Simple modification suggestion for Flex Radios and using MON when transmitting live voice.

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Ken Mills at Flex suggested that I present my idea to the users community group, so here goes.  A good portion of my background comes from on-the-air radio broadcasting where we always listened to the headphones when talking on-air for the reinforcement benefit of hearing ones own voice. The improvement of such monitoring is similar to the reason singers use ear pieces to hear their own voice. The problem with the Flex radios is that when you turn on MON to hear your own voice, the speakers 'do not mute'. So, unless you physically turn the speakers off, a powerful feedback will occur making monitoring your own voice impossible. So my suggestion to Flex is to add a simple 'software switch' somewhere in the GUI to "Mute speakers on MON". Turn it 'on' when you are using SSB or AM voice and turn it 'off' if you want to monitor FT8,  RTTY or some other non-voice mode.  *** Flex speakers should 'never' be on when using MON to monitor one's own voice.***  Of course, the setting of this switch would be saved in your mic and global profiles. This would allow a ham to have voice monitoring (MON on) via earphones when speaking on the mic and for the loud speakers to return from muting when the mic is turned off.

Doug-K0DV


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Doug K0DV

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Posted 3 days ago

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GM7VSB

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Yes, I would find this to be a huge benefit.
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John Chmielewski

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That sounds like a wonderful Idea.
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James Del Principe

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Doug, I may be missing something here because I just tried my Flex 6500 and it already does this.
I am running version 1 SW. My speaker and headphone sliders at the top right are set to 'Max'.
With the monitor set to 'On', I can hear myself in the headphones at normal volume but only faintly in the speaker and there is no feedback to cause a howl.
My settings are: DEXP - 35,  Mon - 80,   Mic - 50 and headphones and speaker to Max.
I use my FlexControl to set the receive volume to the desired level.
Does yours not work in this manner?

Now let me point out - which has been stated by others in the past - that what you hear is not what is transmitted. The monitor sound is pre-processing.... before equalization and compression.

Best 73, Jim       KD1I
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Doug K0DV

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Yes, Jim, but I think you may be missing my point. When 'MON' is turned on and you are using voice communication, the speakers should turned be 'off'... completely.  If they are left on, when you are listening to your own voice you will hear feedback.  Based on how you set the levels, the feedback can be very strong.  The speakers should mute and un-mute when you finish the transmission. Yes, you can turn the speakers very low when MON is on, but unless they are extremely low you will hear an echo of your voice and the speakers will add a hollow sound.
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MIchael Ryan

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Unless there has been some SUBSTANTIAL improvement in what FLEX labels MONITOR on the 6700, it is useless to begin with. MONITOR audio should sound like what other stations hear when they listen to your signal. Not what I hear now...no processing, eq adjustments, etc.  Sure..I can tell I have audio output. And I can monitor THAT. Why bother. But as I said, unless there has been some very significant change to how MONITOR works in this radio, it doesn't matter if I mute speakers or not. It has been suggested that i put a 2nd radio on the table with the rf gain dialed back to hear myself. Really? 
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James Del Principe

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I never use the monitor feature. Others on my round tables will tell me what I sound like. You can record your own transmissions and then play them back... not a great solution either. A second radio is really not a practical solution. Would it be so difficult to source the monitor audio post processing? There may be a technical reason but I'd like to hear it if true.
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Doug K0DV

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Jim and Michael, I agree with your points, but this is not what I was talking about.  I do not want MON to be used to hear my own voice so I can adjust the EQ to make it better.  I want to hear the reinforcement of my own voice, so I can tell what I need to do to adjust the tenor of my voice, as I am speaking.
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Bob Needleman

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Michael,
In my experience, the MONI circuit of most transceivers (Flex and non-Flex ) will NOT give you an accurate reproduction of your SSB transmit audio. I went through this last year with a Yaesu transceiver I had acquired and was attempting to adjust the DSP EQ settings for my SSB Tx audio. I thought it sounded OK listening with  headphones and the MONI circuit, but I quickly found out from other stations who i asked for a critical audio report that it was not very good ("Not your usual full bodied audio OM"). I made an adjustment and got told that it was much improved. So my suggestion is forget the MONI circuit (using a 2nd receiver in the shack, listening with headphones is a lot better than using the MONI circuit in the rig), but the 'gold standard' is getting a critical audio report from a nearby station, especially if they are able to record it and play it back to you. 
73,
Bob K3AC
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James Del Principe

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Bob, I agree that a report from other stations is the best method but having them play it back will add their own processing for both their receive and transmit equalization and compression.
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Doug K0DV

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Jim you are certainly right, but you guys are off the point of my original post. I am not asking about improving the electronic equalization or compression of my voice,(another valid topic) I am interested in in 'not' hearing my own voice through the speakers, when I am talking, without the feedback of the speakers, so I can use the my earphones to guide my own voice 'physically' to perform better, that's why I spoke about about singers who nearly always have earphones on to hear what they sound like and to compensate by changes in voice, resonance and breathing.
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MIchael Ryan

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Thanks Bob, This is not my first rodeo and I found that the monitor 'circuit/system' in the FT5K and even in the FT2K was great...very helpful. With my ProSet and HC5 element got terrific audio reports. I have a new Yaesu FTDx101MP but have been too busy to do too much 'setting up' the radio as such. The bottom line is I am more than a little disappointed that something even close could not be accomplished with the 6700. It is what it is. -Mike
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Geoff - W8GNM

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I agree that when the "monitor" function is turned on, the powered speaker output should always be muted by default while the headphone output should always be active.   If it is not too hard to implement, a useful software switch to allow the powered speaker output to be enabled for the "monitor" function would add flexibility when non-microphone audio monitoring is desired.

As others have stated, the ability to monitor the sound of the actual transmitted audio in the headphones is not available in the Flex Radio due to the time latency in the ESSB processing and SSB generation.    It would be helpful to be able to monitor the audio in the headphones after the internal microphone audio equalization is applied with minimum latency.

I use external audio processing only and do not use the internal processing, so being able to monitor myself in headphones is very useful for me to make adjustments in my audio processing prior to the modulation process where most of the time latency occurs.
73, Geoff
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Doug K0DV

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Geoff, agreed 100%.  Thanks.
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Steve G1XOW

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Spot on. The powered speaker and MON function should be "mutually exclusive" (in software coding terms). It's almost impossible to be able to run MON to powered speakers with any significant volume turned up.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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It is impossible to use any monitor to hear your audio to to tell how it sounds on TX. That is why we record and playback. Or use the Great FDX feature to record the incoming signal. Mixing the audio with the sound in your head makes it not possible. The monitor on the Flex is not useless, you can hear if something is wrong with your audio TX. It is not meant to be used as an audio reference, but to be an ambient sound to help make TX nicer.

I think bob has a good idea, but I don't think it should have to be part of any profile. Just be able to turn it on or off to mute the speakers or not.
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Doug K0DV

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Being part of the profile, just makes it easier to get the setting without rummaging through menus, looking for where you turn off the speakers when MON is active. 
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Rick WR0H

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The OP asked for the ability to auto-mute the speakers when in a phone mode, nothing about hearing an accurate sample of your on-air signal.  As a former broadcaster as well, I like his idea.
(Edited)
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James Del Principe

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Rick, mine already seems to do just this. I checked it this morning. When speaking during transmit, I can hear myself in the headset but at very low level in the speakers... not enough to cause feedback. Am I alone in this?
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Doug K0DV

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Yes, Rick your point is right on, and Jim, for most people, the earphone level needs to be pretty loud for proper physical feedback for good voice depth and articulation.
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Rick WR0H

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Jim--when I run the TX monitor at a confortable level (for me), the output from the speakers makes my desk vibrate.
(Edited)
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Craig - KØCF

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If you want to hear your transmit audio, the recording feature built in to SSDR works very well. It does record the transmitted audio after processing and equalization. I have done a macro for the Stream Deck with FRStack that starts the recording on one button push, then stops recording and initiates playback (which stops at the end of the recording) on a second push.

This works very well for adjusting the equalization for various mics so that they sound good with your voice.

You can do the same thing without FRStack/Stream Deck by just clicking the quick record and play button icons in the slice flag.

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Bill -VA3WTB

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Craig, that is the very best way to do it. if your critical.
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Jim Gilliam

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I monitor the Utah SDR with my iPhone ear buds to monitor/tailor my audio.


Jim, K6QE
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Mark NS9N

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All interesting comments but do you really think all other operators will like the audio you think sounds the best? What I have found is even after spending a lot of time using the record and playback feature on my Flex radios, then go work a few Nets, depending on the radios the other operators are using, I get everything from outstanding audio to sounds like you have RF in your shack. Of course I have learned that if you don’t roll off the bottom end, sorry guys going for perfect AM studio audio, unless the other end is an SDR receiver, your low end will end up distorted through the tight filters others are using. There is even one ham out there, call not to be published, that claims he can always tell a Flex radio due to the distorted audio. Rolling off my low end below 250 Hz and he claims I am not on a Flex radio.

Bottom line, you can monitor your audio at least two different ways on a Flex and I like having those options. But even when you think you have reached perfection, don’t be surprised when you get some poor audio reports.

After all this is a hobby not commercial radio. Remember Motorola spent years to perfect their audio circuits so that the highest intelligence was transmitted and received. But many would say that it was too limited in audio spectrum.
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Pat - WH6HI

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I agree completely and it all comes down to what floats your own boat....
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Bill -VA3WTB

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But only to a point is it personal preference about sound. We have a window to work in. If you set the audio so you have nothing but base, who do you plan to talk to that can understand  you? Or audio that has no lower end and thin sound, that would have much the same effect. the highs don't push out enough sound to hear. This is why we strive for an even sound between highs and lows. We are not playing music, but we are re producing the human voice, we want the audio to be heard through speech. And as noted above, At what band width is the other person listening to you. If you are transmitting at say 3.3 wide and they are listening at 2.1 wide, they will complain about you audio for sure..lol
(Edited)
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Doug K0DV

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We are all performers when we open the mic. Developing a good speaking voice has as much place as rolling off frequencies.
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Bob Needleman

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I am using a pair of Bose Companion II Series 3 powered PC speakers, which provide excellent audio reproducction with my 6600M. One of the speakers has a volume control and 3.5mm stereo headphones jack on the front. So when I want to use the TX MONI function to monitor my SSB audio, I simply plug in my stereo headphones into the speaker jack, which disables both Bose speakers and all I can hear is audio through the headphones. I use an external EQ device, and I can definitely hear the difference it makes in how the audio sounds through the headphones when I make any adjustment, and there's no interference from any audio coming out of the speakers since they immediately cut off as soon as you plug in the headphones. Simple solution but effective. 
Bob K3AC
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MIchael Ryan

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I have the same speakers here...have had them about a year. I couldn't figure out where a noise was coming from that had been bothering me...something had to be close by because it was still on the waterfall and you could hear it, even with the ANTENNA disconnected. Turned out to be the power supply for my BOSE speakers. Pays to have spare wall warts around...you never know.
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Bob Needleman

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No problem with the wall wart that came with my Bose speakers which I have on the floor a few feet from the rig, but if memory serves me, it's just a 12VDC supply, so I would assume you could just cut it off and wire them directly to a regulated 13.8VDC supply and avoid that issue completely.
Bob k3AC
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Pat - WH6HI

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I think a software selectable auto mute when mon is selected is a great idea.  I have also been burned by audio feedback.
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Jim, KJ3P

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Doug's audio-muting suggestion is certainly a good one.  I'd suggest one step further:  a choice of 1) completely muting the audio or 2) ducking the audio to a selectable level.

A radio station where I worked had a system like #2, and the jocks loved it.  When the mic was turned on, the monitor level dropped to a pre-determined level...loud enough for the jock to hear it, but without causing feedback or echo.  They could hear their wonderful voices without wearing headphones (and without mussing their hairdos).  They could also hear other things going on, such as music beds, phone callers, and other hosts.  Note that the jocks could not adjust the ducking level; it had been pre-determined by Engineering. Of course, the monitor speaker level could be adjusted when the mic was off.

For those ham operators who don't care for headphones, this feature would give the same assurance that all is well.  It would also assist the operator with mic technique  (breath noises, pops, etc.) and give real-time indication of problems such loose mic connections.  If your shack is in an echoey room, however, this ducking method might not work for you.

And I certainly agree that adjusting your EQ  to what you hear in your headphones will throw things way out of whack.  Recording your transmissions (via the Full Duplex method described elsewhere) is a fine way to get your audio processing in line. 
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Pat - WH6HI

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I do agree that mon is not the total answer, but it is enough to hear gross problems.  I had a net mate record my signal and sent it to me via web.  This gave me a really good idea of the quality and effectiveness of my audio.  By using the recording it showed a very excessive amount of low end audio, which was easily fixed.  Comments were positive after the change.  I was not hearing the low end stuff because my communications tuned earphones cut off the low end audio.  Understanding the affect of what is being used to listen is very important.  
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Steve G1XOW

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As a contester who uses a headset with VOX and MON active, I could not be happier for this to happen. Also, need the ability to listen to the voicekeyer input from apps like N1MM properly too.
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Mark K0JM

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You can only do this if the stupid profiles don't keep changing all of the time. If Flex fixed that "feature" (bug), you could simply set a profile for your digital mode, and another for phone, and the software would not require modification. When will Flex give us a choice about leaving profiles unchanged? THAT should be the fix them make.
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James Del Principe

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Mark, I would happily upgrade from release 1 to release 3 if only the profiles would stay the same. I have several profiles for each band.......    I'd love to have folders for each band so the list of profiles does not look so long. Now that would be a handy feature.
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Mark, if you create profiles for each band and save them in Global Profiles they don't get changed, unless you change it. Then for band changing go to Profile manager and select the Global Profiles and select the profile you made for that band. Any time you click back that what ever Global Profile you want, it will be just as you made it.
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Pat - WH6HI

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Profiles don’t change unless you manual saving them, otherwise it is persistence saving. Yes, persistence affects the current settings. But to get back to where you were simply recall the affected profile.  
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Pat - WH6HI

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I wish they would change the definition of these operations.  Persistence/Autosave are the same thing.  It is part of the operational memories.  Operational memory is not a Profile memory.  Profiles are the bed rock of settings in the radio, and once you set them up they will stay stable.  If you understand that operational memories will always change, no different from knob radios, depending on what the operator does.  The difference is that in the Flex SDR you can always fall back to your base settings easily.
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Mark K0JM

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Yes, that is how it SHOULD work. But the profiles DO change, and it's a PITA.
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Pat - WH6HI

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It is to bad that the latest manual does not explain the difference in clearer detail that Profile memory is separate and ONLY affected by a manual write function initiated by the operator.  Operational memory, and I am using a missing word in the manual, is what is affected.  After you LOAD the Profile of your choice, only then is it affected by the operators inputs.  If it a positive change, you MANUALLY change the profile by applying a new name or keeping the current name of that profile.  
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Pat - WH6HI

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NO they don’t, only operational memory changes do.....
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Bill -VA3WTB

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Mark, Using profiles correctly, they will not change without you input.
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Pat - WH6HI

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In fact there are three memories that are independent.  Operational/Persistence/Auto Save,  Profiles and the export/Import memory.  Which is your failsafe backups.  
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Pat - WH6HI

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Bill, thanks.....and Aloha!