The XDR95 has a range of 300 feet – that’s an entire football field.
What?! Gone wireless Well, err… yes.
It may seem unusual, since I’ve been
immersed in a boutiquey kind of world
where wireless systems tend to be scoffed
at versus the more organic cable. In fact,
it’s been 20 years since I last used my
cheap little Samson wireless system mounted to my pedalboard. I actually liked the
tone and co mpression that unit had, but
after spilling a beer on the Samson unit,
I’ve stuck with cable ever since.
Recently, Line 6 turned me on to their new
Digital Guitar Wireless System and asked
if I’d like to give it a try on tour. They had
acquired the X2 company, whose digital
technology wireless systems had already
developed a reputation for being totally
transparent, adding no compression or artifacts to the tone. It seemed like a perfect
opportunity to give the system a whirl, as
I’ve been using close to 80 feet of cable
from the pedalboard back to my rig, with
buffer pedals to keep the signal clear.
We have the signal as clean as plugging
straight into the amps with a short cable
– there’s a very clear tone with no signal
loss. Therefore, we would be able to do
a fair, working comparison between cable
and wireless tone.
The first thing I noticed using the XDR95
was the immediate pick attack and pure,
chimey clarity like I’d never heard before.
It wasn’t a synthetic sounding high-end,
but the amp in its purest form – like connecting the guitar to the amp with a 3-foot
cable. My tech and I ran a direct comparison back and forth with cables, and the
highs remained present but slightly rolled
off with a slurred kind of pick attack. It
had sounded fine before, but this roll-off
became noticeable after we A/B’d with the
X2 wireless. We’re using high-end cables
on this tour, so it’s still a favorable tone
– possibly even preferred by some. There is
definitely nothing wrong with a guitar and
cable straight into an amp!
With the wireless, I had to re-adjust my
tone settings on the amps, rolling off some
highs while pronouncing more mids to
avoid being too bright through the PA. I’m
also using a Moollon Line Buffer/DI pedal
with a boost circuit to push the front end
a little, which I had used with the cables
as well. Even after the adjustments, the
tone and attack have remained significantly
improved, with amazing dynamic clarity
and a great feel under the fingers. Over
the course of two weeks, jumping back and
forth between cable and wireless – even in
the middle of a show – I’ve totally adjusted
to the improved tone the Line 6 Digital
Wireless System has afforded me.
Of course, wireless systems do have their
issues, a common one being interference
or dropouts. However, only once so far
have I run into interference problems,
which was at our recent show in London’s
Hyde Park. We were told that it was a common problem with previous shows in the
park; beyond that occasion the unit has
Another issue is battery life. I can’t put a
time frame on it yet, but one thing we’ve
noticed is that the rechargeable batteries
we’ve tried do not seem to sustain well.
They have a very short life, so the unit still
With a street price around $500 for the rack
system ($400 for the XDS-Plus smaller pedal-board-mounted version) it’s a fairly affordable
option for a significant tonal boost.
And needless to say, I can now pirouette
freely across the stage.
is co-founder of 65amps