Big Bang for the Buck -- Initial Review
I recently ordered and received my Concert 88 Handheld wireless mic system, which I ordered based on my experiences with Samson wireless mics years ago -- and after consultation with Carson, my Sweetwater sales rep. I wanted to confirm that Samson still represented the kind of value that they did in the past.
I must say that, for the money, I am really very impressed. While this is certainly not at the level of a $1000, nor even a $600, wireless system, it certainly represents a fantastic value. So, what follows are the thoughts of a somewhat jaded live sound engineer and musician who's been at this for over 3 decades. My review is based on using the system while practicing with my band, which tends to play a little too loud in a space that's too small and is acoustically horrible.
First, the good.
Setup is super simple: select a channel on the receiver, power up the mic with the battery cover off, point the IR dot in the mic at the IR dot on the receiver, hold the SET button on the receiver until the LED starts flashing, let go and wait for the ready light to come on. Then, put on the cover, hook up the cable, and sing.
Speaking of singing, the sound quality of the Samson Q6 microphone is really nice -- I think better than an SM58, if only because it doesn't have that huge proximity effect that the SM58 does. Our singer's vocals were crystal clear, no matter what he did, and harmonica really cut through brilliantly. Feedback rejection was very impressive as well -- even with the volume at uncomfortable levels, we didn't experience any feedback.
We didn't notice any weird RF issues, like dropouts or strange noises or pops, but again, we were in our practice space, and the receiver was no more than about 15' from the singer. With that said, I usually prefer to have my wireless gear on stage, as opposed to out in the house, so I'll usually have this fairly close to the performer.
This next one may seem minor, but for me, it's a thing: The antennae are on the face of the receiver instead of the back, which makes it easy to mount in a rack without worrying about where the antennae are positioned.
So, what are the downsides? What didn't I like?
- The receiver case is plastic all the way around, so don't drop or throw the receiver.
- The level control and buttons feel a little chintzy.
- The antennae are non-removable, so if the swivel or an antenna breaks, it means the receiver has to be sent in for repair.
- Since the antennae are non-removable, you can't use a single pair of antennae for multiple receivers.
- The included rack mount is also plastic, and feels fairly brittle, so care will required when mounting the receiver to avoid cracking the mount.
- The mic is a little more susceptible to handling noise than some other, more expensive wireless mics.
- It's easy to accidentally hit the mute switch on the mic.
- Samson doesn't include a mic stand clip.
- There are only 16 channels per frequency band, and there are currently only two bands available for the US/Canadian market.
The bottom line: Am I happy with my purchase, and would I recommend this to a friend?
In a word, yes to both, but with caveats. I wouldn't use the Concert 88 system on a national tour because of the construction and limited number of frequencies. But for local bands, DJs and karaoke, houses of worship and schools, or anyone on a tight budget, the Concert 88 series is a great deal. Just don't throw the receiver around like you would a typical guitar stomp box, and I'm sure everything will hold up just fine.
The bottom bottom line: Would I buy another?
At this point, yes. I plan to buy at least one more, and possibly three, as my budget permits.