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Samson Airline AP1B/AG1 Wireless for Bass

My new Samson Airline AP1B/AG1 Wireless (UHF) just arrived today. It cost me $300 from ZZounds.com. So, the first question is, why go wireless? For me, the reasons are two-fold. First, I wanted the freedom to move around and occasionally get on the dance floor to liven things up. Second, we got rid our sound guy, so now the duties fall to me. It will be a lot easier to work the board during the sound check if I can play at the same time. There's also a third reason - I just won $300 while entertaining clients at a local casino.

Samson Airline AP1B/AG1 Wireless Bass Transmitter

So, why the Samson model? I searched the alt.guitar.bass newsgroup archives and found this model to be highly recommended. I checked other reviews online and it consistently got good marks. So, I figured I would give it a shot.

Is it as good as a cord? Of course not! The unit has to convert the signal from the bass into a radio signal, transmit it, then convert it back. I don't know how that could be done without introducing some sort of noise. At $300 I expected some slight noise and coloration. If I dropped a grand on a unit, I would expect it to be barely noticeable. If they ever come out with a unit that converts the signal to digital and back, I would think the problem should disappear, but I don't think such a unit exists yet (at least not in my price range).

Does it affect the sound? In my opinion, very little. Some people talk about loss of tone and the addition of compression. I really don't notice much on this model.

Audio Samples

I split the signal coming out my bass to run through a cord and the wireless so there would be no differences in how I played. I adjusted the levels to make them as equal as possible. Because my Spector has active pickups, I had to use the -15db pad on the transmitter. With the pad turned on and the receiver output all the way up, the signal was just a tiny bit weaker than with the cord.

Samson Wireless Audio Sample #1

The first part of the above clip is the wireless. The second part is through the cord. You can definitely hear the white noise. There appears to be a fast gate, so you only hear it when you are playing a note.

If you can't hear the noise, here's a clip where I am mixing both bass signals together to create some phase cancellation. As a result the bass is much lower in volume. Because the white noise was only on the wireless, you can hear it much more clearly.

Samson Wireless Audio Sample #2

Is the noise all that bad? Well considering this rig is for playing live, the noise is simply not an issue. The guitarist's single coil pickups have much more noise. Here's a clip with just some drums along with it. The white noise gets buried so you can barely hear it.

Samson Wireless Audio Sample #3

If push comes to shove you can use EQ to remove a lot of it. What I did on this clip was use a parametric EQ at about 3.8KHz with a Q of 6.2 and 13db of cut. I got rid of most of it without killing the sound of the bass. The first part of the clip is no EQ, the second part has EQ.

Samson Wireless Sample #4


I've had a chance to use it at rehearsal and at a gig. It performed pretty much as expected. The sound was a tad thinner, just like you hear in the audio clips. I was able to compensate for that via EQ with no problem. The noise is just not an issue - I did not notice it at all when I played. However, there were a couple of times where there was a popping type of sound as if I had bumped the unit. I don't think that I did, but I can't be sure. I would say over the course of about a 38 song night I heard it maybe five times. 

I do have to say I liked the freedom. I am training a new guy to run the sound, so being out by the board during the sound check made life so much easier. A couple of times I went off stage to encourage some ladies to dance. I have to say that the positives outweigh the negatives for me.


I would not use the Samson wireless for recording my bass. However, I don't anticipate the minor sound differences being an issue at all during a live gig. The output from your bass cabinet spills over into the vocal mics at a higher level than this wireless noise, and nobody seems to mind that (you get the vocal effects and EQ). There are much bigger factors at a live gig, so I think the sound differences of the wireless become negligible.

I recommend you make your purchase from www.ZZounds.com based on the great experiences I have had with them.

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