Saturday, September 2, 2017

IRIVER Blank IGH-L20 Headset for Ham

First off, I'm pretty sure you cannot buy this directly in the USA, although I am sure you can ship it in from Korea, using G-market (an E-bay-owned Korean company):

The headset is the IRIVER Blank IGH-L20.

Click to enlarge

I have to admit, I've tried many headsets in the budget range.  I almost dropped over $300 to import a Heil Pro 7 here (very glad I did not, given price).  I did end up with the Koss SB45 instead, and that is generally my most used headset, but this one is better on some signals (I switch between the two headsets).

I ended up heading to Yongsan Sun-in building, where dozens of different computer gaming headsets can be tested.  I used a Youtube recording of myself, recorded over-the-air as DX from Korea to Australia by a friend, and played that through various headsets to determine if they sounded good or not.

It was suggested to me that "cheap headsets work best" by another poster here on QRZ.  One might scoff at this, but I have to say -- it's true.  Why is this?  It's because they often aren't as full-range as better headphones.  In fact, the cheap ones often cut the highs, which is a bonus, if you are using them for ham.  Also, most of the electret mics seem to have one of three sounds... they are either a bit high-pitched and lacking bass, average all-around, or a bit bass-heavy.

The good thing is, I can EQ my Icom 7300's TX audio quite a bit, and have found that as long as the electret mic produces a full-enough range of sound (not just tinny audio), I can make it to sound very good.  In general, I find electret mics aren't really muddy, either, so they work very well.

After trying several headsets, I found the IRIVER Blank IGH-L20.  At first, I couldn't get the thing to work!  Then, I found a tiny volume knob hidden on the side of one of the earcups... duh.  After I got the volume turned up, not only did it sound the best on RX, I found the IRIVER is actually built VERY solid, and is comfortable.  It does  a good job of reducing room noise -- fully enclosed, but not everything in the room is kept out.  On RX, the highs are cut at just the right point to greatly reduce HISS noise, yet not degrade the important audio from stations near or far. They are far more comfortable on my ears, for longterm Ham listening.  I was happy to find that the ear cup material is actually decent, and should last a long time.

On transmit, what I found in the IRIVER Blank IGH-L20 is a microphone that leans quite a bit more toward bass, but can it can be EQ'd to sound good, with settings of -4 bass and +4 treble on my ICOM 7300.  Please note that the headset comes without a pop filter, so I added one from an older headset that I threw out, in these photos.  I later removed it, and found it was not necessary, so long as I positioned the mic properly.  In terms of the mic, you also need to watch where the little hole is, which leads to the electret inside.  I find this can adjust itself, and point the wrong way, over time.  That will muddy the audio.  Also note that to use this headset with an ICOM 7300, you will need to purchase the correct HEIL or Ebay seller dongle attachment.

The cable of the IRIVER, as you can see, is quite thick.  The overall build quality of the headset is surprisingly high, given it's $15 price. It comes standard with a dual analog/USB plug attachment.

The fit is a little on the snug side, but not too terribly snug.  It's also made for a slightly rounder head than my USA watermelon-shaped head, so that the top doesn't quite rest on top of my head perfectly, but it is close enough.  My ears fill the inside of the headphones, touching inside, but not uncomfortably so.  The IRIVER headphones also cover my ears more completely than the Koss SB45's, and cut out a small amount more background noise.  They are comfortable to wear with glasses.  It is also worthy to note that these headphones include a tiny, and rather pointless, volume control that was set to 0 from the factory.  It's located on one side of the headset, so check for that if your volume level is low.

I am quite amazed at how much better these sound to me, than the highly-touted Koss SB45's (internally the same as the Yamaha cm500)-- both on RX and mic TX, once EQ'ed.  The IRIVER is also of a higher build quality.

Excellent ham sound, and quality for the Korea price of 17,000 won, or $15 US.

Highly recommended!


  1. Im confused as to what you mean by dongle. I've never heard the term previously. Can you please elaborate on that? Also, what do you utilize for a PTT? Does it work with Vox? I've been looking into getting a mic/ headset combo and I'm leaning towards the newest Heil aircraft style headset. I got to try the headset out at last year's Visalia DX Convention and fell in love with the headset. I'd never had a headset where to can literally adjust the received audio on the fly with the flip of a switch on the headset. I was very pleased with the sound and construction quality. Mr. Heil was there telling me all the ins and outs of his latest and greatest headset.Yes they are quite pricey however, I'm a firm believer in, "You get what you pay for" moto.

    1. Hello. Dongle is just a patch cord. You can buy them from Heil, or cheaper from Ebay sellers. It is simply a patch cord which goes from the 8-pin ICOM to analog jacks for computer headphones.

      This is what I got: 8-Pin MIC/Headset Adapter HS-01C for ICOM Transceivers(incl IC-7300) - ELECTRET Link is here: