Headset Shootout Commencing

Headset reviews are about a dime a dozen on the internet. They’re all subjective too. Everyone’s hearing is different. Especially mine! About 50% of the hearing in my left...


Headset reviews are about a dime a dozen on the internet. They’re all subjective too. Everyone’s hearing is different. Especially mine! About 50% of the hearing in my left ear is gone, not to mention a load of tinnitus. The right ear, about 20% gone, and a tad bit of tinnitus. Cause? An M2 .50 caliber machine gun, a story for another day 🙂 I’m sure I have long-term exposure damage as well, which is why it’s so important to take care of your hearing! So, my days of bumping in the trunk are (just about) done :P. So take headset reviews with a grain of salt! My main question, I wanted to solve here, was –  Is it worth going from a $60 headset, to a $275 headset?

If your a new ham, your probably wondering why that shiny new transceiver you just bought sounds like doo doo. Don’t fret. I don’t think I’ve EVER heard a built in speaker sound good. For general listening, I’ll use some powered JBL LSR 305’s in the shack. Though they seem to introduce a bit more hiss into the audio. They are powered by a switching power supply, but are very well shielded inside the speaker. Have a very flat response, which is why I like them. But if your planning on doing any kind of operating, I think a good headset is an absolute must. There’s a reason why you see professional radio operators all around the world using headsets, including sportscasters, dj’s, coaches, 911 call center operators, because when communication matters most – you need the audio right where it matters most – in your ears! And vice versa – you need the audio going directly into the mic – and with a headset you get just that!

I’m no expert in audio, but I do consider myself to be an ‘audiophile’ 🙂 I like audio that sounds good, and the nature of shortwave radio requires good headphones. It’s already a noisy enough environment out there. I’ve gone through a many sets of headphones, including the ones that required really expensive amps just to be run, it’s a hobby all in itself – and it can get expensive if you don’t watch it! Below are the headphones I settled on for general music use or listening to podcasts. The Audio Technica ATH-M50’s and Vmoda Crossfade M100’s. Both excellent headphones for the price and for the audio they reproduce!


You’ve probably no doubt heard about the cheap alternative the Yamaha CM500’s. An entry level headset sold for around $50-60 that has an electret mic & closed back headphones, but they have an absolutely horrible seal around your ears, and allow lots of ambient noise to enter the ear cup. Now if you have stellar hearing, you operate in a shack that is extremely quiet, you may get away with a cheaper headset, if one things for certain, the CM500’s are plenty comfortable, well basically because they don’t seal around your head at all!  But they use an electret mic, which is a little hot and can make your voice sound a smidge higher than it is. They also require bias voltage on my 590SG, apparently the bias voltage supplied by the 590SG causes distortion?

The Heil Pro 7’s come with a dynamic mic cartridge already, but I did have to purchase additional adapters for both of my radios, which come in at about $25 a piece. A lot better than Radiosport headsets @ $99 a cable! If you have multiple radios, keep that in mind!

So i’ll spend the next few weeks using both of these headsets and discovering their pros/cons. I think Winter Field Day would be a good way to ask folks what they think about each, i’ll have both headsets there for folks to use, we’ll see which one gets used more 🙂

Stay tuned!



No Comment
  • Mike Hohmann
    7 February 2017 at 12:59 AM

    Thanks, Ian. I appreciate your feedback.

  • Ian J Downie
    3 February 2017 at 12:14 PM

    At 77, I wear hearing aids on both ears, each has two microphones front and rear for noise cancelling and direction finding, with loss between 2kHz and 8kHz of 20 to 95db I am beyond help I suspect but over ear helps to some extent but not in a noisy environment. I use Bauhn Model AHP-1192 with some success. From Aldi stores for less than $100 was the best that I could afford.
    Ian VK3LA.

  • KG5EAW
    31 January 2017 at 12:28 AM

    Johnny, I had the opportunity to use your Heils this weekend and really liked them. Most of my radio headset experience from the fire service is with the David Clark equipment. The Pro7s audio was by far superior to the DC and very comfortable to wear for extended operations at winter field day. Thanks again for the opportunity to run your station and check out your gear.
    KG5EAW 73

    • K5ACL
      31 January 2017 at 12:53 AM

      The pleasure was all mine Chris! Thank you for the feedback! I’m quite pleased with them so far!

  • Eddie NH7AA
    30 January 2017 at 6:58 AM

    There are some additional low-cost options to comfortable headsets with great audio… PC GAMING Headsets… One of the best I have tried is the Senheisser (sp?) one on special at the moment. Great mic audio and super-comfortable! There are hundreds out there under $100… The only proviso is that you will need a PC Headset to Ham Rig adapter for the transmit audio, as all the microphones are electret and require 3~5vdc at 3 or 4 ma… You can easily make your own with one resistor and 1 capacitor, or you can order one from ALOHA-RADIO.com. de Eddie NH7AA

  • Gayland W Grant
    28 January 2017 at 4:30 PM

    Plus I have tried some small on the ear cheap sets for taking with me in the field. I run winlink and fldigi stuff. And sometimes need to hear it.

  • Mike Hohmann
    25 January 2017 at 10:30 PM

    I’m looking for a headset. I have significant hearing loss- acoustic and traumatic loss and tinnitus in both ears. I wear hearing aids w/ mics behind both ears. Some headphone cups sit on your ears, others enclose the entire ear (and hearing aid mics in my case). I could go that route, or get a new set of in-the-ear hearing aids, and use either type headphone (on-the-ear or over-the-ear). Does anyone have any experience with such a dilemma? Any audiologists in the house? Thanks.

    • K5ACL
      26 January 2017 at 2:58 AM

      Hey Mike! Your certainly fighting a lot more obstacles! The Heils have great audio no doubt! The part of my hearing that’s damaged is the speech recognition part, but I’ve really learned how to customize my EQ to get it sounding just right. Still experimenting, trying to wear them in, their a bit stiffer than I’m used to!

      • Mike Hohmann
        26 January 2017 at 3:30 AM

        Thx for the feedback. I guess I need to talk w/ my audiologist… she should have some answers, and/or recommendations. I’ll let you know what I find out. I’m guessing you may have some other hard of hearing vet/ HAM friends. Another option could be PSK31, but that gets tough to take to the mountains, etc. 73 de Mike KEØGZT

        • K5ACL
          26 January 2017 at 12:10 PM

          Yes! Please let me know what you find out, i’d love to hear what a professional might recommend! 73 Mike & thank you for your comments!

    • Gayland W Grant
      28 January 2017 at 4:28 PM

      I can wear the Heil’s with my hearing aids with no problem.

      • Mike Hohmann
        29 January 2017 at 10:02 PM

        Is your hearing aid mic behind your ear or in your ear. Which model of Heil headset do you wear? Thx. Gayland

    • Eddie NH7AA
      7 February 2017 at 3:11 AM

      Aloha Mike… For the past week I have been testing a Sennheiser GAME ZERO over-the-ear headset… I also have tinnitis in BOTH ears, and double-tinnitus in my left one… I am 75-yo… Still love to participate in contests,..but can only hang-in-there for about 15-hours… This headset is FANTASTIC!! No earache, no sweaty ears, very little external sound gets in…and the mic audio is crisp and noise-free… Guess that sums it up… if anyone want the simple interface just let me know and I can email it as an attachment…(used it with my FTdx3000)…

  • kq2rp
    24 January 2017 at 3:19 PM

    Koss SB45 $30 and Yamaha CM500 $60 are both great bang for buck, comfortable headsets. I’ve heard the Heils get uncomfortable over long periods.