Having written countless reviews for Pro Mobile over the past fifteen years, I always enjoy getting the opportunity to try out something a little bit different. That would certainly be one way to describe the new U3 from audio accessory designers Xvive. Another way to describe it would be as the audio tool that you never knew you needed, but really do! The Xvive U3 is a digital audio transmission system that can be used to send an audio signal wirelessly.
It comprises a compact transmitter module with an XLR input socket and an equally compact receiver module with an XLR output socket. Both units feature internal rechargeable batteries and the system can be switched for use with either mic-level or line-level audio, meaning that it can be used to transmit any type of audio signal.
Before I go on to share my experiences of trying out the Xvive U3, I thought it would be worth first explaining some of the ways that this unique little tool could prove useful to mobile DJs. I’m aware that on first glance some readers may assume this isn’t for them and skip forward, but it’s actually a very versatile tool that I think could find a place in most mobile DJs' gig bag.
First off, the most obvious use for the U3 is to convert any standard corded mic into a wireless version. The small receiver unit will lock onto the XLR socket on the end of any standard vocal mic to create something that very much resembles a regular wireless mic. However, the obvious question is why would you want to do that when you can pick up a decent wireless mic kit for the same as – if not less than – the U3? The simple answer: flexibility.
Assuming that you use a decent dynamic mic for making announcements – for example the ‘industry standard’ SM58, you’re probably not keen on the idea of letting a tipsy guest get their mitts on it even if your client has specifically asked for their best mate to be allowed to say a few words. With the U3 it would be very easy to surreptitiously swap your SM58 for a cheap and cheerful alternative when it’s time to let someone else speak.
Similarly, if you find yourself asked to plug a keyboard into your PA for the birthday girl’s best friend who’s going to play a song, or hook up a guitar for the best man who’s going to sing his speech, the U3 provides a quick, simple and cable-free solution. It doesn’t matter where the music source is in a room, you can hook it up to your system with minimal hassle.
The U3 can also be used to transmit an audio signal to a powered speaker. This means that if you ever find yourself asked to DJ from somewhere away from your speakers, it’s easy to connect your DJ mixer to them without having to run a cable. Likewise, if you need to put an extra speaker in another part of a venue – or outside on a patio – you can easily connect from the Thru output on an inside speaker to the Input on the outside cab without the need to trail an unsightly cable or create a trip hazard.
Hopefully I’ve made a convincing case for the usefulness of the U3 in the mobile DJ world. I reckon that a pair of these systems included as part of a DJ setup would end up proving useful in a wide variety of situations, especially if you take on ‘all day’ wedding work and want to do all you can to help make your clients’ day perfect – including fixing problems that aren’t directly related to your role.
So now let’s take a look at the product itself. It is supplied in sleek black packaging, the unboxing of which reminded me of when I first got an iPhone! After sliding off the cardboard wrapper and lifting the lid to the box, I found the two parts of the U3 system presented side-by-side housed securely in slots cut from a dense piece of foam (with the USB charging cable and instructions stored in a compartment hidden away at the back). This foam could easily be removed from the box and fitted into a flight-case or rack drawer for transportation to gigs.
The two units are lightweight, but have a very solid feel. They are constructed from a mixture of metal and plastic, and give the impression of a professional tool rather than a gimmicky toy. Put simply, they ooze quality just like the aforementioned smartphone!
As soon as I had them out of the box, without a glance at the instructions, I plugged the transmitter into a mic, the receiver into the input socket on a powered speaker and switched them on. And that was that. They worked straight away with no setup required and no problems. I then connected the output from my mixer to the input on a powered speaker and the U3 worked just as well in this configuration.
I found the sound quality to be excellent, with no discernible difference between the audio signal when using this wireless kit compared to a regular XLR cable. I did notice a very small dip in the level, but that could be easily rectified by a mixer’s gain control. I also found the latency – lag caused by the analogue-to-digital and digital-to-analogue conversion process – to be completely unnoticeable (it is advertised as less than 5ms).
The transmission system operates on the 2.5GHz spectrum – which is the same as Wi-Fi – and offers six selectable channels which means that up to six U3 pairs can be used on the same event. A central push button allows for channel selection, while six backlit numbers around it show clearly which channel is currently selected.
Other than that, the only control buttons are power slide switches on both units and a mic (0dB) and line (-10dB) level switch on the transmitter. A green LED on the receiver also illuminates to indicate that it is receiving a wireless signal from the transmitter, while red LEDs on each unit illuminate when the battery charge drops below 30% and then flash if it reaches less than 10%.
The set is supplied with a twin charging cable that connects to both the transmitter and receiver via USB B Micro sockets and allows charging from a standard USB A port on a computer or a USB mains adapter. The advertised battery life for the system is five hours, which should be enough for most mobile gigs, and this can be achieved from 2.5 hours of charging time.
The range of the system is advertised as 90ft, which should be more than enough for all of the potential uses I described earlier. I tested it in a large hall, taking my mic right into each corner – and even into a side room – without experiencing any signal problems. I also found the weighting of an SM58 connected to the transmitter felt balanced and comfortable in my hand.
My overall impression of the Xvive U3 was of a product that has been very well thought out and designed. It worked reliably and intuitively throughout the testing process, offering good audio quality from a pair of extremely compact and portable units. As I’ve already said, I think that a pair of these systems would prove invaluable for most DJs, especially if you currently use a corded mic but would like the flexibility of having a wireless option.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 93, Pages 72-74.