Need recommendations on the best CHEAP wireless lav system

Hey guys, haven't posted here in a while but still lurk from time to time. I have a local (very small) school that has asked me to help them order some wireless Lav systems to use for plays, graduation, sports banquets, etc. They will only be used 3-4x per year and don't have much budget so they want cheap as possible. They would like to have up to 10 units (eventually) that can all work at the same time for when they have plays, etc. I am looking at systems in the $250-$300 range. I mainly want something that will be the most reliable for that price range and will work well with other units. I can get the Audio Technica ATW-1101/L system for around $245 each or the Shure PGXD1493 system for about $295 each. Neither of those are rack-mountable either though, and I would rather have something that was so I can make them a nice, neat case to house everything. If any of you have any experience with either of these entry level models I'd greatly appreciate any feedback you may have on them, or if you have suggestions for other units around the same price point, I'd love to hear those also.

Thanks in advance.
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Wireless and cheap don't mix. You'll be way better off renting than wasting money on crappy gear. 10+ systems together also eliminates the cheap options.

Quantity of uses has zero relevance to cost paid, it only is used to determine buy vs rent. Generally QLXD is the starting point when looking to invest.

If you have to go cheaper than QLXD - EW100 is the cheapest I'd risk.

My experience has been that wireless systems that are usable start around $600/channel, and the lower-end stuff is generally pretty bad.

If that's stretching the budget, I'd consider renting, or finding some used units. I'd also look at the use cases - you probably don't need more than a few channels to cover everything but the plays, so getting fewer better quality units to cover the common cases and renting in when you need more channels might be something to consider (I'd much rather have 4 channels of EW100 than 10 channels of PGX)

David Karol

Staff member
Jan 11, 2011
San Francisco, CA
My experience has been that wireless systems that are usable start around $600/channel, and the lower-end stuff is generally pretty bad.

If that's stretching the budget, I'd consider renting, or finding some used units.
Agree with @Rob Timmerman, although I'd argue that you really need to be budgeting closer to $1000 / channel.

I'm not up to speed on the latest offerings here. Outside of the transmitter / receiver, you also need to think about the lavaliers (+ a spare or two for the inevitable moment when the connect is damaged). And depending on your area / room these are used in-- you may need to invest in antennas / distribution.

I'd recommend looking into the latest offerings from Lectrosonics and Point Source Audio / Countryman (disclaimer: all have been supporters of Sound Forums). Countryman B6 became my go-to lav. I haven't used the Point Source products, but they've built a strong reputation. Get an idea of the rental prices in your area as well-- last I looked into this, it made sense to buy, versus renting for ~4 weeks / year.

Tim McCulloch

Graduate Student
Jan 11, 2011
Wichita KS USA
Hi Donnie-

Not to pile on... but I will. Caleb is 100% spot on with the rent/buy decision. Decent wireless capable of 10 channels simultaneous use rules out all the of the Pyle and DJ type stuff.

I've not used any of the low-end Shure wireless and can't offer any insight but the Sennheiser eW100 series delivers well for what you spend on it. If you buy the Senny lav systems plan on buying better/more suitable microphones. The stock mic isn't very good.

That said, once you go up a notch or so from that and need multiple channels, stuff like Lectrosonics gets more affordable. That it's impressively rugged and reliable adds to happiness.
Thanks for the replies guys. I've been around the business for a while now and I know all about wireless. I knew their budget wasn't nearly what it needed to be for anything even considered "decent" in my book, but they were tired of renting and feeling like they threw money away every time they needed something. I convinced them to invest in quality and get 2 channels of EW100 for now that they can add to later. I felt like spending $1000 on anything else was a waste, and didn't feel comfortable with any lesser recommendation.