Connecting an XLR Microphone to your Kenwood TS-590 & discovering the best budget ham radio dynamic microphone!

Was perusing YouTube the other day, and came across Cal’s channel again, DX Commander, where he discusses how to connect an XLR microphone to the rig, specifically his TS-990,...

Was perusing YouTube the other day, and came across Cal’s channel again, DX Commander, where he discusses how to connect an XLR microphone to the rig, specifically his TS-990, which has the same exact pin out that the 590 does. Pins 1, 7 & 8 are used on the 8 pin connector, which I snagged from the stock microphone. Just unassemble the connector, and the leads will come off the 8 pin connector with the touch of a soldering iron (or you can just cut the cable & splice it that way). This will wire the microphone directly into the rig without any PTT connector. If you wanted to wire in a PTT connector you could. Heil also makes an assembled cable that’s conveniently assembled with everything you need for about $40.


I’ve been exploring microphones for the past several months, specifically the dynamic type which IMHO, work the best with the 590 family. Heil microphones are overpriced. I know… I know… I did a video that talked about how great those 3 were that he let me review, but honestly i’ve been considering deleting it. I don’t want to send the message that you need that kind of microphone to sound great on the air. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sound that a Heil Microphone reproduces, but you don’t need a fancy microphone that’s capable of crazy dynamic range and has all sorts of other fancy specs. Just took me awhile to learn that!

With today’s on-board equalizers, even the most basic of rigs have them, heck even my Kenwood TS-480 has an on-board EQ that’s where the magic happens. By being able to tailor the microphone specifically to your voice. Some rigs have that option, others don’t, but if you can customize an EQ profile within the radio, like you can with the 590 using the ARCP-590 software, you can make even the cheapest microphone sound decent on HF. I wouldn’t recommend using the stock microphone though, I feel like it’s very restrictive on audio, not to mention that it picks up the horrible click from the PTT button.


Stay tuned for a video test & review of the Shure SM-58 (pictured above), which we’ll also compare it to the Pyle knock off (Model #PDMIC58). I hope to test several other budget microphones in the future, so if anyone has a recommendation please feel free to comment. I’ll even use the stock microphone in the video just to demonstrate how restrictive it can seem. While the stock mics will get the job done, I think that a nice desk mic can open up that small slice of bandwidth you do have to some better sound. The whole idea is to sound as natural as possible. I’d rather not use any compression or RF processing. This kind of microphone can also allow you to enjoy that VOX option a bit more! One feature that I seriously under utilize. With this type of microphone and the pattern they pickup – VOX works perfect. My VOX gain was set to 6 on the 590SG, but depending on your voice profile, you may have to find the right setting by talking comfortably into the mic as you would like to during a ragchew conversation.

Kenwood even provides software called ARUA-10, a USB Audio Controller which is supposed to give you the option to use your computer microphone & speakers to communicate. I could never get the software working on my Windows 7 machine though, and I like the idea of connecting a good mic directly to the rig.

One tip I learned from W6LG’s YouTube channel was to remember that we’re communicators, and not broadcasters. The idea is to get the message across as clearly and as efficiently as possible given our bandwidth. You can accomplish that for next to nothing these days with all the mic options available, these are just some of those 😉



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4 Comments on this post.

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  • Duane
    2 January 2018 at 4:04 PM

    After hearing several others in a group I participate in have great audio with a Trans Continental Studios SM-67 (found all day long at $20 new from eBay) I decided to give it a try and have been very pleased.

    I actually use it on my MC-90 stand with my 590SG which already utilizes a XLR cable/plug. Reports have been better than the MC-90- which I did buy used so I’m not heavily invested. Wish I didn’t worry $o much about things “matching”. 🙂

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    • K5ACL
      2 January 2018 at 4:44 PM

      I’ve tried the MC-60 before, had horrible RFI issues with it. I’ll have to check that one out, thanks!

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  • Scott Dupuie
    2 January 2018 at 3:33 AM

    I use a Audio-Technica AT2005USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone. It’s a nice mic and I have it hooked up to my rig via an XLR cable and the computer via the USB cable. I use it for both ham radio and Skype/Facetime. Works great in both applications.

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    • K5ACL
      2 January 2018 at 12:16 PM

      So i’m guessing you were able to get the USB audio controller running then? Mine won’t recognize my USB mixer, maybe I should try a direct connection…

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