Sunday, January 5, 2020

Behringer XM8500 Dynamic Microphone Yaesu Parametric EQ settings

I really like the Yaesu FTDX3000 that I purchased used, last summer. It's a great radio.  I've already added a very popular page on parametric EQ settings for the MH-31b hand mic HERE.  But sometimes people want to add the fuller, richer sound of a dynamic mic to really catch attention.  The Parametric EQ found in radios like the FTDX series gives you a lot to work with.  This can be confusing for some, but it doesn't have to be!  The Parametric EQ really shines when you upgrade to a nicer mic. 

Enter the Behringer Ultravoice XM8500 dynamic microphone.  For under $25, and a little EQ'ing, you can make your radio sound like you purchased an expensive high-end microphone.  In fact, because the internal EQ of the Yaesu is so good, I've had people ask me what kind of outboard equipment I'm using!  My answer -- none!  And they're amazed when they hear how much this microphone costs.

Now, before I continue about the wonderful sound of this mic, I want to opine a bit about adding a dynamic XLR microphone to your Yaesu FTDX3000 (or any newer Yaesu with Parametric EQ).  The XM8500 sounds great, there's no doubt, but in the long run, you might find it a better option to pony-up the approximately $150 cash new, or $100 used, and purchase the Yaesu MD-100 microphone.  Why?  Simple -- when you buy the MD-100, you get a mic combined with a nice switch, internal settings, attractive 2-way cable that works with all newer Yaesu radios, and no need to purchase a patch cable, foot switch, boom/mic stand.  A $25 mic is great, but you have to keep in mind that you're likely buying several other items that will add to the cost.  You're also adding cables and other things that are less attractive.  Here's one more thing people rarely consider -- the back end of the sale.  If/when you go to sell your mic and accessories, you're going to get much of your money back (probably all, if you bought used) if you had purchased the Yaesu MD-100.  When you go with a non-Yaesu mic, you're going to end up with additional things you may or may not sell (patch cable, mic stand or boom, etc).  Think long and hard, because you will get great sound with an MD-100, also.

That said, if you still want to go with an XLR mic, the Behringer is a bargain choice that sounds expensive.

The settings will provide clear mids and highs, along with smooth bass punch.  You may want to tweak the bass up or down a little, per your voice, but I think you will find this to be a great starting point:

1. Set Mic gain about 8 to 10 if using no compression (PROC), or 10 to 20 if PROC is on. Depends on your shack, voice, noise levels, etc., but this is a starting point.
2. Set Processor Level: 5 to 30 per your preference (found on PROC/CAR knob, but can be changed to TX PWR  in Menu 177)
3. Set Menu 104 MODE SSB:  200-2800, 100-2900, 100-3000, or 3000WB.
4. Speak about 2 inches from the mic and adjust levels as needed to account for room noise and compression desired.  Works best to me to be off-angle from the mic 45 degrees, instead of head-on.
  • 159 TX AUDIO: 100    (adjust the low bass freq center point in Hz.  Try 200 or 300 if you want bass cut)
  • 160 TX AUDIO:  8     (adjust how much you add/subtract from low bass setting -- adjust as needed)
  • 161 TX AUDIO: 4        (adjust the bandwidth area covered by low bass frequency peak)
  • 162 TX AUDIO: 1300  (adjust mids frequency center point in Hz)
  • 163 TX AUDIO: 8        (adjust how much you add/subtract from the mid setting)
  • 164 TX AUDIO: 2        (adjust the bandwidth covered by mids frequency peak)
  • 165 TX AUDIO: 2200  (adjust the highs freq center point in Hz)
  • 166 TX AUDIO: 8        (adjust how much you add/subtract from the highs setting)
  • 167 TX AUDIO: 2        (adjust the bandwidth covered by the high freq peak)
  • 168 TX AUDIO P-PRMTRC: 200 (from setting 168 is for COMP ON)
  • 169 TX AUDIO P-PRMTRC: -15
  • 170 TX AUDIO P-PRMTRC: 1
  • 171 TX AUDIO P-PRMTRC: 1500
  • 172 TX AUDIO P-PRMTRC: 1
  • 173 TX AUDIO P-PRMTRC: 1
  • 174 TX AUDIO P-PRMTRC: 2100
  • 175 TX AUDIO P-PRMTRC: 3
  • 176 TX AUDIO P-PRMTRC: 5

End note... you will need a mic stand or boom, and a patch cable to go from the Yaesu 8-pin plug to the XLR input on the mic (or you will need a different patch cable for the FT-891, for example).  HEIL sells them on their website, or you can buy them from E-bay sellers like W7YEN.  You'll also need a momentary foot or hand switch, sold by HEIL, or many E-bay sellers.  This one seems to come wired with the 1/8" plug.

Lastly, I'd like to say that I feel this mic is GREAT for DX, as well as rag chew, with these settings.  If you want a local rag chew, set the bandwidth wider (if you have the space) and turn your PROC off.  Peak your volume, keeping the ALC in the lower 1/3 to 1/2 of the ALC line.  Speak about 1 to 2 inches from the mic.

If you want to DX, set the mic to a bandwidth of 200-2800, and turn the PROC on, and boost your mic gain a bit until you get around 5% to 7% peak compression (Note that thanks to an observation by AB2UE, I am editing this and the previous paragraph. The BAR meter, which I originally used, has an odd ALC reading, so I removed comments about exceeding the ALC. I now use the S-METER view).

I have tested these settings with DX contacts out 4,000 to 5,000+ miles, and they all agree that the compressed punch of this mic is far better in an A/B test, compared to a sharp, high-pitched DX mic with the lows removed. 

Traditionally, people have held that the high-pitched sound of a tight-bandwidthed DX mic will "cut through a pile-up" and "concentrate more power where you need it."  I now believe this is urban folklore.  Perhaps this thinking was started to sell pricey mic elements, and perpetuated itself as high-powered DX stations bought into the idea.  After a lot of A/B testing, however, I no longer buy it.  I didn't form this opinion by myself -- multiple DX contacts told me their preference, and they don't lie.  You want both the clean highs and some low/mid punch.

With these settings, you get both.  I'll take what the DX'ers tell me they can hear better, in an A/B test, over urban legend any day!


  1. Always great tips, thanks. 73's de AA2PR...

  2. Tried your settings on my ftdx1200 w/xm8500 mic & was too much room noise. You should never have to exceed the ALC range to get above 0db compression. Try 100-3000 xmit bw, mic gain 20[ALC s5-s8], processor 10-15[5db], EQ 300/-15/3, 900/-3/3, 2700/6/3 . Put a foam screen on mic & touch soul patch to it when talking. 73 AB2UE

  3. Further investigation lead me to the 'COMP Meter Adjustment' alignment menu, which is identical for both the FTDX1200 & 3000. Before & after audio signal injection tests confirmed my findings. To enter alignment mode; press & hold in 1[1.8],2[3.5]&3[7] keys, while turning the radio on. Rotate main tuning knob to select 24-02 COMP-MTR-10DB, Then rotate VFO B knob for 10db on the COMP meter. Do the same for 24-03 20db & 24-04 30db so COMP meter deflects full scale. My rig's 24-04 was set to 255. I found 250 = full scale & reset it.
    Press & hold the [MENU] button for 1 second to save the new setting & exit alignment mode. Your COMP meter may read correctly now as i was able to verify 5db compression within the ALC scale. Please report back your findings, 73 AB2UE

    1. Well, that was interesting... I did what you said (found the directions online in the calibration manual for the FTDX3000) and as you said, 250 was right where max is. I changed that, and I see a tiny bit of difference, but it must still exceed the ALC limit to achieve any compression.

      EDIT: Ahh... I think I've found some of the issue. I've had my meter set to the BAR meter, and not the S-METER look. When I changed it back to S-METER view, I still have to exceed the ALC a bit to get COMP, but it's not so radical-looking in doing it. It still does exceed the meter a bit, but it tamps it down and keeps it closer to the top of the ALC. Sound more normal to what you're used to?

    2. Yes, that's it... looks more "normal" now with the Processor level set to 15, and gain to 20. Or if I increase Processor level to 30, it now peaks about 10db or so on COMP. Ok... so there must be an odd calibration issue with the BAR meter, is my guess?

    3. Lastly, after readjusting for the S-Meter view, and trying to keep the ALC under control, I had to move closer to the mic and adjust closer to your settings on the bass. Tweaks thereabouts will be down to voice and user preference, but good points, and thanks!