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Old 06-13-2018, 11:21 PM
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Default Radio Havana Cuba's audio quality

Is it just me, or have others noticed how poor the audio is on RHC these days? The signal strength is another matter; it's always strong. However, the audio lacks punch. There's not enough treble, so that the announcers seem to be mumbling, making it pretty hard to understand what they're saying. I mentioned this more than a year ago in a signal report, which was read on their mailbag show. The show's host sounded a bit sarcastic when he passed along the comment about the audio.
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Old 06-14-2018, 2:17 AM
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I listen to RHC once in while and agree with your audio comments. They are loud out here in So. Calif on several bands. Can hear RHC walking around with new IC-R30 and the stock antenna quite well in evenings.
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Old 06-14-2018, 5:56 AM
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Is it just me, or have others noticed how poor the audio is on RHC these days? The signal strength is another matter; it's always strong. However, the audio lacks punch. There's not enough treble, so that the announcers seem to be mumbling, making it pretty hard to understand what they're saying. I mentioned this more than a year ago in a signal report, which was read on their mailbag show. The show's host sounded a bit sarcastic when he passed along the comment about the audio.
It's possible they need to tweak their settings a bit. I think the problem with the signal is that it is doing double duty. About 3 years ago I was listening to RHC and all of a sudden, this Spanish speaking lady comes on and starts announcing numbers. This goes on for about 10 seconds and then it jumps back to regular programming. This was obviously a screw up but it let me know what the transmitter and antenna systems are being used for. Double duty..
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Old 06-14-2018, 6:12 AM
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I'm sure it was just the winning lottery numbers... nothing funny going on down there /sarcasm.
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Old 06-14-2018, 8:16 AM
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Originally Posted by sshermanmd View Post
I listen to RHC once in while and agree with your audio comments. They are loud out here in So. Calif on several bands. Can hear RHC walking around with new IC-R30 and the stock antenna quite well in evenings.
Thanks! Glad it's not just me, but they need to fix that, unless they don't care if their messages get across or not.
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Old 06-14-2018, 8:28 AM
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It's possible they need to tweak their settings a bit. I think the problem with the signal is that it is doing double duty. About 3 years ago I was listening to RHC and all of a sudden, this Spanish speaking lady comes on and starts announcing numbers. This goes on for about 10 seconds and then it jumps back to regular programming. This was obviously a screw up but it let me know what the transmitter and antenna systems are being used for. Double duty..
Ah ... those infamous "spy numbers"! They often used to pop up quite close to RHC's regular broadcast frequencies, but I haven't heard them for quite a long time.

By the way, China Radio International's English broadcasts to North America are carried on RHC's transmitters, so make that triple duty! The only time I hear CRI directly from transmitter sites in China is when their programs are in Japanese. In fact, they're on right now at 13:51 UTC on 7410 kHz. Pretty strong signal, but then I'm in western Canada, so it's not that big a hop, and it's still dark along that path.
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Old 06-14-2018, 8:31 AM
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I'm sure it was just the winning lottery numbers... nothing funny going on down there /sarcasm.
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Old 06-14-2018, 8:45 AM
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I listen to RHC usually couple times a week, I like Arnie Coro. All the programs I used to listen to are gone, Radio Taipei International is gone from WYFR. I liked Deutsche Welle until they quit broadcasting to NA. Listening on the internet just isn't the same. I use an ICOM R 75.
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Old 06-14-2018, 11:27 AM
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I listen to RHC usually couple times a week, I like Arnie Coro. All the programs I used to listen to are gone, Radio Taipei International is gone from WYFR. I liked Deutsche Welle until they quit broadcasting to NA. Listening on the internet just isn't the same. I use an ICOM R 75.
That's the radio I was using until a few weeks ago, when I got my Sangean ATS-909X. Somehow the Sangean manages to outperform the ICOM, although the ICOM admittedly has better IF filters and a nice, smooth tuning dial.

Anyway, you're right: Internet radio is not the same. I have a few .M3U playlist files that allow me to hear the streams from online broadcasters on my media player without going on the web. However, they include only a handful of international services in English; namely Radio Poland, Radio Romania International, Radio Ukraine International and the BBC's World Service. The rest of them are domestic services complete with commercials and usually in foreign languages, of which I can only understand German. I ignore the languages I can't understand and listen to those stations only for the music.

International broadcasters were what attracted me to shortwave radio many years ago. Now I tend to fill in the gap by decoding some digital transmissions, but they keep me tied to this infernal computer!
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Old 06-14-2018, 5:19 PM
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That's the radio I was using until a few weeks ago, when I got my Sangean ATS-909X. Somehow the Sangean manages to outperform the ICOM, although the ICOM admittedly has better IF filters and a nice, smooth tuning dial.

Anyway, you're right: Internet radio is not the same. I have a few .M3U playlist files that allow me to hear the streams from online broadcasters on my media player without going on the web. However, they include only a handful of international services in English; namely Radio Poland, Radio Romania International, Radio Ukraine International and the BBC's World Service. The rest of them are domestic services complete with commercials and usually in foreign languages, of which I can only understand German. I ignore the languages I can't understand and listen to those stations only for the music.

International broadcasters were what attracted me to shortwave radio many years ago. Now I tend to fill in the gap by decoding some digital transmissions, but they keep me tied to this infernal computer!
I have a Sangean ATS 909X also but am not happy with it. In SSB it seems off frequency a bit. The round tuner likes to skip 100 KHz at a time and then go backwards while I'm tuning forwards, so I have to direct enter. I now mainly listen to HF air traffic on USB leaving and entering US airspace with their sel calls. I use my R 75 with a long wire for that. I also listen to Coast Guard weather stations and VOLMET. It's the challenge of trying to hear a station I like. Internet doesn't do it for me.

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Old 06-14-2018, 8:28 PM
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I have a Sangean ATS 909X also but am not happy with it. In SSB it seems off frequency a bit. The round tuner likes to skip 100 KHz at a time and then go backwards while I'm tuning forwards, so I have to direct enter.
So far I haven't had the same problem. SSB clears up real nice, although zero-beating an AM station is a bit tricky. The slow tuning step is supposed to be 40 hz. If you look at page 20 of the user manual, it states that the slow tuning step for SSB is 40 khz -- obviously a typo.

Naturally the ICOM is more accurate in that regard; you can even select a 1 hz. tuning increment. My problem with the R75 is that its computer circuitry produces too much of its own noise over and above all the RFI already present at this location. It also has key bounce, so that if I don't get my finger off a key quickly enough, the receiver reacts as if I've pressed the key twice, or sometimes even three times. This is the case with the up and down keys for navigating the memories, and also the numeric keypad.

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Originally Posted by frankdrebbin View Post
I now mainly listen to HF air traffic on USB leaving and entering US airspace with their sel calls. I use my R 75 with a long wire for that. I also listen to Coast Guard weather stations and VOLMET. It's the challenge of trying to hear a station I like. Internet doesn't do it for me.
Well, I like listening to aeronautical stations, too, and have added many of the frequencies to the radio's memories, but they are definitely challenging for me. Reception from the east coast and the Atlantic regions is usually poor here even at night, probably due to all the mountain ranges to the east of me. West coast reception isn't too good, either, because there are also some mountain ranges between me and the Pacific. I'm in a valley in the interior of British Columbia, so it's no surprise that a lot of my better radio reception comes from hams in Colorado and Arizona. When I used to live on the Canadian prairies, the flat terrain made reception excellent in all directions.

That said, despite the mountain ranges I can hear Radio Romania International in the evening on 9730 khz, and that's coming directly from transmitters in Romania, not from repeaters. But then, they're running 300 kilowatts.

Coast guard stations are another matter. I get the coastal stations in Point Reyes, California and New Orleans pretty easily here. That includes their voice bulletins, as well as FAX and Navtex transmissions. Those faxed weather maps come up nice and clear, although I'm not too good at reading weather maps.
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Old 06-14-2018, 9:05 PM
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I have a Sangean ATS 909X also but am not happy with it. In SSB it seems off frequency a bit. The round tuner likes to skip 100 KHz at a time and then go backwards while I'm tuning forwards, so I have to direct enter
Oh, I forgot to ask you something: Did you have that problem as soon as you got the radio? If not, how long did it take to get in that condition?
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Old 06-15-2018, 11:16 PM
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Oh, I forgot to ask you something: Did you have that problem as soon as you got the radio? If not, how long did it take to get in that condition?
No it was fine at first but steadily got worse. Out of warranty by then of course. I got so frustrated with it I punched it hard so now all the black stuff is all over the screen so I can't see what I'm tuning so it's a nice expensive radio relegated to being stuck on one AM local radio station. Sometimes my temper I tell ya......
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Old 06-16-2018, 12:03 AM
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To get the topic back to your OP, RHC has been battling audio quality issues for decades. It isn't a new issue. Back in the 1980s and 1990s Arnie and I used to chat on the phone occasionally, and once or twice on 10m. (There was a time back when the group organizing the Winter SWL Fest -- swlfest,com -- tried to get Coro to attend, even paying his way, but the feds and passport clearance got in the way.)

The short answer? Old equipment, some left by the Russians, required chewing gum and bailing wire -- parts robbed from one unit to fix another -- and that included the links from studios to the transmitters. Again, unfortunately nothing new.

If one listened to the Cuban MW stations in the 1960s and 1970s, those with communications receivers would often comment that a transmitter was off frequency. I would have to dig out my logs to offer specific examples, but I recall seeing spikes of some on a Heathkit SB-620 panadaptor tied into the Hammarlund HQ-150. A 0.5 to 2 kc split was not uncommon. Even there was no second pip on the scope, hetrodynes against even against the I-A and I-B stations were obvious.

I think the Cuban economy is still suspect. With the Russians extracting themselves from the island in the latter 4 decades, so did aid. I haven't kept up with the recent decades to know how much and what type of aid China is giving Cuba. I imagine the infrastructure expenses are enormous.
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Old 06-16-2018, 8:15 AM
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QUOTE=w2xq;2950669]I think the Cuban economy is still suspect. With the Russians extracting themselves from the island in the latter 4 decades, so did aid. I haven't kept up with the recent decades to know how much and what type of aid China is giving Cuba. I imagine the infrastructure expenses are enormous.
It's been said that Cubans tend to walk down the middle of the street to avoid getting hit by rubble from decayiing buildings. Most of their food has to be imported, and I imagine that their trade relations with Venezuela must be really strained due to that country's current political situation and widespread poverty.

As for Arnie Coro, I e-mailed him a signal report a year ago and promptly received a nice, long reply. He's very friendly, and even offers to send listeners the plans for the radios he builds. I used to enjoy his shows, but now I can no longer make out what he's saying. DXers Unlimited and RHC's Arts Roundup were all I usually listened to. I also like some of the Cuban music they play. At least the music comes through OK, and I don't need to understand the words..
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Old 06-16-2018, 8:30 AM
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No it was fine at first but steadily got worse. Out of warranty by then of course. I got so frustrated with it I punched it hard so now all the black stuff is all over the screen so I can't see what I'm tuning so it's a nice expensive radio relegated to being stuck on one AM local radio station. Sometimes my temper I tell ya......
Sounds like what happened to me with my scanner after the warranty ran out: The LCD gradually lost one segment after another, until there was nothing on the display at all. I was flying blind, but managed to clear all the memories except one, the frequency of our local airport's control tower. So now I'm left with a scanner that continually scans one frequency. No need to hit the Hold button.

Yeah, it's not surprising that products these days only last until their warranties run out. But then, most of those warranties aren't worth the paper they're printed on, and I bet the companies know that few people are actually willing to return the products to the factory for servicing. Sangean charges $8 for that, plus the customer has to pay all the shipping expenses. I've also noticed that their warranty is stated as only valid in the U.S.A. Guess that leaves me out. So far I have no issues with the receiver, but then, it's only been a few weeks.
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Old 06-16-2018, 10:00 PM
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Sounds like what happened to me with my scanner after the warranty ran out: The LCD gradually lost one segment after another, until there was nothing on the display at all. I was flying blind, but managed to clear all the memories except one, the frequency of our local airport's control tower. So now I'm left with a scanner that continually scans one frequency. No need to hit the Hold button.

Yeah, it's not surprising that products these days only last until their warranties run out. But then, most of those warranties aren't worth the paper they're printed on, and I bet the companies know that few people are actually willing to return the products to the factory for servicing. Sangean charges $8 for that, plus the customer has to pay all the shipping expenses. I've also noticed that their warranty is stated as only valid in the U.S.A. Guess that leaves me out. So far I have no issues with the receiver, but then, it's only been a few weeks.
At least you didn't destroy yours like I did. I thought about getting a new one because it is a nice radio while it works. I can still hear Arnie fairly good, I'm smack dab in the middle of the US. I get a kick out of him cabbaging parts together to repair radios from old junk TVs and such. I also like to listen to Shipcom broadcasts too, 6519 USB top of every hour. They use other freqs but that one works best for me.

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Old 06-16-2018, 11:33 PM
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I have a Sangean ATS 909X also but am not happy with it. In SSB it seems off frequency a bit. The round tuner likes to skip 100 KHz at a time and then go backwards while I'm tuning forwards, so I have to direct enter.
Squirt some tuner cleaner down the side of the tuner shaft. The tuner mechanism on some Sangeans can oxidise over time. My ATS909/DX398 skipped frequencies (it never tuned backwards -- that happened with my DX394) and the problem was solved with tuner cleaner -- down the side of the shaft.

It fixed my DX394 tuning backwards, also.
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Old 06-16-2018, 11:37 PM
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I've noticed the deteriorating quality of RHC over the past couple years.

On 6000 khz, the signal is strong but the overall modulation is often very low.

Rebelde on 5025 is usually fairly clean, however.
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Old 06-16-2018, 11:54 PM
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Boombox said:
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On 6000 khz, the signal is strong but the overall modulation is often very low.
The very few times that have (or can!) listen, I have often thought that the audio was cr@p because it was overmodulated - but then the nice lady with the lotto numbers comes on and she's very quiet. Perhap's there's someone there who sets the mod level when he starts his shift in the morning and then doesn't monitor the audio level coming in or goes home for the rest of the day.....
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