A review of the Icom IC-7300 direct RF sampling transceiver

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Icom and ham radio go hand-in-hand, one of their main markets is supplying top of the range equipment, this IC-7300 follows on from the wonderful IC-F7200 (which is a favourite in the office) and sits along side the new range of digital IC-F1000 & 2000 radios that are going really well, but have a new connector type, so new Icom radio earpieces are needed. Read the comprehensive review we found from the swling.com website.

In August 2015 at the Tokyo Hamfair, Icom debuted a new type of transceiver in their product line––one featuring a direct RF sampling receiver. Essentially, it was an SDRtabletop transceiver.

At about the same time that the IC-7300 started shipping around the world, Icom pulled their venerable IC-7200 off the market. Yet the IC-7200 was established as a well-loved product, due to its highly sensitive receiver, its relatively robust front end, and its quality audio. Moreover, it was simple to operate, which made superb as a Field Day or radio club rig.

Therefore, even though the IC-7300 promised much more versatility than the IC-7200, for its price point it had a tough act to follow.

So, of course––even more so than with any other radio Icom has introduced in the past few years––I was eager to get my hands on a IC-7300.  I’m very fortunate that my good friend, Dave Anderson (K4SV) was one of the first purchasers of the IC-7300, and that he didn’t mind (after only having the rig perhaps one week!) allowing me to borrow it for a several weeks for evaluation.

Note:  I should state here that since this rig was loaned to me, I evaluated it based on the firmware version it shipped with, and made no modifications to it.

Icom-IC-7300-FrontThis review primarily focuses on the receiver’s performance, functionality and usability.

Introducing the Icom IC-7300

In recent years, the “big three” ham radio manufacturers have been using color displays, and––Icom most especially––touch screens. While I’m no fan of backlit touch screens in mobile applications, I  think touch screen displays make a lot of sense in a base radio. If carefully designed, a touch screen can save an operator from heavily-buried menus and decrease the number of multi-function buttons on the front panel.

The challenge, of course, is making a display with intuitive controls, and one that is large enough, and with sufficient resolution, to be useful to the operator. In the past, I’ve been disappointed by many displays; the most successful have been incorporated in DX/Contest-class (i.e., pricier) transceivers, meanwhile, entry-level and mid-priced transceiver displays often seem half-baked. While the graphics may be crisp, spectrum displays at this price point are often too compressed to be useful, and if not a touch display, force the user to pause operation in order to find the correct knob or button to change settings. In such cases, I find myself wondering why the manufacturer went to the expense of a color display at all––?

Icom-IC-7300-Display

But what about the C-7300 display?  I’m thoroughly pleased to report that Icom did afantasticjob of balancing utility and function in design of the IC-7300’s color touch display and front panel. There are  number of ways you can chose to display and arrange elements on the screen–since I’m an SDR fan, I typically chose a display setting which gave the waterfall the most real estate. Of course, one can chose to give the frequency display priority or a number of other arrangements.

User interface

I can tell that Icom built upon their experience with the IC-7100––their first entry-level touch screen display transceiver.

I was able to get the IC-7300 on the air in very little time. Within five minutes of turning on the IC-7300, I was able to:

  • change the display to feature a spectrum waterfall;
  • change the span of the waterfall display;
  • adjust the TX power output;
  • change the filters selection and the transmit mode;
  • change bands and make direct-frequency entries;
  • adjust notch, passband, and filter width;
  • adjust AF and RF gain;
  • set A/B VFOs and operate split;
  • change AGC settings;
  • turn on Noise Reduction/Noise Blanker, and
  • adjust compression.

Basically, I found that all the essential functions are clearly laid out, accessible, and highly functional.  Impressive.

The IC-7300 ships with a manual–– aptly titled, the “Basic” manual––and a CD with the full and unabridged operations manual.  The Basic Manual covers a great deal a lot more than the manual which accompanied the Icom ID-51a. If you read through the manual, you’ll readily familiarize yourself with most of the IC-7300’s higher function operations, and especially, you’ll be able to adjust the settings to your operation style. The Manual is written in simple language, and includes a lot of diagrams and graphics.

If you’re like me, you will find you’ll also need to reference that unabridged manual, so hang on to the CD, too.

Still, I imagine there’s a large percentage of future IC-7300 owners that will never need to reference the manual––especially if they don’t care about tweaking band edges or similar settings. Yes, believe it or not, it’s that easy to use.

Operation

Icom-IC-7300-Function-Buttons

While I spent a great deal of time listening to CW and SSB in various band conditions and at various times of day, I spent less time on the air transmitting.

With that said, all of my transmitting time was in CW since the IC-7300 mic was accidentally left out when my friend loaned me the rig.

I’m please to report that CW operation is quite pleasant. All of the adjustments––RF Power, Key Speed, and CW Pitch––can be quickly modified using the multi-function knob. While in CW mode, you can also toggle full break-in mode, which is quite smooth, via the function button and touch screen.

SSB functions are similar. While in  SSB mode, the multi-function knob allows you to change the tx power, mic gain, and monitor level. The function button opens an on-screen menu with VOX, compression, TBW, and the monitor toggle.

Here’s a short video I made with my phone while I made a few adjustments to the IC-7300:

Of course, my smartphones’s microphone can’t accurately reproduce the audio from the IC-7300, but you probably get the idea.

The only annoyance I noted––and perhaps I’m more sensitive to this, being primarily a QRPer––is that the 7300’s cooling fan starts up each time you key up. It even comes on when transmit power is at its lowest setting. I find this a little distracting in CW.  Fortunately, however, the 7300’s fan is fairly quiet and operates smoothly.

Receiver performance and reader survey results

Since our radio comparison shoot-outs have been particularly popular (and useful; check out our shoot-out between top portables, and ultra-compact radios, and others), I decided it would make sense to invite our informed readership to evaluate the Icom IC-7300’s performance in a series of blind, informal tests. (For information about these surveys,please read the first survey.)

Below, I’ve matched the labels (Radio A/Radio B) with the radio models.  I’ve also included pie charts which show the results from the survey.

Icom IC-7300 vs. WinRadio Excalibur

Weak Signal CW (40 meter band)

CW

Based on listener comments, those of you who preferred the ‘7300 did so because the CW was more interpretable and stable.

Some of you noted that I didn’t quite have CW at the same pitch on both rigs. I believe this is because the IC-7300’s calibration was ever so slightly off. This has since been addressed.

Weak/Strong SSB QSO (40 meter band)

SSB

This result was almost tied. The Excalibur’s audio––without any adjustments––has a fuller and “bassier” sound. The ‘7300 can be adjusted to have similar characteristics, but the default EQ settings produce very flat audio. Many of you commented that the IC-7300 more faithfully produced audio optimized for SSB.


 

Shortwave Broadcast recordings

The following recordings were made on the 31 meter broadcast band in the evening. Both radios had the same filter width: 9 kHz and 8.2 kHz.

Weak Shortwave AM (Radio Bandeirantes 31 meter band)

Weak-SW-AM

There was a noticeable preference for the WinRadio Excalibur in this particular audio set. Even though the Excalibur’s audio splattered a bit, the content was more interpretable. The IC-7300’s audio sounded flat in comparison––again, something that can be adjusted quite easily in the ‘7300’s audio settings.

Strong Shortwave AM (Radio Romania International, French 31 Meter Band)

Strong-SW-AM

Once again, the Excalibur won favor, but I imagine results would have been closer had I adjusted the ‘7300’s audio EQ.


 

Mediumwave Broadcast recordings

Note that the following mediumwave recordings were made during the morning hours (grayline). The strong station is the closest AM broadcaster to my home; it’s not a blow-torch “Class A” type station, merely the closest local broadcaster.

In the “weak” sample, I tuned to 630 kHz where multiple broadcasters could be heard on frequency, but one was dominant.

Both radios are set to a filter width of 9.0 kHz.

Strong Mediumwave AM (1010 kHz)

Strong-MW-AM

Two out of three listeners preferred the Excalibur in this example.

Weak Mediumwave AM (630 kHz)

Weak-MW-AM

In this particular example, the IC-7300 could not pull the strongest broadcaster out of the pile as well as the WinRadio Excalibur. In fairness, the Excalibur was using AM sync detection, something the IC-7300 lacks.

Icom IC-7300 vs. Elecraft KX3

IMG_20160424_105444629

I also decided to pit the IC-7300 against my well-loved Elecraft KX3.


Audio Clip 1: CW (20 meter band)

Elecraft KX3: Radio A

Elecraft - CW

Based on comments, readers who preferred the IC-7300 felt the CW sounded more pleasant and stable.


Audio Clip 2: Weak Signal CW (20 meter band)

Elecraft - WeakCW

Your comments indicated that the CW seemed to “pop out” of the noise slightly better with the IC-7300.


Audio Clip 3: Weak/Strong SSB

(Sable Island working Asia/Pacific on 20 meter band)

Elecraft SSB

These results were spilt in the middle. Again, I believe this comes down to personal preference in the audio. And again––in both radios––the audio EQ can be adjusted to suit the operator.


Receiver performance summary

I enjoy producing audio clips for readers to compare and comment upon. Each time I’ve done so in the past, I’ve had listeners argue the virtues of a particular audio clip while others have the complete opposite reaction to that same clip. Not all of us prefer our audio served up in the same way. No doubt, there’s a great deal of subjectivity in this sort of test.

I’ve had the IC-7300 on the air every day since I took possession of it. I’ve listened to SSB, CW, and lots of AM/SW broadcasters.

And here’s my summary: the IC-7300 is an excellent receiver. It has a low noise floor, superb sensitivity and excellent selectivity. I even slightly prefer its audio to that of my Elecraft KX3, and I’m a huge fan of the little KX3.

I’ve written before about how difficult it is to compare SDRs; the problem is that there are so many ways to tweak your audio, filters, AGC, noise reduction, etc. that it’s hard to compare apples with apples.

In the audio samples above, the IC-7300 and WinRadio Excalibur were both set to their default audio settings. In SSB and CW, the IC-7300 excels, in my opinion. CW seems to pop out of the noise better and SSB is more pleasant and interpretable. The Excalibur has a better audio profile for AM broadcasters, though. Its default audio simply sounds fuller–more robust.

The audio from the IC-7300 on AM sounded absolutely flat. However, if I tweak the audio of the ‘7300, adding more bass, it instantly sounds more like a dedicated tabletop receiver.

I should also mention that while the IC-7300’s built-in digital recording is a fantastic and effective feature, it doesn’t produce audio true to what’s heard through headphones live. This is especially the case when you add more bass and treble response as in the RRI example above. When the audio EQ is set to a default flat, it’s quite accurate.

To be clear:  for broadcast listening, I’ll still reach for my SDRs (the Excalibur, FDM-S2,TitanSDRand CR-1a).

If, however, I have limited space and/or budget for multiple receivers, I’d be quite happy using the IC-7300 as a broadcast receiver on the HF bands.

Speaking from the Shortwave Radio Listener (SWL) perspective, meanwhile, am I pleased with how the ‘7300 handles the broadcast bands?  Most definitely.

And as a ham radio operator, am I pleased with the IC-7300’s receiver––?  Absolutely.

In short:  the IC-7300 seems to have some of the best all-around receiver qualities of any transceiver I know under $2,000.

Summary

Every radio has its pros and cons. When I begin a review of a radio, I take notes of my initial impressions. Here’s my list for the IC-7300:

Pros

  • Excellent sensitivity and selectivity
  • Excellent, highly-customizable RX and TX audio
  • Color touch screen interface
  • Spectrum display is large enough to be useful
  • Intuitive functions
  • Twin PBT is both intuitive to operate and effective
  • Effective RF gain to compensate for noisy band conditions
  • Built-in RX and TX recording, file transfers via common SD card
  • Front panel knobs and buttons are spaced appropriately and easy to use
  • Quiet cooling fan (see con)
  • Decodes RTTY on screen
  • Built-in ATU
  • Antenna analyzer function (not tested)

Cons

  • Lacks secondary receive antenna jack on rear panel
  • Cooling fan immediately starts up on CW/SSB transmit at any power setting (see pro regarding fan noise)
  • Occasionally you may get lost in deeper customized functions
  • Supplied printed basic owner’s manual, while well-written, doesn’t fully cover the IC-7300s functions and options; you must explore the digital owner’s manual in supplied CD.

Conclusion

In a nutshell: Icom has hit a home run with the IC-7300.  If I didn’t already have an Elecraft KX3 and K2, I would buy the IC-7300 without hesitation.

Though the price point is a little high for an “entry level transceiver,” it’s worth every penny, in my opinion. For $1500 US, you get a fantastic general-coverage transceiver with an intuitive interface, nearly every function you can imagine, and performance that would please even a seasoned DXer.

Though I haven’t done and A/B comparison with the IC-7200, I imagine the IC-7300 would prevail in a test. The IC-7300 would certainly wipe the floor with it’s more economical brother, the IC-718.

Radio clubs, take note:

In my view, the IC-7300 has the makings of an excellent radio club rig in which performance, functionality, as well as ease of use are important. I expect that the IC-7300 will not only cope very well with crowded and crazy Field Day conditions, but it will also give any newcomers to the hobby a little experience with a proper modern transceiver. The fact that you can view signals so easily on the spectrum display means that it will be easier to chase contacts and monitor bands as they open and close. Indeed, what better way to mentor a newly-minted ham in modes, contacts, carriers, QRN, QRM, and so forth, than to simply point these out on the IC-7300’s bright, clear display––?

If your club is considering a transceiver upgrade or purchase, do seriously consider the IC-7300. I think you’ll find this rig is up to the task.

And for home? The Icom IC-7300 may be all of the rig you’ll ever need.

LeBlanc: Protect your hearing it is irreplaceable

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This is an excellent story about how hearing protection is sometimes be essential, and when you’re on the shooting range it has to be vital. But it is important to get the right set of headphones that will protect your hearing sufficiently. Lessons can be learnt from this excellent case study.

There is no doubt that we all take our senses of sight, smell, and hearing for granted as long as we are strong and healthy and everything is working well. When we are young we tend to believe that we are indestructible and readily adopt the idea that “it will never happen to me.” Consequently, we can develop some bad habits and be a little loose when it comes to preventative measures for almost anything.

I know because that was my attitude at thirty years old when my eye doctor made a comment in passing that my eyes were perfect, but the chances are I would be needing reading glasses by the time I was 50. I scoffed, but you could almost have set your watch by it because by the time I was in my late 40’s my arms started to get shorter when it came to reading, tying on fishing lures and other things that required scrutiny up close. At 50 I was wearing reading glasses.

Growing up I never bothered too much about wearing ear protection. When I was plinking it was with a .22 rifle that only put out a little noise if you were the shooter so the thought of hearing protections seemed ludicrous. When hunting I do not know if I have ever heard my firearm discharge and beside that unless I was dove hunting I seldom shot too many shots anyway.

The change of heart came when I started shooting on an indoor range, while in the Air Force. I noticed after shooting a few rounds with my .22 caliber, Ruger Single Six that my ears would ring for a while afterward. One night a grizzled old Master Sargent suggested I wear ear protectors or take a chance of damaging my hearing. I took the recommendation to heart and have been wearing them ever since. The result has been that after many years of shooting .22’s, large caliber handguns, rifles and shotguns my hearing is still intact and working well.

Shooting is not the only activity that can cause hearing problem as any loud noise can damage your hearing. The intense vibration caused by loud noises can injure or destroy the hair cells inside the cochlea, so they no longer function to transmit nerve impulses to the brain. If that happens, you will experience hearing changes.

Hearing protection is needed anytime one is exposed to sounds above 80 decibels (dB). Normal human conversation runs about 30 to 35 dB. At its peak level, the sound of a 12-gauge shotgun is about 140 dB. 9mm runs around 159 dB and a .38 special with a six-inch barrel is about 156 dB, a .22 LR pistol with the same length barrel 140, an M-16 is about 154, a .45 ACP pistol is 155, and a .357 Magnum revolver is 164. All of them are around double the safe sound level. Just to be on the safe side I used to wear muff type hearing protectors and usually ear plugs also when on the range.

For range use today there is an array of muff style hearing protectors. The new style that I now use have not only hearing protection, but also hearing enhancement. The controls on each ear can be tuned to match your individual optimum hearing and increase the volume up to eight times normal. So when the range master gives a command or when you are speaking with a companion on the shooting line you can speak in a normal voice and hear them as well or better than without the power muffs. Yet when you shoot the sound activated compression circuit reduces the sound from the shot to a noise reduction rate of 24dB.

This is very important on a shooting range because I have missed range commands in the past from the range master simply because I could not hear them through my hearing protection.

The new muffs I use are from Walker’s but they offer many other styles in their Game Ear series. These are unlike the muff style protectors as the bulk of the unit fits behind your ear with an earpiece that fits inside your ear, the unit weighs less than one fourth of an ounce and can be used with or without glasses. These too can be fine-tuned to your specific hearing, allow you to turn the volume up to magnify sounds from five to seven times and still reduce the sound of the shots to a rating of 29dB.

The ability to custom tune the devise to your hearing as well as adjust the volume up on these models will enable the hunter to more readily pickup games sounds in the woods. Sounds like a squirrel jumping through the trees or when their belly slaps a tree when they jump from one to another. It will help the hunter pick up the minutest sound of a deer brushing by limbs or the whisper of them walking through leaves or disturbing a rock.

So now there is really no acceptable reason not to wear hearing protector and if you get a good set it may even enhance your chances of bagging some more game.

World’s slimmest, buoyant DSC handheld radio unveiled

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Icom Radio accessories

The IC-M93D EURO VHF/DSC handheld radio is the successor to the popular IC-M91D. Stylish and slim, this new Icom handheld contains an abundance of features including a dedicated built-in DSC receiver (meets ITU-R M.493-13 Class D DSC), internal GPS and active noise cancelling technology. In addition, an intuitive interface coupled with 2.3 inch full dot matrix high-contrast display and soft keypad makes this a comfortable and easy handportable to operate.

The IC-M93D EURO has an integrated DSC/GPS giving users the facility to send and receive DSC calls. A dedicated DSC receiver continuously monitors CH70 and is independent of the main receiver and other operation. Other important safety at sea offerings include a built-in compass, navigation and Man Over Board features.

Advanced noise cancelling technology on the radio reduces background noise by up to 90 percent on both outgoing and incoming calls making sure your communications are heard. The IC-M93D EURO come as standard with the BC-220 rapid charger which charges the standard Li-ion battery pack in just 2.5 hours. The handheld’s extended 1500mAh Li-Ion battery life provides a full day of use.

The IC-M93D EURO features Icom’s exclusive Float’n Flash and AquaQuake technology. Should the radio be dropped overboard, a flashing light will activate, making it easier to locate. The Float’n Flash feature works regardless of whether the power is turned on. The AquaQuake draining function uses low-frequency sound waves to clear water away from the radio’s speaker grill for clear audio.

Additional radio features include the IPX7 waterproof rating, 50 waypoint memories with alphanumeric names for navigation and a loud speaker.

Ian Lockyer, Marketing Manager of Icom UK, said: ‘The IC-M93D EURO combines advanced safety features with an intuitive user interface for faster and easier access to all the radio functions.’

The IC-M93D is now available to buy from authorised Icom Marine Dealers with a suggested retail price of £349.95 including VAT.

This ‘Smart’ Earplug Can Be Your Language Translator In Real Time

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We have all watched star trek or ‘Allo ‘Allo! (bare with us) and wondered how we can understand all the different languages. Well it is all down to the tardis! It translates the persons speech from their mouth to your ear so you can understand in perfect English. But now you don’t need to keep a Tardis about with you, as they have designed a earpiece that can translate different languages, just pop it into your ear and talk to some foreigners. You can find the original article here.

How many times did you give up on befriending a foreign national due to language problem? Even if you have befriended the person who doesn’t speak your language, it becomes difficult to converse with him or her. You always feel  the need to have a translator, whether it is a face-to-face conversation or a telephonic interaction.

Technology has the solution for any or every kind of problem in this world. It is advancing day-by-day so language barrier can no longer make you behave like an alien. Communicating with a foreign national in real time is no longer a pain as a company has come up with the Pilot earphones that let two people who speak different languages communicate smoothly with each other.

So there won’t be any awkward pause the next time you speak with your friend who doesn’t know your language. Also, there is no need to consult either a dictionary or search online the next time you want to talk to your French or Spanish friend.

In fact, Wavery Labs, a New York-based company that launched the wireless earphones, will add more languages as soon as possible. Currently the earphone translates only three languages – English, French and Spanish. The company will soon add Italian to its list.

You must be wondering about its functions. It works when you connect the earphones to two different people, speaking different languages and translates what they say in the ear.

Waverly Labs calls it the first ‘smart earpiece’. But it hasn’t disclosed much detail about how it works. According to the company, the earphone uses “translation technology” embedded in an app. The Pilot will cost $129 (around Rs. 8,646) and will be available for pre-order on their website.

DJs Shouldn’t Have to Live With Constant Ringing in Their Ears

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When you think about DJs you don’t worry about their hearing, but this is a real issue in the music world, they seem to be slow in picking up this issue, probably because the industry can be full of bedroom DJs, that don’t consider hearing protection. As the article below says, it interferes with the mixing. This article was originally published on THUMP Canada. 

I’m waiting to get my hearing tested and I’m scared. Most of my work as a music journalist, along with my social life, has revolved around loud music for more than two decades. While I often wear cheap foam earplugs, I haven’t been as consistent as I should have been, and I’m particularly worried about is the damage I’ve done while DJing.

I was never a famous touring DJ, but spent many years playing long shifts on a weekly basis at Toronto bars, sprinkled with occasional club and warehouse party gigs on larger sound systems. I’ve never worn any hearing protection in the booth, as I found earplugs interfered too much with mixing. Gradually I’ve noticed that I’ve been turning up the monitors over the course of a long night, and the ringing in my ears was taking longer and longer to fade away after each gig. A few years ago, I started to realize I was having trouble keeping up with conversations in situations where there was a lot of background noise.

Then one day that familiar ringing never stopped.

Even though hearing loss caused by loud music is a well-known reality, most working artists view it as an issue they’ll deal with when they’re retired, not aware of the fact that it can often impact artists at the height of their careers.

“I would go home after a gig and my ears would be ringing really badly, and then one day I noticed that they never stopped ringing anymore,” says Toronto house DJ and producer Sydney Blu, who’s been playing regularly since 2000. “Not long after that, I noticed that whenever I’m in a nightclub and someone talks to me in my right ear, I have to stop them and put my left ear to their mouth.”

She eventually got herself fitted for custom musician earplugs, but found she could never get used to DJing while wearing them. Instead, Blu just tries to keep her monitors as quiet as possible, and turns them down completely in-between mixes. “Most of the older DJs that I know all have tinnitus. I wish I had thought about it earlier, and realized how bad it could get.”

There is no way to reverse tinnitus currently, and the treatment options for hearing loss are still in their infancy. For busy DJs who are constantly touring and playing festivals around the world, many don’t notice the ringing in their ears getting worse until it’s too late.

“I think it’s rife in the DJ field,” says NYC house music veteran Roger Sanchez. “A lot of people have tinnitus and they haven’t even identified it. They’re just so accustomed to their ears ringing, and they think it’s just because of their gig the night before. But if you’re playing three or four times a week, your exposure is almost constant. Then when they step back, they realize they have tinnitus.”

Sanchez has been performing for 36 years, and started to experience permanent ringing towards the end of the 90s. Like Blu, he got himself fitted for custom earplugs, and feels they’ve saved him from further damage. However, he admits there was a learning curve when it came to mixing while wearing hearing protection.

“In the beginning, I felt like I couldn’t hear things clearly. It was like someone had put their hands over my ears. It took me a while to acclimate, but what I started noticing was that I could turn my monitors up, but it didn’t sound piercing any more. I also had them put bass bins in a lot of booths, which helped compensate.”

Sanchez says that it’s become much more common in recent years for big name DJs to wear custom earplugs while performing. He finally got tested properly in 2010, and found there was a significant dip in upper range of his hearing around the 800hz range, but was relieved that the loss wasn’t worse. The persistent ringing in his ears is still there though.

“Right now I hear the ringing, but I’ve just become accustomed to it. I don’t notice it when I’m walking on the street, or if I’m not paying attention to it, but the second I quiet everything down, the ringing starts. It’s not too loud, thank god. I think using the filters prevented it from getting to that level. I know some people who have it very loud.”

Custom musician earplugs can cost more than $200, but they’re one of the few options for DJs who need to be able to accurately hear the effect of their EQ tweaks and filtering. The cheap disposable earplugs you can buy at the drugstore will protect your ears the same amount, but change the sound so much that few performers use them.

“A cheap foam earplug might bring the sound down by 25db at one frequency, and 10db at another,” explains Adam Rhodes, the US director of hearing protection company ACS Custom. “They muffle the sound, because it’s not a true response. You can’t hear anything, it takes away the enjoyment of the experience, so you just end up taking them out. When you’ve got the right filter though, you’re not sacrificing the quality at all: you’re just turning it down.”

ACS works with many of the biggest names in electronic music, from Tiesto to Zedd to Deadmau5. Rhodes says that there’s much more awareness of the issue now, although too often artists come to them after they’ve already done permanent damage. “Pretty much every week we hear someone say they wish they’d heard about this ten years ago. We hear that often,” he says. “I think it’s all about education. We’re at a festival every weekend in the summers, trying to make it as accessible to them as possible.”

Many touring musicians have switched to in-ear monitors in recent years, which block out external sounds, while amplifying what they need to hear. In the electronic music world however, they are far less common, as they require DJs to completely rethink their approach to mixing.

“In-ear monitors haven’t always worked for DJs,” admits Rhodes. “They like to wear the cans over their ears, so they can take them off, and do a mix with one ear covered. There are some DJs who use them though, like Deadmau5. We have one model now that have ambient microphones built in, so that they can still hear the mix. That’s kind of the next level, but it’s still hard to persuade DJs to use them. They’re so used to wearing headphones and it’s almost part of their outfit when they’re performing.”

One artist who has transitioned to in-ear monitors is Dutch DJ and producer Laidback Luke. He started wearing custom earplugs in the early 2000s, after becoming concerned about tinnitus and a growing lack of sensitivity to loud volume levels. Around 2008, he decided to give in-ear monitors a try and has used them ever since.

“I just wasn’t getting the definition I was looking for in DJ monitors. We tried the in-ear monitoring, and I was so happy with the clarity. Even in big halls with lots of reverb, my monitoring would always stay the same,” he says. “It was a revelation to me. I could keep the volume low, and still hear every little detail in the song. I couldn’t hear the crowd anymore, but that just made me work harder to get applause.” It wasn’t until three years ago that he finally got up the courage to get his hearing tested.

Thankfully, it turns out that his early adoption of ear protection had a huge impact, and the results were completely normal. Even the constant ringing and beeping that panicked him early in his career has subsided.

My own ringing isn’t nearly as bad as it was a year ago, but it sure seems loud in the complete silence of the soundproof booth in the downtown Toronto clinic where my hearing is being assessed. I struggle to hear the tones, but feel optimistic that I’m able to notice some of the very high-pitched signals they’re feeding me. However, I’m also noticing that there are long pauses during where I probably should be hearing something.

“Do you work with heavy machinery?” the doctor asks me as he looks at my results, which makes my heart skip a beat. When I explain that I’m around loud music constantly, he tells me that explains what the chart is telling him, and why the highest frequency range of my hearing is still decent.

“It’s not actually too bad. Your left ear has a dip at 1K, but it’s still within the normal range. Your right ear has a much larger dip though, at 4K. You should really get yourself a pair of custom musician earplugs.”

I leave his office feeling relief that my hearing isn’t worse, but embarrassed that it’s taken me this long to take it seriously. Thankfully, it’s not too late for me to stop things from getting worse.

Benjamin Boles is on Twitter.

5 Reasons The Secret Service Hate To Wear a Radio Earpiece

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When you think of the US Secret Service agents, the image that comes to mind is that of a person in dark sunglasses, black suit, and a coiled tube thing goes into his ear. The coiled tube thing is what the agents use to monitor and communicate what’s going around them, where dangers lurk and where they’re are needed. Unfortunately, the coiled tube thing tends to be very noticeable such that the bad guys will easily identify the secret service agents. Over the past couple of years, various earpiece companies have closely worked with the US secret service, and have supplied the agents with quality covert tactical earpieces. The covert tactical earpieces are much better than the traditional coiled tube earpieces because of a number of reasons. Some of the reasons include;

1. Discreetness/Covertness

Security professionals typically chose earpieces based on just how discrete/covert they want to be. The level of covertness or discreetness is usually determined by the type of earpiece, earpiece style, and also the color. As aforementioned, if you want to identify a secret service agent you can simply look for the guy with a coiled tube type of earpiece . Luckily for secret service agents, various earpiece companies now offer earpieces which allow the secret service agents to efficiently communicate in a more covert and discreet manner without anybody noticing. They allow for discreet communication between the agent and his or her team.

In-ear earpieces are typically more discreet because they’re worn inside of the the ear as compared to the over-the-ear earpieces which are worn outside of the ear. It is also wiser to opt for colourless earpieces as opposed to the coloured earpieces for extra covertness. You can also opt for the wireless earpieces; the wireless earpieces are usually preferred over the wired earpieces since it is hard to tell that somebody is actually wearing the wireless earpiece as compared to the coiled tube, wired earpieces. The wireless earpieces normally receive the signals wireless. One needs to have a separate microphone worn at the end of the sleeve, or even on a lapel. In order to send a message to the other(s), the wearer has to speak into that microphone, and the other(s) will receive the message via their wireless earpieces.

2. Comfort

You should obviously choose an earpiece which is comfortable to wear; Some of the crucial questions to ask prior to choosing an earpiece can include; how easy that earpiece is to not only wear, but also to remove, how easy is it to control and use the earpiece, and also whether the earpiece will be able to remain intact for as long as needed without falling off. One of the main reasons why most people dislike the coiled tube earpieces, is the lack of comfort. Most agents say that the coiled tube earpieces cause a lot of ear fatigue. Most of the secret service agents are usually connected to the radio 12 to 16 hours per day, and some agents will have the earpieces draped over their ears and hanging out, with the volume of their radio turned way up so they do not have to have to plug the coiled tube earpiece in their ears all day long. . Fortunately, the covert/discreet earpieces are very comfortable to wear. They use speakers which are smaller than the average ear canal; this means that there’s very little contact, thus are ideal for secret service agents who want to avoid the feeling of ear fatigue.

3. Sound quality

Secret service agents are dealt with protecting the President and as such, it is crucial to get everything right, including the message being sent to their earpiece. In case of a sensitive situation, it is even more crucial to get the message right or correctly. Listening to sounds which are being pushed up a coiled tube may leave a margin for error. The tactical earpieces have the speakers placed in the canal of the ear which means that the sound is basically created there, (approximately 7millimeters from the eardrum), and is worn in both of the ears. This allows the wearer to clearly listen to what’s being transmitted through the earpiece, meaning they will be more efficient in their work.

4. Volume

This is one of the main reasons why secret service agents dislike their coiled tube earpieces. Many of the secret service agents say that they usually feel like they are gradually incurring hearing loss especially in the ear which they plug the radio earpiece. Well, with the covert earpieces, the ear isn’t plugged so that the sound pressure can get released. And since it’s worn in both of the ears, and the speakers are located in the ear, the radio may be turned down, and you will have much better sound clarity. This allows agents to work more efficiently, and in addition, they will have no fear of incurring hearing loss.

5. Localization

The brain is typically wired to locate where sounds/noises originate from, or rather the brain is wired to localize. When you hear a sound from the right side, you will know it since it enters your right ear a little louder and a little quicker, and your brain registers that the sound came from the right direction. This means that a secret service agent, or anybody wearing the coiled tube type of earpiece in their right ear, might hear a similar sound a little louder in their left ear since their right ear is plugged. In sensitive situations, mistaking the location of the sound can be disastrous since it could leave time for bad guys to get away, attack, or complete their objective. The tactical earpieces are designed such that they help the secret service agents to accurately locate the actual place the sound is originating from.

Conclusion

The covert earpieces address all negative issues which anybody who wears or uses the coiled tube type of earpiece experiences. They’re comfortable, discreet, they use top notch, high end, high quality speakers which offer the best clarity, they help in reducing the risk of future hearing loss since one can reduce/adjust the radio volume, and they also allow wearers to accurately and quickly localize the direction a sound is coming from.

Motorola Solutions announces new mobile radio, enhancements to its P25 platform

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Motorola Solutions are busy re-modelling their business at the moment and are under pressure from many other radio manufacturers, that are stealing away their market share. They are moving towards creating equipment that can use the LTE, essentially competing with the mobile phone market. This will be seen by many as a move away from the essence of two way radios, but it is an inevitable progression. This new radio will use current motorola earpieces, chargers and batteries. We brought you this article from the urgentcomms websites

Motorola Solutions today will unveil a new P25 mobile radio that operates on its ASTRO 25 systems and will highlight key features enabled by the 7.17 release of ASTRO 25 software today at APCO 2016.

One of the key features of the APX 8500 all-band mobile radio is its ability to leverage LTE connectivity from a VML750 modem installed in the public-safety vehicle, if the ASTRO 25 data capability is interrupted by continuous voice transmissions during a busy incident, according to Anatoly Delm, Motorola Solutions’ director of global infrastructure marketing.

“Let’s say that you have a major incident, everybody’s talking all the time and the ASTRO network is being used all the time, it can [offload] some of the data communications, like GPS, to broadband—public-safety LTE or commercial LTE, depending on what the modem is operating on,” Delm said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications.

“So, you’ve got this combination of the best of both worlds, where your voice communications are continuing over the ASTRO network, and your data communications—if the ASTRO network is too busy, because of a major incident—can be carried on by an LTE network from the same car.”

Meanwhile, the 7.17 release of ASTRO 25 software will provide system users and operators with features that are designed to improve the reliability and usability of the P25 network, Delm said.

One enhancement is a more efficient way to execute over-the-air software updates, Delm said.

“Ordinarily, what happens is that the software update has to travel to one radio at a time. If you’ve got a large enough fleet, it could take days or possibly weeks [to complete the software update for all radios],” he said. “In this case, the software is being continuously broadcast, kind of like on repeat. In the meantime, all of the radios continue to function as normal—you can talk on them, and none of the functions are disrupted.

“Once a radio has received all of the packets that it needs, it can then give the user the [a notification] that the update is ready and asks whether the user wants to install it. If they say ‘Yes,’ then the radio is updated. This means you can reduce your update time to maybe a few hours, depending on the size of your fleet. But you certainly don’t have to do it one at a time.”

Other new capabilities included in the latest ASTRO 25 software release include personnel accountability—often used for roll-call functionality on a fireground or other incident scene—over trunked systems, Delm said. Previously, this capability existed only in conventional mode.

Where Can You Get a Great Two Way Radio?

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If you’re planning a family outing where you’ll camp for several days, or if you’re headed for an amusement packed backpacking expedition with friends, you might want to know where to buy two-way radio communication systems. These gadgets are very small in size, and you can go with them wherever you want to as most of them weigh less than half a pound and you can hardly feel burdened by them as you hike.

Additionally, they come in very handy in regions where cell phones cannot dare venture. Some top quality walkie talkies can provide a huge array of features such as weather alerts as well as SOS signals. 2 way radio online has all kinds of two-way radios including the newest types that come with better-quality frequency options as well as radio ranges.

Types of two-way radios

Bearing in mind that there’s a myriad of two-way radio systems available in the market, arguably the most important question to ask yourself if you want to buy a walkie talkie is: what’s the best choice? However, this isn’t a very hard decision once you understand where and how you’ll use it. Firstly, you’ll need to pick either of the two main kinds of two-way radios, which are family or consumer walkie talkies and professional business walkie talkies .

Within both kinds, you would also want to decide whether a radio system with licensed or unlicensed band is most suitable for you. On the one hand, licensed radios come with powerful 5W frequency transmissions and a wider coverage range. However, you’ll have to be contented with a frequency fee. On the other hand, unlicensed band walkie talkies attract no fees, but they’re comparatively low in power plus a limited range that’s only suitable for casual users.

You would also want to decide between an analogue and a digital walkie talkie. Some businesses search for radio systems that can operate suitably in risky highly explosive environments. Radios with ATEX certification are highly recommended in such areas. You can find all these kinds of walkie talkies and more at 2wayradionline

VHF or UHF walkie talkies?

An important consideration when looking to buy walkie talkie is keeping in mind that Ultra High Frequency (UHF) radios will be your best purchase in most cases. Essentially, a UHF radio can never send or receive communication to a Very High Frequency (VHF) radio. As such, if you have some walkie talkies and you’re only looking to add some more units to be used with what you already have, go for the same band.

VHF radios can provide more coverage with less power, but they only function well when there’s little interference between the sender and the receiver. UHF walkie talkies function best with most users since they have shorter waves and can penetrate or get around areas of interference such as hilly areas, thickly wooded areas, in buildings as well as in urban outdoor settings. If you’ll use your radios strictly indoors or if it’s a combination of indoors and outdoors, then UHF is the best choice. You can choose from some of the best VHF and UHF two-way radios at 2 way radio online

Motorola Solutions Transforms Body-Worn Cameras for TETRA Users

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Back in December the UK government decided on who and what will drive the new generation of emergency service communications. The ESN (Emergency Services Network) was the result of months of tendering and negotiations. So they decided that EE would manage the network and Motorola would provide the hardware. This article is about the first wave of communication devices that Motorola are planning to use with the ESN.

New innovative solution combines body-worn video camera, radio speaker and microphone with cloud-based data storage and management to create a complete digital evidence management system

At Critical Communications World 2016 (May 31 to June 2 in Amsterdam), Motorola Solutions announces a new combination of body-worn video camera, radio speaker and microphone, along with new, cloud-based, digital evidence management software, which is able to collaborate with TETRA digital two-way radios. The new “Smart Interface” (Si) Si500 Video Speaker Microphone (VSM) is reducing the number of devices that weigh down public safety officers in the field today, while CommandCentral Vault digital evidence management software is providing unparalleled efficiency that saves time and resources.

Public safety agencies today face an increasing demand to capture, store, properly manage and share video evidence. While use of body-worn cameras has widespread and growing acceptance with public safety agencies and the citizens they protect, the massive amounts of data cameras create needs to be managed and stored, oftentimes incurring significant costs. With its new solution, Motorola Solutions tackles all of these challenges and offers an end-to-end solution that can be used with existing TETRA radio equipment. Public safety agencies are provided with a seamless experience from video capture in the field to back office storage and content management that helps them simplify workflows and reduce administrative overheads.

“In Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA), TETRA digital radio technology has become a standard for mission-critical communications,” said Steven Young, vice president TETRA devices at Motorola Solutions. “This is why we have developed a body-worn video solution that collaborates with TETRA radios. The Si500 is transforming digital evidence management by integrating our best microphone into a body-worn camera and combining it with a content management system that´s unmatched in its ease-of-use.”

Sight and Sound Simplified

Both body-worn camera and remote radio speaker microphone, the compact Si500 VSM is a unique interface that extends the mission-critical performance of Motorola Solutions TETRA digital two-way radios. The lightweight compact design includes innovative features to meet the needs of first responders:

  • The Si500 VSM is equipped with a 210-degree range-of-motion camera lens that provides optimal field-of-view and flexible wearing positions. Users can wear the VSM with the display facing in or out.
  • The Si500 VSM features a new adaptive audio engine that automatically adjusts audio settings based on the user’s wearing position and environment. With five integrated microphones and a loud 0.5-watt rated speaker, it provides the high audio quality of TETRA radios.

    Integrated Wi-Fi dramatically improves the speed of uploading multi-media. It also makes over-the-air feature updates via Radio Management quickly and seamlessly over Wi-Fi.

  • The Si500 VSM offers a full-screen tempered-glass display with an intuitive user interface that presents only vital information within three panels. Users have the ability to control radio channels and talkgroups, view recorded video and photos, tag videos and listen to audio recordings.

Digital Evidence Management Revolutionized

The digital evidence management solution includes the cloud-based CommandCentral Vault software application to securely store, manage and share digital evidence. With an expansive base storage capacity and integration with computer aided dispatch and records management systems, CommandCentral Vault is designed to make digital evidence management easy and affordable. The digital evidence management software also:

  • Ensures end-to-end security that reduces any challenge to chain of custody for agencies

    Pairs with the Si500 VSM and can also operate stand alone and accept evidence gathered from any device

  • Offers a highly streamlined ability to search, review, annotate and perform other evidence management, reducing administrative time and expense
  • Provides an industry-leading auto-redaction feature to help public safety agencies remove identities of individuals in videos seamlessly. Instead of having to painstakingly invest the time to review and possibly edit each video frame, technicians will be able to automatically mark objects such as faces, addresses or license plates and let the new technology blur them out automatically throughout the video, saving hours of administrative time.
  • Creates greater engagement and transparency with communities. The system enables agencies to improve evidence sharing and more easily respond to content requests.

OCULUS RIFT PRE-ORDER DELAY PROMPTS FREE SHIPPING

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Some people who pre-ordered the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset are going to have to wait just a little bit longer.

The first Oculus headsets were set to arrive in the mail on March 28, but some people who pre-ordered the device are still waiting for their headsets. The company said in an email to some customers it had experienced an “unexpected component shortage, and unfortunately, that issue has impacted the original shipping estimates for some early customers.”

“First set of Rifts are going out slower than we originally estimated, so we’re giving free shipping for all pre-orders, including international,” Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe tweeted on Saturday. Customers have since been tweeting at Iribe asking for answers after not receiving their headsets.

Customers who ordered anytime from the beginning of January until the end of the day, Pacific Time, on April 1 are eligible for a shipping refund, Iribe said. Further updates on shipping progress are expected by April 12. Despite the email to customers, Oculus noted that it is “shipping rifts everyday.”

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey responded to frustrated customers in a Reddit thread, telling them: “Don’t shunt blame to other people, this is my call.”

“I am not going to wax poetic about this, since I have done so in the past, but bottom-line: I won’t give in-depth updates on any situation without knowing it is solid, true, and finalized. Until I can do so, the best I can do is remind people that I will get them information as quickly as I can,” a person writing from a verified account attributed to Luckey said.

Luckey traveled to Anchorage, Alaska, last month to hand deliver the first consumer headset to Ross Martin, an indie developer who has the distinction of being the first customer to pre-order Oculus Rift in January.

There has been plenty of buzz around Oculus and the experiences developers can create, ranging from games to virtual vacations and real estate tours; however, there’s nothing flashy about the Oculus launch this week. The high price tag of $599 — plus the requisite high-performance PC needed to operate the headset — puts Oculus in a price range that makes it still inaccessible to the masses.

The consumer headset ships with a wireless Xbox One controller and adapter to enhance the gaming experience, along with two games: EVE: Valkyrie and Lucky’s Tale. Pre-orders are currently backed up until July, according to the Oculus website.

Oculus is also working on Oculus Touch, which are wireless controllers that wrap around a player’s hands, allowing intuitive actions in VR feel as though users are working with their real hands — even allowing them to pick up objects in their virtual world.

Martin, who was lucky enough to have his headset delivered, gave ABC News his early review last month.

“Everyone wants to be able to fly or visit the moon, and there’s never been anything quite like this before,” he said.

This years new technology is virtual reality (VR) headsets, stories of VR headsets have been circulating for a few years, and as we understand it 2016 was penciled in for the year of Virtual Reality. So when facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg bought the oculus rift company in 2014 we were expecting this to be the first headset out and when they started taking orders in January this only confirmed what we expected, they have been pipped to the post by Samsung and the gear, then on top of that their orders are running late, but the upside is that they are giving everyone free shipping The Original Source of this article can be found here