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David Clark Headsets for Ham Shack Use?

Discussion in 'Microphones, Speakers & Audio Processing' started by WB0LDJ, May 9, 2009.

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  1. WB0LDJ

    WB0LDJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi folks,

    I have several (cheap) headsets in the shack, but I've always been fascinated by the David Clark headsets worn by aircraft pilots. Several years ago I took a helicopter flight, and was impressed by the comfort and sound quality of the David Clark headset.

    Have any of you used these headsets for ham radio use? I used to work a lot of DX in really poor conditions, and I've found that a lot of headsets which seem OK for a few minutes become really uncomfortable after being worn for a half-hour or more. The David Clark headsets must have something going for them if pilots can stand to wear them for hours on end!

    I went looking for information, and found that there are a gazillion different models. I assume that there are differences in earphone and microphone impedances, power requirements, connector (plug) arrangements, etc.

    Right now, I just don't know enough about what I'm doing to go out and buy a headset on EB@Y. With my luck, I'd get a 2000 ohm headset with a carbon mike that required 28VDC to operate instead of an 8 ohm headset with a dynamic mike! The ones I've seen listed are WAY too expensive to buy something that I can't use.

    Please pass along any experiences, tips, suggestions, or caveats to guide me in my quest.

    Thanks es 73,
    Mike, WB0LDJ
    mharmon at att dot net
  2. W4RAA

    W4RAA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Aviation headsets for HAM use

    I have a pair of Lightspeed 25XL and DX 4 and 5 headsets i use on my HAM Radios with no problems, i also use them with the headsert adapter on my Icom T90 HT in the Aircraft. Sound quality is excellent especially with the Lightspeeds, they are ANR (Automatic Noise Reduction).
  3. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ Ham Member QRZ Page


    David Clarke "skullcrushers" are fine for amateur radio. They do tend to be a bit "deaf" though...if you're used to high sensitivity earbuds and such. They are designed for line level telco standards, about -13 dbm....which is pretty hot by modern standards. Just so you know.

  4. AC0GR

    AC0GR Ham Member QRZ Page

    There are many different model of David Clark headphones. Mono, Stereo, Volume control, microphone, plug style, head-strap style...

    I bought my DC H10-C on eBay for around $45. The are the ultra-plain-jane model. Mono headphones w/ normal 1/4" jack, no volume control, no microphone. I love them. Excellent audio response for voice communication, and excellent at muffling ambient noise like computer fans, the XYLs vacuum cleaner, and screaming children.

    I did find this for you.... schematic for one of the fully loaded models.

  5. KI6LNG

    KI6LNG XML Subscriber QRZ Page

  6. W0GI

    W0GI Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have a couple pairs, and they really cut the aircraft noise, but I would call them skullcrushers myself. Part of cutting the noise, is that they are a tight fit. Not very comfortable to me, but for ham use, you could probably bend the headband outward to make them more comfortable at the expense of noise reduction.

    I'm not sure how well the mic will work, as they are not wideband, and while good for DX, wouldn't be best for ragchewing. They do have a distinctive sound, and work good for AM airband.

    I have spent way too many hours in aircraft with those things crunching my skull, to ever consider them for ham use. The best part of landing, is knowing I will get those damn things off my head soon.

    The Heil headset, on the other hand is real comfortable.
  7. KI6LNG

    KI6LNG XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The link I found above states that you have to replace the mic element due to impedance. Not sure if that's the wideband issue you are talking about?

    As far as my radio, I think I can build a project box adapter with PTT that will plug directly into the modular mic input. If I read the pinout correctly, the 706MKiiG has PTT, Mic Audio, and Audio Out all availabe from that modular jack. That would make a nice setup in my opinion.
  8. W0GI

    W0GI Ham Member QRZ Page

    The mic in the picture is the round one that I see on the helicopter models. I'm not sure of the impedance on those, but the ones I have are the square mic and work fine in my Icom A20 airband HT. I actualy have an Icom adaptor with a PTT to use the DC headset on the A20. It may still be available.

    I actualy lost electrical one day going into Fullerton, and only had the HT to talk to ATC. It was real handy that day. :)

    There are a lot of DC models, and some of the old airband radio stuff is a bit weird compared to the ham stuff we are used to.

    The bad news is that Bob Heil doesn't sell the HC-4 and HC-5 elements anymore, so maybe the mic you have will work.
  9. N0SYA

    N0SYA Ham Member QRZ Page

    speaking of headsets

    I have been using some home stereo headphones whilst hamming and swling lately. Most are dirt cheap digital sets from walkmen and so on.

    The best fitting, lightest, don't even know they are on headphones I have, the ones with the greatest audio response and clarity, even if they are cheap no name headphones, are of course the ones that allow the audio amp/IF noise to pass right through to your ears. That audio amp/IF noise that you never even noticed before when running your usual dedicated home stereo speaker. Oh sure, you can up the volume until the amp/IF hiss is overcome but by then you're going to be deaf soon.

    Why is it that all ham rigs have to have audio amp noise?

    Good thing I have a few others to try. I have an ancient rca home stereo set from like the 70s, white plastic clunky disco looking thngs that amount to a head clamp with individual volume controls on each disco ball. They work great, just enough high end to not pass the amp/IF noise but kinda heavy.

    Maybe I can find a less noisy audio amp chip and do some hacking....
  10. W0GI

    W0GI Ham Member QRZ Page

    That's why I don't like to use a headset. :)
  11. N2DLP

    N2DLP Ham Member QRZ Page

    David Clark info:

    H10-50 & H10-56 both use HIGH impedance mic's that require 8-15v DC not polarity sensitive. Have 150-600 ohm earphones. Have built in volume control with 20db variation.

    H10-76 uses a LOW impedance mic that will not work in circuits that provide DC bias voltage. Earphones are 10 ohm impedance with volume control at maximum level.

    H10-66 Has a selector switch for BOTH HIGH and LOW impedance systems, It WILL work with either. Earphones are 150-600 compatable with 15db volume control.
  12. N2DLP

    N2DLP Ham Member QRZ Page

    The pinout for the 4 ring single connector (U174/U) is
    1) (tip) mic red
    2) earphone green
    3) mic white
    4) (ground) earphone black
  13. AE4PC

    AE4PC XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I use a pair of JRC ST-3 headphones that I was fortunate enough to pick up on eBay for $30 in new condition. They are very comfortable and have the right audio response for me.
  14. AK4QA

    AK4QA Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Telex Airman 760

    I use the light weight telex ones. The great thing about these is the frequency response is only 300-3kHz. Human voice.
    I don't listen to music with them so why do I need 20-20kHz? Just more things to muddle the signal.

    Is my thinking flawed on this?

    They are about a 100 bucks and have worked great for me.

  15. N3RRH

    N3RRH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello everyone, I'm new to QRZ and I just saw this thread and couldn't resist making this my first post. I fly small aircraft as a hobby and I couldn't agree with W0GI more. I really can't wait to get the DC headsets off my head as soon as I can. But another hobby of mine is listening to music, and because of my odd hours alot of it is through High-End Headphones. It may sound odd, but there is a HUGE market for headphones that aren't sold at Best-Buy and Radio Shack. Depending on your budget you could spend $100 to $1700 on a single pair, although $1700 may be a little steep for Ham Radio use only. You would be absolutely amazed at the detail and separation you can get with a good set of over the ear dynamic headphones. You could get a pair of AudioTechnia ATH-AD7000 for about $90.00 from They are called Open OTH (Over The Ear) Headphones that are amazingly comfortable and because they are "open" you can still hear what's going on around you. Ultrasone is another manufacturer I would highly recommend. I have a set of their Proline 2500 headphones that are my daily go-to phones that I can wear for several hours at a time and not get fatigued or a headache. Another company you may want to look at is Beyerdynamic, they make Headphones and Broadcast headsets all of which are absolutely amazing at all kinds of price points.

    Ultrasone -

    Audio Technia -

    Beyerdynamic -

    Check out a website called they are a huge forum dedicated to headphones and gear for listening to them. They have tons of reviews and members and there are bound to be at least a few HAM's on there that could answer your questions
    Another site to check out would be which is a company called HeadRoom under their headphones for sale they have Frequency Charts for each of the headphones that they sell.
    Last but not least my personal favorite would be Todd the Vinyl Junkie, give them a call and ask to speak to Todd if he wasn't the one answering the phone already. Tell him what you are looking to do and he can offer a number of options and will bend over backwards to get you something that suits your needs and budget. And if you want to try out before you buy and ask really nice he might send you a loner pair(s)for a week or so for free, yes he really is that nice. Not too many people like him around anymore. He actually lent me a $2000 pair just so I could get an idea of what they sounded like. He's really that cool.

    Good Luck with whatever choice you may make and enjoy. :>)
  16. KI6LNG

    KI6LNG XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I got my H10-30's (Dual Plug) working with a 706MkIIG. I bought the two panel mount jacks from Arizona aviation supply and mounted them in a small project box with a PTT switch. I used a cat-5 cable and cut one end off and wired it up to the jacks and PTT switch in accordance with the pinout for the modular jack on the 706. Everything you need is in the modular jack (PTT, Mic, Audio output). Plugged it in and hit the PTT, great audio and good signal reports from other hams!

    One thing I noticed is when using the audio from the modular jack, it doesn't disconnect the rig speaker like if you plugged in using the actual headphone jack.
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