Dec 222010

We recently added a couple of the new Line 6 XD-V70 wireless mics to our live show setup. Added to the previous Line 6 XDR955 that we already had, we now have three wireless mics for all three singers in our band. These are all digital wireless units (as opposed to using analog frequencies like the standard Shure’s & Sennheiser’s). Line 6 claims that this means you will not run into the frequency issues that seem to plague some analog wireless devices (such as the FCC selling off the 700mhz spectrum recently).

I’m not going to go into all the speeds and feeds of these mics but instead I would like to concentrate on how they fit into a live environment and our experience with them so far. For all the specific details you should take a look at the Line 6 website.

I received the XD-V70′s the day of a gig…so of course we thought we’d try them out that night (we like living on the edge). Setup was very simple. Basically you turn on the mic transmitter and the receiver and they work. There’s not a lot of messing around with frequencies or anything like that. You will need to make sure that each mic is on its own channel (out of the 12 available on the V70). That’s as simple as hitting a button up or down on the receiver and slightly more challenging on the mic since the buttons are a bit hard to depress unless you have small fingers. But, overall it was a simple setup and easily achievable while we were setting up for the gig.

The half size rack unit is dead simple with an XLR or 1/4″ connector out the back and a couple of Antenna connectors. Multiple units can be daisy chained together to utilize the same antennas. There is an included connector to combine two half size rack units into a full size (1U) rack. This is a great idea, but I found it quite difficult to do in practice. The plastic joiner piece seems to be a bit too big for the slots that it is designed to be inserted into. I struggled with it for a while, then got a hammer out and pounded it into place….I hate having to use a hammer to setup my gear. The antennas can be configured to come out the front of your rack with the included half size plate, but plan on this extra space when designing your rack.

In use, we found that there was zero static or interference in the club environment or at our practice facility (where we quite often have interference with analog signals). The mics sound quite good. Not nearly as good as my Heil, but to my ears as good as any other wireless mic I’ve ever used. They have several modeled mic sounds to choose from, but we found we liked the L6 (Line6) model the best. The mic capsule is designed to be screwed off and replaced with another mic capsule if you prefer. I plan on replacing mine with the Heil PR35 capsule in the near future (Heil has designed a capsule especially for this purpose), but in the meantime I’m perfectly content with the sound I get from the Line 6 stock capsule.

The mics themselves have a good look, feel and weight to them. Which was a much needed improvement compared to the feel of the previous generation XDR955. The batteries are reasonably easy to change, although I wouldn’t want to do it in the middle of a set, so make sure you have fresh batteries. Again this is a big improvement over the XDR955 which is a complete pain in the ass to change batteries (this alone would keep me from buying that particular unit again). The battery life on the XD-V70 has been surprisingly good. I’ve used mine at a four hour show (turning it off between sets) and two 3 hour rehearsals and they were still going strong. We use the Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries. They work great.

We really love being wireless. Quicker setup and teardown time for both live shows and rehearsals. Yeah, I know it’s only a few cables, but it really does make a difference to us. Plus it helps to create a cleaner stage environment. One of the big reasons for us to go wireless is that we do a lot of opening shows for major acts. Having our own wireless helps us to get on and off the stage quicker. It makes our band easier to work with for the sound company and stage hands and can shave minutes off our setup and tear down time between acts. Getting off the stage quick is critical to be a successful opening act.

I would not hesitate to purchase the XD-V70 again or recommend it to any of my musician friends. It’s quite a bargain at around $499 (it’s smaller sibling is $399…we haven’t tried that one yet). You can find the XDR-955 for $299, but I wouldn’t bother unless you really can’t come up with the extra money for one of the newer units (don’t get me wrong, it sounds just fine….it’s just not well engineered or built great). If you’re strapped for cash, but want one of the new mics you could look at either SweetWater or AmericanMusical, both of them offer to break up your purchases into 3 payments without even applying for a credit account. Worth looking into if you really need a new piece of gear.

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