Flex 6000 SSB Audio Complaints

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  • Problem
  • Updated 3 years ago
  • Acknowledged
I don't operate voice much but I've found a group of guys that I'm starting to join more regularly.  These guys are mostly about having clean signals and clean audio.

In some of our chats a number of listeners have checked in to say hi as we often talk about SDRs and in almost every case these guys can tell if someone is using a Flex series radio.  They picked me out on my Flex right away.

They described it like a Kazoo sound.  I've tried playing with EQ and I'm using XLR input on a really nice audio mic so I don't think it is that.  

I'm just wondering if anyone else has had "Flex SSB" reports?
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Mark - WS7M

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Posted 3 years ago

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David

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One thing you can do is record your transmission and play it back to see what it is sounding like locally along with watching the waterfall (remember to turn on waterfall in TX) to see what your signal looks like. That is a starting point.

I have had positive comments on my audio most of time. There have been times my setup has changed and had comments that something isn't but that happens.
(Edited)
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Michael Coslo

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Hehe, when I talk with someone new and they find out I'm using a flex, They often ask me for some indepth signal reports. 
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Kevin

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The 6500 is capable of operating full duplex. I don't know if the 6300 can do the same. What I would recommend is that you take a look at this video. I think you'll recognize the person behind the mic immediately.

Ken goes through a method of adjustment for the hand mic but the technique could be used for any mic. There's another video on setting up full duplex for testing. I'm actually working on setting up my microphone for the first time (PR-781) in preparation for this the NAQP SSB.

I am assured the Flex is capable of putting out some of the most outstanding audio available on the bands so if you are getting poor reports you should be able to improve the situation. At some point I'm going to guess they'll recognize your Flex by the high quality audio. 

It might be fun sometime for a few of us to try a meetup on the air and critique each other. 


Kev K4VD
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David

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There is the weekly FlexNet 14.329 Sunday's 1:00PM Central
http://original.livestream.com/wa5qpz
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Kevin

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I didn't know. I'll try joining next time around. Thanks!

Kev
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I always miss the net as I'm in betweeen Sunday lunch chores and church. But I'll try to join. Maybe keep my phone nearby so I can remote in.
(Edited)
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AH0U

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Also, what bandwidth are you using???
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Mark - WS7M

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Well I've used Ken's video to equalize.  I've opened my bandwidth up in the case of these guys to 3.6.  They say it not about mic or equalization but sort of a buzzing sound that they claim is in all Flex radios. 

I can't here it myself.   I do have access to a remote so I'll try recording myself and see what I hear.  I want to try the FlexNet some day.
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NX6D Dave

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Well, they might be hearing digital audio artifacts, but I strongly doubt it. I use a PR781 mic into a 6500 and usually run about 3K for the transmit cutoff.  I get complements on the audio quality all of the time.
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Michael Coslo

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Mark - are you certain you aren't having your leg pulled? I've never heard a buzzing nois on Flex audio. Some folks don't like SDR.

I see you are in Fort Collins, so a 20 meter sked might work.
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Mark - WS7M

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Nope... not sure...  Could also be flex haters for all I know!  I think recording myself and getting on the net and getting a few reports is the best plan!
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Mark - WS7M

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Let's set up a time and see what we can work out.  I'm open to try with anyone.
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Jay / NO5J

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They know clean clear audio when they hear it. They also know the rig in their shack is better than any other rig. I can usually tell when it's a Flexradio too, and mine does sound better than yours does. I can still usually tell a Flexradio with lousy mic audio is actually a Flexradio, in need of some adjustment. They can't fix theirs as easily. It's OK to feel sorry for them, they don't know any better. If they did, they'd be using a Flex.

  SDRgadgets

#FlexRadio IRC chat

  73, Jay - NO5J

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Mark - WS7M

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Funny you dropped in Jay... I seems the answer to my audio problem is a hex beam!  I think its high time you ship that puppy here to Fort Collins so I can test install it for you and weather proof it.   

I've heard hex beams solve many audio problems.  Email me the UPS tracking number when it's on its way ok!!!  :)
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Jay / NO5J

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Mark
I'm still looking forward to some HexAudio, here. I'll let you know when to listen. Recordings won't reveal the true HexAudio Sound. It will probably take me until late spring to get the mic adjusted just right, might take longer depending on when I get it in the air. I know you're going to insist on waiting until you hear it. Wouldn't do to ship you an antenna that might only produce normal audio, would it? Maybe you ought to wait until I can get it Tornado proofed too.  

And it is funny, isn't it?

  SDRgadgets

#FlexRadio IRC chat

  73, Jay - NO5J

(Edited)
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Bill -VA3WTB

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They say it not about mic or equalization but sort of a buzzing sound that they claim is in all Flex radios. 
This comment is a give away, it would not matter what you sound like, they won't like it because it is a Flex....
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Michael Coslo

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On the radio audio bizness, one of the "disadvantages" of the flex is that you can hear all of the really bad audio that many hams have. Like over half of us.
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Kevin

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Here's a couple of the audio files I created while adjusting using the full duplex mode. I was transmitting on slice A and receiving on slice B on 28.4 MHz. It's rambling words just to get started. I still have a lot of work to do but it's a start.

The DX version is here.

The Rag Chew version is here.

Kev, K4VD
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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A few of the early 6300's had a grounding issue in the front mic connector that introduced some noise, and were offered a fix. If you have an early 6300, check with FRS.

More likely, you are talking to a few hyper-critical audiophiles who are detecting the very slight, almost imperceptible distortion introduced by the very excellent PROC. When you talk to them, don't use it! Hi hi. ( In fact, I have one Mic Profile that I always use when I talk to a certain group or two on the low end of 80 Meters. I don't like it as well as some of my others, but it keeps them at bay.)

Or... if your bass is turned up too high, it can overload the PROC and cause some distortion or digital artifacts even if you are not in the "red." Turn your mic gain down a little.

The same can also be true if you have too many highs. I have found especially that too much 1K slider can give you a horn-like or "honky" sound quality. Nudge it down a notch at a time and see how it changes your sound.

Good audio is an art with the flex and takes some time to get what you want. But most people can get superior audio from the 6000, which will be very pleasing to 99.8% of the hams you talk to.

As others have said, ave a look at the tutorials. One that might be especially helpful for this issue is my "tour of audio profiles." It is a bit long (20 min.). But may be illustrative.

Ken - NM9P
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Mack McCormick, Elmer

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What version of software are you running? If you're running the latest beta version then go back to the lasted production version. PM me if you need details.

73,

Mack
W4AX
Alpha Tester
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Andy M5ZAP

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Hi Mack,

Don't keep it a secret if there is an issue with the latest Beta then let all users know.

One of the things that is really lacking on the Flex software Beta or non Beta is a "Known issue list" might help prevent others having to spend hours tracing down an already known issue.
(Edited)
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Mack McCormick, Elmer

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Andy,

There is an issue in the latest public beta with the Downward Expander having to be toggled once before it is active in the current beta. It will be fixed in the next released code to the public. I have to be very careful to not comment on Alpha code but in this case since it can affect audio and that is the subject of this thread I've decided to break protocol.

Of course, this is beta code and you can always expect bugs that need to be squashed prior to public gold code. The alpha team works diligently to try and squash all bugs prior to the release of gold code.

Mack
W4AX
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Andy M5ZAP

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Thanks for reply Mack,

If its a problem with the "Public" beta then it would make sense that any known issues are made available so people do not invest time trying to fault find a known (to someone else) issue.

I agree any problems associated with code not on public release should be kept internal within flex.

Since having my flex I have spent a lot of time chasing problems that are known issues. The solution to which are either deep within the forum or simply not published.

A maintained list of issues for software levels associated with full public they releases or public Beta would help everybody.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Do you use D.EXP? I've had issues with it in the past relating to audio quality. I turned it off and everyone reports good audio quality. Maybe experiment with it and see if that helps. My audio chain is also very simple. Just a radio sport headset and the radio.
(Edited)
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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I forgot that. There was one recent release that both the PROC and DEXP can sometimes malfunction upon initial rig startup unless they are toggled off and back on. That may be causing a little grief. But the work around is simple.
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Mark - WS7M

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All good suggestions.  I am going to work on testing my audio first making sure it sounds good.  I record music for a hobby so I should be able to figure how to record and analyze my own audio LOL...

I know these guys are picky and really they are good guys but they claim they can pick a flex out any time.  Not sure I believe them and I'd like to show up one day with a clean signal and blow them away.

Ken, I have been through 5 flex radios to date:  1500, 6300, 6500, back to a 6300, back up to a 6500 and on the 6500 I have now I'm running balanced mic into it, a really good music quality mic.

Ria, I turned the proc off so I don't think that is it and Ken yes I'm trying to build up mic profiles for different times.

One problem I have is I've been doing lots of CW (get great audio reports on that!!!).  So I'm just branching out in to voice pretty much for the first time on this rig.

I think the flexnet and perhaps a sked or two with some of you would be great.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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When I was doing a lot of full duplex testing, I set up to monitor myself on slice B, transmitting into XVTR port on slice A. Using slow or med AGC, and same filters on RX as tx...or wider. Then I fed slice B DAX channel into Audacity and captured a lot of audio to play back.

I also did a lot of live into headphones, though the delay can be problematic for some. It didn't bother me after a while.

And, yes, this is a great CW rig...and keeps getting better. And a fantastic RTTY rig as well....

Good luck. Would love to sked with you. I looked in my log and don't have you on record.

Ken - NM9P
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I'm on 3787 pretty much every night around 0300z, so drop in and I'll give you an audio report
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Michael Coslo

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As a retread person, I'm available most times, and all except 6 meters, and the 160 meter antenna is a real cloudwarmer from here. 80 40 20, depends on the time of day of course. 
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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@Kev K4VD - Quick suggestion, go through your audio chain lightening up on use of audio modifiers and gain.   You didn't exactly say what microphone you are using other than it wasn't a ham radio mic.  You may need to back down settings that with a ham mic would be set higher, in order to get the sound you want.

It is 100% possible to adjust a setup to really sound good.  I'm using a Shure SM5B studio broadcast microphone through a neutrally adjusted audio amp and using just the modifiers in SmartSDR.  A sked session with a friend doing adjustments and I am very happy with the reports I get. 

I also think your buddies are stroking you a bit too.  I've done an A-B test with a group saying I was switching between radios, but just flipping profiles only to have them declare the "Non-Flex" was better when it was all the same.  YMMV but I wouldn't put too much stock in emotives and more in your own ear.

73

Steve K9ZW

(Edited)
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Kevin

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Hi Steve... using a PR-781 mic. Part of the issue may be how I'm positioning the microphone.

So you are saying it might sound a bit over-driven and that I should bring down the mic level a bit. I think I'm going to try to remove the equalizer, adjust with the mic level then be a lot more conservative with the equalizer. I have a deep voice and some people find it hard to understand me on a telephone (or in person).

Those audio samples were taken from the receiver operating the 6500 full duplex. The equalizer was flat in receive. 

Appreciate the critique and I'll work on it before this weekend. I have not tried this on the air yet.


Kev K4VD
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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@Kev K4VD - deep low voice here too - though if you meet me on the radio it doesn't sound like that!! <grin>

If you want, toss me a reminder email and I'll pop some screen shots of how my EQ is set up for you.

I recognized long ago that to be heard AND understood I needed some help.  So I try to start with a very flat mic and use either external or on-board processing to modify what the other person hears. 

I also do my own brew of modification of received audio to improve my comprehension of the other station and to compensate against my hearing frequency response.  I've had visitors say the would adjust the RX audio differently, but they also noticed I ended up working stations that with the RX audio flat we couldn't begin to understand. 

In the end what works for you is what is "good." 

FRS suggestion to check for any grounding issues with a Help Ticket makes a lot of sense too.

Looking forward to hearing your next audio captures or hearing you on the air.

73

Steve K9ZW

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W7NGA

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Listen to the Flex net. Most signals are good, but not that good compared to other transceivers. To the discerning ear, you generally can tell a Flex is in use by the slight echo on the signal due to RF ingress. On 6300's it can be quite the challenge to vanquish completely. A lot of money is spent on expensive microphones for communications where intelligent tweaks of EQ and isolation can many times afford greater benefit.

W7NGA  dan
Seaside, Oregon 
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Official Response
Mark - sorry I am late to the game.  I am doing double time work this week.  I am converting your Community post to a HelpDesk ticket.  I want you to update the ticket with the serial number of your radio so we can determine if what you are experiencing is noise on the mic ground.
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Charles - K5UA

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Mark, Mark, Mark.  You'll never have great audio until you get your ticket punched by one of the audio "gatekeepers" on 75m, 40m, or 20m.  Of course, to do that you will have to endure years of endless hours of on air-fiddling with external audio processors, equalizers, and studio microphones, all under the tutelage of a small group of "certified" audio experts.  Unfortunately, you will never achieve full recognition as long as you are using a Flex radio, because THEY don't have Flex radios.

Remember the line from the Ricky Nelson song, Garden Party?
"But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well.
You see, you can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself"
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Yeah that's pretty much how it is. So I tell them I'm running an old broadcast transmitter I saved from the scrap heap... lol