Review: AKG WMS470 Instrumental Set

AKG WMS470 – opener

The AKG WMS470 Instrumental Set is the company’s new mid-price wireless system for guitarists and bassists. The system consists of the PT470 bodypack transmitter and the SR470 diversity receiver. The AKG WMS470 (current street price in Finland approx. 550 €) is a pro-level system offering plethora of handy features. AKG’s main focus point, however, is to ensure the highest possible reliability in all situations. The engineers have managed to couple this with an ease-of-use that makes the WMS470 Instrumental Set suitable for wireless novices, as well as seasoned pros.

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AKG PT470 – front

A wireless system is always made up of a transmitter and a receiver.

The WMS470 comes with AKG’s lightweight PT470 transmitter. The Instrumental Set naturally contains the company’s special MKG L guitar lead compatible with the PT470.

For some strange reason I experienced problems with the phone plug – it wouldn’t stay put in a closed, tubular Switchcraft jack. There is the slight possibility of the jack socket being faulty, as the plug worked well on all my other instruments. Besides, soldering on a different phone plug is a simple operation to carry out, so I wouldn’t worry too much about this glitch.

AKG PT470 – back view

There’s a nifty little window on the back of the PT470, which allows you to ascertain quickly, whether a battery is currently inserted, and which type of battery it is. AKG promise up to 14 hours of continuous service from a regular alkaline AA-sized battery. For use with rechargeables AKG also offer their CU 400 recharging station (as an optional accessory), which allows you to recharge the battery without having to remove it from the bodypack.

AKG PT470 – gain control + battery

The tiny gain control above the battery allows you to adjust the correct amount of signal gain for your chosen instrument.

AKG PT470 – switch

Between the PT470’s antenna and the input jack you can see a small infrared sensor, which hints at one of the WMS470’s cool features. This AKG wireless disposes of the need to manually set the transmission frequency for both the transmitter and the receiver. Here you only have to set the channel at the receiver, which then tunes/programmes the transmitter remotely via an infrared signal. This saves time and reduces the possibility of an inadvertent foul-up.

The slider switch gives you three operating modes to choose from – OFF, MUTE/PRG (while muted, the transmitter is also on standby for remote programing) and ON.

AKG PT470 – mute jack

While the PT470’s On/Off/Mute-switch has been deliberately designed with a stiff action, it can also be completely taken out of the equation. Inserting a blind plug (comes with the set) into the Mute-input disengages the transmitter’s switch and locks the PT470 in its current operating mode. This helps to prevent accidental on-stage muting.

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AKG SR470 + PSU

The AKG SR470 receiver is a so-called diversity receiver. This means it uses two discreet antennae with their own gain stages for reception. The unit’s electronics constantly monitor the radio signal coming off each antenna and automatically (and completely silently) switches to the antenna which offers the best radio signal quality at any given moment.

One point which puzzles me regarding many modern pieces of equipment, is the prevalent use of wall-wart AC adapters with flimsy leads. This isn’t a brand-specific issue – you see it across the board. I cannot help, but wonder how reliable these thin power cords really are, when it comes to big productions and touring.

Notwithstanding its power supply, the AKG SR470 itself seems like a roadworthy piece of gear, with its metal chassis. Included with the Instrumental Set are a pair of rack mount brackets, if you want to install the SR470 in your effects rack.

AKG SR470 – back panel

The SR470’s back panel offers two different audio outputs:

There’s a balnaced XLR-output, which is a good choice for hooking up straight to a mixing console. In addition to the volume knob on the front panel there’s also a 30 dB pad available on the back panel, in case the output signal is still too hot.

The unbalanced output is the right choice for direct connection to your amp.

AKG SR470 – connectors

Screw-on connectors make sure that all everything stays firmly in place.

AKG SR470 – volume knob out

The volume control on the SR470’s front panel…

AKG SR470 – volume knob in

…is spring-loaded so you won’t have to worry about accidentally changing your volume settings.

AKG SR470 – parameter knobs

The pushbuttons on the SR470’s front panel are for menu navigation and adjustment of parameters. Pressing the middle button also toggles between the set-up and lock modes.

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Firing up the AKG WMS470 system is really fast and easy. With only a few pushes of the navigation buttons you activate the receiver’s automatic set-up mode, which sees the SR470 automatically scanning for clean frequencies. You select a frequency and send the correct data to the PT470 via the IR-remote. Then you only have to set the correct gain and audio levels, and you’re good to go.

Naturally the AKG:n WMS470 Instrumental Set also allows for complete manual set-up by a technician, if this system is only one part of a large production. AKG’s WMS-systems allow for running up to 48 individual systems simultaneously with up to 16 channels in the same group (= specific frequency band).

AKG PT470 – up and running

The AKG’s many user-friendly features really make life easier. One good example is battery life, which is indicated clearly (given in hours left) in the PT470’s display, with a low battery warning kicking in early enough.

AKG’s Pilot-function is a great way to make absolutely sure the right signal is picked up by the right receiver. When Pilot is switched on a digital pilot signal is transmitted by the bodypack, which works like a key code. The receiver will then only output a signal if it comes from this transmitter with its specific pilot signal. This is good news in hectic situations, like when playing festivals, where you want to be sure that you’re not picking up anyone else’s signal by mistake.

AKG WMS470 – Instrumental Set

In my opinion the AKG WMS470 Instrumental Set is a very well-designed system. Once your audio gain settings have been adjusted for your instrument, and the output volume set for your amp, set-up is quick and easy at the gig.

The WMS470 system proved to work extremely reliably and with top drawer audio quality.

There’s really no comparison to wireless systems from the 1990s or early 2000s, which were often prone to audio artifacts. The AKG WMS470 has a clean, crisp and natural sound, and it leaves all of your dynamics nuances, as well as your instrument’s natural timbre, intact.

I didn’t experience any drop-outs – or any other problems, for that matter – instead the system proved to work faultlessly and extremely reliably.

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AKG WMS470 Instrumental Set

current street price in Finland approximately 550 €

Finnish distributor: Studiotec

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Pros:

+ easy to use

+ reliable

+ sound

+ runs on a single AA-battery (PT470)

+ low power consumption (PT470)

+ rack mount kit included (SR470)

+ Pilot-function

Cons:

– flimsy PSU (SR470)

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