More than just a wireless system, this innovative Sony kit offers users big benefits on the stage and in the studio.
Built for electric guitar and bass, Sony’s DWZ-G30GB Digital Guitar Wireless System includes a small body pack transmitter and a compact receiver, as well as a belt clip, AC adapter and quarter-inch cable. While some might think that the DWZ-G30GB is a great piece of gear to free them up from onstage cables (as I did), I discovered several other unexpected uses for it.
I was immediately struck with how small the system it is. The bodypack (ZTX-B01) is finished in an attractive matte black and features both Power/Muting and Channel Select buttons on the front, plus a small window displaying the currently running channel, as well as Batt (battery) and Audio/Muting. The Batt light turns green when on, and will display red when the battery is low. The muting light will flash orange when muted.
On the top there’s an Unlock/Lock switch, the small antennae and an eighth-inch jack to plug in the supplied quarter-inch cable, which connects to the instrument. On the side are switches for ATT (attenuate--0, 10, 20 dB) and INPUT (mic or instrument) as well as the compartment to insert two AA batteries. Note that with mic selector, it lets the user hook up a lavalier or headset mic for vocal use, with the proper connector. On the side, a mini USB port resides for future firmware updates. The supplied clip for guitar strap attaches to the rear of the unit with a small screw; it was tough to fit on my strap. However, that’s not really a bad thing, as this bad boy is not coming off without effort. Holding the bodypack in my hand, it feels solid, sturdy and tight, something I would appreciate when out on the road.
The receiver (ZRX-C30) is also finished in matte black and, like the bodypack, it’s quite compact: just slightly bigger than an average guitar pedal. The last time I owned a wireless system, the receiver was much bulkier with several antennas sticking out of it. It features quarter-inch Main Out and quarter-inch Tuner outputs as well as an XLR balanced output, RF Mode selector for Narrow or Wide (more on that shortly), and a mini USB port (also for firmware updates).
Thoughtfully, the receiver can be powered in three ways: standard 9V battery, 12V DC with the supplied power supply, or DC 9V for distributed pedal power systems. The battery power is useful for checking systems with lots of signal processing that may have hums and buzzes. It also could help eliminate ground loops; I found it useful not to be tied to an AC line in certain applications.
Speaking of batteries, the expected life of the 9V on the receiver is about 3.5 hours, but the AAs in the transmitter will run between 8-11 hours. On the receiver, the BATT light will go red if batteries start to go weak, giving me somewhere between a half hour and an hour of warning. Also on the receiver, the Muting light will flash orange if the transmitter pack is set to Mute.
On the top right side of the receiver is a knob for selecting the Channel configurations. Channels 1 through 6 are for use in the Wide Mode transmission setting, while lowercase “a” through “f” is for Narrow mode. Wide mode runs in the 2.4 GHz spectrum, using frequency hopping (like a Wi-Fi network). It can use multiple RF carriers, and is preferred where there are such things as Wi-Fi access points in use.
Wide mode is good for basic, simple use. Simply turn everything on with its default to Channel 1. If the player next to me had the same rig, they would choose Channel 2 and so on; each needs to have its own channel number assigned to it.
Narrow mode, which does not hop across the 2.4 GHz band, is intended for need-specific frequency coordination, taking into account other wireless applications in that particular spectrum. For example, if using this system in a theater or large commercial venue with lighting systems that use 2.4 GHZ remote control panels, it could experience interference problems. In such cases, users would set this to Narrow band. Otherwise, I’d just keep it simple and leave it on Wide.
Also on the top of the receiver is the Cable Tone knob. Since we all know that Hi-Z cables, especially long ones, will change the sound of the instrument, this allows me to subtly cut some high-frequency content. This has several purposes. One is for those who may be used to the way their instrument sounds through their rig with cabling; the audio signal coming out of the receiver is 24-bit linear PCM with no compression, so it’s crystal clear. The other purpose, which I liked, is for dialing down the “edge” of the guitar’s tonal qualities.
This wireless system works as it should, delivering simple, clean and clear instrument tone. The rig is quite compact, and at my first gig with it, I simply sat the receiver next to my pedalboard on the floor and plugged the quarter-inch output into my tuner and on through to my amp. I did use the 12V DC adapter, and simply plugged it in to the same power source that ran the rest of my rig.
What I really like about the DWZ-G30GB is the freedom it allows to walk in front of the stage to truly hear an amp. As I play a Telecaster through a modified Hot Rod Deluxe III, the sound can be edgy. And when I’m stuck next to my pedals with a cable, I hear at an angle instead of what the actual audience hears. With the DWZ-G30GB, I was able to walk around the stage and out front, listening to the direct throw of my amp. I then adjusted the EQ controls accordingly. Also, during the show, it was a pleasure to go anywhere I wanted onstage, a newfound freedom. Since I knew I had 11 or so hours of battery on the bodypack, I didn’t even turn it off in between sets.
Back in the studio a few days later, I found even more uses for it. Hooking the main quarter-inch output into my rack tuner, as well as the XLR cable into my Grace m103 channel strip, I now had a wireless rig to do all my TV work. This allowed me to run the DI through the Grace and into my Pro Tools system (with an amp emulation plug-in) and have the tuner inline the whole time (note that Tuner Out does not mute when muting the bodypack).
Again, I was not encumbered by cables, which often drives me nuts, even when self-recording in front of my DAW. When switching out guitars and bass, I would simply plug in the bodypack and get to work.
What really rocked me was recording some cues with amps in the studio. Typically, I think of wireless as something to use only onstage, but the Sony is so clean and clear, it’s a no brainer to use in the studio.
In my usual configuration, I’m placed in front of my pedalboard, with a cable run to the amp in another room. But this limits my ability to tweak my amp settings; I can’t reach the amp and play at the same time. I have to put my guitar down and then go out and adjust, listening only through the speakers or headphones. Now, I could easily walk to the amp in the other room, and make adjustments with instant sonic feedback. This is a game changer for those who mic amps up in distant rooms. Plus, I could take an XLR out of the receiver and have a DI signal at the same time. Finally, I used the Cable Tone to roll off a bit of high end when it came time to use my old Gibson amp. That, my friend, is a win –win - win!
Overall, the Sony DWZ-B30GB is a tight little package. With a street price of $399, it’s very affordable. But even more importantly, it sounds great, is solid and compact, has respectable battery life and can be used effectively both onstage and in the studio.
Price: $399 street
Contact: Sony | pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/product-DWZB30GB