Line 6’s wireless technology continues to evolve, and they’re coming for your tuner, boost pedal, ABY box and DI. By Peter Hodgson
Whether you want to do the cool Steve Vai ‘spin the guitar around your neck’ move, run from one side of the stage to the other like you’re in Def Leppard, ride around on your singer’s neck like Ben Weinman of The Dillinger Escape Plan (RIP), or if you’re just tired of trippin’ over stuff, a wireless can be a crucial piece of kit.
For the longest time, good wireless technology was going to cost you... A lot. Even then, it was prone to radio interference, drop-outs and weird companding artefacts. It took until the maturation of digital technology for wireless to truly become both reliable and affordable. Line 6’s Relay series was the first truly democratic wireless range, and it’s now been overhauled with new models and further-improved technology with the introduction of the G70 and G75.
The two units employ the same basic technology and features, but the former’s receiver is configured to be placed on a pedalboard, while the latter is more of a ‘sit it on your amp’ device. This review is for the pedalboard-mounted version.
The receiver has four calibrated internal antennas to capture high-resolution pure digital radio signals, which are processed with triple RF filtering to bring you a fully optimised signal. And as with earlier incarnations of Relay technology, Line 6 knows that some players prefer the slightly smoother tone caused by the capacitance inherent in long cable runs, so you can dial in different ‘virtual cable’ lengths from zero/no-effect right on up to, “You’d be crazy using a cable that long in the real world.”
READY TO TRANSMIT, CAPTAIN
The transmitter is more sturdy than the one supplied with my Relay G30 from years ago, and it has a ring that screws over the jack to keep the cable from coming out. Line 6 also supplies a little bag of differently coloured rings that you can screw on to your transmitter to quickly identify which pack goes with which guitar.
The unit runs on two AA batteries, and you’ll always know how much battery time you have left because the display on the transmitter gives you a reading right down to the minute – and, if you somehow end up stuck with dead batteries mid‑gig, you can plug into an aux input on the receiver to get through the show without having to unplug the receiver from your board and do a bunch of reconfiguring.
(UN-)WIRED FOR SOUND
The G70 (and G75) is more than just a wireless: it’s a wireless receiver, an ABY selector, a tuner, a clean boost and a direct box all in one. It has two selectable outputs so you can rout your signal to different amps at the stomp of a switch, or, if you hold the switch down for a second, the unit turns into a silent chromatic tuner, which is very handy.
You can program different profiles for different guitars, too. Need a little more gain to make a quiet Tele match the output of the Les Paul you use for the rest of the set? You can dial it in to the decibel. If you want to have a separate tuner active at all times, there’s a dedicated tuner output for that as well. If you’ve got multiple transmitters, you can configure the Relay so that your Les Paul will go to your Marshall, your Bass VI will go to your Orange and your acoustic will all go to the front of house.
The dynamics and fidelity of the G70 are astounding. Your picking strength can go from a whisper to a roar in no time, and the amp will respond just like it would with a cord. The Cable Tone settings are a great addition for tone sculpting, and the transmitter grips much more securely to both your strap and the plug than the G30’s transmitter.
I did notice some drop-outs during testing at times when I was lazy and let some of my cords drape over my pedalboard and over the receiver, but as soon as I straightened those fellows out, the signal returned to perfect consistency. The tuner is very bright, accurate and easy to read, and I love being able to free up some pedalboard space by having both a tuner and a wireless in the one unit – not to mention all the other built-in tricks the Relay can do. I’ve actually taken to using the twin outputs to send one signal to my Marshall recording rig and another directly into my DAW for re-amping, which opens up a lot of options. You could do a similar thing onstage, particularly if you like to record your sets but don’t want to be at the mercy of bad stage micing.
And that’s really what sets the Relay G70/G75 apart the most from the wirelesses that came before it: it’s not just that they simply work better, it’s that they have the ability to enhance what you’re able to do onstage, whether that means backflips and somersaults or clever signal routing and input gain-matching.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There are other units in the Relay family – you can still buy the G30 and its buddies, including the G90 rack-mountable verseion. But the G70 really feels like the perfect synthesis of form and function, taking the place of so many other pedals while also doing its main job really, really well. You don’t need to be a show-off to really benefit from what it can do.
TOP 5 FEATURES
• Built-in tuner
• Three selectable outs, including DI
• Cable Tone feature
• Sturdy build
• Reliable connectivity
• Replaces five pedals
• Great visibility on dark stages
• Handy signal routing options
• Prone to drop-outs from stray patch cables
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