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Audio Audio Audio

Discussion in 'Microphones, Speakers & Audio Processing' started by K1DNR, Mar 10, 2011.

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  1. K1DNR

    K1DNR Ham Member QRZ Page

    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.
     
  2. W0BTU

    W0BTU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well, I don't know exactly how it sounds. But what I have found over the years is that there is a place for good sounding audio, and a place for tinny audio (for lack of a better expression). When you aren't moving the other guy's s-meter, you need a frequency response that is not the best choice when you are 30 over 9.

    Here's what I suggest. When you get into a QSO where the guy can hardly hear you on your 444, switch to the Heil mic and see what he says then. I'll wager that he'll understand you a lot better on the Heil mic.

    More times than I can count, I've seen people switch from a Shure 444 to a D-104. After they do that, the other station can finally hear them very clearly.
     
  3. K1DNR

    K1DNR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks Mike. The 444 was actually many years ago when I was still in high school. Right now its between the stock Yaesu mic, the low z "pro" Samson or SM57, and the Heil.

    That's a good point. My long 80 meter QSO was solid S9+. The 40m QSO was under really noisy band conditions. It seems like the Heil might want to do the job, but I've got to tame that big peak down somehow...
     
  4. W0BTU

    W0BTU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't know anything about Heil microphones, Charley. I have two D-104's and that's all I use.

    I used to operate a lot of weak signal DX on the low end of two meters, and a third of that was QRP with 2 watts. I cannot count the number of times that I heard the other guy say, "You're not moving the s-meter, but I hear you just fine!". That was using the D-104, my Collins S/line, a modified DX Engineering speech processor, and a transverter. No good-sounding microphone EVER got that response.
     
  5. K1DNR

    K1DNR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have a little experience with D104's from even years prior to high school when I was into CB. I still have a very old and abused one that a dear friend gave me years ago. The thing sat in a damp basement for 20 years and needs to be rewired. Never thought it was worth the effort considering the age, etc... The HC-4 was supposed to be the DX mic. I think most of the mics came with two capsules and you could switch.

    The D104 has bite, but the HC-4 will peel the skin off you face!
     
  6. W0BTU

    W0BTU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've heard of D-104's that deteriorated after prolonged exposure to high humidity. Keep that in mind.

    There's a darn good reason why the D-104 has been selling for sooooo many years. It's a great 'compromise' (for lack of a better word) between audio quality and intelligibility under less-than-optimum conditions.
     
  7. VK1OD

    VK1OD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Charley,

    You might want to evaluate whether your dynamic elements are picking up hum via magnetic leakage from the amplifier power transformer. If it is happening, it will be very sensitive to microphone orientation, you should be able to null it, and maximise it, and obviously, moving the mic closer to the transformer will increase the pickup.

    BTW, I have plotted the response of four of the 'legendary' microphones, three of which have been mentioned in this thread already, see Legendary microphones for ham radio . Your SM58 isn't a flat response, it is a vocal mic, but it would look flat in comparison to the 'legends'.

    Owen
     
  8. W0BTU

    W0BTU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Those plots don't seem correct to me. It shows the D-104 as having more low freq response (below 300 Hz) than the 444, which is absolutely not the case.

    Freq response depends on the load impedance, doesn't it?

    What I have found over the years is that there is a place for good sounding audio, and a place for tinny audio (for lack of a better expression). When you aren't moving the other guy's s-meter, you need a frequency response that is NOT the best choice when you are 30 over 9. More times than I can count, I've seen people switch from a dynamic mic like a Shure 444 to an Astatic D-104. After they do that, the other station can finally hear them very clearly. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2011
  9. VK1OD

    VK1OD Ham Member QRZ Page

    The graphs are from published data, and the D104 is not the amplified version.

    The problem with the D104 is that as a crystal element, it is extremely sensitive to load impedance, so applications that load it will give a quite different response.

    Did I correctly understand that HCx cartridges have reached end of life (ie no longer available)?

    Owen
     
  10. W0BTU

    W0BTU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Understood. I have both amplified and non-amplified D-104s.

    My observations were not only based on my own experience, but that of many others. I've heard many people, using different rigs, switch between the 444 and the D-104 until I was sick of it. :) I know good and well what the difference in sound was: the 444 is bassy sounding, and the D-104 is NOT.

    No idea.
     
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