The Best Wireless Microphone System Guide - Handheld

The Best Wireless Microphones

Wireless systems are great because they free you up from being stuck in one spot when you're singing or speaking.

Today's wireless systems are relatively free from interference and drop outs, so if the fear of these things happening has been holding you back then there's no longer any need to worry - just ensure you get a system with the range you need.

When we processed each wireless mic system, we found Shure dominated the high Gearank scores, but they're not the only ones below and I've included a section at the bottom for cheaper options.

Things To Consider When Buying A Wireless Microphone System

  • Number of Channels. This determines the maximum number of compatible systems you can use at the same time. For example if you need to use 20 wireless mics then you'd need 20 channels so you can run 20 systems simultaneously.

  • Range. The ranges presented below are for line of sight where you can see the receiver from where you are using the mic. If you are going to have obstacles, such as walking around a crowd of people as you might in a theater restaurant or house of worship, then it's best to get one with at least twice the range as the actual distance to the receiver. For the kinds of gigs most bands play you won't really need to go beyond 150 feet.

  • Receiver Frequency. If you, or someone else nearby, are using other wireless systems for mics or instruments, then be sure to check which frequencies they use and get a new wireless mic system that runs on a different frequency range. You can find the frequency in your manual or printed on the back of your receiver.

  • Analog vs Digital. Theoretically digital systems should provide slightly less noise at long range and slightly better dynamic and frequency response. The reality is that for most music and worship applications the analog systems are rated higher than their more expensive digital cousins - as a result the top ranked systems below are all analog. There is one significant functional difference - if you need to encrypt the signal then you have to go digital, but that's not a concern for most common uses.

The Best Handheld Wireless Microphone Systems

GTD Audio 622H

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 450+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$169
GTD Audio 622H 2x100 Channel UHF Wireless Microphone

GTD Audio gets the top spot in this guide, not because they're the highest quality, but because they offer the best value for money and those who are budget conscious rate this double mic package very highly.

One of the most common positive comments about the GTD Audio 622H system is that the mics, although enclosed in solid plastic rather than metal, have a good weight and feel to them.

The most commonly reported negative is that the second mic has problems with dropouts after a while, although the manufacturer will replace them under warranty.

Feature Overview

  • Mic frequency response: 45Hz to 18kHz
  • Receiver frequency: UHF 610MHz - 680MHz
  • Range: Up to 600 feet / 200 meters
  • Two XLR individual outputs and one 1/4" TRS Mixed output
  • 100 selectable frequencies on each channel
  • Individual volume control on each channel
  • Rack mountable in a standard 19" rack

Most DJs and singers were happy with the sound quality as were those using it in fixed installations such as houses of worship.

This is very much an entry-level system, and some report moving up to more expensive options after using it for some time, still it's hard to beat the extremely low price.

Sennheiser XSW 35-A

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 40+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$400
Sennheiser XSW 35-A Wireless Handheld Vocal Microphone Set

Sennheiser are not only one of the leading brands for regular dynamic mics with models like their famous e835, they've also been producing wireless systems for over 50 years.

In fact this comes with the e835 capsule, so you're getting the same high quality mic in a wireless system.

The main things that reviewers praised this mic for were the quality of the sound, the range, and the consistency of performance without drop outs.

There were no issues that were consistently reported as negatives by owners. There were a few negative reports, but those were primarily from a small group of users who compared it to more expensive Shure models.

Feature Overview

  • Mic frequency response: 80Hz to 16kHz
  • Receiver frequency - can be bought in the following UHF bands:
    • A: 548MHz to 572MHz
    • B: 614MHz to 638MHz
  • Range: Up to 250 feet
  • Balanced XLR and non-balanced 1/4" output
  • 12 coordinated channels in each of the 8 frequency banks
  • Rack mountable 1U (half-rack)

Most of the people who reviewed the Sennheiser XSW 35-A said they used it either for singing or for fixed installations in houses of worship.

Shure SLX24/SM58

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 50+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$599
Shure SLX24/SM58 Handheld Wireless Microphone System

This features the same capsule as the famous Shure SM58 which is the most popular wired vocal dynamic mic in use today.

Owners who reviewed it were very positive about both the sound quality and the ease of use - particularly the automatic syncing function.

I was unable to find any consistent complaints about the SLX24/SM58.

The SLX receiver is Shure's mid-range analog receiver which has 960 selectable frequencies and can work with up to 20 compatible wireless microphones.

Feature Overview

  • Mic frequency response: 50Hz to 15kHz
  • Receiver frequency - can be bought in the following UHF bands:
    • G4: 470MHz to 494MHz
    • G5: 494MHz to 518MHz
    • H5: 518MHz to 542MHz
    • J3: 572MHz to 596MHz
    • L4: 638MHz to 662MHz
  • Range: Up to 300 feet
  • Balanced XLR and non-balanced 1/4" output
  • 12 channels available in all areas with up to 20 channels in regions that allow it.
  • Rack mountable 1U (half-rack)

If you want a Shure SM58 system and you won't need to expand beyond using 12 of them, then go for the cheaper Shure BLX24R/SM58 below.

Shure BLX24R/SM58

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 40+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$399
Shure BLX24R/SM58 Handheld Wireless Microphone System

This provides you with the same SM58 microphone capsule as the SLX system above, but comes in at a lower price because it's using the BLX range of receivers which only provide 96 selectable frequencies and can only be used with a maximum of 12 compatible systems simultaneously.

If you are mainly going to be using your wireless mics in a typical band setting then this is the better Shure option to go for because you won't need to expand beyond 12 mics.

There were very few negative comments from reviewers with the only issue coming up several times was that it only has an on/off switch with no mute button.

Feature Overview

  • Mic frequency response: 50Hz to 15kHz
  • Receiver frequency - can be bought in the following UHF bands:
    • H8: 518MHz to 542MHz
    • H9: 512MHz to 542MHz
    • H10: 542MHz to 572MHz
    • J10: 584MHz to 608MHz
    • K12: 614MHz to 638MHz
    • M15: 662MHz to 686MHz
  • Range: Up to 300 feet
  • Balanced XLR and non-balanced 1/4" output
  • 12 channels.
  • Rack mountable 1U (half-rack)

This is the lowest priced rack mountable wireless system currently with a Shure SM58 mic capsule - the BLX24/SM58 is the same other than the fact it's not rack mountable, making it $50 cheaper - check availability at Amazon.com.

Shure BLX288/PG58

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$549
Shure BLX288/PG58 Dual Handheld Wireless Microphone System

Shure have combined their budget dual BLX receiver with their budget PG58 microphone to produce an affordable 2 mic system.

The Shure PG58 mic capsule is a step down from the SM58 in terms of ruggedness, while many people on forums debate whether or not the sound quality is nearly as good as an SM58. The debate is open, but the majority opinion is that the PG58 sounds good, just not quite as good as the SM58.

Most of the positive reviews centered around the quality of the mic when compared to other cheaper dual systems as well as the battery life of the transmitters.

There were few consistent negatives reported, only that a few buyers found a difference in EQ and sonic tone between the 2 mics, and some complained that it doesn't have a mute button.

Feature Overview

  • Mic frequency response: 60Hz to 15kHz
  • Receiver frequency - can be bought in the following UHF bands:
    • H8: 518MHz to 542MHz
    • H9: 512MHz to 542MHz
    • J10: 584MHz to 608MHz
    • K12: 614MHz to 638MHz
    • M15: 662MHz to 686MHz
  • Range: Up to 300 feet
  • Balanced XLR and non-balanced 1/4" output
  • 12 channels.

This is the cheapest way to get two Shure wireless mics.

Lower Cost Wireless Mic Options

The systems above were the ones with the highest Gearank score, however if you're on a tight budget then here are some worthy 'runners up' that you might like to take a look at:

  • Audio-Technica System 10

    At just under $300 this is a worthwhile system to look at from a company that generally makes some very good microphones of all types - read more at Amazon.com

  • AKG WMS40 MINI2 Dual

    This system provides 2 mics for just under $200 and although this isn't a top of the range product it does come from AKG who are a very respectable microphone brand - read more at Amazon.com

  • VocoPro UHF-5805 - 4 Mics

    This VocoPro system has a Gearank score hovering around 80 which is a bit lower than all the other's mentioned above, but getting 4 mics for only about $530 means they maintain a healthy share of the market - read more at Amazon.com

Summary

Like with most things in life, you get what you pay for. The cheaper systems tend to have lower spec'd mic capsules, while the more expensive ones tend to have mics that are well respected in sound reinforcement circles.

If you have any questions or comments please post them below and one of us here at Gearank will respond.

Comments

Hi, I would like to buy a

Hi, I would like to buy a system for primary school performances where as many children as possible can wear lavalier microphones and their voices are broadcast to the audience. Any help much appreciated.

We would need more

We would need more information before we can offer any advice.

What is the main use the system will be for - plays, musical theater, choir?

How many children do you want to mic?

Do you already have a PA System, and if so, how many input channels does it have for microphones?

Hi, what's the best option of

Hi, what's the best option for wireless microphones, headset type, for live singing? Thanks.

Hi!

Hi!

My question is similar to Karen's. I run a Drama Club and I have approximately $556 to spend on wireless microphones. My District recommends Shure and they are great. I already run 4 Audio Technica sets (3 lavolier and 1 handheld) systems... I believe the lavolier are ATW-310s? Don't quote me on that. Anyways, I want to get the best bang for my buck and put as many as I can on stage without feedback destroying my speakers. The most important thing is range and mic sensitivity. We don't sing into it really so that's not that important.

The space is a typical elementary school gym. The stage is built adjacent to the gym but it sucks up sound due to carpeting and a thick curtain and sound absorbing retractable door panels. The speakers are ceiling mounted (I know, not ideal for theater). The system itself is rack-mounted behind a brick wall in a closet approximately...30-50 feet from the stage. I've had no problem with mic drop out as long as the mics are rack mounted. Those plugged into my xlr floor jacks on the other hand...

Thoughts?

We haven't done a guide on

We haven't done a guide on wireless headset systems with bodypack transmitters yet, but it is on the list of topics we're considering.

Hi, I have a Shure Lavalier

Hi, I have a Shure Lavalier BLX4 receiver and BLX1 body pack. I need a better Wireless handheld for toasts and such, but also more than 1 for karaoke. Is the PG58 double good enough, or should I get the 24SM58 single? If I get the single, can I pair another one later? Can I put any to my lavalier receiver and avoid getting either? Essentially, I'm willing to pay a little more to eventually have the fewest receivers and best mic's (in this range) over time. Does that all make sense? Please advise.

The PG58 receiver will be

The PG58 receiver will be fine for handling both singing and speeches.

If you go with a single receiver then you can add an extra one later but that will cost more in the long run, my preference would be to go the other way.

I want to upgrade my current

I want to upgrade my current array of 12 wireless microphones to 24. I have a sound board that supports that many channels. Do I need any other equipment to make sure there is no interference other than making sure my frequencies don't overlap?

I've never run that many

I've never run that many wireless mics at the same time, but the principal should still be the same - if they're on different frequencies then you shouldn't have a problem.

Looking for a REALLY basic

Looking for a REALLY basic plug & play system. To be used on an athletic field, receiver in a building 100' from mic. Ideally receiver has jacks for external antenna, (Metal building) and a SIMPLE single channel mic. (The last unit always had issues syncing mic and receiver.) Many different high school kids and parents using, so idiot proof simplicity is essential.

I can't suggest anything that

I can't suggest anything that is completely 'idiot proof' because if the receiver's not protected from passers-by they can turn it off or change settings while it's in use, and if you forget to replace the mic's batteries as needed then you'll also have problems.

With those caveats in mind, I believe you would be best served by the Shure BLX24R/SM58. It's relatively easy to use, rack-mountable and the receiver has BNC connectors for both antennas. Avoid the cheaper non rack-mountable BLX24 receiver because it doesn't have the antenna connector you need.

BTW - Although I could be wrong, I don't think there are any good single channel systems with BNC antenna connectors.

Looking to do Karoke in a

Looking to do Karoke in a catering space with a dance floor that is about 20x20. Already have Samson live!615 speakers.

Would either of these wireless mics be ok?
Stage v466 - Quad Vocal Wireless System - B Band or Samson Stage 200.

thanks,
Gary

Neither of those two systems

Neither of those two systems made our short-list when we did the original research for this guide so we haven't kept any data on them. The systems listed above are the ones that we currently recommend.

Which is the best Wireless

Which is the best Wireless microphone you would recommend for a lead vocalist in a live band that plays both in and outdoors?

All of the systems featured

All of the systems featured above will work just fine for your purposes - if you go for the GTD Audio 622H then you'll have a spare mic should you ever need it.

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