When I was asked if I would demo and review the Line 6 XD-V70 digital wireless system, even though I wasn’t very familiar with the product, I was curious to see how it worked.
The new digital technology operates in the 2.4GHz band and has great potential in changing the way wireless mics send audio. It removes interference issues caused by TV stations and other high power sources in the analog RF spectrum by operating in the same bandwidth as WIFI and Bluetooth devices. In my opinion, any technology that relieves the already crowded analog RF spectrum is a welcome change.
With that being said, it does not open up tons of extra channels, only 12 systems are allowed to be operated at a time. This is adequate for many churches and small venues, but will probably leave out the larger ones.
However it can be used in addition to TV Band UHF devices, so if you run out of channels with your analog TV Band system you can add an additional (extra) 12 Line 6 channels. It is a license-free technology that can go anywhere in the world. If you travel overseas or out of the U.S. there is no need for frequency coordination and licensing. Since it operates in the 2.4GHz band there are no FCC or international laws or restrictions. Line 6 also claims that their new digital encoding process makes it impossible to have audio interference from the WIFI, Bluetooth and cordless phone devices that also operate in the 2.4GHz band.
The XD-V70 uses a 24-bit digital conversion process that eliminates the need for a companding operation present in all analog RF mics. Basically, instead of transmitting audio over RF, “data” is transmitted. The A-to-D is done in the mic or beltpack, and from there on out the audio is data. Since data can be error corrected, this assures no audio degradation. The error correction does however mean that things must be processed, which in turn means some latency is introduced (Line 6 states this at less than 4 ms). The stated frequency response is 10 Hz-20 kHz with a Dynamic range of >115 dB (A weighted). They also have a stated 300-foot (line of sight) operating range. I tested this and it actually works quite well beyond this range.
The XD-V70 receivers come with a built-in loop through antenna distribution system that helps reduce costs by eliminating the need for larger more expensive antenna systems. The loop through connections will allow you to link multiple units together and all necessary components are included in the box to accommodate 12 channel systems. The microphone capsules on the transmitters are also removable allowing the use of capsules from other manufacturers like Shure, and Heil Sound.
NOTE: The 3rd party adaptor has been modified by its manufacturer and no longer works without handheld transmitters.
When I pulled XD-V70 out of the box the first thing I did was plug it in and try it out. It was very straightforward and easy to use. The receiver is well built and has an easy to use display. It comes with a half rack mounting plate allowing you to install it in a standard 19-inch rack, or if you have more than one system you can mount two receivers together.
The transmitter was a little less durable than the receiver. The main body and capsule are constructed of metal and the battery cover is a hardened plastic (necessary for the function of the antenna) similar to other mics in this price range. It does not have the same weight and feel that I am used to, but still was a solid build that can take a fair amount of abuse.
My first thought after hearing it was quite positive. It really had a good sound. I did an A/B test with someone speaking into the XD-V70 and then into a Shure KSM 9 and then into a wired Beta 58. I have to say the Beta 58 and Line 6 were fairly close.
While I was doing this test I went through all the modeled mics that are programmed into the transmitter. At first listen there were some audible differences that changed what I thought was frequency response. This is also what changed my gain before feedback quite significantly. Since I really couldn’t put my finger on what these different models were doing I decided to put them under the microscope a bit.
I went into our studio, and using SMAART and a Genelec 1032 I looked at the response of all the different models. After looking at all the traces together on the same graph it made a lot more sense. The overall trace is almost identical for all the models except for a change in level. This explains the gain before feedback issue I was getting when I switched models. The only exception I see is the mic model of the 835. It has a slightly different high-end response from all the others.
This is a great product that I will begin to consider for specific applications. I don’t think I am going to be ripping out my current wireless systems and replacing them, but for my smaller venues and portable systems this will be a definite contender. I really like how the stress has been removed from frequency coordination and interference. I think this is a great solution for both the small and large church worship centers, youth group venues and portable churches that are constantly on the move. The sound quality paired with digital technology makes this a hard wireless system to beat for the price. The MSRP is $699.99.