TOUR TEST: Pretty & Nice Goes Wireless with Audio-Technica’s System 10 Stompbox

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Editor’s Note: A few months back, our friends at Audio-Technica hipped us to their System 10 Wireless gear. Awesome, I thought. Who doesn’t love wireless? Then they hit us at NAMM with a unit I’ve been waiting for since I first played on stage, a stompbox enclosure that houses a digital wireless setup – no more rack nonsense, no more running back to my old clunky wireless unit to make adjustments during a set.

No, now we have the power to control our wireless signals easily, as part of our normal pedalboard setup. So we talked, and convinced the good folks at A-T to give us a few of these bad boys so we could send them out on the road, and get some real-world feedback from a live band testing the wireless waters for the first time. That search for a band led us to Boston natives Pretty & Nice (who live up to their name, I might add), and off they went. Roger Lussier, the band’s bassist, wrote up his thoughts, and we sent our trusty photographer extraordinaire Matt Lambert to shoot the group (and their fancy new pedals) live at Great Scott in Allston, MA on their latest tour.

One bum note on the experience – during their tour Pretty & Nice (despite being both pretty and nice) were ripped off of some of their gear, including a few of the Audio-Technica System 10 stompboxes we gave them. Well, that’s just the reality of life on tour – a little bump in the road but one that ultimately didn’t stop the band from putting these units through their paces.

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Without further ado, here’s Roger…

“When I was learning to play, I always loved when bands did that thing where they swung their guitars around their bodies in music videos. I tried to teach myself that trick and nearly snapped the headstock off of my bass. It wouldn’t have been a useful skill at the time because 1.) I wasn’t in a band and 2.) that trick works best with a wireless system and it would be 13 years before I finally got to try one out.

The best feature of the Audio-Technica System 10 Wireless Stompbox system is that rather than a unit with antennae that looks better suited to picking up re-runs of Growing Pains, the receiver is built into a stompbox that also serves as an A/B switch. Pairing the receiver to the pack is easy, similar to pairing a Wii controller. You can use up to 8 packs to a single receiver, but we didn’t get a chance to use that feature. If you’re reading this and you’re in a situation where you have 8 instruments that you play through a single pedalboard, I have some amazing investment opportunities for you.

The wireless pack requires two AA batteries and a regular set of Alkalines lasted me about 2 hours total (including two rehearsals and a show). I noticed a bit of signal degradation when the battery got low, so it would be worth investing in a few good sets of rechargeable batteries and chargers.

During rehearsal I walked about 50 feet away, went through a set of doors, and started going up some stairs before my bandmates stopped playing because the delay had become unbearable. I’d imagine that without obstacles the range is better. At first, I noticed that the system was providing a slight boost. After looking at the manual I found out that the instrument output is controlled by a screw inside of the pack. Sure, why not?

Holden and I both used the systems for a couple of shows where we thought the stages may have been a little too small to merit wireless systems. Despite this, Holden climbed on my bass rig and I ventured out into the crowd without fear of pulling my pedalboard off of the stage. We’re known for our kinetic energy onstage and we got to be a little more over-the-top (no guitar spins, though.) My teenage dreams were, in a way, confirmed: using a wireless system is super fun.

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About a week later, we gave one set to Emperor X, an artist we knew would also get the most out of the untethered experience. A couple weeks later, one of the units was stolen out of our van (along with a few armfuls of unique gear that we miss very much), so we’re down to just the one of the original three that Performer asked us to review. Moral of the story: the Audio-Technica System 10 Stompbox is cool, and everyone should make sure they have renter’s insurance!”

Get Pretty & Nice’s latest full-length GOLDEN RULES for GOLDEN PEOPLE via Equal Vision/Rory Records. Photos by Matt Lambert. 

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