I've never worked much SSB. I've always been more of a CW kind of ham. Whenever I have operated SSB it has usually been with a stock microphone, or in the case of my youth a Shure 444 that came with my FT-101E when I bought it from another ham at the club. The stock hand mic on my FT-857D has served well enough, but I thought I'd try and go one better. Now, its kind of driving me crazy. I picked up a Heil Handi Mic with the HC-4 cartridge. All I can say is OUCH. Nasty. I only have a few settings to play with on the FT-857D - tx carrier offset, processor, gain, and three eq presets. I picked up a 4-pin XLR connector and made a small cable so I can use a standard XLR Dynamic mic. I have a few of those around - a Samson Q4 and a Shure SM57. The Samson was a lot less grating than the Heil, and much more full bodied than the stock mic. I'm also not clear with the FT-857D where to set the processor and gain. If I have the gain high enough to register a few bars of modulation and a tiny ALC swing, I'm hearing the fans and background noise in the shack. If I turn it back down, I'm way low on the audio. The processor almost doesn't seem to make a lot of difference, unless it is set very high and then it just sounds kind of muddy. I'm monitoring myself on another rig, but nothing really sounds natural. With my amp on, using the Dynamic vocal mics I'm detecting some RF getting into the audio. Not a lot, but enough that I don't want to use them. No RF feedback on the Heil or the stock mic. I had a great QSO on 80 the other night and a fellow gave me a bunch of feedback and I thought I had the audio with the Samson sounding pretty good. Then, I had a QSO with a guy on 40 the next night and he said it was muddy and didn't have enough high end. He also detected the small amount of RF feedback. I actually have some experience with microphones in a studio setting. I've done a bunch of home recording, etc - But figuring out what sounds good on the air, and keeping the RF out is driving me nuts. Does anyone have any advice? I'm thinking I should just forget it and go back to the stock mic. The Heil is just plain ugly sounding with my voice.