Review: Shure GLX Wireless System

So, this is brilliant. I really love the fairly recent evolution of guitar wireless systems towards pedal-sized receivers that can be safely affixed to pedalboards.
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So, this is brilliant. I really love the fairly recent evolution of guitar wireless systems towards pedal-sized receivers that can be safely affixed to pedalboards. No more worrying about your tabletop-style receiver being knocked off the top of your amp, or trampled when placed on a stage floor. And, well, I’m a fan of miniaturization in most things, anyway: mini amps, iPad minis, smartphones, headstock tuners, and so on. Why not make a wireless receiver the size of a common fuzz pedal? The affordable Shure GLXD16 ($449 street) appears to accomplish this feat without sacrificing transmission distance, protection from RF interference, automatic frequency management, or even battery life.

The GLXD16 is a digital system that works within the globally unlicensed 2.4GHz frequency band, so it is fully compliant with current FCC wireless regulations. For ease of use, Shure’s LINKFREQ technology automatically selects the best frequency to operate the system, constantly stays on the lookout for interference, and seamlessly initiates frequency changes as needed to ensure signal integrity with no annoying dropouts. The receiver even includes an onboard chromatic tuner. A footswitch selects “tuner” or “receiver” mode, and you can choose whether to mute audio while tuning.

The transmitter is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can be charged up via AC power or a standard USB port. Battery life per charge is estimated at up to 16 hours, which can get you through a lot of one-hour sets—even if you sometimes absent-mindedly forget to charge the transmitter.

The pedal receiver and guitar-strap transmitter are made of tough plastic, and should stand up to fairly rough treatment—though I wouldn’t hand the system to a gorilla (or an overworked and cranky stage manager) and expect it to survive. The guitar cable is separate, and it connects to the transmitter with a locking jack. There’s no integrated cable to get twisted and maimed during numerous trips back and forth from stage to gig bag, and therefore nothing that can break off just before that showcase concert in Butte, Montana.

It has been a while since abandoning your guitar cable for a wireless system meant sacrificing some tone for mobility, and the GLXD16 delivers a very transparent and pleasing guitar tone. It’s slightly more articulate in the high-midrange frequencies than when being “cabled,” but the GLXD16 also produces a stout bass, warm low mids, and an airy treble without a hint of harshness or grit. After a few minutes of playing with the wireless, it ceased to matter whether I was plugged in or not. My guitar sounded like me.

To test signal integrity, I brought the system to an industrial area of San Francisco where bike messengers, taxi drivers, and truckers are constantly gobbling up radio frequencies. The GLXD16 never dropped out, made zipper noises, or allowed errant broadcasts to compromise the guitar signal. I was also a big zero at trying to get the system to glitch when walking behind concrete walls in a warehouse space. The GLXD16 appears to operate properly even a bit beyond its 200-foot transmission limit, and I found that my transmitter didn’t always need to be exactly within the sight line of the receiver.

The Shure GLXD16 wireless system was a big hit with me. It’s compact. It operates automatically, as if by magic. It doesn’t mess with your tone. And it doesn’t glitch or drop out when all you want to do is play guitar with no worries.

Kudos Pedal-sized receiver. Reliable. Good sound. Excellent value.
Concerns None.