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Monday, February 7, 2011

Audio Blues

OK, so the SolderSmoke community wasn't exactly Astatic about my use of the D-104. I was really kind of disappointed. After all, I'd risked my dental health (duct tape on my teeth!) in an effort to improve the audio quality. I found it especially galling that a new demon was added to my audio woes: AM broadcast band interference. QRM on the internet! I suppose it is somewhat fitting, especially for a podcast that occasionally dabbles in crystal radios.

Thanks for all the comments. Even for the bruising ones. They gave me some additional insights. Most of the problem is clearly at my end of the fiber optic cable. But I think part of this problem has to do with the fact that people are listening to the show with a wide variety of equipment: some are using car sound systems, some are at home using computer speakers (fed by all kinds of different sound cards). A very wide variety of headphones and earbuds are in use. Also, there are big differences in our ears! I, like many listeners, have some serious high frequency hearing loss.

But never fear, SolderFans! The quest for the perfect podcast audio continues. I have turned one corner of the radio shack into a roadkill sound studio. I have worked on several new (and several old) microphones. I have visited (and have actually read) several websites about podcast audio quality.

There may be a "name that mic" contest in our future...

7 comments:

  1. I think the negative comments are the radio gods telling you -- you need to homebrew this one Bill. You have a homebrew music theme, you build your own rigs. "Build your own mic, and they will come"! All your audio ills will be solved!

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  2. Come on guys, why so many negative comments? Sure, I still hear the whistling S's too but why care?

    First, thanks Bill for making this podcast for us to listen to! It's basically a report on the progress of your hobby so of course it should be about what you want it to be and what you are interested in working on right now. So don't read the rest of this post. OK?

    All right all you nay-sayers. What do you want to hear for the next podcast? A report about the ongoing attempt to get better mp3 audio fed through a fiber network into your hi-fidelity mp3 player? Or would you rather hear about a new qrp project?

    Ok, I admit, a homebrew mic project would be interesting to hear about. Microphones certainly are a part of our hobby. Still, I think the real problem is a fidelity mismatch. People are listening to phone on equipment meant to reproduce full music. Why not try plugging that mp3 player into the same communications speaker you use with your rig?

    ** Disclaimer - This message was sent in a lighthearted manner. While not entirely a joke if it were meant to be read as an angry rant it would be in all caps and anonymous :-)

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  3. Actually, the homebrew mic isn't a bad idea at all! Get an old box, a couple of razor blades and a piece of graphite pencil lead refill. Use it for one episode and nobody will complain so long as you promise to never do that again! :-)

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  4. Actually #129 sounded great. I'd just go back to that setup and build radios instead of mics.

    The D-104 is great for cutting through a noisy band with crystal filters at both ends. It was never meant for the 15 kHz clean channel we have through our various pods.

    #129 sounded as good as the professional broadcasters I listen to. Thanks, Bill, for all your work on my favorite of all podcasts!

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  5. Bill, Bill, Bill....por favor, no es necesario buscar el hilo negro. Keep it simple. I too think SS129 sounded as good as WRadio, NPR, Radio France, DW, you name it. A communications mic, like KC7IT says, is for use on the air in the ham shack. I say, do what you did with Audacity in SS129 and maybe invest in a reasonably good mic. Maybe one of the local music stores has something. Avoid the "audio snake oil", though. Enjoyed the Tyson the Cat-Cappuccio-bambina interlude...thanks for all the great shows...73 desde Guadalajara...

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  6. I built a bfo a few months ago from a design in the May 1990 issue of Popular Electronics. I was a simple 1 transistor hartley using a 2n2222 and it also used an old AM radio IF can for the tuned circuit. This circuit might not be up to your level, I suspect you could build something like it right off the top of your head without the article no problem.

    Anyway I mention it because I had a stability problem. The basic design wasn't tunable but the author suggested either an rc circuit using a variable resistor, or just a variable capacitor to make it tunable. I opted for the rc circuit because of what I had in my junkbox.

    It was horrible, it changed frequency when I moved my hand near the knob just like a theremin. Instead I opted to use a 1N4007 as a varicap and all my problems went away. It seems stable now. I was only putting it in an old junk radio that happened to have a shortwave band though. Maybe frequency variations would be more apparent if I were putting it in a quality ham receiver?

    http://unforgettability.net/content/page/blog_100705

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  7. Woops, that last comment was meant to be a reply to the Podcast #130 post, not this one.

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