[CQ-Contest] Best radio for SSB

Keith Dutson kdutson at sbcglobal.net
Tue Nov 20 19:22:26 EST 2018

There are mics for high fidelity, and mics for contesting.  One could use the hi-fi mic for both, but will not likely have the best contest score.

73, Keith NM5G

-----Original Message-----
From: CQ-Contest <cq-contest-bounces at contesting.com> On Behalf Of Jim Brown
Sent: Tuesday, November 20, 2018 12:45 PM
To: cq-contest at contesting.com
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Best radio for SSB

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 air.

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 bargain.

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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