January 11, 2012

Powerful DX Hunting Accessories - Your Ears

Your most power DX hunting accessories are your ears.  Your ears can provide you with a great deal of information about the signal itself (beyond the message being transmitted).  With practice a DX'er can learn to identify mode, location, distance, propagation, tuning, and many other useful bits of information by simply listening.  Amazingly, your ears and brain are also powerful filters.

Another useful accessory is a pair of headphones.  Speakers are great when listening to broadcast stations though not as effective for DX'ing.  Headphones are superior to speakers for DX hunting.  Remember, you are searching for those weak stations down in the noise.   Over the ear headphones also isolate your ears from the ambient noise in the room and block out distractions.

One consideration is the use of headphone on gear lacking an automatic gain control (AGC).  A loud static crash or nearby powerful station while working a weak signal can cause a sudden increase in volume that could hurt your ears when using headphones on a rig without an AGC.  If you have a rig without AGC then speakers are safer for your ears.  Lets all preserve our hearing.

WWII Tanker Helmet with integrated headphones
Comfort is very important since you will likely spend a great deal of time wearing the headphones.  Headphone fatigue can creep in after an extended period of use.  Spending a few extra dollars on comfort is definately worth the investment.

You do not necessarily need headphones with a very high frequency range since DX'ers tend to dial-in a fairly narrow range of audio frequencies.  In our opinion comfort is more important than frequency response when it comes to headphones for DX'ing.

We have found that headphones with a heavier cable and a well constructed plug last longer than the el-cheapo ones.  From time-to-time we accidently put the headphone cable to the test by attempting to walk away from the station with the phones still on.  It is worth a few extra dollars to go for quality construction as long as durability doesn't interfere with comfort.

Put those ears to work with a comfortable pair of headphones and listen for those weak stations that the others miss.

By Michael Maher (NJ2X)