Review: AKG WMS 470 D5 Wireless Vocal Microphone System

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AKG’s affordable wireless vocal mic kit offers great clarity and tone, strong signal, durable components and a few pro-grade features far more valuable than its price point.

AKG microphones have been some of my favorites for live use over the years, and the AKG 470 D5 is another AKG to add to that list of favorites. I have used a wired D5 many times live and have always loved the way it cuts through the mix, even in the densest of mixes and noisiest of venues.

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The WMS 470 D5 Vocal Set consists of the HT470 handheld transmitter, SR470 diversity receiver, and the D5 dynamic supercardioid capsule. At a price point of $499 street, this unit is ideal for wireless novices all the way up to professional musicians that tour small- to medium-sized venues.

Features

The AKG 470 D5 system offers a 30.5 MHz tuning range, with 1,200 available frequencies; half-rack, all-metal case diversity receiver; automatic setup function and up to 16 pre-programmed frequencies per group. The system also boasts a pilot tone to prevent any unexpected start-up noise, an infrared link of all frequency and setup data to the transmitter, plus transmitter battery status monitoring. The AKG 470 D5 is compatible with other AKG WMS 4500 antenna splitters, power supplies and high quality directional and omni-directional antennas. 

One of the coolest features of the AKG 470 D5 is that the transmitter omits just 50mW of output power, which provides a lighter transmitter unit that can operate for up to 14 hours on a single AA lithium battery. 

The receiver offers balanced XLR and unbalanced quarter-inch TRS audio outputs. Frequency response is 35 Hz to 20 kHz; signal-to-noise ratio is 120 dBa.

In Use

Both the SR470 receiver and the HT470 transmitter are ruggedly built. The HT470 transmitter is truly the focal point of this entire unit due to its classic AKG D5 dynamic supercardioid capsule. The dual shock mount inside of the D5 does eliminate any handling noise and the supercardioid pattern allows for maximum gain before feedback. 

The SR470 receiver is very simple to use with its backlit and easy to read menu. One of the cool features of the SR470 is the programmable warning function. The SR470 uses a two-color display backlighting to indicate critical operating conditions. The unit stays backlit in green but turns red when there is a low battery in the transmitter, a signal peak or clip, or RF is low. This is a feature generally found in more expensive wireless units.

When buying a wireless system, a key consideration for me is battery use; I always factor in how much money I will end up spending on batteries. With 2 rechargeable AAs, you may get 4 to 6 hours of use; the same hours apply with standard, name-brand AAs. But with 2lithiumAAs, you can get up to 14 hours of use; naturally, lithium batteries will save you money in the long run -- and the AKG 470 D5 transmitter only usesone. This key feature essentially cuts your battery costs in half! AKG offers an optional charging unit for the kit, so your costs could be reduced even further. 

As “easy set up” or “user friendly” become de-facto features of modern wireless microphone systems, I found that the 470 D5 is about 80 percent there. Most new wireless systems I’ve used over the past few years are truly ready to use, out of the box; you can plug them into your system and be ready to go in 5 to 10 minutes. That said, I had a bit of trouble with the 470 D5 out of the box, and ultimately had to revert to my other wireless system so we did not have a late start time at its first gig. The 470 D5 came with a Quick Start Guide, and even though I’ve become a near expert at reading IKEA furniture manuals for example, AKG’s graphics-based manual is admittedly confusing. It turns out that, for the entire set up, I was not holding the 470 D5 precisely between 3-9 cm in front of the unit, so the receiver and transmitter could sync up; the Quick Start Guide’s very small diagram plus the complex user’s manual might be very confusing to most wireless system novices, as it was obviously confusing to this seasoned user. Yet other than this small (but rather important) communication breakdown, the 470 D5 performed beautifully thereafter. And obviously this is a problem that you will only experience once.

Summary

The AKG 470 D5 has everything a quality wireless microphone system needs -- great clarity and tone, strong signal, durable components and professional-grade features, all at a low price point. Despite the tough-to-read quick start guide and user’s manual, the AKG 470 D5 is a well-designed, great performing wireless system.

Joshua Garber is a Minneapolis/St. Paul-based musician, engineer, and DJ/KJ with pro stints in the Cancun MX and Charlotte live music markets.twitter.com/JskinnyG

Price: $609 list 

Contact: AKG Acoustics | akg.com