Features: Shure has introduced the PGX Digital Wireless System, with model PGXD14 geared towards guitar and bass players who want to roam the stage and the audience, or even just their basement practice space, without the hassle of cords getting in their way.
The PGXD14 setup comes in a hard plastic carrying case, with snug-fitting foam inside, making this a good solution for hauling it to gigs or for storage. Inside the case are two major components. First is a wireless receiver, which looks quite similar to common home Wi-Fi routers, with dual antennas and a plug for power. Second is a transmitter with a belt clip, to be worn on your body, and a short instrument cable to connect your instrument to the transmitter.
While the hard case is already a thoughtful and professional touch, the kit also comes with 2 AA batteries to make sure the transmitter can be powered right out of the box, as well as a well-written user's manual. // 10
Sound: Tone and signal loss are the two most commonly heard concerns when discussing wireless kits for instruments or vocals. Some lower-end kits have certainly had issues in these regards, but Shure is known for their professional, road-ready and stage-ready gear around the world, and the PGXD14 does not disappoint. This unit was tested with a Paul Reed Smith 513 guitar, with a POD HD500 modeling unit plugged directly into a JBL EON 515XT powered P.A. speaker, to make sure the full range of tone was being heard. In addition, the signal from the HD500 was also directed to a simple Garage Band setup on an Apple MacBook, for comparison of the guitar tone with and without the wireless kit.
The results were astonishing; no difference was heard, or recorded, when playing through the wireless kit, or when playing direct via instrument cable. Clean or slightly gritty tones from a Fender Blackface style simulation bloomed and sounded deep on single notes or chords, and 80's rock distortion or high-gain Mesa Dual Rectifier-style metal tones sounded full and in your face, with no signal loss even on the most distorted settings.
The unit was tested both up-close, literally standing right next to the receiver, and then walking further away then the length of any average corner pub or bar. Even on the opposite end of the building, the signal came through immediately, with no loss of touch sensitivity, and no change in quality of tone. The test was impressive, and clearly showed a lot of technology and testing must have gone into this system. // 10
Reliability & Durability: This was one area of slight disappointment. When first opening the case, it was a let-down to discover the equipment felt entirely made of cheap plastic, very lightweight and thin. Further, the antennas felt very flimsy, and overall the quality seemed to be on par with Wi-Fi routers and similar home computing gear, which is typically one-third the price of this system. However, the bodypack transmitter did fit well and feel invisible once hooked onto clothes, and the antenna never got in the way of playing or walking or sitting.
Once nice touch is that the power supply does not use a bulky wall-wart' plug, just a Standard 2-pin connection. This makes it ideal for those with challenging cabling setups, which includes most pedalboards or rack systems. With pedals, especially, real estate is at a premium, but rest assured the PGXD14 system will plug right in.
Further, the bodypack transmitter uses Standard AA batteries, versus Custom rechargeable packs. While a hard-rechargeable unit sounds like it would be convenient and save money on replacing batteries, the last thing anyone would want is for the battery to wear out prematurely or go dead without any available replacement unit in the middle of a show or tour. Sticking with Standard AA batteries allows quick changes at any time, and makes it easy to always have backups and replacements ready to go. // 7
Overall Impression: Operating the unit was an incredibly easy exercise. First, power up the receiver, and then put on the transmitter and turn it on. They quickly find each other, and if no signal is heard, the sync button can be pressed to force them to find each other. Once the LED indicates that the two units have been paired, simply turn up the guitar volume and start playing, simple as that! No other changes or maintenance were required, and this is truly a fire-and-forget unit.
Even more importantly, the tone is incredible! The sound was so full and pure, with absolutely nothing lost, it was surprising to discover how far wireless technology has evolved. Shure has come up with a very transparent wireless system, with great sound quality, and great range. While other companies may put out wireless systems for cheaper, Shure's may well be the best. // 10
- Shekhar Dhupelia (c) 2011