October 2023: Audio quality over the network is in the pits! As more users come aboard the network fewer seem to have any concern for their poor audio levels or quality. We have tried to help users improve their audio, but it appears to be a losing effort. We may be forced to take countermeasures to improve the quality.

Please HELP!!! First, by ensuring your audio levels and quality are good and then over the air, let poor audio users know that it is poor and tell them about the tools below.

Audio is very important! Many users just don’t seem to understand this…or care! PNWD is a community of users and just like going to a Hamfest with body odor, it can be offensive to others whether you care or not. Some may think that is a “you problem“, so just turn off your digital monitor…but wrong, it is a “me problem” (yours, meaning the ham generating poor audio). So here on DMR as well, crappy audio bothers others and does nothing to promote clarity in handling priority or emergency communications, so let’s get it dialed in.

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…and we have the tools to help you get get audio out over the air.

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


This steam has about a 25 second delay.

Use the Pause/Play button to reset // More info at: Audio Stream


PNWDigital has Audio Streaming, online VU Meter and the Parrot (echo test) and an Audio Test talkgroup. These tools support our own nets when they are active with Washington 2 and PNW Regional 2 (31771) on by default. Please 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 method to get your audio dialed in.

This VU meter supports Washington 2 and PNW Regional 2 full time, except during weekly nets carried on timeslot 2. 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 so check our Events Calendar for the latest information.

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:https://pnwdigital.net/services/cold.php

  • 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
  • Cold Audio – Most recent soft or low audio talkers
  • 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 109998 is our MMDVM server’s Echo Server

Test Your Audio

DMR 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. This should be avoided.

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 too hot, talking into the mic port 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 achieve a normal ALQ. It also sets up for volume roulette where the listeners must manage each audio level actively or get blasted after turning up for that last low audio talker. This is a nasty mess during check-in nets.


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: 1 month ago by Mike – NO7RF

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