MXL FR-500W UHF wireless units (1 of 2)

MXL (owned my Marshall) has been releasing relatively decent low price condenser microphones for the last 7 or 8 years. Their product line has mostly been known for it’s low price and acceptable sound quality. MXL’s condensers are often the units I choose for overhead drum mics, because they’re only a 100 or so dollars to replace if they end up making contact with a drum stick.

It appears that MXL is now trying to branch out into the UHF wireless transmitter market with the soon to be released MXL FR-500WK. These units are what I would call no frills. You have 64 channels to choose from and these are selected by a combination of a 0-F hex count thumbwheel on the front of the unit and a 4 position selector switch on the back of the unit.

The MXL FR-500WK receiver has a headphone jack as well as a lineout jack that can be fed directly into your camera. Oddly they’ve also included a built in microphone and speaker on the transmitter and receiver. I was able talk one of the reps into helping me test out the audio quality of the included lav microphone. The lav does a decent job of picking up the talent but it also did a very good job of picking up everything else and the show floor noise at NAB came through loud and clear.

I wasn’t blown away by the headphone output on the MXL FR-500WK, audio quality had a lot of noise with the volume above the halfway mark. On the other hand the little bit of testing I was able to do with the line out directly into my camera was about the same quality as the Airline micro I tested last year, although in MXL’s defence, it’s hard to get a good feel for audio quality in such a crowded space.

MXL FR-500W UHF wireless units (2 of 2)

At a list price of $399 the MXL FR-500WK is somewhere in the middle of the price range for UHF wireless systems. Unlike the lower priced Airline micro units, the MXL FR-500WK does run on AA batteries which is a positive. They also include a cold shoe adapter unlike Sennheiser’s units which is also a plus. I’d like to get my hands on a test model when these are released next month and give them a try in a more controlled environment. According to the rep the MXL FR-500WK should start shipping at the end of May.

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