Best Wireless Microphones 2020: Live Performances, Concerts, Karaoke - Rolling Stone
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The Best Wireless Microphones For At-Home Karaoke and Live Performances Alike

Cut the cord and go wireless for your next big presentation or performance

Wireless microphone with Receiver ; Shutterstock ID 1027406080; Purchase Order: 2534; Job: mic; Client/Licensee: spy

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Whether you’re belting out the classics at a karaoke party, recording your own material, or playing a live show, you’re probably going to need a microphone. The best wireless microphones will give you more freedom to move around without being restricted by a cable, which can pop out of your amp or recording interface if you make a sharp, sudden movement.

A good wireless mic also comes in handy for conferences, speeches and presentations, where you want to move around the room to interact with the crowd, or free yourself up to operate a projector or props, without getting tangled up in wires.

Wireless microphones come in two parts: the microphone itself, and a wireless receiver. The size and shape of the receiver varies, but the two connect to each other via a UHF (ultra high frequency) signal. This is a standard used by many pieces of audio and video gear, including old school TVs, so the connection should be rock solid. You may experience some dropouts or irregularities if you put a physical object (think piano or the wall of a vocal booth) between the microphone and receiver though so be aware of that.

What You Need to Know Before Buying a Wireless Microphone

There are many factors to think about when choosing the right wireless microphone for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.

Range: The biggest benefit to using a wireless microphone is the freedom to be untethered from a cable, but a short wireless range is just as constricting. We made sure to pick microphones that can work from at least 65 feet away to avoid this pitfall.

Frequencies: Wireless microphones all use UHF to send their signal to their receiver, but we chose ones that allow you to change their frequency to avoid interruptions from other wireless signals in your house, like the one coming from your WiFi router.

Battery Life: Wireless microphones all run on battery power, and our picks work for at least six hours per charge, which is enough to get you through a rehearsal, show, or long karaoke night.

Wired vs. Wireless: The one downside to using a wireless microphone over a wired one is latency, a fancy word for lag. There will be a few milliseconds of latency between when you start singing and when you’ll hear your vocals from the speakers. It’s virtually imperceptible, but it’s there. This isn’t the fault of wireless microphones — all wireless gadgets, from Bluetooth headphones to wireless keyboards and mice have some level of latency. This isn’t a deal breaker, just something to be aware of.

  

1. Phenyx Pro UHF Cordless Mic Set

Phenyx’s Wireless Microphone System is a great choice for smaller bands who want a little more freedom to perform, or for at-home karaoke parties.

The microphones have a maximum range of 250 feet, and can cycle through 200 UHF frequencies, which you can switch between on each microphone. This extended range and number of frequency options virtually eliminates the chances of wireless interference or dropouts if there’s no physical barrier between the microphone and receiver. Each microphone runs on a pair of AAA batteries, and lasts for up to 16 hours.

The receiver is 17.6 inches long and 12.2 inches wide, so you’ll need some dedicated space to set it up. Two antennas on top allow it to maintain a steady connection to the microphone, and an LCD screen displays which frequencies each mic is on. You can adjust the volume for each microphone using two knobs on the front, which is a nice touch.

You can connect the receiver to a pair of PA speakers (the type used at concert venues) via two balanced XLR outputs on the back. There’s also an unbalanced 1/4 inch output to connect the receiver to a mixer. Phenyx says these microphones were not designed for recording, though, so only consider them if you’re interested in using them for live performances.

If you’re starting to host people for late night sing-offs, or have become one of the techs at a local music venue, this set of wireless microphones are an excellent option.

Pros: Extended range, a lot of UHF frequency choices to reduce the chances of wireless interference.

Cons: Cannot be used for recording.

Phenyx Pro UHF Cordless Mic Set

Courtesy Amazon

Amazon

  

2. TONOR Wireless Handheld Mic

TONOR’s Wireless Handheld Mic is a great wireless microphone for single performers, and its Bluetooth mode makes it compatible with a lot more devices.

It has a range of 65 feet, which should be more than sufficient unless you’re playing a show with a large stage (again, putting a physical barrier between the microphone and receiver may cause a spottier connection). The receiver is a small box that terminates into a 1/4 inch plug, which allows you to connect it directly to an amp or recording interface.

You can switch between 10 different UHF frequencies to avoid wireless interference, and cycle through them by pressing a pair of buttons on the microphone. TONOR says not to use more than one of these microphones in the same room, so it may be a little sensitive to interference in UHF mode.

If you want to connect the microphone to your computer (Mac or PC) or smartphone (iOS or Android), you can switch to the receiver’s Bluetooth mode. Bluetooth is less susceptible to wireless interference, and allows you to use this microphone to record vocal demos in an app like Voice Memos on your phone.

TONOR says this wireless microphone gets between six and eight hours of usage per charge, and takes two to three hours to recharge via MicroUSB. That’s a little lower than the battery life of the other microphones we recommend, but you’ll still be able to get through a long recording session or show without having to worry.

If you’re looking for a wireless microphone designed to connect to all of your devices without much hassle, this is your best choice.

Pros: UHF and Bluetooth modes to maximize compatibility, compact receiver.

Cons: You may experience some interference in UHF mode if you’re around other wireless devices.

TONOR UHF Wireless Microphone

Courtesy Amazon

Amazon

  

3. Shure BLX288/PG58 Dual Channel Wireless Microphone

If sound quality is your main concern, Shure’s Dual Channel Wireless Microphone System is the audiophile’s choice.

The system has a maximum range of 300 feet, and uses an custom “automatic frequency selector” to make the most stable connection possible between the microphones and receiver. Each microphone runs on a pair of AA batteries, which Shure says last up to 14 hours. An LED on the microphones will turn from green to red when there’s only an hour’s worth of battery left, so you’ll always know when to change up.

The receiver is 19.6 inches long and 16.4 inches wide, so you’ll need a fair amount of space to put it. This was a piece of equipment designed for a studio, not a living room. It has both XLR and a 1/4 inch output, so it can connect to PA systems and mixers, but no Bluetooth mode. Shure doesn’t say whether or not you can use this wireless microphone system to record music, but it’s definitely built for live environments.

Shure says the PG58 microphones offer the “professional quality” sound it’s known for, and its track record among musicians is almost unparalleled. Shure says these microphones have a tailored frequency response, which allows them to accentuate the sound of live vocals. You may not need this level of fidelity for everyday use, but serious live performers will notice the difference immediately.

If you want to upgrade your touring gear, and free yourself from some cables during rehearsals without losing the fear of losing audio quality, this is the set of wireless microphones you want.

Pros: Professional quality microphone system designed for serious musicians.

Cons: May be overkill for casual use.

Shure BLX288/PG58 Dual Channel Wireless Microphone System 2

Courtesy Amazon

Amazon

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