Gear Review by James D’Arrigo

Audio Technica touts the 2000 series as their most cost effective professional level wireless system.

Costing around $300-$350 (average retail) plus the cost of your microphone they are offering a ten channel, true diversity, half rack space, metal chassis receiver that is packed full of features. It only takes a few minutes of reading to fully grasp the function of the controls, and that was a good thing for me.

A-T sent us a big box with a bunch of stuff. A UniPak transmitter with a cable for a guitar and an ATM 350 clip-on mic most often used for horns but sometimes for percussion. We also got a charging station for the UniPak and an ATW-T220a handheld vocal transmitter/mic.

The Receiver and Transmitter

On the front panel, channels can either be set manually or the unit will automatically scan for the next open channel. The display shows RF signal level as a vertical meter, a tuner operation indicator that tells which of the tuners has the better reception, the channel display, and another vertical audio mod level. On the back there is a switch for antenna power for remote placement, a 12db cut switch, ground/ground lift switch, balanced and unbalanced inputs, and the level control. I personally would prefer the level knob to be located on the face of the unit, but that is a minor point.

The UniPak transmitter has some very nice features that a multi-instrumentalist, as well as a house technician would like. The most attractive feature is the input connector. The four pin A-T connector accepts a variety of A-T mics and instrument cables with a simple spring loaded press-to-fit. A microphone may be used one day and a guitar the next with no need for a cumbersome adaptor that almost always causes some kind of problem. The antenna is replaceable as a simple screw-type. Although the top only shows you a red indicator light for battery life, lit means good and unlit means change/charge, I found that the supplied ATW-CHG2 two unit charging station and NiMH AA’s to have exceptional battery life between charges.

To further the battery life, inside the battery door there is a RF high/low switch that on the low setting is good for distances of about 50 feet that really extends the batteries. There are two level controls. One is for instrument and another for mic that give better tailoring for low-z versus high-z inputs. The channel selector switch is also on the inside of the battery door. A tiny plastic screwdriver is mounted on the battery keeper arm and is used for the switches. Unfortunately, A-T’s transmitter doesn’t automatically find the receiver’s channel. You actually must manually set that after setting the receiver.

The Microphone:

The ATM 350 is an improved version of A-T’s venerable ATM 35 clip-on instrument microphone. I particularly like that the 350 is a flatter responding mic than the old 35. A while back I found that a clip-on instrument mic for another European company to be a better performer than the ATM35. Now I can honestly say that there is parity between A-T and its European competitor. The sound is really a matter of personal taste between the two now.

I actually used both versions of the ATM 350, the hardwired one with an AT48542 low-z adaptor and the ATMcW with the four pin connector. Both versions performed flawlessly on a live stage. I found that my time spent with the monitor engineer in achieving my preferred sound fast and easy. We only did some minor shaping to the low end, otherwise the EQ was pretty flat.

The mics were used on a saxophone and when not being played was placed on a stand directly in front of a screaming Claire Brothers wedge with no feedback problems at all.

I only wish that the cables were not affixed to the ATM 350. Interchangeability is a major selling point that gives the European mic one strong advantage.

The Results

Testing was done at Sam’s Town Hotel in Las Vegas at their main showroom Sam’s Town Live. They have about 20 RF units and were using eight that day. In addition RF is everywhere in a Las Vegas hotel. The 2000 series system never took a hit throughout rehearsals and the live show. It worked alongside many other very costly wireless systems.

The front-of-house engineer was never told whether I was using the wired or wireless setup on initial testing. In fact we didn’t even tell him we were switching out the house mic system. Mind you, he is a fantastic sound man and is not deaf like so many others. After the show his first comment backstage was that the saxophone sounded fantastic in the house. The next week we switched the wired ATM 350 with 2000 series/ATM 350 wireless. When asked again about the microphone’s performance, he said it still sounded great. We let him know we switched to the wireless and he replied that he heard no perceptible difference between the two.

ATW-T220a handheld transmitter

This microphone in tandem with the ATW-R2100a receiver is also what Audio Technica calls one of its entry level professional systems. The microphone is based on the Pro 41 capsule that has been A-T’s bread-and-butter basis for vocal microphones for some time now. Beneath the handle is a transmitter that requires only AA batteries that produce 7-9 hours of operation either with disposables or available AT rechargeables. Level trim, channel selector, and an RF high or low power selector also lie within the handle. The on/off switch at the heel replaces the usual double switches for power and mute function. When ready to use the unit is lightweight, attractive, and most of all simple to use. When powered on, the mute is off and an LED indicator “on” denotes good battery power.

There is a ton of output gain from this unit. I suggest that you dial back the level trim control on the inside of the transmitter from the factory setting from the onset and you can also switch the receiver’s -12db cut and dial back it’s audio level switch as well. You are going to have plenty of signal and volume to deal with.
The microphone itself is pleasingly smooth and natural sounding. Not much EQ is necessary for a very nice feel and response. Watch out though, spend some time dialin
g in those gains and really think lower is better before you drive your PA hard.

The first singer we sent the system out with did NOT dial things back and when he turned the mic on he got a blast of painful feedback. This is not derogatory of the system at all, but a word of caution that it is very sensitive to small adjustments. It really does sound wonderful but some of you who are used to driving gain settings up will get a rude awakening to how powerful a modern wireless system can be.


Check out the videos of the Series 2000 out on stage in Vegas:

Originally posted 2011-12-02 07:28:57.