Essentially, this set is made up of two components: the transmitter and receiver. The transmitter is a dongle-esque bar equipped with a quarter inch jack, while the receiver is a pedal-shaped block that processes the incoming signals.
Getting started takes less than a few minutes. The kit is ludicrously intuitive – all you have to do is plug the transmitter unit into your guitar and connect the board-bound receiver to your amplifier or signal chain. The receiver’s manageable size can easily replace the tuner on your current board without any troublesome shifting around. After that, all you have to do is simply hit the power button on the transmitter, pair it with the receiver (which literally takes seconds as they’re factory-paired), and you’re ready to go.
The transmitter unit is charged via a USB-C connection, which is supplied in the kit. Sennheiser claims that a fully charged transmitter unit can run for up to five hours, which will easily cover any manner of gig. Additionally, the quarter inch connection on the transmitter unit is conveniently affixed on an adjustable arm, ensuring it fits all manner of guitar output jacks. If the idea of having a dongle waggling out of your guitar seems too awkward, the included belt/strap clip and extension lead will put your worries to rest.
Apart from having a choice between USB-C or a 9V power input, the receiver unit also features a balanced XLR audio output perfect for the mixing desk. After pairing, hitting the no-click footswitch mutes the signal and activates a rudimentary tuner. It’s not a particularly advanced tuner by any means, but it definitely gets the job done.
Unlike traditional analogue wireless systems, the XSW-D Pedalboard Set operates in the license-free 2.4ghz ISM band, so you don’t have to worry about your receiver picking up radio signals mid-set. However, Sennheiser recommends using this kit in environments with limited Wi-Fi/2.4ghz traffic in order to guarantee the lowest noise possible when in use. In terms of latency, there’s barely any to speak of. This kit offers under 4ms of latency when connected, and there’s absolutely no perceptible lag from strum to amp. Couple that with its 75m of effective range, and you’ve got a seamless wireless solution perfect for larger venues and stages. I even tried putting more than a few walls between the transmitter and receiver just for testing purposes, but the connection strength remained stellar.
I’d never used a wireless system before, and this offering from Sennheiser was truly one of the most liberating experiences ever. Simply detaching your guitar from an anchored position is a huge load off your mind on stage, allowing you to better focus on both your playing and interaction with your audience. If wireless audio solutions for mobile phones are the currently accepted norm, perhaps guitars will follow suit in the near future.