[CQ-Contest] Best radio for SSB

Jim Brown k9yc at audiosystemsgroup.com
Tue Nov 20 13:45:25 EST 2018

I strongly agree. I've encountered Heil mics/headsets only when another 
op brought them to a contest station where I was invited to operate, and 
found them uncomfortable and even subject to RFI. On the air I don't 
like their sound. More to the point, they are wildly overpriced for what 
they are. In the world of pro audio, from which I retired, we described 
a similar company, Bose, as "better sound through marketing."

Almost ten years ago, W6XU, an NCCC member  who also works in pro audio, 
introduced us to the Yamaha CM500 boom mic headset, and arranged a group 
purchase. I've used nothing else since. The two 1/8-in plugs go straight 
into the rear panel of my K3, and the TXEQ makes them sound great on the 

My recommended settings for most mics are to severely roll off the low 
end and slightly boost the high end. For the K3, that means maximum cut 
of the three lowest bands (50, 100, and 200 Hz) and 6 dB cut of the 400 
Hz band) with 3-6 dB boost of the two highest bands (2.5 and 3.2 kHz). 
If the mic has built-in high peaking, like some Heil mics and the Shure 
444/440, don't do the high boost.

Before I bought a pair of K3s ten years ago, I used FT1000MPs for a few 
years. It was my experience that there was only one audio processing 
setting that made the radio sound good, it was tricky to adjust, and 
that it did sound quite good once you got there. But all other settings 
sounded awful.

ARRL Lab tests, summarized on my website, show Yaesu and ICOM radios to 
be dirty on CW, generating much wider signals than necessary. Using one 
of them can make you a very bad neighbor to fellow contesters. Those 
tests showed the TS590S, K3, and KX3 to be much cleaner. Early versions 
of Flex radios and software were also pretty dirty on CW, but after ARRL 
Lab tests, Flex issued new software/firmware that made them a lot cleaner.

My analysis of ARRL Lab results is here. http://k9yc.com/TXNoise.pdf

My own measurements of selected rigs is here.

While I've never seen the radio, reports from other highly regarded 
contesters and ARRL Lab tests say that the Kenwood TS590S is a real 

73, Jim K9YC

On 11/20/2018 9:14 AM, David Gilbert wrote:
> I've never understood the appeal of using an expensive, and reputedly 
> not very mechanically robust, Heil microphone if you have a rig with a 
> good equalizer.  I've used inexpensive computer headsets for years with 
> my K3 and the basic electret microphone in them can be tailored to make 
> me sound anyway I want.

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