Strother Bullins on Samson Airline 88 AH8 UHF Wireless Fitness Headset

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Marketed for use in notably physically demanding applications, Samson’s AirLine 88 AH8 is a wireless microphone headset system offering 16 UHF channels, operating within the 24 MHz band. Essentially two parts, the AirLine 88 is comprised of the AH8 Fitness Headset Transmitter and the CR88 Wireless Receiver. As a whole, the AirLine 88 kit provides valuable features to athletic types— such as stationary cycling, Pilates, Zumba, instructors, and perhaps even some fast-moving, sweaty pastors.

Key to the unique appeal of the AirLine 88 AH8 kit is its AH8 headset, which (as I found in review) fits a wide range of heads snugly and quite nicely; is rather jolt-proof and not easy to move once secured; and is accented with several athletic-specific features. Featuring an internal six-hour rechargeable lithium ion battery, the headset generally provides enough juice between charges to last through a reasonable day’s worth of instruction. It also includes ergonomically friendly gain (volume) and mute controls, infrared frequency sync features, and water resistant components. The latter feature includes a “marine-grade stainless steel gooseneck,” as described by Samson’s promotional materials— making it moisture- and rust-proof—along with a sealed circuit board. Samson’s AE50X micro-miniature cardioid microphone capsule is utilized on the AH8, which sounds detailed, open and clear in use. Other features include a sealed gold-plated contact for its USB-style charging connector, low battery LED indicator, and an operating range of 300 feet (line of sight, thus meaning maximum range without walls).

The CR88 wireless receiver is a straightforward half-rack unit offering simple IR sync paring with the headset, a True Diversity design (ultimately reducing annoying dropouts), front panel volume knob, and a simple LED display showing one of the 16 operating channels in use. The CR88 features balanced XLR and unbalanced quarter-inch outputs, making it easy to pair with essentially any PA or distributed audio system. The package includes a rack-mount kit for the CR88. According to Samson, up to eight AirLine 88 systems can be used per frequency band.

For this review, I took the AirLine 88 system to a couple of different fitness instructors—one specializing in cycling, the other conducting Zumba classes—and a mid-sized contemporary house-of-worship where the pastor often wears a guitar and moves about the facility. In each case, the system worked very well, giving each user a clear and open vocal, never distorted, with easy controls, ideal for pro audio newbies.

Both fitness instructors noted the comfort of the headset, while all three users commented on how much they liked the stainless steel gooseneck. While the AirLine 88’s gooseneck and headband makes it a bit more visible than some headset goosenecks specifically designed to be “invisible,” the fact is, I’ve not seen very many headset microphones that actually look “invisible” anyway. The level of secure fit and precise positioning—not to mention the moisture-resistant perks— provided by the AirLine 88’s headset would prompt me to recommend the system to anyone needing a hearty, simple wireless headset microphone system at a very reasonable price—$359 street.

Strother Bullins is Technology Editor for NewBay Media’s AV/Pro Audio Group. sbullins@nbmedia.com

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