Futaba 4PLS vs Airtronics MT4 – Choose the Best Transmitter

Are you passionate about RC and thinking of getting the best transmitter in the market? Surely you’ve heard conflicting opinions about Futaba and Airtronics from your fellow racers. Now you’re more confused than ever. 

So, Which one to choose in the clash of Futaba 4PLS vs Airtronics MT4?

Now, the Futaba 4PLS and Airtronics MT4 have the same number of transmission channels. But Futaba 4PLS has more features like the backlit LCD and programmable mixes. On the other hand, Airtronics MT4 is lightweight and has integrated telemetry sensors. Both transmitters use 2.4 GHz bandwidth to transmit signals, but Futaba has more range than Airtronics MT4. 

Still can’t decide? Chill out! We have prepared a detailed discussion for each of your questions.

For your convenience, let’s go through a comparative overview. Shall we?

Futaba 4PLS vs Airtronics MT4: Brief overview 

Choosing between two transmitters is not as easy as choosing a fun RC car from Arrma Talion vs Kraton. Before getting into the details, let’s learn more about the notable differences between these models.

SpecificationsFutaba 4PLSAirtronics MT4
Dimensions17 x 10 x 5 inches3.5 x 0.25 x 5.88 inches
Weight1.13 Pounds0.86 Pounds 
DisplayBacklit LCD DisplayLCD Display
Batteries4 rechargeable AA batteries4 rechargeable AA batteries
ReceiverR304SB (T-FHSS)RX461 (FHSS-4)
Band2.4 GHz band2.4 GHz band
DesignPistol TransmitterPistol Transmitter
Usage150 mA or less130 mA or less
CostComparatively Less ExpensiveComparatively a little more expressive

We hope you’ve got some basic idea about these two transmitters. Now, let’s go through the following section to explore the features in greater detail. 

Futaba 4PLS vs Airtronics MT4: The Nerdy Details 

In this section, we’ll cover all the questions that you probably want to explore. We have also included all the additional products that you might need for these transmitters. 

So without further ado, let’s get started.

What are the Unique Programming Features?

Futaba 4PLS was one of the few transmitter models with advanced Telemetry controls. But you’d have to buy Futaba 4PLS Telemetry sensors separately. 

You might have heard about the forward programming of DX8E. So the question arises, does the Futaba 4PLS have forward programming?

No, Futaba 4PLS doesn’t support the forward programming option. Spektrum™ developed this technology and is exclusive to that brand.

Futaba 4PLS transmitter and receiver feature four channels with different functionalities. You get to drive 40 other RC cars and transfer model data through MC LINK. It has varieties of gyro mixing, acceleration modes, and a lot more features than Airtronics.

The Airtronics MT4 has certain features in common with the Futaba 4PLS. It has a Telemetry Radio System, and some sensors integrated into it. The 18 model memory and four-receiver channels with advanced programming make it a close competitor. 

Does it Have Good Build Quality?

Futaba 4PLS is a stylish controller that has a modern feel to it. You might find the rear grip a bit small. The grip could be stiff as it doesn’t have a foam covering. 

The problem with the Futaba 4PLS is the placement of the external antenna. It is placed smack-dab at the head of the display. 

So, you need to be very careful as a light drop could break it right off.  We saw a similar kind of problem with the Spektrum dx9 where the antenna degrades over time. 

You could easily solve this by using a transmitter case.  Here are some of our top picks-

On the other hand, Sanwa Airtronics MT4 has a more innovative antenna placement. The antenna is more resistant to drops and getting jostled around in your tool bag. This is because the antenna is integrated into the handle on the upper left side. 

You get an optional grip that you can change to your preference. The ultra-lightweight MT4 features adjustable steering and an adjustable trigger function. 

How Good are the Display and Menu?

The 4PLS comes with a backlit LCD which gives the transmitter a futuristic look. Large 128 x 64 dot-matrix display comes with contrast adjustment. So it is a nice easy-to-read LCD.

Futaba 4PLS has a different menu system that seems more intuitive and easy to use. The 4-way directional d-pad makes it easy to navigate through the menu.

Airtronics MT4 uses an old-school scroll-wheel to change the menu. It takes a lot of time to navigate through and get to the option you like to change. The display is similar to the 4PLS but lacks the backlit LCD.

How Accurate is the Frequency?

The FHSS receiver is the slowest. This is followed by T-FHSS, which has a one or two ms faster response time. Then S-FHSS is the fastest and reduces latency to the 3 to 5 ms range.

Futaba 4PLS has an excellent range. In the Futaba 4PLS manual, it is stated that the range of this transmitter is 100 meters. But after testing, we’ve seen it goes way more than 500 feet even without the receiver antenna. Also, the maximum range is 850 feet.

So you might be thinking, how do I range test the Futaba 4PLS?

You may try range testing by simply taking your RC car out for a spin. Keep track of the distance. You need two people for this. 

First, connect the receiver to a receiver battery and place it in a box. Now use a distance tracking app on your phone and go for a walk with the Futaba 4PLS. Keep an eye on the distance and keep in touch with your companion. You can travel further if he says the receiver’s light is blinking. Continue walking until the receiver’s blinker shuts off.

On the flip side, the maximum range of Airtronics MT4 is 350 feet. The average response time is 5-8 milliseconds. You can use the SSR setting for the fastest response time. It is shorter than the Futaba 4PLS.

How Long Can Batteries Last?

With the 4PLS model, you can use 4 AA batteries. But it’s better to have to use a Futaba 4PLS rechargeable battery. Typically, the capacity of 4 AA batteries is 2800 mAh. So you’d get to use the transmitter for at least 3 hours. You can also use the Futaba 4PLS lipo battery.

The Futaba model has a built-in charge jack and battery holder. So you can charge the batteries easily. You can try attaching Nano-tech lipo batteries to your Futaba 4PLS. These are long-lasting and designed with serious performance in mind.

For Airtronics, you can also use 4 AA battery packs. The transmitter comes with an inbuilt Airtronics MT4 battery holder. The transmitter and receiver have the same input voltage of 4.8-7.4 volts. So you’d have to be very careful while choosing the rechargeable batteries.

You can use the Sanwa LiFe transmitter battery pack with 1850mAh of capacity. It is an excellent alternative to AA batteries as it is lighter and offers longer use time. Airtronics MT4 transmitter battery pack is available at hobby shops and the Airtronics website.

Otherwise, you can use optional Ni-Cd, Ni-MH Batteries or 2S Li-Po, or 2S Li-Fe/A123 Battery Packs. These apply to both the Futaba and Airtronics models. You should only use the recommended 110V AC Airtronics  MT4 transmitter charger with the charging jack.

Now, no matter how good a transmitter you use, if your charge is going out, then your transmitter and receiver won’t work

Can the Transmitter Support Multiple Vehicles? 

As Futaba 4PLS is a surface transmitter, you can power a variety of RC vehicles. However, this is dependent on the type of receiver you’ll be using with your transmitter. So, you should know which receivers you can use with it. 

The different channels of the receiver help to maintain and control the vehicles. Are you wondering how many channels does the Futaba 4pls have?

The T-FHSS receiver has four channels. But, the number of channels depends on the receiver you’ll be using. To find out Futaba 4PLS receiver compatibility, you can check their compatibility chart. 

Airtronics model has an inbuilt 4-channel FHSS-4 receiver that supports real-time telemetry. The transmitter also supports FHSS-2 and FHSS-3 modulation types. Therefore, Airtronics MT4 compatible receivers include FHSS-2 and FHSS-3 surface receivers in real-time but without the telemetry. 

Ultimately, it means that both transmitters can control a vast array of high-performance and ultra-fast racing cars. This includes RC Buggy, Monster trucks, Truggy, Rock Crawlers, and RC Touring cars.

How Much Control Will You Have Over Your RC?

Futaba 4PLS comes with an anti-skid braking system and different types of programmable mixes. If you’re using a ⅛ scale buggy, the advanced braking system will help you turn corners a little faster.

The gyro-mix and Dual-ESC are perfect for drifting. With the Dual-ESC, you can control the movements of all the wheels on your Monster truck or rock crawlers. The 4-wheel-steer allows you to have the upper hand while racing on challenging tracks.

Futaba has a brake mix. This feature allows you to upgrade your regular engine into a nitro RC engine. You can set your servos to different heights and different standards for your brake calipers. 

On the flip side, Airtronics MT4 has all the features that you need for racing in the most challenging courses. It has adjustable exponentials and ARC adjustments to deal with a low-speed wheel spin.

The dual throttle mixing will allow your rock crawler to dig and burn. It enables you to turn in a tight radius. Furthermore, the SSR and SHR Servo Modes will enable you to increase the transmission rate. Finally, it will be possible to transmit position changes to the servo more frequently.

How Much Real-Time Information Can you Get?

The Futaba 4PLS has real-time-telemetry. So, you can monitor temperature, speed, receiver voltage, and external voltage. You can still see the current trim position in the LCD. 

The 100 lap memory and timer come in handy at the time of racing with RC touring cars. Besides, the GPS drift module is a fantastic addition to the 4PLS.

This transmitter also records data at intervals. Hence, you can choose to store this data for later review.  But the downside is that you’d have to buy the telemetry sensors separately. You should keep in mind that telemetry is not compatible with FASST systems. 

On the other hand, Airtronics MT4 comes with temperature and speed telemetry sensors. 

It has a temperature and voltage alarm. Moreover, the Logger function comes with graphs and lists, but you won’t save the data like the 4PLS.

Is it Comfortable?

Futaba 4PLS transmitter case is comfortable to hold and feels very responsive on the track. Moreover, the adjustable trigger position is a valuable feature. For people with larger hands, the grip may be too short.

However, the Futaba controller is slightly heavier. So, it may be too heavy to hold for an extended period. 

Alternatively, the Airtronics MT4 transmitter case is lightweight and has optional grips. So you can adjust the grip to your liking. 

Which One Shows Better Performance?

The overall performance of Futaba 4PLS is excellent. Even after a few falls and a broken antenna, this transmitter can perform smoothly. Its various system functions and programmable mixes make it a very easy-to-use transmitter.

Both the transmitters operate at the same frequency. But, the Futaba 4PLS receiver has a greater range than the Airtronics MT4 receiver. You might be thinking, what is the range of a 2.4 GHz transmitter?

Well, the 2.4 GHz frequency typically has a maximum range of 1.6 km. However, factors such as obstacles, nearby wi-fi, and even noise can impact the range. 

Airtronics MT4 has a good build quality. It is made explicitly for challenging courses as it has a faster response time. Furthermore, the Airtronics MT4 transmitter battery is far better than the Futaba model.

But, we found that most testers preferred how the Airtronics felt in hand and liked 4PLS better on track. So we can say that 4PLS shows overall better performance.

Is it Easy to Upgrade and Setup?

Futaba 4PLS transmitter setup is very user-friendly. You can update the software regularly and maintain the latest settings. Having CIU-2 is a significant advantage to updating the system, but you’d have to buy it separately.

Futaba 4PLS binding is simple but only in the case of telemetry receivers as it has the ‘bind’ option. But in other modes, you’d have to bind it like regular receivers. The same goes for the Airtronics model.

The Airtronics MT4 transmitter setup is similar to Futaba. You can download the software quickly and keep up with the updated version.

So, Which One Has Better Value?

Futaba 4PLS price is around $210. It has a lot more features than one might expect at such a price point.  While it’s not perfect, it has all the essential components, and the telemetry feature is the bonus.

However, some might think it’s expensive as it lacks telemetry sensors. Undoubtedly, it performs better with programmable mixes that are only found in high-end transmitters. 

The Airtronics MT4 may look like a basic transmitter, but it has excellent build quality. The price point of this model is about $250. With suitable protocols, this model gives you a better value with the added telemetry sensors. So you won’t have to buy the sensors separately, as each costs around $50-$60.

But, for regular use, Futaba shows the best value as per the price range. Starting from the range to latency, in each stage, Futaba takes the lead. But if you need the telemetry sensors, you should go for the Airtronics MT4.

Well, that’s all about the Futaba 4PLS and the Airtronics MT4 transmitters.


Can I use NiCd and NiMH batteries on my Futaba 4PLS?: 

You should never use commercial AA size NiCd and NiMH batteries on your Futaba transmitter. Commercial NiCd and NiMH batteries charge quickly. So it overheats and damages the battery holder.

Can I precise fail-safe settings in Airtronics MT4?

Yes, you can clear currently programmed settings on your Airtronics MT4. You just have to re-bind the transmitter to your specific receiver. Even if you bind the same transmitter and receiver pair, you’d have to start the binding procedure all over again.

How can I make the receiver vibration and waterproof?

You’ll have to wrap the receiver in foam, rubber, or vibration-absorbing material to make it vibration-proof. Also, seal the receiver in a plastic bag to keep it dry. If the receiver is subjected to high vibration and shock, you may lose control of the model.


With that, we have discussed everything you need to know about Futaba 4PLS vs Airtronics MT4. Now, you have a clear idea about the two transmitters.

Before deciding between the two, it’s best to hold each one and check which one has a better hold. This simple personal preference can make a big difference in overall satisfaction.

Best of luck. We hope you can settle down with your favorable transmitter seamlessly!