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Avoiding The "How Do I Sound?" Trap

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by N1BCG, May 27, 2020.

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  1. N1BCG

    N1BCG Ham Member QRZ Page

    As I write this, I'm listening to yet another of countless ops fall victim to their own simple request for a critical audio report. The op is well into his second half hour of hearing "cut this band, boost this band, go into this menu, raise this control..." plus all kinds of rationale for why he's getting the last advice he'll ever need. He's also sounding increasingly odd despite having quite easy to copy audio at the start.

    My prediction, if it follows past cases, is this op will soon hear a counter opinion (by someone who is inevitably even more of an audio expert) and the cycle will begin again.

    Avoiding the "How Do I Sound?" trap:

    The question that *should* be asked of anyone asking for an audio report is "How do you want to sound?" This is what establishes a common goal and understanding before the controls get hopelessly twiddled to someone else's preference. It's important to know before dishing out opinions like Pez how an op mostly uses his or her station.

    If it's DXing and contesting, audio that cuts through pileups and ether-muck will be quite desirable and manufacturers know this when designing their rigs. If a fuller and easier on the ear sound is preferred for casual conversation with friends on a regular basis, then this will require a completely different approach.

    Fortunately, technology has freed us from the limits of other people's opinions where web based receivers can be set up to record an audio file that can be downloaded and evaluated. This is the best way to find out how you sound compared to other stations. Curious how you measure up? Set up a receiver to record (or record the receiver's streaming audio locally on your computer) then join a conversation. After a minute or so you should have enough audio of you and other stations you just heard for comparison.

    In the end, you'll sound the way YOU want to sound based on how YOU use your station, at least within reason. Then if anyone has a comment about how audio, you can let them know with confidence that you sound exactly as you want to for a reason "but thanks for your opinion".
    Last edited: May 27, 2020
    W2BTK, PU2OZT, WA3VJB and 2 others like this.
  2. KU4X

    KU4X Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Good advice. Another area where "all knobs right" is not the ultimate solution.

    KU3X likes this.
  3. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    If anyone asks me that, I say, "Human, so far."

    As opposed to dog or cat, because dogs use a roofing filter and cats have that purring sound.
    PU2OZT, WZ7U, NE4EB and 5 others like this.
  4. W1TRY

    W1TRY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Good evening. :cool:
    I want to sound like you, Clark. Seriously, Clark @N1BCG you have an excellent radio voice and the cleanest, clearest audio coupled with a nice, solid signal.
    Granted, the signal is due to my proximity to you, but if anyone wants to know what a good AM station sounds like, you're it.
    Even with an amp on the 7300 or spending a lot of money on processing for the Apache, I'll still be hard pressed to get the BCG sound.
  5. K4KYV

    K4KYV Premium Subscriber Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    I sometimes hear stations running atrocious scratchy sounding audio, excessively pinched frequency response with raspy distortion, worse than the semi-intelligible audio from the EAS warnings that destroy our TV show when thunderstorms are around, get compliments from others in the QSO for how "good" they sound.

    For many decades the prevailing attitude was that ham radio audio is supposed to sound scratchy, tinny and distorted. Hams who made the effort to transmit with good audio fidelity were often derided and ridiculed.

    Frequently, when someone with crappy sounding audio asks for an audio report, others in the QSO are too timid to tell him how bad it is, and instead pretend that he sounds OK so as not to "offend" him.
    WA3VJB, KQ9J and W1TRY like this.
  6. WA4ILH

    WA4ILH Subscriber QRZ Page

    I do not want to sound like the man on the 6 O’Clock news when chasing a rare one. The only voice frequencies that are absolutely necessary for communications is in the range from about 400 Hz to 2,400 Hz. This distinction is important because there is a considerably larger amount of power in the range not needed for communications below 400 Hz, about three times more power in some adult males. If you filter out all of the unneeded “power” of the voice spectrum below 400 Hz, you greatly reduce the amount of unnecessary audio power and increase the essential higher voice frequencies being fed to the balanced modulator. The down side is, of course, it sounds tinny. If you want to cut through the pileup with just 100 watts, Tinny is good.
    Tom WA4ILH
    NK8I, K8XG, W4IOA and 3 others like this.
  7. KN6SD

    KN6SD Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I just tell ops I only have three settings, Low, Medium, and Extra Loud :cool:
  8. KY5U

    KY5U Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I call them “Ham Zombies” who go from frequency to frequency just to eat our brains.


    You're having a civil but enthusiastic/interesting/technical discussion with a couple of hams on the air and you hear someone say "contact/break" or throw their call. You are in the middle of an important point, so you ignore them for the moment. The others do too. (I'll use the call of a deceased friend to illustrate)

    Conversation continues
    Conversation continues
    Conversation continues
    "Go ahead KE4FSC"
    "I don't mean to interrupt your conversation but I worked on my antenna today and wonder how you're hearing me?"
    "Hearing you ok"
    "How's my audio?"
    "You sound ok...", then back into our discussion.
    "Can I ask one more question then I'll let you guys get back to your discussion?"
    "Go ahead"
    "I am talking on a Kenwood TS-2000 and can I try my processor?"
    "Go ahead"
    “How does it sound?"
    “You sound better without it...." then back into our discussion. At the first break in the conversation:
    "Can you tell me how to adjust the processor level?"
    "If you want to come back in 30 minutes I'll try to help you"
    "Oh I didn't mean to interrupt your conversation! KE4FSC listening"
    (In 30 Minutes he isn't there)

    Replay the entire scenario the NEXT night"
    "KE4FSC Back in here"
    "Can anyone her me?"
    "Go ahead FSC"
    "You were going to help me set my processor?"
    "That was last night and you were gone after 30 minutes"
    "Yeah I went up the band and talked to some other guys and they helped me figure out how to set FM mic level"
    "They not help you with the processor?"
    "No because you said you would.. Am I interrupting something?"
    "We're having a conversation about vertical arrays and how to switch direction"
    "Sounds very interesting! So how do I adjust the processor on this rig?"


    Scene - Another Ham ZombieScenario.....

    You say you have a FTDX3000?"
    "Well you need to add some 'highs' 'cause your audio is muffled"
    "How do I do that?"
    "You go in the menu to the parametric equalizer and add them"
    How do I do that?"
    "Go to menu 166."
    "Where do I find that?"
    "Press the 'menu' button."
    "Where is it?"
    "Next to the LCD screen."
    "Above the VFO?"
    "No the screen with your S-Meter."
    "Okay I pressed it, now what?"
    "Rorate the VFO B knob until 166 is highlighted."
    "All that happens is my frequency changes."
    "What are you adjusting?"
    "No the little knob in the lower right corner."
    "The one that says mic/Speed?"
    "Not right LEFT corner!"
    "Don't get upset with me I am NOT an idiot!. OK I am turning it."
    "Turn until menu 166 is highlighted."
    "Where am I looking for this?"

    You're patient and get him through it. He sounds great. Next night he's back "How's my audio sound?" and he's muffled again.
    "You sound muffled, why did you change your settings?"
    "'cause some guy on 40 meters said I sounded bad!"
    "Who was this guy?"
    "Some guy who had years of experience on 11M with setting audio."
    "Did he walk you through the menus?"
    "No, he told me how to do a 'reset' on my radio. How do I load my settings back?"

    That is a Ham Zombie trying to eat my brains again....NOM NOM NOM, DERRP!
    NK8I, WA6MHZ, PU2OZT and 5 others like this.
  9. W2AI

    W2AI QRZ Lifetime Member #240 Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Cats also have that 'hissing' sound when threatened.
    PU2OZT and N3UPM like this.
  10. WF7A

    WF7A Subscriber QRZ Page

    During a QSO once, I asked how my audio was.
    "You're overdriving your mike--turn down its gain." Obligingly, I did.
    "How's this?" I asked.
    "Still too much. Crank it down some more." I did.
    "You're getting better. Some more." My mike gain setting is now at "2."
    "How about now?"
    "Just a little more." Frustrated, I turned the control to zero.
    "Now?" I said, exasperated. Silence. "Now?" I asked again.
    A few seconds later the other op said, "Ahhhhh, perfect!"

    At that moment I knew I'd been had. I had a good chuckle with that one.
    KD2ACO, W5TTP, W1TRY and 3 others like this.

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