Hands-On Review:At last, price relief for those in need of wireless that really works!
By Brent Schofield
There are two classes of wireless: high-end and low-end. When The Rolling Stones hit the stage on their "40 Licks" tour, they are unwired to the hilt, playing on the good stuff high-end Sony systems. We ordinary mortals most often use low-end wireless systems. Typical low-end systems operate on VHF frequencies, are affordable, and have proliferated because everybody wants wireless.
Everyone would have a high-end Sony system if they could afford it. Not all of us can, so we've settled for the lesser kind. These work, most of the time, in small venues that are free of competing nearby systems and broadcast stations. But because most operate on VHF frequencies, they are more susceptible to interference. They can have dropout difficulties, too, and they usually have those boombox-style chromed aerials with the life expectancy of a housefly. Still, we accept these problems and keep using them because we love wireless. Once free you can't go back to the chains.
Times are a-changin'
With their new UWP systems Sony has taken a big step toward making high-quality wireless reasonably accessible to everyone. UWP-Series systems are pro quality, feature-laden, and employ many of the same advanced technologies Sony uses in their high-end systems. What's news is a low price, or at least a much lower price. For the first time, real-deal Sony wireless is within the affordable range. What's more is that UWP-Series systems operate on UHF frequencies that are generally less prone to interference and give you better audio performance with greater stability than VHF models.
With a UWP you get a system you can count on to perform reliably, to not embarrass you with ill-timed dropouts or interference chatter, and to last. The half-rack Tuner Receiver is a solid little unit, not at all flimsy feeling. It has short, flexible antennas that won't snap off and a display you can see easily from a little distance. The beltpack transmitter and mic transmitter are also ruggedly constructed, made to hold up under heavy stage use. They are equipped with features such as an LCD display that gives you full feedback-frequency setting, output level,and battery and reception status.
In typical low-end systems, the microphone itself is often a weakness. In Sony's Handheld UWP, the mic/transmitter is first of all an excellent vocal mic-dynamic, unidirectional, with a frequency response of 50Hz to 18kHz and a great sound. Built-in attenuation makes it adjustable for different voices.
UWP systems excel in transmission and reception stability. Sony has achieved this with a combination of advanced technologies. First and foremost is multichannel operation. With each unit having a range of operating frequencies available for selection by the user, one can easily find a channel setting that is clear of potential interference. Additionally, each system is available in two different frequency ranges so you can select the one that has the most open frequencies in your area.
Another advanced technology is Sony's PLL (Phase Locked Loop), a frequency synthesis system which provides especially accurate carrier signal frequencies in both transmitter and receiver. It results in superior stability within the system.
Sony's Space Diversity Reception circuitry further enhances stability of reception. It provides dual antennas and input circuits that receive the signal from two slightly different directions. The receiver then monitors both RF signals and automatically selects the stronger of the two for output, thus minimizing dropout.
The UWP system also has squelch control circuitry, usually available only in much more costly high-end systems. Its purpose is to eliminate ambient noise and intermodulation. It's rather ingenious. Each sending unit transmits a tone signal along with its main transmission. The receiver's squelch circuitry recognizes this tone and will only receive the regular signal when it finds the tone. Transmissions without this signal tone, even if they are on the same frequency, will be ignored. Its functioning is completely automatic.
Because of the UWP selectable frequency range and squelch function, as many as 16 units can be used simultaneously. Low-end systems only let you use two or three at best. And the UWP makes setup of multiple systems easier by programming the units with sets of optimum combinations of intermodulation-free frequencies for quick selection.
The Sony UWP Systems give you high-level performance comparable to their established pro models, yet cost only about half as much. If it's your time to upgrade, pedal your old wireless, wash a few cars, bum some bucks from your folks... do what you have to get into a Sony UWP System. You'll be glad you spent a little more for a whole lot better system. Order one from Musician's Friend today.
- Stable UHF transmission and reception
- User-selectable operating frequencies
- PLL Synthesis for stable carrier frequency
- Space Diversity system for stable RF reception
- Angle-adjustable tuner antennas to help eliminate signal dropout
- Tone-squelch function virtually eliminates ambient noise and unwanted signals
- Tuner equipped with both XLR (balanced) and 1/4" phone (unbalanced) outputs
- XLR output can be switched between Line and Mic levels
- LCD screen displays operating channel frequency and number, plus output and reception status
- Green LED indicator lights when RF signals appropriately received
- Stereo headphone jack with monitor volume control
- Tuner supplied with AC adapter