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HF/MW/LW General Discussion General discussion on monitoring the HF (High Frequency), MW (Medium Wave), and LW (Long Wave) spectrum (0.5 - 30 MHz)

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Old 03-28-2008, 4:52 PM
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Default Headphones for SWL and Dx

I have quickly found out that with portable SWL, that the internal speaker usually has limited dynamics. Of course luggables and tabletop radios have noise filters as well as specialized speakers to keep the noise out. I have seen several reccomendations that headphones are the best way to properly listen to SWL and AM Dx. I use a pair of Sennheiser HD-560 which are about a $60 set and do pretty good. They are comfortably cushioned and fit over my ears. I think they do a good job, but I was curious as to what else was out there and what is reccomended. Like anything in the audio/hi-fi world, you can spend a thousand bucks on ear buds and still be wondering if you should have sprung for the next model up.

Say I have a couple hundred burning a hole in my pocket and I want a good set of 'phones. What do you use, and what would you reccomend, and what do you like? I like SWL, but would also like them to sound good on MP3, TV/DVD, FM, Gaming functions as well.


No earbuds, no wireless (I have enough RF noise please ), no "active" headphones. No bose.

Would studio "reference" headphones be a good idea? I've had reference speakers that were stupidly directional, but were the cleanest damn things I've ever heard. It was like an audio-microscope

Or do I look at "industrial" that produce the best voice reproduction in high noise enviroments and high transmitted noise?

Is there such thing as mil-surpluss? Could I get some SINGINT set or sonar-man's set?
They are for use in my appt, and eventual shack, so I could give a hoot about what they look like.
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Old 03-28-2008, 5:35 PM
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Your Sennheiser HD-560 probably have a better dynamic range or frequency response than that broadcast on either SWL or AM DX is transmitted at. Most AM transmitters have fairly limited frequency response (probably close to 100 - 10,000 Hz). They also highly compress the dynamic range to maximize reception range.
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Old 03-29-2008, 1:20 AM
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http://www.eham.net/reviews/products/9
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Old 12-02-2008, 5:42 PM
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FORUM NECROMANCY!


Okay, I'm bringing this back up because I have to make a Christmas list and my old Sennheisers finally gave up on me. So, i'm putting a nice set of cans on my list. (headphones, not the other cans! my wife will have to wait a few more years for those)


I have it worked out to this:

Sony MDR 7506 -Vs- Sony MDR V6


based on comments on eham, they are the same thing but the V6 is cheaper. I appreciate the reviews on eham, but I cannot expect hams to be headphone experts. The MDR V6 is somewhat cheaper $80 vs $100 for 7506, and I can even get a set from the Sony outlet store for even less cash ($40!). (I hate asking for expensive gifts, but I have an opportunity to ask for good stuff, I want to then get it!) Does anyone know the difference between the two? Is it possible that one is built in Japan and the other in China, as I would prefer a Japanese-built model. I would also prefer the more rugged model as I'm sick of breaking consumer-grade garbage phones. I have read an account on eham that the V6 model positions the driver closer to the ear for better voice recognition. The specs are mostly the same.

So what do you folks think? Anyone actually have experience with both? I'd go try them out somewhere, but these are not the consumer-grade crap you buy at Best-Buy and you usually have to order them from B&H or something. I really think both will do just fine, but want to get the best I can at this opportunity.

Oh yeah, I'm using these mainly for Dx listening and SWL listening. I'm limited on antannaes so I have to make the most out of the reception I get. I also will of course use them for the Saturday morning hair-metal sessions while I drink my coffee and the occassional isolation from wife while watching a manly (clint eastwood) movies Home use only. I'll worry about portability when I get there.


Specs:


Sony MDR 7506 $94-$100
http://www.amazon.com/Sony-7506-Pro-...r_pr_mention_t
Product Features and Technical Details
Product Features
Rugged Design - Proven to be reliable in the toughest situations
Folding Construction - Compactness in storage
40mm Driver Unit - For clear, high quality sound reproduction
Closed-Ear Design - Comfort and reduction of external noise interference
Stereo Unimatch Plug - 1/4
Technical Details
Large diaphragm foldable headphones. Headphone features include: rugged design, folding construction, 40mm driver unit, closed ear design, gold connectors and oxygen free cord, frequency response (10Hz to 20kHz).



Sony MDR V6 $72 ($40 for factory refurbs)
http://www.amazon.com/Sony-MDR-V6-Mo.../ref=de_a_smtd
Product Features
A headset system designed for audio professionals
40 mm drivers deliver accurate sound throughout the frequency range
Circum-aural design keeps ears comfortable
Reduces noise from the outside world
Copper-Clad Aluminum Wire (CCAW) Voice Coil enhances movement of PET diaphragm
Technical Details
Type: Circum-aural, Dynamic closed
Driver Unit: 40mm Diameter, CCAW
Impedance: 63 ohms
Sensitivity: 106dB/mW
Rated Power: 0.3 W
Power Handling Capacity: 1.0 W
Frequency Response: 5 - 30,000Hz
Cord: Single-sided, 10 feet (3.0m)
Plug: Stereo UniMatch Plug
Weight: 7.8 ounces (220g), without cord
What's in the box: Headphones, Soft Case
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Old 12-03-2008, 1:41 PM
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Dan, I have been using the Sony MDR-V6 for over a year, I think they sound great. I mainly use them with my Zune or Sangean WFR-20, but they sound ok on SW as well.

I find they are comfy and well made, but Im not sure where they are made?

For me, my only negaitive is the cord is @ 6' coiled (to long for most uses)
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Old 12-03-2008, 6:40 PM
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Simply stated the last thing you need for our listening purposes is a pair of high fidelity headphones dragging in audio frequencies you just don't want to hear. Those made for Amateur Radio and aviation are nice but a bit pricey, mil surplus gives the best bang for the buck. They're restricted to the voice range you want to concentrate on; you really don't care about the lo-fi music on SW anyway, you want to pull stations out of the noise and get a clear ID. Same communications wise and comfort is what you want for those long hours glued to the radio, not only physical but noise outside the voice band greatly contributes to listener fatigue. If you can find an old bomber set from WW2 you're in luck, I can wear mine all day like the pilots did and they sound great, clear as the proverbial bell.
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Old 12-04-2008, 12:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kb2vxa View Post
Simply stated the last thing you need for our listening purposes is a pair of high fidelity headphones dragging in audio frequencies you just don't want to hear. Those made for Amateur Radio and aviation are nice but a bit pricey, mil surplus gives the best bang for the buck. They're restricted to the voice range you want to concentrate on; you really don't care about the lo-fi music on SW anyway, you want to pull stations out of the noise and get a clear ID. Same communications wise and comfort is what you want for those long hours glued to the radio, not only physical but noise outside the voice band greatly contributes to listener fatigue. If you can find an old bomber set from WW2 you're in luck, I can wear mine all day like the pilots did and they sound great, clear as the proverbial bell.
Warren, thanks for the advice. Guess I had it backwards, but I'm gonna probably get the Sonys anyways. Where would one find surplus headphones? There is a shop that refinishes helicopter pilot helmets in the City, but thats all the wrong end of the business I think.
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Old 12-04-2008, 8:44 PM
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I actully found a pair of military headphones from 1957 and each speaker reads 19.1ohms till this day they are the clearest headphones ive ever used for SW purposes. I dont know what the brand is but I think they are Roade & SHORTS(I know I spelled that wrong, lol) but the brandname on them is kind of warn off so I cant read em, and I can see the & sign.

When I take my SW equipment outside, or MY mini Dxpeditions I use some radioshack headphones that were on sale for $10 (orig $30) each speaker has a volume control, they are very commfy on my ears, I re-wired the cord from the stuipd coil type to some HQ sheilded cable.
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Old 12-04-2008, 9:26 PM
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Wink Rohde & Schwarz

http://www2.rohde-schwarz.com/

Rohde & Schwarz is an independent group of companies specializing in electronics. It is a leading supplier of solutions in the fields of test and measurement, broadcasting, radiomonitoring and radiolocation as well as mission-critical radiocommunications. Established more than 70 years ago, Rohde & Schwarz has a global presence and a dedicated service network in over 70 countries. It has approx. 7500 employees and achieved a net revenue of 1.4 billion in fiscal year 07/08 (July 07 to June 08). Company headquarters are in Munich, Germany.

Approx. 80% of the total turnover is achieved outside Germany. Due to the comprehensive know-how and the innovative strength of its employees, Rohde & Schwarz is among the technological leaders in all of its business fields.
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Old 12-05-2008, 6:31 PM
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Dan, if it's mil surplus you want Google is your friend. I found several such pairs at hamfests, you'll find announcements on the Amateur Radio sites. Check out the Mountain Dew ad with the ham chick and lightning (You Tube can be paused and repeated, even downloaded if you know how) and you'll see my bomber headset hanging above the Gonset Communicator 2M AM rig. Don't recognize it? Top right in the stack.

"I actually found a pair of military headphones from 1957 and each speaker reads 19.1ohms till this day they are the clearest headphones ive ever used for SW purposes."

Shorty, military stuff is almost always 600 ohms; you're reading DC resistance, not impedance. Usually the transducers are 300 ohms each wired in series. For what it's worth I don't recommend measuring DC resistance because the low ohms scale uses a higher current to take the reading and may burn out the fine wire in transducer. If I need to run a continuity check I always use the RX 1000 or higher scale.

Solid state audio output stages aren't fussy when it comes to load impedance unless it drops below around 3 ohms. The reason is transistors are current devices and Ohm's Law states the lower the load impedance the more current drawn so transistors hate very low impedance and shorts, opens don't faze them a bit because current is zero. Tubes on the other hand are voltage devices that require step down transformers between them and the load so they get fussy about impedance and hate opens where voltage swing can exceed component breakdown ratings, they don't mind shorts a bit where voltage is zero.

What I'm saying is tube outputs must have the load matched in order to provide proper output while transistors don't mind a mismatch, they have no particular output impedance TO match. That's why 600 ohm headsets and 8 ohm speakers work just as well, the transistors don't care.
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Old 12-06-2008, 12:29 AM
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Contester and DXer top choice: Heil.

http://www.heilsound.com/amateur/products/index.htm
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Old 12-06-2008, 6:19 PM
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You pay for the name, Bob doesn't come cheap.
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Old 12-06-2008, 7:46 PM
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I'll second the vote for Heil. It's not the name you're paying for, it's the sound quality. There's none better. End of discussion.
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Old 12-07-2008, 9:06 AM
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End of discussion my behind! I stand behind my comments, "sound quality" being a subjective, not an objective argument. If you wish to end a discussion the last way to do so is express an opinion, you'll always get more opinionated responses.

I'll agree on one thing, Bob is a sound engineer and his products ranging from Amateur to professional are top notch quality with each being tailored to a specific purpose. That however says nothing regarding "sound quality" being judged by the listener, each has his own preference hence the subjective argument.
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Old 07-31-2013, 9:23 AM
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Default Summation thus far...

This is what I've gleaned from reading this thread and from several decades of audio practice...

Extended frequency range may be more of a liability than an asset for SWL. Phones capable of only 50 to 10,000 hertz may be better than those that cover 20 to 25,000 because the extended extremes at both ends don't carry the audio that you want to hear, and instead carry the noise and interference you don't want to hear. SW technology carries the voice in the range of 200 to 5,000 cps anyway, so phones with only a 50 to 15,000 cps frequency response is more than enough.

A tool that I know some swear by is a graphic equalizer, at least 9 bands but not more than 15. This allows you to tailor the aaudio frequencies you hear and don't want to hear to the type of noise you're receiving on a particular radio frequency. 9 bands is minimum so you can adjust on adequately narrow frequency ranges without impacting essential adjacent audio frequencies. More than 15 bands gets too complex to adjust easily.

Comfort is a more essential criteria than frequency response. And this is personal. You won't know until you try them on - for extended periods. So one question I have is: What phones do you find most comfortable?

Open or closed back: I will choose closed back (for SWL) because my wife is nearby and doesn't want to hear what I hear. Except around Christmas when I play "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

Long cord or short? Since we have to be next to the radio, a long cord, e.g. more than 6', may be more of a nuisance than a benefit.

Coiled or straight cord. I would prefer straight, not coiled so it doesn't pull on the radio if I lean back in my chair.

Build quality: Generally related to price. How much do you use it? How rough are you on it? How much do you want to pay? How often do you accept replacing it? At my age one built to last for 20 years is of little consequence and is probably not cost effective - I don't have any heirs that give a rats pituty about SWL..

Impedance: As I read above, since most of us have transistor equipment, an impedance match is not important.

Last edited by NeedtoKnow2; 07-31-2013 at 9:25 AM..
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Old 07-31-2013, 10:17 AM
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Heil if you can afford it,

The ones I use however are.
Most comfortable for long listening periods, Good freq response for voice and pretty inexpensive (~$50 as I recall), a pair of Plantronics gaming headphones found on sale at Tiger. Built for the rough handling a computer gamer will inflict and designed so it doesn't rest on the outer ear. Semi Open so my ears don't end up soaked in sweat and I can hear the other radios inevitably going in my shack.
I don't see a model on these other than Plantronics Gamecom. The microphone folds up and becomes part of the head band so doesn't get in the way like other computer headphones.

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Old 07-31-2013, 12:07 PM
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I just use a hi-fi set of Radio Shack lightweight headphones, which were probably designed for use with walkman style tape players and radios. I think I paid $20 or $15 for them in 1995. They have a six foot cord, so if I move further than a foot or two I'm not knocking the radio over or straining or weakening the headset cable.

I understand that a lot of hams and SWLs are into the limited range headsets, which are restricted to vocal frequencies, but I'm not of those people.

I've found that hearing midrange for more than a half hour causes more listener's fatigue than hearing the extra highs and lows a hi-fi set of headphones provides.

Sometimes that extra 'clarity' you get from hi-fi headphones can make the difference between IDing a station or missing an ID. If I want to tune out the high frequency responses from static, etc., that's what the tone control on the radio is for (and the narrow filter does much of the same thing).
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Old 07-31-2013, 2:45 PM
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http://davidclark.com/StereoHeadset.html
http://davidclark.com/Store/ProductD...?productID=658

A little on the bright side, but again, that's what the treble control is for and can mean the difference between successfully identifying a station (especially a distant FM broadcast station on an XDR-F1HD) and not. Frankly, if a set of cans don't perform well enough that I can hear every single MP2 timebase glitch and encoding artefact at 48000 Hz/384K on my CD player, it's not fit to be used with my radio equipment.

(And you should hear Andy Williams and the Hollyridge Strings through these!)

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Old 07-31-2013, 3:22 PM
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I actually like the 'open ear' type - I find the fully enclosed variety very tiring due to the thumps and bangs that come from atmospherics and tropical lightning crashes - with big cone movements my poor old eardrums get quite a bashing! I have used an pair of Akai ASE-7 for years and they still work well - the sound just seems to appear out of the air as if you were listening to speakers and you can still hear "'er indoors" yelling to tell you that your dinner is getting cold.......

See my pic on Ridgy's "Pictures of your SWL antenna" post.
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Old 07-31-2013, 3:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n0nhp View Post
Heil if you can afford it,
Semi Open so my ears don't end up soaked in sweat and I can hear the other radios inevitably going in my shack.

Bruce
Semi-open usually refers to the case being open on the back side of the driver. The ear isn't exposed to the outside air any more than it would be with a closed design. So I don't grasp how that would affect sweaty ears. Sweaty ears is more likely related to the material of the ear cushion - does it breath like a cloth or leather-like material, or is it totally non porous like a cheaper vinyl.
An open design is the rough equivalent to a ported speaker cabinet, eg bass reflex. A closed design is similar to a closed infinite baffle cabinet like the old AR's.
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