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  • Line 6 XD-V70 Digital Wireless Mic - Now with Conclusions!

    Well here's something different for a Pro Review: A digital wireless microphone. Now, this was a little risky for Line 6, because I'm not a big fan of wireless. Sure, if you spend enough you can get decent systems; but given that I'd always used analog wireless, I had too much history of interference, nasty sound quality due to compansion, and hassles with setup - not to mention the occasional battery failure at an inopportune time. So quite a while ago, I kind of lost interest in wireless, and went with good ol' physical wire.

    But when I saw Marcus Ryle of Line 6 at AES last year, he started talking about wireless and I suspect he could see my eyes glaze over, and a mental forming in my brain. "Craig, it's not like analog wireless at all, really. You should check it out." Well, I'm not one to turn down a challenge - or a chance to learn about something new - so here I am, checking out the XD-V70.

    Now normally, I don't have any experience with a unit when I start a pro review. However, Musician's Friend wanted to know what I thought of it when it showed up, and asked if I'd like to do a hands-on review for their catalog. "Sure," I said, "If you're willing to have Line 6 never talk to you again. I'm not a big fan of wireless."

    But I gave it a try, and was very, very surprised. First of all, it worked. Second, it sounded really good. Third, there was a lot more to the system than met the eye. So when Line 6 wanted to do a Pro Review, I figure this would be an excellent opportunity to dig into some of the more "out there" features, like the fact that it does mic modeling.

    This will probably be a fairly short review compared to something like a DAW or a workstation synthesizer; there are only so many features you can pack into a wireless microphone. Nonetheless, I'm curious to test out the range, check out some of the theory behind digital wireless, and generally, get to know what this baby can do.

    If you want some background, Line 6 has a landing page for their digital wireless line. A lot of it's written in marketing-speak, but keep clicking to through to the FAQs and you'll find some solid information and specs.

    Meanwhile, we'll start out with our traditional photo tour so you can get an idea of what we're dealing with...and of course, fire away with questions! The key to a cool Pro Review is interactivity. Supposedly someone from Line 6 will be monitoring this thread to answer any questions I can't handle.

    Ready...get set...go!
    _____________________________________________
    There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

  • #2
    My first impression of the XD-V70 was that of a solidly-built unit. The [COLOR="Blue"]first attached image shows the soft case for transporting the mic. The [COLOR="Blue"]second attached image shows what you'll see when you open it up: The mic, mic clamp (included), some serious padding, and space for two extra batteries (the XD-V70 uses two standard AA batteries, nothing proprietary). While I never recommend dropping a unit, I think this case would let you get a way with it. The solid foam really protects the mic, and the soft outside absorbs impact.

    Speaking of batteries, they're easy to change - you can do it in well under a minute, even if you're fumbling around under bad stage lighting. The [COLOR="Blue"]third attached image shows the battery compartment, which you access by unscrewing the bottom of the mic and lifting up the plate that holds the batteries in place.

    The [COLOR="Blue"]fourth attached image shows the microphone itself, outside of its case. The mic has a solid, serious feel, and doesn't feel unbalanced when you hold it.

    So far, so good; now let's dig into the mic a little deeper.
    _____________________________________________
    There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

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    • #3
      The mic lets you unscrew the top, and replace the capsule with various models from Heil, Audix, and Shure. I didn't get a chance to try different capsules, but the [COLOR="Blue"]first attached image shows the mic element that comes with the VX-D70. And while we're unscrewing things, the second attached image shows the windscreen, which has a thin layer of foam between the screen and the capsule.

      The mic also has two switches for turning it on and off, as well as programming various settings. This is actually fairly deep, and of course, we'll cover what the programming is all about as we move along. The [COLOR="Blue"]third attached image shows the buttons and the small display.

      So far my plan for the review is to do pictures of the receiver next, which is also very sturdy. At that point you'll know what the physical package is all about, and what to expect should you open up the box.

      Then we'll get into a little background about digital wireless. This will be the educational part of the Pro Review, because there are a lot of questions - what band does it work in? How many mics can I use at the same time? What about interference issues? What happens when you get out of range? As we all know, digital is different from analog - and digital wireless mics are no exception.

      Next, we'll get into functionality - setting it up, how far you can reach, programming channels, and the like. Finally, we'll close out with the mic modeling option and esoteric features.

      At least that's the plan; you never know where a Pro Review is going to go. But, we'll find out!
      _____________________________________________
      There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

      Comment


      • #4
        Now let's take a look at the receiver. Like the mic, this is a solidly-built affair - the case is all-metal, and it has a substantial feel, like it's not going to move around if it's on a table.

        The [COLOR="Blue"]first attached image shows the front panel. It's not plugged in, but we'll have pictures later on showing details of the display when appropriate. As you can see the user interface is about as simple as it gets: Buttons for Setup and Exit, and a data knob with a push-to-set option. Toward the left are the meters that monitor status of the audio, RF, and battery. You can see the dual antennas sticking up in the rear.

        The [COLOR="Blue"]second attached image shows the back panel. The main feature here is where the antennas connector, but also note the A Out and B Out connectors. I haven't yet figured out what they're for, but I will over the course of this review I do know that terminators need to be attached if you're not using them.

        Finally, the [COLOR="Blue"]third attached image shows the output section. There's balanced XLR and unbalanced 1/4", so you should be covered. Also, note the input jack for the power adapter.

        Overall, the receiver is pretty simple to figure out...we'll see if that holds up when it's actually being programmed and used.
        _____________________________________________
        There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

        Comment


        • #5
          Line 6 has a downloadable white paper on digital wireless, and it's well worth checking out if you want to know more on the subject. There's a lot of useful information, and it's a truly educational technical document instead of a slick marketing piece.

          For those who don't have the time or interest to dig too deeply, here's a summary of what digital wireless technology involves. Remember when the switchover to digital TV occurred, and how stations that used to fade or had snow were all of a sudden either crystal-clear or not there at all? That’s digital wireless. If you’re within range, it works. If you’re out of range, it doesn’t. The XD-V70 has a line-of-sight range of about 300 feet (less through walls, of course), so even the most “I’m gonna wander out in the audience” vocalist should be okay. And no, CBers will not come through the PA at inopportune times, either.

          There are factors that can interfere with digital transmissions; the technology is not foolproof (if you find a technology that is, let me know). However, Line 6 has taken that into account and deploys two main techniques to ensure reliability.

            - compression at the mic, expansion at the receiver - that reduces noise, but can degrade sound quality and produce artifacts. The XD-V70 has a stated minimum 115dB dynamic range, and the mic uses 24-bit converters; the sound is clean, clear, and precise.

            One limitation of any digital system is latency, and the XD-V70 is not immune from the laws of physics - there's an inherent 1.2ms of latency just to go from A to D then back again, and another couple milliseconds within the system itself. Line 6 specs the total latency as under 4ms, which equals the same delay as being four feet away from a speaker. No, I don’t have a problem with that, and you won’t either.

            Digital technology is also what makes mic modeling possible. In addition to the sound of Line 6’s custom cardioid-response mic, you can also dial in one of six mic models. We'll talk about this in detail later on, but I wanted to introduce the concept here as it relates to Line 6's choice to go with digital technology.
          _____________________________________________
          There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

          Comment


          • #6
            FWIW - Below is a quick Youtube I did when I got the mic last weekend. I also used it on a gig this past Saturday and was thoroughly impressed.

            - Significant improvement over the XDR955, which I also own. Less handling noise and much better microphone element. Both microphones have a signal path that give no indication that they are not hard wired microphones.

            - I did a battery test earlier in the week. I used run of the mill Rayovac alkalines and got 9 hours on them with the battery on "power save". It was actually recommended that this mode be used if you're going to be within 100 feet of the receiver. Besides prolonging battery life, it's less signal in the air to compete with other things. Supposedly the microphone can't pick up interference, but other things in the 2.4 Ghz space could potentially be interfered with by the microphone (phones, keyboards, etc). I did the battery test at my workplace and noticed my wireless keyboard was sluggish.

            - Audix elements can only be used with a 3rd party adapter ring, which I believe are available only at Rat Sound ($89 or free with purchase of an Audix capsule). I own a ring and Audix OM5 capsule. I describe in the video that the ring does not work with the Line 6 microphone. Rat has acknowledged a design flaw in the threading that doesn't allow the ring to go down far enough in the body to make contact with the microphone. They have altered the design and are sending me a new ring.

            It's also noteworthy that Audix elements (OM5 and OM7 anyway) have much lower output and may introduce some noise into the system. They did make my Shure SLX noisier. I like the element on the Line 6 microphone so well I'll likely not use the Audix. While I love the Audix OM5 element for it's feedback rejection, there is little room to work the mic (like 2" maybe). The Line 6 element is a nice balance of controlled pattern, much tighter than the XDR955, and more room to work the mic and get things like tambourine and cowbell to come through.

            Anyway, here's the little review of "opening the box".
            www.nextexitrocks.com

            Comment


            • #7
              FWIW - Below is a quick Youtube I did when I got the mic last weekend. I also used it on a gig this past Saturday and was thoroughly impressed.


              Welcome to the pro review, and thanks for the impressive beginning I hope you can find the time to do more posts with your opinions and reactions.

              It's also noteworthy that Audix elements (OM5 and OM7 anyway) have much lower output and may introduce some noise into the system. They did make my Shure SLX noisier. I like the element on the Line 6 microphone so well I'll likely not use the Audix. While I love the Audix OM5 element for it's feedback rejection, there is little room to work the mic (like 2" maybe). The Line 6 element is a nice balance of controlled pattern, much tighter than the XDR955, and more room to work the mic and get things like tambourine and cowbell to come through.


              I totally understand where you're coming from. I was really excited about the mic modeling aspects, but have found that the Line 6 element sounds best with my voice. The modeling is a cool feature, but if it went away tomorrow, it wouldn't make that much difference to me.

              Maybe as I get further into the mic my opinion will change...but the Line 6 element by itself gets my vote so far.

              Thanks again for your contribution!
              _____________________________________________
              There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

              Comment


              • #8
                So let's see how easy it is to set up...

                Obviously you're not going to have a huge display and multiple buttons on a mic, but the XD-V70 makes good use of the two buttons and small, backlit LCD. For example, the power button is indeed a power button, but if you hold it for one second after turning it on it goes into mute mode; a quick press takes it out of mute mode. Holding the button down for more than two seconds turns the mic off. If you're in setup mode, the power button steps through parameter values.

                The other button, when held down, enters Setup mode. Quick presses select the next setup option, while holding it down for two seconds exits. This is all easy to learn, and besides, you won't be making these kind of adjustments in the heat of performance - this is about setup.

                Wnen you first turn on the mic, it shows one of the channels (1-12). Go into setup mode, and you can choose:



                  The main display also shows a few "status" parameters, including estimated remaining life in hours and minutes along with a little battery icon (flashes if there's less than an hour of battery life left), whether mute is on, whether power save is on, and the "Lock" status. You set this with a small slide switch that's hidden in the battery compartment; when locked, no editing is allowed and power can't be turned off.

                  If you think you need lock because it's easy to turn the mic off accidentally, it isn't - you have to be precise in how you hit the switch to turn the mic off.

                  Anyway, that's it for the mic - not difficult at all. I set it to channel 7 for luck, so let's move on to the receiver.
                _____________________________________________
                There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

                Comment


                • #9
                  As to the receiver, hookup is simple: Screw the two antennas to their connectors, plug in the AC adapter, and run a cable from the audio out of your choice (XLR or 1/4") to an appropriate input - in my case, XLR out to audio interface in. Incidentally I forgot to mention that the package includes rack mounting adapters (nice), but in this case, I just set it up as a tabletop device.

                  I'm glad I looked at the manual, because one setup aspect wasn't obvious. There are two connectors on the back for Antenna A out and Antenna B out. These let you daisy-chain multiple XD-V70 receivers (the unit even comes with appropriate cables), but you're advised that when not daisy-chained, you need to terminate the connectors with the supplied termination plugs. So I did.

                  Anyway, I'll spare you the suspense and just say that after turning on power to the receiver, I dialed in channel 7 and - done. Audio was flowing out of the receiver and into the interface.

                  However, while the mic was on, I noticed a few groovy things about the receiver (see the [COLOR="Blue"]attached image). Meters to the left show audio (not lit, because I was busy taking the picture!), battery life, and the RF strength. If the Mute switch is on, you'll see that as well.

                  The main display shows the selected channel and mic name, remaining battery life, and the fact that signals are being received with antennas A and B.

                  Well, that certainly was painless. But, I should probably mention some of the other setup options before proceeding.

                  Setup mode requires pushing on the setup switch, rotating a data wheel, and pushing it to select what you want. Another switch lets you exit. There are only three setup options:

                    ." So I went there, and found the same thing as the printed manuals that come with the unit. Oh well.

                    If you want to check out the mic and receiver manuals, by all means go there and download the PDF documents.
                  _____________________________________________
                  There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    So far, so good...nothing weird, everything worked as it was supposed to, and operation was both plug-and-play and easy to figure out. I guess this is going to be a Pro Review without a whole lot of drama (which seems much more likely when a computer isn't involved, LOL).

                    Wait! I just figured out some drama!

                    As mentioned, there are 12 channels. Those conversant with analog wireless might think that's pretty lame compared to analog wireless devices with dozens or hundreds of channels. However, the XD-V70 offers 12 digital channels—a different animal entirely than analog systems, as these channels work any time, anywhere in the world. Given how much I travel, that kind of concept appeals to me.

                    The main limitation of 12 channels is that you’re limited to using 12 of the XD-V70 wireless mics at your gig, but that should be enough for most situations.
                    _____________________________________________
                    There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

                    Comment


                    • #11

                      ...... As mentioned, there are 12 channels. Those conversant with analog wireless might think that's pretty lame compared to analog wireless devices with dozens or hundreds of channels. However, the XD-V70 offers 12 digital channels—a different animal entirely than analog systems, as these channels work any time, anywhere in the world. Given how much I travel, that kind of concept appeals to me.

                      The main limitation of 12 channels is that you’re limited to using 12 of the XD-V70 wireless mics at your gig, but that should be enough for most situations.


                      I'd like to add, if you have any of the "5 channel" wireless microphones or guitar/bass systems, the new generation "12 channel" devices will not interfere with them. For instance, my band has 4 older generation guitar/bass units and an one wireless microphone so all 5 channels are being used. I can put the XD-V70 on any channel and it will not interfere with them. This was confirmed by Line 6 as well.
                      www.nextexitrocks.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'd like to add, if you have any of the "5 channel" wireless microphones or guitar/bass systems, the new generation "12 channel" devices will not interfere with them. For instance, my band has 4 older generation guitar/bass units and an one wireless microphone so all 5 channels are being used. I can put the XD-V70 on any channel and it will not interfere with them. This was confirmed by Line 6 as well.


                        More great info...thanks! This is my first experience with Line 6 wireless, so your comments about useability with older gear is invaluable.

                        Today I'm going to set up the mic and walk away from the studio, talking into the mic about where I am. Then I'll see where it drops out, measure the distance from the studio, and see how far it goes.
                        _____________________________________________
                        There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Don't get lost

                          Inserting walls will dramatically limit the range. It all depends on what the walls are made of. For most users, most of the time, walls keep the outside world from getting into your performance ... for example the guys with the wireless in the next ballroom in a hotel situation.

                          Please notice that when you do finally get out of range the mic simply mutes ... no big rush of noise just before it happens like other systems.
                          Don Boomer

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Hi Don, welcome to the thread! I'm actually going to walk down a driveway so there will only be a window/wall between me and the receiver. I figure this tests the best-case conditions. Then I'll walk around inside my house, which has a bunch o' walls.

                            By the way - I have a question. There's something in the AC adapter between the transformer and the jack that looks like an elongated micro-football. Is it some kind of filter?

                            Well actually, I have two questions...I'm going to try rechargeable batteries with the mic, are there any cautions involved with that?

                            We'll try not to demand too much of your time with dumb questions, but appreciate your being available to keep an eye on the thread. So far it seems people are pretty happy with your baby, although I have to warn you, I consider it a challenge to try and find what "breaks" a product Y'know, other than dropping it...
                            _____________________________________________
                            There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              ....I have a question. There's something in the AC adapter between the transformer and the jack that looks like an elongated micro-football. Is it some kind of filter?


                              That's probably a ferrite core/bead EMI suppressor. The FCC requires those on many devices (not sure why some devices use them and some don't though).
                              www.nextexitrocks.com

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