
- Unidirectional pick up pattern
- It’s designed for use with vocals
- There is no RF interference
- Frequency and power lockout
- Mute function
- LCD display for the frequency band and battery life
- Good if you already have a receiver
- Comes with a 2-year limited warranty
- Doesn’t come with a receiver if you need one
Audio-Technica 10 ATW-1102 Wireless Handheld Microphone System
Another popular name in the industry, the Audio-Technica 10 ATW-1102 Wireless System is pretty good quality. You can use up to eight systems simultaneously. It has a range of up to 100ft.
This system does run on 2.4GHz which can cause some issues. But the system uses frequency diversity, time diversity, and space diversity to minimize interference and maximize signal integrity. The unidirectional pickup pattern also minimizes noise. You get up to seven hours of battery life. There is a light that blinks when the batteries are low.
Most people are very happy with the sound quality and frequency response. But there are some complaints that the battery life isn’t the seven hours that Audio-Technica claims and about the bass frequency response and loudness.
- The range is 100ft
- There is frequency diversity, time diversity, and space diversity for better sound quality and minimal interference
- Use up to 8 systems simultaneously
- There is a light to indicate when the batteries are low
- The sound quality is good
- A few complaints about battery life
- Some people had issues with the bass frequency response
- Some complaints about the loudness
Sennheiser XSW 1-835 Dual Channel Wireless Microphone System- Top Quality Multiple Mic System
This is another big name in the industry. The Sennheiser XSW 1-835 Dual Wireless Microphone System gives you two cardioid microphones, a dual channel receiver, 2 x microphone clips, 2 x adapters, and 4 x AA batteries. The microphones have feedback rejection and good SPL (sound pressure level, volume essentially). The frequency response is suitable for vocals and instruments.
This analogue system allows you to use up to 10 systems simultaneously without interference. It runs within the UHF range. The receiver also has squelch to minimize noise. You can choose various frequencies based on which works best for you. It comes with a 2-year warranty in most countries, but not all.
Most people are very happy with the sound and range. There are a few complaints about the battery life and that there is no carry case.
- You get a wireless system with 2 good quality microphones
- It comes with adapters, batteries and microphone clips
- Suitable for vocals and instruments
- Feedback rejection
- Good SPL
- Run up to 10 systems simultaneously
- Good sound quality
- 2-year warranty in most countries
- There are a few complaints about the battery life
- No carry case for this high quality system
There you go. Some great options for every budget. Whether you’re just starting out or in need of professional quality wireless microphones with or without receivers, this list has you covered.
Happy gigging and recording!
Cheanné Lombard lives in the home of one of the new Seven World Wonders, Cape Town, South Africa. She can’t go a day without listening to or making music.
Her love of music started when her grandparents gave her a guitar. It was a smaller version of the full-sized guitars fit for her little hands. Later came a keyboard and a few years after that, a beautiful dreadnought guitar and a violin too. While she is self-taught when it comes to the guitar, she had piano lessons as a child and is now taking violin lessons as an adult.
She has been playing guitar for over 15 years and enjoys a good jam session with her husband, also an avid guitarist. In fact, the way he played those jazzy, bluesy numbers that kindled the fire in her punk rock heart. Now she explores a variety of genres and plays in the church worship group too and with whoever else is up for a jam session.