Review: Pulse PWM1000UHF-HH Handheld Wireless Microphone System
‘The best budget handheld microphone we’ve heard, and by a long way. Sound wise, this system stacks up against wired microphones costing much more, as well as wireless systems many times the price.’
We must admit. We approached the idea of a sub £100ish UHF handheld wireless microphone system with a degree of scepticism. OK, it might be alright for speech, DJ, or MC applications, but vocals? Nah. Can’t be any good. That’s the sort of money people pay for a good wired mic, not a wireless system.
Well, it’s not often you come across a product that re-writes the rule book, but Pulse may have just done that with this system.
Sound Is Paramount:
The first thing we look for in a handheld wireless system, certainly a system that’s going to be used seriously for live music vocal applications is the quality of the microphone capsule. The PWM1000UHF-HH employs a dynamic microphone capsule and we have to say, it sounds great! It’s got a really nice warm ‘bottom end’, but it sounds crisp and clear without any ‘muddiness’ or frequency ‘honks’. At this point, we decided to break out our hire department’s entire wireless and wired microphone inventory, just to compare and see just how good this mic capsule was. We struggled to find anything that significantty out-performed it in either a wireless of wired microphone. One of our favourite wired dynamics perhaps offered a slightly warmer, maybe a fractionally more balanced kind of sound. But it was all pretty marginal. I think the only real criticism of the mic was that it might be a little too crisp and a little ‘clinical’ sounding. Users may find themselves rolling back a little of the top end and high mid. But all in all, really nothing to grumble about.
In terms of the wireless transmission and reception, the PWM1000UHF-HH operates in the 863Mhz – 865Mhz frequency range so you don’t need a license and you have a choice of 8 frequencies within that range. So if someone in the vicinity is using your frequency, you can move over to one of the other 7. It’s what’s known as a ‘frequency agile’ system. The system employs a PLL (phase locked loop) diversity system with the receiver silently switching to the aerial with the strongest signal. This maximises signal reliability, and is not always found on systems in this price range.
The required frequency is set via LCDs on the transmitter and receiver and is very simple. We liked this. There are system out there employing IR frequency setting systems whereby the frequency is set on the receiver and can then be transmitted to the transmitter via the Infra-Red frequency band. We tend to think this is rather unessasary and really complicates matters more than anything, particularly in multiple mic systems.
So we were happy to see a simpler system employed here. Something we really liked is that the blue blacklight turns on when you start adjusting the frequency and autpmatically goes out after a few seconds when it detects no button pushes. This feature not only maximises battery life, but it also prevents any light distraction from the transmitter. Nice touch.
Other front panel features include an RF light that tells you when the receiver is ‘seeing’ the mic transmitter and an audio LED that tells you when audio is present.
Finally, there is a simple output level control. This has caused slight confusion because it only seems to affect the level from the jack output (jack and XLR are available.) The XLR output seems to be fixed. It’s also quite high. We don’t envisage this as a problem when the system is employed with reasonable quality mixing console with a large range of gain control, but it might be an issue when used with PA heads, etc. If you need a lower output then a jack – XLR cable can be employed. The receiver is powered by a supplied external power supply and the transmitter requires two AA batteries. Access to the battery sompartment is via a simple threaded section at the bottom of the mic. Again, quick simple and easy. Quoted battery life is 8 hours.
Physical attributes of the system are a nice quality metal receiver with dual detachable aerials which are great for easy transportation. The transmitter might be considered a little lightweight and plasticky, but the grill seemed pretty sturdy and handling noise wasn’t a problem.
Finally, the whole system is supplied in a really nice foam compartmentalised ABS carrying case which is a really nice touch, but there is also an affordable, simple rackmount kit available. This is supplied with aerial mountings and cables, so your aerials can be permanently mounted on the front and pivotted flat for transportation. So no problem for users wishing to make a PWM1000UHF-HH system part of a pre-wired rack of equipment.
The PWM1000UHF-HH is a really well thought out, easy to use, reliable handheld wireless microphone system that deserves to become the ‘system of choice’ in this price range. The quality of the microphone sets it apart from anything else around, and the system electronics are the right blend of functionality and simplicity. The ABS case and the optional but inexpensive rackmount kit are real bonuses. Highly recommended. Just watch out for that fixed level XLR output.
Those requiring more than one mic may like to know there is a dual channel version of this system that represents even better value. Two transmitters, two sets of outputs, two level controls, etc. At time of publishing, these were available around £160. This is the PWM2000UHF-HH
Other system variants include dual channel handheld/lapel+headset systems as well as a single channel headset/lapel system.