Audio is very important! Many users just don’t seem to understand this…or care! PNWD is a community of users and just like a going to a theatre with body odor, it can be offensive to others whether you care or not. So here on DMR as well, crappy audio bothers others and does nothing to promote clarity in handling priority or emergency communications.

OK so maybe that opener is too harsh…or offensive. But we need to impress upon our members, that audio quality and level are both important. So don’t be that guy in the restaurant talking loudly on his cell phone…oblivious (or simply uncaring) to how his voice is affecting the folks around him. Also, low audio is problematic too but less offensive. Both hot or cold should be addressed.

DMR Audio has 2 components that are important: Level and Quality. This is no different than analog; be it HF or FM.

Tools in the Quiver

PNWDigital has created an online VU Meter and it supports the Parrot and Audio Test talkgroups as well as our own nets when they are active. When there are no nets, then Washington 2 and PNW Regional 2 (31771) are active. Use our tools. Don’t rely completely on over-the-air reports as they are subjective at best and likely not correct…or certainly not the best tool to get your audio dialed in.

This VU meter will also support Washington 2 and PNW Regional 2 full time, except during weekly nets, if there is a conflict. The weekly nets now supported are: the Cascade Coffee Net, the Not-A-Net Gathering, the Oregon Net and the Happy Hour Net.  This list may change at any time.

The VU meter also has controls for monitoring your own audios over time with averaging, your average audio vs the community averages. Also a talkgroup can be monitored. These additional features are available via the “Callsign/RID” and Talkgroup ID” fields. If you scrolldown to the bottom of the VU meter page, you will find additional information about the operation of the VU meter.

Here’s a few more extra tools if you really are interested in audio levels:

  • Hot Audio – You don’t want to be on this list, it lists the last 25 hottest users as well as the network average for comparison
  • Levels – Already discussed above and is the general use testing entry point with optional fields for TG’s, RID’s, users, etc
  • Parrot – Echo Server, use it to evaluate audio quality primarily
    • Also compare your level to that of the parrot’s annulments for a very rough gauge
    • Levels is the better method if it is available to you
    • Hotspot Parrot – TGID 10998 is our MMDVM server’s Echo Server

Test Your Audio

TRBO audio can be “Ear Piercing Loud” due to sibilance and breath puffs into the mic port, which causes listeners to dive for the volume control. 

Try saying the following passages on the Parrot:

"Sadly, Sam Sold Seven venomous Serpents to Sally and Syrus in San Francisco."

The other method to stress the audio is to say:

"Mic Check, Mic Check..Check Check Check, Four Four Fooouuuurrrrrr."

These passages played back to you via the Parrot may reveal that you are to0 hot, talking into the mic port are are otherwise, on the high or harsh end of the audio range.  Soft audio while less of an issue, makes it difficult for the listeners to listen, but would be preferred if you cannot acheive a normal ALQ.


Additional Considerations

DMR has a very wide dynamic range of audio. The wide levels of audio coming across the repeaters and networks makes it difficult to hear the soft users as hot audio causes users to turn down their volume.  Conversely listening to soft users will position other users to get blasted at random times.  Routine or background monitoring of the various TRBO networks is made more difficult and this page is an effort to identify some middle ground…if that is even possible.

Another issue in audio levels is the AGC’s tendency to produce super hot (PIERCING) audio levels briefly at the beginning of a voice encoding.  It is quite obnoxious and makes it difficult to monitor the traffic on the network, especially when listeners are in a mixed-mode environment of family, work or TV viewing, etc.  Less of an issue but still valid, is simply the wide range of user voices differences and how the mic is positioned relative to the mouth.  Also significant though short term or random, are issues such as breath puffs across the face of the mic, wind and ambient noise.

Taken together, it really means that each and every user must make an affirmative effort to test and adjust their radio settings and speaking style to enable the best audio ALQ possible.

First Published: December 10, 2021 Last Updated: 5 months ago by Mike – NO7RF

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