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Audio-Technica 3000 Series

Wireless In-ear Monitor System By Mark Gordon
Published January 2024

Audio-Technica 3000 Series

Licence‑free wireless is fine for smaller shows, but more serious calls for a more serious system.

From their humble beginnings in the 1960s manufacturing turntable cartridges, Audio‑Technica have grown into a significant force in the audio industry. Though the company’s feet are still firmly rooted in the turntable market, over the decades they’ve become a leading name in pro audio and their catalogue has expanded to include a wide range of headphones and microphones, in both consumer and professional audio markets.

Wireless technology has also played a big part in Audio‑Technica’s story — which brings us to the subject of this review, the new 3000 Series Wireless In‑ear Monitor System. With elements based on the 3000 Series UHF Wireless Microphone System, Audio‑Technica say it has been designed to bring “professional sound quality and features to all levels of performers and performance venues”.

Whys & Wherefores

If you’re currently using one of the many wireless IEM systems that make use of the ‘licence‑free’ UHF frequencies available to us in the UK, you may well have experienced some level of interference, especially if you’re gigging with your own band or bands and you’re all using IEMs or radio mics. Without going into too much technical detail, the licence‑free frequency band is very narrow (863‑865 MHz) and can only accommodate a limited number of devices — around four — before harmonics generated by one device start to interfere with another, resulting in distortion, artefacts and reduced range. The solution is to use the areas of the UHF band that are less congested. However, this does come at a cost, both in terms of upgraded hardware and of licence fees (the latter not as onerous as you might expect — see ‘Finding Frequencies’ box).

The Audio‑Technica 3000 system is one that does operate in the ‘licensed’ bands and offers exceptionally wide‑band UHF tuning bandwidth of 138MHz across one of two frequency bands, DF2 (470.125‑607.875 MHz) and EG2 (580.000‑713.850 MHz). This enables the use of frequencies that should ensure good, interference‑free operation.

In addition to its wide UHF coverage, the 3000 Series also includes features such as networking, wireless synchronisation between transmitter and receiver via infra‑red, and a Cue mode (see ‘Join The Cue’ box) that allows audio engineers to monitor multiple channels with a single receiver. These take it considerably beyond what you’ll get from a typical licence‑free system.

Send & Receive

Arriving in a large cardboard box, the 3000 Series ships as a complete ‘ready to go system’ comprising the ATW‑T3205 stereo transmitter, the ATW‑R3250 stereo receiver pack, and the ATH‑E40 in‑ear headphones. The transmitter can be rackmounted and ships with the appropriate 19‑inch rack ear extensions, but straight out of the box it is a free‑standing unit measuring around eight inches square and powered from an included 12V wall‑wart PSU.

The rear panel hosts left and right input XLR sockets, alongside left and right Loop Output quarter‑inch jack sockets, which mirror the input signal. These outputs can be connected to speakers or a recording device but, as their name suggests, they can also be used to configure more complex monitoring setups by routing the signal to a second transmitter.

Accompanying the familiar bayonet RF socket, to which the supplied flexible UHF antenna is connected, is a network port. This allows the transmitter to integrate with other Audio‑Technica network‑enabled devices and make use of Audio‑Technica’s Wireless Manager software. This comprehensive Mac‑ and Windows‑compatible application enables you to create a detailed frequency plan by scanning the RF environment and deploying an optimal set of frequencies to each connected device.

The front panel is minimalist, with only three buttons, including the power switch. The panel is dominated by a large OLED screen that displays a trove of information, including the transmitting frequency, group and channel, audio signal levels and RF status. You can also name the transmitter (Guitar, Vocals, etc) and have that displayed as the dominant element on screen.

A large data‑entry wheel with push confirmation is used to scroll through all the menus and adjust parameters. A small button to the left acts as a ‘back’ button and doubles as an ‘RF off’ button with a long push. The final thing to note on the front panel is a small infra‑red sync window to the left of the OLED display. This enables automatic frequency synchronisation with the receiver pack.

The receiver body pack feels solid and well made, to a design that will be familiar to users of IEM systems, featuring an antenna, a 3.5mm headphone jack and an on/off volume knob across the top. Interestingly, the headphone cable can act as a second antenna, which, although not providing ‘true diversity’ (which requires a second receiver), does offer the possibility of a better and cleaner signal, with the system most of the time using the main antenna but occasionally switching to the audio cable as backup to avoid a drop‑out.

A small function button turns on the integrated OLED screen (which shuts off automatically after 30 seconds of inactivity). With a second push, the same button brings up the audio setup screen. Pulling down the two catches either side of the pack opens the hinged battery cover, to reveal space for two AA batteries. Below that is a control panel featuring a dedicated Sync button alongside Up, Down, Back and Set buttons, for navigating through the menus. There you can adjust settings including the receiver’s frequency and mono or stereo operation, as well as saving and recalling presets. The Audio menu gives access to high and low EQ, which can be set to 80/160/320 Hz and 6/8/10 kHz (±9dB) and a limiter that can be set between ‑30dB and off in 6dB steps.

On the rear of the receiver is another infra‑red sync window, which needs to be held facing the corresponding window on the transmitter to sync the two units. There is also a charging terminal compatible with the ATW‑CHG3 two‑bay charging station. If you choose to use NiMH batteries, this allows two receiver packs to be charged together, and will automatically turn off if alkaline or damaged batteries are detected.

Ear Test

Interestingly, Audio‑Technica have chosen to include their entry‑level in-ear monitors, the ATH‑E40s, as part of the package, perhaps because they anticipate that most users will have their own custom moulds or personal choice of headphones. Having said that, the ATH‑E40s are certainly of high enough quality for the professional musician.

Packaged in their own zipped hard case, they feel solid and well made, and they look very classy. A significant part of the casing is semi‑transparent, which gives a good view of the internal workings and twin‑driver, push‑pull design, where the two drivers are mounted facing each other, resulting in increased efficiency, faster attack and a more linear, controlled response. The cables are detachable from the earpieces and have the usual thicker section that fits over the ear. This is more malleable than I am used to, allowing plenty of adjustment and, consequently, a comfortable and secure fit.

Included are three sets of silicone ear‑tips in various sizes. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, and having reviewed several IEMs recently, achieving a good fit is vital in ensuring uncompromised performance with any IEM. I found the mid‑sized tips worked best for me, and I was able to achieve a good level of isolation and comfort. In previous IEM reviews I have used foam tips, which naturally expand in the ear and offer something closer to the custom‑moulded experience. While the supplied silicone tips certainly couldn’t be described as bad, from a personal point of view I would consider experimenting with foam tips, as this may enhance comfort and fit.

If you’d like a little more information, the ATH‑E40s (along with the ATH‑E50s and ATH‑E70s) were covered in some detail by Mike Crofts in 2016:

Up & Running

There are a number of different ways to configure the 3000 system, depending on your requirements. Initial setup couldn’t be easier, as both the transmitter and receiver are set to the same frequency at the factory, so it theoretically works ‘right out of the box’. As explained in the ‘Finding Frequencies’ box, though, it isn’t just a case of picking a frequency and away you go! However, the 3000 system includes several features that make this process very easy.

If you’re using one system and know the frequency you’ll be working with, you can simply dial this into the transmitter manually, using the data‑entry knob, and set the receiver to the same frequency. For multiple IEM setups, you can perform an RF scan to analyse the surrounding frequencies, which will let you know how many channels are available in each of the 18 Groups — a Group being a collection up to 25 channels (frequencies) that can work together without interference caused by intermodulation.

An RF scan is initiated from the Scan menu on the receiver pack, and took around a minute in my case. Once it’s completed, the receiver pack prompts you to press the Sync button and transfer this information to the transmitter, by aligning the two IR windows on each device. The transmitter then displays a list of the available Groups and the number of open channels (frequencies that are free from interference) in each group. So, if you’re configuring a setup with a five‑piece band all using IEMs, you would want to use five free channels all within the same Group. You can also view the RF scan as a graph on the transmitter screen, which gives a more detailed view of the whole RF environment.

A long press on the transmitter’s rotary controller brings up the RX Sync window, which enables synchronising of the receiver to the selected Group and channel. The RX Sync window not only transmits the frequency information to the receiver pack but also gives the option to change several other settings, including EQ, limiter settings and stereo/mono operation. If you have multiple transmitters and receivers connected via the network port, you can use the Deploy option to set the frequency of all transmitters in the same network at once.

With both receiver and transmitter set to the same frequency, the small LED on the top of the receiver pack turns green and the RF level on the display (which looks and operates much like the signal‑strength display on your phone) will show a signal.

In Use

I connected the ATH‑E40s directly to a headphone amp, to try them out prior to using them with the wireless system, and found they offered a clear and well‑balanced sound. The highs had plenty of top‑end detail, midrange frequencies were pronounced but not harsh, and the bass was very much present but not overpowering. The ATH‑E40s don’t overwhelm, but neither do they have you pulling them from your ears in disgust. This sounds like damning with faint praise, but actually it’s exactly what you want (and expect) from a high‑quality entry‑level IEM.

Used as part of the 3000 wireless system, the ATH‑E40 offered, as far as I could tell, identical performance. The receiver introduced a very small amount of hiss at high volumes, but this was only perceptible with no audio playing. Boosting the sensitivity on the transmitter by a few dB and lowering the receiver volume rendered the noise negligible and the ATH‑E40 performed perfectly.

Different locations with different RF environments will have a bearing on how well the 3000 Series IEM system works, but during my limited test I was very impressed with the performance. With the unit set to the lower 10mW RF power, I was able to walk almost 100 yards away (with the signal passing through several walls) before I experienced the slightest dropout, with the audio signal remaining clean and consistent throughout. A higher RF power of 50wM is available, and would potentially offer an even greater range. However, keeping the RF power to a minimum helps reduce intermodulation distortion and means that more channels can be used cleanly.

I couldn’t fault the audio quality of the system at all, and the range extended far beyond what anyone would reasonably need.

Go Pro?

The Audio‑Technica 3000 IEM system is a big step up from the licence‑free, entry‑level IEM systems many of us are used to using and, inevitably, costs more than such systems. However, if you’re finding you’re hitting the limits of the licence‑free offer, the 3000 has a clutch of features that could well tempt you in its direction. These include an extremely wide frequency range, lots of options for interference‑free operation, and the ability to use either Shared Licence Frequencies or Coordinated Frequencies (see ‘Finding Frequencies’ box).

The majority of comparable IEM systems (in terms of price and features) that I could find working outside of the licence‑free frequencies appear to have a much narrower UHF range, typically focusing on the 606‑614 MHz band. Although this would be enough for most semi‑pro or smaller professional situations, the extended UHF range offered by the Audio-Technica 3000 system can only be a good thing.

I couldn’t fault the audio quality of the system at all, and the range extended far beyond what anyone would reasonably need. Setup of the 3000 system is also made very easy thanks to the RF scan and Sync features.

If you’re a monitor engineer, the Cue Mode feature (see ‘Join The Cue’ box) is a fantastic way to keep on top of each IEM mix, and the integration with Audio‑Technica’s networked wireless environment takes the system yet further into the pro arena.

If you’re looking for a high‑quality and affordable IEM system that has the potential to fit into a more professional setting, the A‑T 3000 Series really ticks the right boxes.

Join The Cue

One of the receiver’s menu options is Cue Mode, a great feature that enables monitor engineers to listen to several different IEM mixes from multiple transmitters through one receiver pack. Ten presets can be stored in the receiver pack, each comprising frequency, name, group and channel, RF mode, AF mode, and balance. When you select Cue Mode on the receiver, a small preset number appears in the top‑left corner. Pressing the Function button on top of the receiver pack scrolls through each saved preset, enabling you to audition each transmitter’s mix.

Finding Frequencies

The A‑T 3000 Series uses the UHF band of frequencies to transmit and receive audio. Originally used for analogue TV transmission and separated into 8MHz chunks that are still referred to as channels, the usable UHF band spans a range from 470‑865 MHz. From these frequencies, only a select few are legal for public use in the UK, so it is crucial to know on what frequency you are operating your radio microphones or IEMs.

In the UK, the UHF band is regulated by Ofcom, and they dictate which channels are free to use and which require a licence. Fines can extend up to £5000 and you can have your equipment seized if you’re in breach, so if you’re working with wireless UHF it’s important to know if and when you need a licence. It’s also important to know that UHF licensing rules differ between countries, so, for example, channels that are free in the USA may require a licence in the UK.

Let’s start with the licence‑exempt UHF frequencies that you can use for free within the UK. These occupy channel 70 and span 863‑865 MHz. As you can see, this is not a particularly wide range, so it has a limit of around four wireless systems before you start to experience interference.

The next step up is the Shared Licence Frequencies, which occupy channel 38 of the UHF band (606‑614 MHz) and are dedicated to wireless mics and IEMs. Using frequencies within this range requires a generic licence costing around £75 a year, but the extended range allows for 10 or 12 systems to work comfortably without inference. Bear in mind, however, that this is still a ‘shared space’, so if there are other users nearby there could be a clash of frequencies.

Finally, we have the Coordinated Frequencies, which span from 470‑790 MHz, known as the Interleaved Spectrum. This uses the spaces available between the digital TV channels (and other potential users, such as the military) with frequencies allocated by Ofcom on a per‑location and per‑date basis. This means that you can be sure the frequencies you’re using in this range will be free from outside interference and not being used by anyone else. Large touring companies and theatre productions that need 50 or 60 channels of wireless would typically use this option. Costs vary, depending on whether indoor or outdoor use is required, but typically you’d be looking at £50 for a block of six frequencies over 48 hours. The wide bandwidth offered by the Audio‑Technica 3000 system has an advantage here, as it covers such a big range of frequencies.


  • Wide UHF tuning bandwidth of 138MHz.
  • Network features.
  • Cue mode.
  • High‑quality headphones included.
  • Easy sync’ing between transmitter and receiver.
  • Competitive price.


  • Requires licence for UK operation.


The Audio-Technica 3000 system is a significant step up from units operating in the licence‑free band. Its wide UHF tuning bandwidth enables you to work within both the Shared Licence Frequencies and Interleaved Spectrum. Along with its professional features and ease of operation, this makes it a good investment for gigging musicians looking for the next level in wireless IEM.


£876 including VAT.

Audio‑Technica +44 (0)1132 771441.


Audio‑Technica US +1 330 686 2600.

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