Sennheiser’s XS 1 wireless systems looked to have a lot of good features, the Sennheiser name, and an amazingly low price tag. The low-cost wireless microphones I’ve used have been disappointing in the past, so I welcomed the opportunity to try Sennheiser’s XS 1 series. What I found was that it worked surprisingly well.
The XS 1 wireless package contains a receiver unit (EM-XSW 1), a handheld microphone/transmitter SKM (825-XSW or SKM 835-XSW), a microphone clamp, power supply and two AA batteries. The XS 1 microphones come with either Sennheiser’s 825 (dynamic, cardioid) or an 835 (superior dynamic, cardioid) microphone capsule. These perform similarly to Sennheiser’s wired handheld mics with these capsules. The 825 wireless package is less expensive, and the 835 package, while costing a little more, features the Sennheiser mic capsule that has proven to be a staple for many vocal performers. Both models use the same receiver, are packaged similarly, and do not come with a carrying case.
I auditioned the XS 1 with the 835 capsule at a solo acoustic gig and was struck by a couple of points. As advertised, the pickup pattern provided excellent feedback and off-axis rejection even in the cramped, lively space where I needed to set up. While the microphone sounded surprisingly warm, with plenty of gain and very respectable low-end (frequently missing in low-cost wireless packages), the plastic construction of both microphone and receiver seemed light. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for the working musician. It does mean, however, that you would want to be careful transporting the receiver unit and set it up in a secure place.I found setting-up and powering on both the receiver and microphone to be easy and intuitive. Adjusting channels can be easily done manually from the front panel or the XS 1 receiver unit will do it automatically. The system provides 8 frequency banks, each with up to 10 factory-preset channels, and the specs indicate that systems can operate up to 10 channels simultaneously.
Since the XS 1 systems don’t lend themselves to rack mounting and don’t come with a case, some sort of protective box would be helpful for working musicians. Another option is to look at more rugged Sennheiser’s XS 2 offering that comes with rack mount hardware.
Sennheiser clearly put a good deal of thought into making the XS 1 systems easy to use. Two particularly likable features of all the XS microphone are the clearly marked on/off switch located under your thumb (where you expect it to be) and a protected switch on the battery pack so you can poweroff the unit when it’s not being used.
The Sennheiser XS 1-835 Wireless System surprised me with its quality sound and friendly design. Finding this quality at a price under $300 was also a pleasant surprise.
If you need more than one mic but want to save space on your rack setup, Sennheiser has announced that it will be expanding its XS Wireless 1 series with the addition of a new two-channel receiver, the EM-XSW 1 DUAL. The receiver will be available separately or as part of two XSW 1 DUAL Sets that combine it with two wireless microphones using either the e 825 or e 835 capsule. These systems and the new receiver will be available from April 2018.
XSW 1-825 $249.95
XSW 1-835 $299.95
XSW 1-825 DUAL: $499.95
XSW 1-835 DUAL: $599.95