Benchmark: AKG WMS 60 Wireless Microphone System

Diversity is the Spice of Life

Wireless microphone systems are popular with advanced videographers who want a microphone close to the action, but who are working in a situation where running a cable would be either technically difficult, or a faux paux. AKG Acoustics’ WMS 60 Wireless Microphone System is a VHF diversity system designed for the advanced videographer, particularly those shooting event video.

What you Get in the System

The AKG WMS 60 System that we tested consisted of three main parts. The first and largest part is the SR 60 receiver. This unit is a rack-mountable box that requires AC power to operate. The next piece is the PT 60 bodypack transmitter. This small unit clips onto a subject’s belt, and requires a pair of AA batteries. The final piece of the system is the C 417 L lavalier microphone. This mike plugs into the PT 60 bodypack and the bodypack supplies power to it.

The first important feature of this system is that it is a diversity system. This means that there are two antennas for receiving the wireless signal from the transmitter. If one of the antenna’s locations is in a spot where interference is a problem, the SR 60 will automatically change antennas to the get a better signal. The receiver has two outputs in the back, both XLR and 1/4-inch. This means that you will be able to attach it to your camcorder or mixing board. You will, however, have to use an adapter to switch the connection to the mini jack that is found on most consumer gear.

The PT 60 bodypack transmitter works perfectly for attaching lavalier microphones. It uses two AA batteries, so it’s mobile, and it’s small enough (like most wireless bodypack transmitters) to hide from view. The system we tested also included the C 417 L lavalier microphone. This tiny microphone has an excellent flat frequency response, and is perfect for use in video applications. Most videographers will never bother rack-mounting the unit, but all of the mounting hardware is packaged in the box if that is what you have in mind for the WMS 60. Now that you have an idea of what you get in the box, let’s take a look at how it worked when we used it.

The WMS 60 in Action

We tested the WMS 60 with the Edirol A-6 digital multi audio station (reviewed in this issue). Setting up the unit was easy. It was simply a matter of running a cable to the mixer, plugging the AC adapter into the receiver, inserting the batteries and plugging the microphone into the transmitter. The whole process took less than five minutes from beginning to end.

Once the unit was set up, we attached the lavalier and bodypack to our test subject and sent him wandering through the VM Lab while we monitored the reception through headphones. The receiver has a pair of LED lights on the front of the unit that signal which of the antennas is active. While the subject was close to the unit, the receiver had to use only one antenna, but as the subject moved further away, the receiver had to switch antennas to keep the signal. The WMS 60 worked everywhere in our testing lab, and kept giving a strong signal even when our test subject left the building, and headed several yards down the street.

The whole unit provided crisp sound, completely suitable for use in video. The downside to the system was that it used the VHF band for transmission and the receiver required AC power. Although we didn’t have any trouble with outside interference, in some parts of the country (particularly large cities) the VHF band is crowded, and the WMS 60 might be subject to interference from other sources. This is bad, because nobody wants their video’s audio track intermittently interrupted with truckers on the CB, or neighbors on portable telephones. As for the receiver accepting only AC power, it isn’t much of a problem for videographers working indoors, close to electrical outlets. However, if you plan on using a wireless in the field, away from AC power, this isn’t the wireless system for you.

Another downside for the camcorder user is that the receiver is designed to sit on a tabletop. We would have preferred to have seen a smaller receiver that could mount on a camcorder’s hotshoe. If your camcorder does not have an accessory mount, however, the shoe-mount design would offer no benefit anyway.

AKG built a fine wireless system in the WMS 60. It sounds good, has a diversity receiver and a variety of channels to choose from. If you use a rack, you can mount it with the rest of your audio gear. If you’re looking for a wireless system to use where you have AC power available, the WMS 60 is a contender.

Tech Specs: AKG WMS 60 Wireless Microphone System with PT 60 Bodypack Transmitter

System: 15-channel diversity VHF transmitter and receiver

Transmitting Frequency: between 138MHz-250MHz

Output: balanced XLR switchable between microphone and line levels, unbalanced 1/4-inch jack

Frequency Response: 50-20,000Hz

Power: receiver 120v AC, transmitter 2xAA batteries

Tech Specs: AKG C 417 L Lavalier Microphone

Physical Type: lavalier

Transducer: condenser

Pickup Pattern: omnidirectional

Frequency Response: 20-20,000Hz

Sensitivity: 10 mV/Pa (-40 dBV)

Output impedance: 200 [OMEGA Symbol for Ohms]

Max SPL: 118dB (less than 1% THD)

Dimensions: 0.3 x 0.6-inches

Weight: 0.3 ounces

Strengths:

  • diversity system
  • good frequency response
  • rackmountable

Weaknesses:

  • VHF
  • receiver only uses AC-power
  • a bit expensive

Summary:

A great rack-mountable diversity wireless system, though it is a bit expensive.

AKG WMS 60 VHF Diversity Wireless Microphone System with the PT 60 Bodypack Transmitter and C 417 L Lavalier Microphone

($654)

AKG Acoustics

1449 Donelson Pike

Nashville, TN 37217

(615) 360-0499

www.akg-acoustics.com

Videomaker
The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.

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