If you couldn’t tell, we obviously love microphones. They come in many different shapes, sizes and applications. Nowadays, many electronic solutions seem to be gearing more and more towards wireless capabilities. When it comes to our concern, microphones have been wireless for quite a while, but not until recently has technology allowed it to really take off when it comes to overall quality (and completely replacing wired mics when applicable). There are quite a few models out there worth looking at, so today we went through a bunch to pinpoint the top 10 best in the market to help your shopping endeavors. Let’s see what we found.
How wireless microphones work and their benefits
A wireless microphone works by connecting a microphone unit(s) to a wireless receiver/transmitter via radio frequency or digital signal. This allows us to cut out those pesky cables, giving us some obvious conveniences that come with not having to deal with wires. Receivers/transmitters come in different shapes and sizes. Some connect to a 3.5 mm jack and transmit the sound coming from the microphone to speakers/headphones that way, while others sit on a desk or table and hook up to the speaker system via a wire itself.
Microphones can also come in all forms (the most popular being dynamic handheld mics, but we’ve seem some lav too). Which type of receiver/transmitter and/or microphone(s) really depends on your intended uses and needs when it comes to a wireless system. We also recommend Sweet Water’s wireless microphone buying guide for some extra help in learning more about choosing a system, otherwise continue reading for our top picks.
How to choose your wireless microphone
- Your budget – There’s a pretty big range when it comes to the wireless mic market. Some can go for a couple hundred dollars (giving you the top of the line, professional models) while other more affordable models will cost you within the $20 to $40 area. How much are you willing to spend? The more you invest, the higher quality (and longer lasting) the mic will be.
- How many mics? To our surprise, a lot of people researching for a wireless mic system are looking for more than one mic units in their package. This all depends on the next part of our list (intended use). If you’re needing multiple speakers, getting a package that comes with more than one mic unit will save you money. Otherwise, grabbing a high quality, single-unit with a transmitter model will suffice.
- Your intended use – We feel the use is relatively important when attempting to find the right wireless mic system for you. This also correlates with how many mic units you’ll need — have multiple speakers at a seminar? Singers and instrumentalists on stage for a performance? This is also important when determining other needs of your system as well, such as the needed wireless range, power, and more.
- Analog vs. Digital – Analog connects your microphone to the receiver via a radio frequency. Digital receivers (which are more expensive) uses a signal that is typically uninterrupted (like WiFi) to transfer the sound. Both work quite fine, but going digital gives you obvious benefits, albeit with a higher price tag. You can probably get away with an analog unit if you presume you won’t find many frequency interruptions where you’ll be or plan on being in a smaller environment (and also can sacrifice the chances of, although not too likely, your mic cutting out).
The top 10 best wireless microphones on earth
Well, if many of you are aware, the brand name Shure is synonymous with the word microphone. This particular model is the wireless version of the infamous SM58 (which made it’s ranks in our best dynamic microphone article) — it’s considered one of the best microphones of all time (we’ve even seen photos of the president using an SM58). So the unit is great, but what about the transmitting system? The SLX wireless system uses the patented ‘Audio Reference compounding technology’ with a setup that can synchronize automatically. It’s a great choice for performing live music, portable road cases, lecture halls, corporate boardrooms, houses of worship or really any wireless application you can think of. This wireless system is known to have clear transmission with their technology that offers a dynamic range for the microphone. It is contrary to the existing competing systems that are normally restricted with a fixed compression ratio since it uses a variable compression ratio. The result is to eliminate the wireless artifacts in the quiet passage with a superior dynamic range. If you wanted an immediate answer for one of the most solid microphones in the market and only need one unit, take a look at the Shure SLX2/SM58 system and don’t look back — the reviews are too high to think twice.
Sennheiser EW 135
As another one of our favorite brands of all time, this particular wireless microphone has made a name for it’s self through time and use. Senny is big in the headphone world but they’re up there with microphones as well. The EW 135 G3 comes with their e835 cardioid dynamic capsule, a little mic clip in case you need it, as well as an EM100 receiver (rack-mountable if you need to). In terms of build, it’s very sturdy with some metal housing. The bandwidth comes in at 42 MHz — 1680 tunable UHF frequencies (will rarely get any interference, if ever). A few other additives you’ll be getting with this higher-end wireless microphone is illuminated graphic display (both the mic and receiver), an auto-lock function so you don’t accidentally change settings mid-mic use, as well as some HDX compander (companding is a way to process signals — think DBX or Dolby) for amazing sound quality. If you have the budget, the Sennheiser EW 135 is by far one of the best wireless microphones in the market today.
Here’s another one of Shure’s most popular wireless microphones. It usually comes down to this PG58 vs. the previous SM58 listed. This is a wireless microphone with a system that features a dual channel receiver with a pair of transmitters – each one comes with a Shure PG58 mic capsule. The transmitter not only has a PG58 mic capsule but also a reliable and rugged ABS polymer chassis with its frame. Other features include an off and on ergonomic push button switch, a single bi-color and a 10dB pad. It comes with a nice windscreen with a comfortable shape and size. The receiver is the tabletop design and it comes with QuickScan technology that examines a room to identify the different frequencies located there and will then choose the best option. The battery status is shown on the LED screen. We recommend grabbing the Shure BLX288/PG58 over the previous SM58 model if you want two microphone units. It’s a lot more expensive but well worth the money if it’s what you’re looking for.
This is known as one of the best wireless microphones that won’t break your wallet whatsoever. It features a rack mountable VHF base unit and it comes with two mic units. The system is great for smaller live performances on stage, weddings, professional engagements or religious events. We’ve even heard of people use this for karaoke nights and smaller house parties to have some fun over the speakers. The wireless microphone will give the user the mobility and the freedom needed when he has to do energetic and active performances. It’s good for events where multiple speakers are needed and your budget isn’t very high. You’re not getting a crazy digital transmitter with rugged mics like the previous versions listed, but that comes with the price point territory of course — those others are nearly 10x the price of this. We recommend the Pyle-Pro PDWM2100 if you want the best budget-friendly wireless microphone and more than one mic units that’ll serve for smaller and at-home applications.
Here’s another one of Audio-Technica’s highly rated wireless microphones. It has a miniature lavalier condenser mic to use for hands-free needs like newscaster style video, theater, dance and more. It at the same time has a dynamic microphone for the handheld uses like recording videos, talking or singing. It is compact and has an ultra-lightweight transmitter with a receiver that is powered by a single 9V battery. This is one of the best wireless microphones that work in ranges between 100’’ up to 300’’ with the right conditions. It comes with a belt-clip for reliable and quick camera mounting for easier positioning and use. An antenna which is rubber coated and durable can be used in order to get even better reception. The system uses two user-switchable frequencies for an interference free operation. Take a look at the Audio-Technica ATR288W for a model that’s in the middle price-point and may be looking for both a dynamic and lav mic in one package.
Here’s a nice appearance by Sony. This one was pretty high when it came to user ratings so we had to take it into consideration. If you have two people at play here, this mic system lets the user and the operator of the device communicate well, eliminating the need for another intercom system. It’s great for filming, particularly DSLR cameras but any type will suffice. The receiver and the transmitter have a 3.5 mm headphone jack. A belt clip with an armband has been included to easily wear and mount the receiver and the microphone as well. The carrying pouch is used to protect a transmitter and aid in travel. This wireless microphone allows one way communication where it can pick up the voice of one subject so if you’re particularly interviewing, recording a single individual in action or merely want sound isolation in general, take a look at the Sony ECM-AW4 — it’s also a huge plus if you plan on using a video camera alongside of it. It isn’t too expensive, either.
GTD Audio G-380H
This is a wireless microphone system that we highly recommend if you’re not only looking to save some money but also need at least four mic units. The 4 channel receivers and 4 microphones have individual volume controls on every receiver. It can work around a 230 feet or 65 meters range which is a pretty decent amount. It has 1/4 inches for the mixed output with the four XLR individual outputs and has different frequencie options that are available for the user. The microphone units build are of pretty quality considering the price and it is reliable with its 4 Channel VHF and wireless handheld microphone system. It has the technology known as ‘surface mounted technology’, and it provides the quality surface with its mounted components in order to ensure reliability and quality. The GTD Audio G-380H is ideal for professional performance, at home karaoke or church use or any smaller application that asks for numerous speakers at once.
Here’s another Shure model that’s a bit similar to the first wireless mic recommended but still worth it’s own separate review. It features a system for presenters, guitarists, vocalists and more. The series uses the cutting edge 24-bit wireless technology. The microphone has ultra clean performance and easy setup and the system can scan and sync its features to be ready to be used at once. It can work in the range of over 200 feet and you have total freedom when it comes to the wireless usage. The system comes with a handheld microphone and its transmitter. You will always find the right system to fit your needs. Look into the Shure PGXD24/SM58-X8 for another solid choice for those needing a high quality, top of the line wireless microphone and system made by Shure.
Behringer Ultralink ULM100USB
As we near the end of our list, we find some slightly different spins on wireless microphones. We love Behringer for their budget-friendly gear. This brings us some USB connectivity if you’re interested in hooking up that way. The receivers and transmitters are made with state of the art technology, and they can work with a 2.4 GHz frequency band, which is even better than some TV station or cell phone towers or others that lead to problems in wireless zones. When it comes to replacing the batteries in the wireless microphone it’s also pretty easy. These mics have the ULM USB series that ensures that the battery will last for a long period. The system has up and down buttons to set the volume right at the microphone itself. Check out the Behringer Ultralink ULM100USB for yet another solid wireless mic option.
This wireless microphone is used to capture audio to put on audio recorders and video cameras, and it is the most effective solution in many cases of the particular application. It is a lavalier microphone so a bit of a different spin on “wireless microphone”, however if you’re looking for this solution it may be perfect for you. It may be used in different environments like DJ setups, weddings, interviews and more. The receiver has a single channel operation, solid state electronics and it is built with a 1/4″ output jack. The microphone has great quality for the price and it plugs directly into the mono jack of 1/8 inches found on its transmitter. The microphone system has been engineered for low noise coloration and distortion. The system offers a great solution for budget audio needs. As one of the best wireless microphones for it’s kind, the Pyle-Pro PDWM96 mic has both the frequency response and modulation to create solid quality audio. It tops off our list but isn’t necessarily last for a reason. It’s also super cheap.