In this day and age, everything is going wireless. From our internet connection to our headphones, cutting the cord is more the norm than the exception. But when it comes to rocking out, plugging in continues to rule supreme. Sure, professional musicians use wireless systems all the time, but it remains uncommon with the rest of us weekend warriors. I get it -- tone is king and you can't expect a wireless system to match the fidelity of an analog signal traveling through a physical cable, at least not without a huge investment and some headaches along the way. But is that really true? With that in mind, we decided to get up close and personal with Line 6 Wireless Relay series, from the entry-level G10 to the top of the line G90. If you’ve had your eye on a wireless system but simply didn’t know enough to take the plunge, read on.
Coming in as the least expensive option in the Line 6 Relay line, the G10 is as small and straightforward as a wireless transmitter gets -- which can be a positive or a negative depending on your preferences. In other words, if you’re not looking to spend more than $200 and all you want is wireless connectivity, and no extras to speak of, the G10 offers just that. Once charged and paired, it's essentially plugged and play -- definite bonus points for simplicity. Battery life comes in at 8 hours of continuous use and 200 hours of standby time which is good enough for a gig a few practice sessions, but the fact that it’s rechargeable makes it less of an issue. The range, though, could be better. The G10 is rated for a maximum of range of 50 feet when given a clear line of sight. As for the sound and actual user experience, it was actually pretty good as long as you stay within range. At about 7 feet away from the receiver, I didn’t experience any signal loss or a noticeable amount of tone compression. It wasn’t until I went into another room (and farther than I would ever step away from my amp) that I began to lose connection. Put it this way -- even at this comparatively short range, it still provides more freedom than a 10-foot cable, which is what a wireless system is all about.
If the lack of extra features and okay range of the G10 doesn’t sound too appealing, the G30 is actually a decent upgrade for not that much more cash. If you’re willing to spend an extra 20, the G30 will give you about twice the range (coming in at a max of 98 feet), the ability to switch between 5 different channels in the 2.4 GHz range and a guitar cable tone emulator. If that last one sounds a little strange, it essentially tries to mimic the tone you would get from using either a 15 foot or 30-foot cable by means of some slight EQ. The effect itself isn’t too pronounced, but enough that I knew to keep it on 15. Unfortunately, that extra $20 doesn’t get you all good news. Unlike the G10, the G30 requires actual batteries -- two AA to be exact -- which will net you the exact same 8 hours of battery life. It’s definitely a sore spot in what would have otherwise been a no-brainer upgrade from the G10. That aside, the extended range of the G30 is immediately apparent. The sound was spot on as well. As much as I tried listening for small peculiarities in the tone, I just couldn’t find any, at least not while in the same room as the receiver. One thing I will say is to be careful about dropping the belt pack. While it doesn’t feel particularly cheap or delicate, it doesn’t feel tough as nails either.
If the two options above seem a little too bare in terms of features or range and you don't mind putting down a bit more money for something better, the G55 is a significant step up in the Relay line. Featuring an effective range of 300 feet, 12 channels, signal encryption for less noise interference and a premium, professional build, the G55 is definitely a wireless system for players that aren't messing around. First and foremost, the sound quality and range are superb. While I didn't have any complaints about the sound I got from the G30, I was getting the same fidelity and strength from the G55 two rooms away (if I went any farther I would have ended up outside) as I did with the G30 next to its receiver. In a live setting, I could easily see the G55 having no trouble keeping a clear and consistent sound even as you walk from end to end on a big stage. And speaking of build, both the receiver and bodypack are a huge upgrade, as both have been fitted with aluminum bodies that give them a tough and premium feel. Unfortunately, the upgraded body-pack still runs on AA batteries and still features the same 8-hour battery life.
If you were going by specs alone, it might not seem like there are any differences between the G55 and the G90 besides the rackmount form factor ... and a higher price tag. They both feature the same 300-foot range, 12 selectable channels, full signal encryption, 118 dB of effective dynamic range, studio-quality sound... so why the higher price? Well, you can't discount the build quality. While the G55 is a nice looking piece of tech, nothing says professional music gear like a solid, metal rackmount unit. But looks aside, the devil is in the details. Unlike the G55, the G90 uses of 4 antennas and has transmitter A/B switching. So while the apparent sound quality is the same, the tech in the G90 is definitely a step up, meaning greater reliability. That's not to say that the G55 is not dependable -- it has outstanding range and signal reliability -- but if you're a professional looking for the best of the best, top of the line stuff, the G90 is it.
Final Thoughts ...
If you’re new to the world of wireless receivers and are looking to get your feet wet with a low-priced but capable system -- and not expecting to be able to run through a crowd while pulling off a sick solo -- I wholeheartedly recommend either the G10 and the G30. They are both work great as long as you don't plan on straying too far from the receiver. Out of the two, the extended range of the G30 makes it a better choice, despite the need for batteries. If you have a bit more leeway in the budget department and want a premium system, the upgrade to either the G55 or G90 is worth the cash. As far as which one is better, the answer is not as easy. The G90 is clearly the better system, so it all comes down to whether or not you feel the extra reliability and rackmount build is worth the extra money. But whatever choice you make, one thing is for sure -- there's no better time to cut the chord.
If you have any questions regarding the purchase of any of the Line 6 Wireless Relay systems above or any other piece of gear we carry, don't hesitate to chat with one of our friendly PAL pros by using the live chat feature below or by calling us toll-free at 1 877-671-2200.
Your Turn to Sound Off!
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