Wired Microphone vs Wireless Microphone (On Stage)

In Guides for Musicians, Guides for Singers by Jake L2 Comments

Last updated on May 2nd, 2019 at 08:15 am

As a performer, you may have asked yourself, “Should I perform with a wired microphone or a wireless microphone?” Is it really worth spending the extra cash on getting a wireless microphone system, or should we just stick with the classic microphone and cable?  The answer will be different for everyone as everyone has a different style when performing live on stage.

Both approaches have its pros and cons, however, it’s up to you to determine which approach will benefit you more.

  • Are you the type of performer who loves to move around a lot on stage or do you find yourself more stationary during your performances?
  • Do you find yourself tripping over all of the wires and cables on stage?
  • Are you performing long sets?

There are a lot of questions to ask yourself when thinking about your performance style.

To have a better idea of which choice is better for you, let’s discuss the major differences of each system.

Benefits of Using a Wired Microphone:


Singer engaging with his audience while he uses a wired microphone.

If you have ever performed live on stage before, you probably already have experience using a wired microphone. Wired microphones are definitely more reliable, at least for now.

You won’t be able to wander around the stage with as much freedom as having a wireless microphone set-up, but you won’t have to worry about your signal suddenly dropping. No one wants their microphone’s sound quality dropping because of frequency issues.

Also, you won’t have to worry about changing batteries mid-performance. As long as you have a reliable xlr cable, you’ll be good to perform through your entire set with fewer worries that may come when using a wireless microphone system.

With good cable management and an understanding of your space on stage, it will still be possible for you to move around the stage with some freedom.

Though your movement may be limited, you can perform with an ease of mind knowing that you have a much more reliable microphone system.

Easier to Set-up

Me sound checking for a performance

Another thing to keep in mind is set-up time. Wired microphones are much easier to set up when compared to using a wireless system. There’s less equipment required to use a wired microphone, saving you time when setting up so you can get through soundcheck much quicker.

It may be easier for you to resolve any technical problems you run into during sound check. Troubleshooting a wired microphone system is much easier when compared to a wireless system, but we’ll talk about that later.

There’s also less equipment that you have to carry around to the different venues that you are performing at, making it easier to keep track of everything.

Price Range

It’s definitely much cheaper to run with a wired microphone system. You won’t have to spend money on extra batteries and transmitters/receivers.

The price of a good wireless microphone system is more expensive when compared to going with a wired microphone. The quality of the sound that you can get from a wired microphone that cost less can even match the quality that an expensive wireless microphone system produces.

When it comes to performing, it’s important to have reliable equipment that won’t break on you during a performance while not leaving you completely broke in the bank.

Ask yourself, is it really worth spending more for a wireless system to have more freedom on stage?  This is definitely something to consider if you’re still early on in your music performing career.

Freedom on stage may be a necessity for many performers, but always consider the price of operating a wireless microphone system and see if it’s actually worth it.

Technical Issues

If you ever find yourself running into technical issues, whether it’s during sound check or during a performance, it’s much easier to troubleshoot problems for a wired microphone system compared to a wireless system.

There are fewer things that could go wrong when using a wired microphone and it could be as simple as changing out the xlr chord for a new one.

You don’t have to worry about messing around with other pieces of microphone technology such as transmitters and receivers and even the sound system of a wireless microphone.

The Struggles of Using a Wired Microphone

Limitations of Being Wired

One of the biggest reasons that performers want to avoid using wired microphones is the limitation that is placed on you on stage.

Not only are you limited to how much you can actually move around on stage, you also have to be more aware of your surroundings when you wander around.

You can trip over your own chords, potentially disconnecting it from your sound system, making an awkward scene for everyone.

Getting a longer chord will allow you to have more freedom to walk around on stage, but it creates more obstacles for you to avoid.

Getting Shocked


It’s possible for your wired microphone to shock you. Have you ever been shocked by your microphone when placing your lips on it? It’s not a pleasant feeling.

This could be due to grounding issues with all of your equipment on stage or even wiring problems. This is a dangerous hazard, especially for musicians who sing and play an instrument simultaneously. Just be mindful and make sure that all of your equipment is working properly before using it.

Cluttered Stage

Stage filled with cables and wires

Not much space to move around

Something to keep in mind is that using wired systems can create a lot of clutter on stage. No matter how much cable management you do, there cables and wires will be visible. While wired systems are reliable, it may create a distraction for the audience if not managed properly.

The Benefits of using a Wireless Microphone

Singer using a wireless microphone during a performance

Freedom on Stage

Like I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest reasons people use wireless systems is the freedom they get on stage. This freedom allows you to put more movement into your performance while allowing you to interact with the crowd.

There are no cables for you to trip over on so you can focus on giving an energetic performance.

This is great for performers who really enjoy being active on stage, and crowds love an energetic performance. When you take cables out of the equation, you won’t have any feeling of limitation to moving around creating a more comfortable environment for you to perform in.

No Issues With Chords

Xlr chords can run into issues of its own such as frayed wires caused by frequent use. This ultimately leads to having to get it repaired or replaced if you wish to use your wired microphone.

The most annoying thing that can happen is tripping over your cable, disconnecting it from your amplifier/sound system.  With a wireless microphone system, you won’t have to deal with these type of problems.

Chords and wires may also distort and add noise to the signal, capturing all kinds of different signals from the environment. These signals tend to be weak at first, but they do get amplified with the microphone output, potentially causing a significant disturbance.

A Clean Stage

When you eliminate the use of cables for your microphones and instruments, you have yourself a clean stage. This means there are fewer obstacles and distractions on stage that can be an obstruction for you and a distraction for your audience.

You won’t have to worry too much about cable management during set-up.

Again, a clean stage means more freedom for you and the other performers to move around and have fun while performing. It’s also more aesthetically pleasing to the eye for your audience when you have a nice clean stage to perform on.

The Struggles of Using a Wireless Microphone

Limitations of Wireless Microphones

Wireless microphone systems are far from the perfect ideal that performers are looking for. There are still limitations to keep in mind when considering the use of wireless technology on stage.

Limitation of Distance

You’re not completely free to move around with a wireless microphone system, as there is a limitation of distance you have to consider. A lot of wireless microphone systems are limited to a radius of 300 ft. (100m). Even more with shorter limitations of space. There are newer models that can exceed this limitation, however, it does mean that you’re going to have to shell out more cash as they are not the cheapest things to purchase.

Limitation of Time

Another thing to keep in mind is that when using a wireless microphone, you aren’t directly connected to a power source. This means the power of your microphone is reliant on batteries.

You’ll have to make sure to have your batteries constantly charged before every performance. Always have extra sets of batteries just in case.  Of course, this means more expenses for you to keep up with your wireless microphone system.

Cost of Using a Wireless Microphone

When compared to using a wired microphone, you will find yourself spending more money to use a wireless microphone system.

In general, a good wireless microphone system will cost you much more to get the same level of quality that you would get with a wired microphone. Prices may vary, but it would be best to buy a higher quality wireless microphone system. This saves you from running into more issues down the road.

Black wireless microphone

The costs of operating a wireless microphone system go up, even more, when you consider the number of batteries you have to purchase as they are your primary source of power. It’s very important to always have backup batteries because you’ll never know when you’ll need them when performing.

Batteries can die out at random times so it’s best to be ready. They also have a charge life, meaning the more you use it, the less the battery can hold a charge.

You’ll find that your batteries drain quicker with constant use.

The expenses that go into operating a wireless microphone system is something you need to consider. When you realize how much you actually have to spend, that’s when you can ask yourself if the freedom to move around the stage is really worth it.

Interferences When Using a Wireless Microphone

Your wireless microphone system can run into interference issues. There are many reasons you could run into interference problems.

Nearby radio signals and other wireless devices can cause interference with your wireless system. Make sure that no radio transmitters come as close to 10-15 ft. to your wireless receiving antennas.

These type of interferences can distort your signal, overall degrading the sound quality of your microphone or even rendering it useless.

Objects blocking your signal may also cause issues. Make sure to have a clear path between your transmitters and receivers. This make’s sound checks even more important if you want to have a smooth performance on stage.

Troubleshooting Headache

When using a wireless microphone system, there are many more problems you may run into. This makes it much more difficult to troubleshoot when you run into these issues as there are more things to consider.

This can be very intimidating for people who aren’t as experienced with wireless technology. Once you find yourself having a problem with your microphone, finding the source of the problem isn’t as easy as changing out the cable. You’ll have to check every piece of technology that you have for your wireless microphone system.

This will cost you more time and may add unnecessary stress that could be avoided if you went with a wired microphone instead.

Overall Reliability of Wireless Microphones

The overall reliability of wireless microphones doesn’t come close to the reliability of a decent wired microphone set-up.

There are more things to take into account when performing with a wireless system. This can be a major headache for any performer and even the sound engineers making sure that everything goes smoothly for you. There’s a reason that many performers prefer using wired microphones when performing live shows.

The feeling of security you get when using a wired system may be more than enough reason to rely on the classic cable set-up, even though it means your movement will be limited on the stage.

Final Thoughts

When deciding to use either a wired microphone or a wireless microphone, there are many things you’ll have to consider.

While having the freedom to move around the stage can be an amazing privilege that comes with a wireless system, nothing can beat the reliability of a microphone and a cable.

As a person who has performed with both set-ups many times, I can say that it’s great using a wireless microphone, as long as nothing goes wrong. Once something does go wrong, it becomes a sound engineering nightmare.

Wireless microphone systems are far from perfect, at least for now. There’s nothing wrong with using a wired microphone and you can still expand your freedom of movement with a cable.
Using a longer cable and having good cable management on stage allows you to have more freedom while also having a more reliable system.

I think that wireless microphone technology is definitely advancing in the right direction, but it’s not quite there yet when compared to the reliability you get with a wired microphone set-up.

In the end, it’s ultimately your choice as everyone has their own style of performing, just make sure to consider all the pros and cons that come with each type of microphone.

More Articles to Read:


Leave a Comment