Home Forums Microphones, Audio Rack Gear and Settings What I learned about setting up audio rack gear for ham radio use.

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    I learned that nothing sounds the way you think it will or does and that fer-rites are your best friend. This is a frustrating rabbit hole to venture down and if you are up for a challenge of ESSB it’s a fun past time and approach that may yield to great audio reports.

    The first thing you need to consider is the capability and bandwidth of your transmitter, that will have an effect on your audio and sound. Some transmitters like modern Yaesu radios have hidden menus that have an option to increase your bandwidth, usually to 4 wide some SDR radios can take you up to or over 20 and that just causes interference for your fellow hams. A lot also depends on your voice, the variables can be endless so there is no blanket settings that will apply.

    I have found that my initial experiments in ESSB were with a FT-920 about 11 years ago and the bandwidth was about 2.8 still well within the courteous and acceptable range for ssb transmissions.

    I used mainly Behringer equipment due to the accessibility and price point of the gear. After months of working on the perfect solution for my audio setup I suffered a direct lightning strike on my 100′ tower, the only damage I suffered, knock on wood was the memory in my Virtualizer Pro 2024P was erased taking with it months of work and adjustments.

    I did manage to get my audio to sound like a professional broadcast station with the low, mid and high ranges in perfect harmony for my voice and pitch. This was not an easy feat by any means and I learned a tremendous amount regarding audio, frequency ranges, amplification, effects and the balance of the actual audio pieces with each other.

    If you decide to to go down this rabbit hole I have the following suggestions:

    Do your research, find ESSB groups and check out the audio sites like https://nu9n.com . Overall rack gear can be found at a very reasonable price, as with anything there are differences in equipment quality and prices, you can get a smart car or you can get a Ferrari up to you.

    Things I learned about running rack gear on my ham station.

    1.It will take dedication and days, months of work to get it all figured out.
    2.Fer-rites are a necessary component and are a bit expensive.
    3.By the time its all said and done you will have plastic tubs full of audio patch cords and things you have no idea what they are.
    4.It was a fun project that yielded on hands experience if I ever wanted to be an audio engineer.
    5.You get people that will hate the sound of your station, or love the sound of your station.
    6.Be careful who helps you, because you will sound different on different radios depending on their receiver.
    7.The radio monitor feature is not close to what you sound like unless you are using a stock microphone.
    8.If you use an HF amplifier, YOU WILL be chasing RFI through your audio.
    9.If you don’t have adequate station grounding you will find out very quickly, RFI.

    The question is would I do it again?

    If I wanted to be a professional audio engineer, yes.

    At that point and time it was something I wanted to do and enjoyed doing it, but looking back I would have been better off learning another ham radio aspect like EME, Microwave or Amplifier construction.

    Once the SDR radios started to show on the market and major amateur radio gear manufacturers were including EQ’s it was a game changer.

    Today I use a EQplus and 8 Band EQ from W2IHY and it does everything that I need to get good audio reports, it’s even very RFI proof. Yaesu even has microphones with EQ’s built into the base.

    The one suggestion I have that is most important, don’t drive yourself nuts!

    To try and get a good idea of what you sound like on the air find a location through https://websdr.com and listen to yourself.

    I hope this short story helped, if you have questions please do not hesitate to reach out.

    Frank N6AQ

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