The HEIL headset reviewed

I have had the pleasure of trying out my new headset from Heil Sound for just over 3 months now, and what a pleasure it has been !

Both listening and making qso´s with the Pro Set Elite HC6 has been an inspirational experience that actually put a lot of fun back into HF radio in many ways for me. Not that it was lacking fun before, just to say it really did add a lot of value to my activities and travels trough the airwaves.

To do a really short review, I would probably just write two words; get one!

The longer version, while putting it as simple and as I can, goes like this;
I have used this headset in the company of my trusted and beloved Icom IC-7600, a radio I have used since 2011 and thus are most familiar with by now. For the TX-audio DSP menu settings, I have only lifted the “Hi” to a value of +2. Nothing else done to it. Compressor yes, as usual just a tad of it, also set to a value of 2 which seems suitable for my taste and my voice.
That´s all there is to it 🙂

The hardware reviewed
Even the package says “quality in a box”, and so does the contents inside too…!
Built as a tank, a solid construction that probably will last for a long very long time in any shack.
The headset rests firmly on my head, maybe for others a bit heavy compared to plastic “toys” yes, but that is the way I like it and I can imagine that I am not alone at this. There is no fidgeting with plastic parts that will let go every now and then making the headset slip off your head just as you are about to nail that wanted weak DX after spending half your weekend trying to get noticed in the massive pile-up… Instead the weight and the firm fit is giving it a very steady, tight, solid feel. And it is a headset surprisingly comfortable to wear, even for a long time!

The “earmuffs” on these headphones are absolutely great. Perfect actually, for my taste, ears and head. Not to hard nor to soft or “swampy”, and large enough to cover the ears and dampen all sounds from the outside, but as opposed to many others, it does not steam-cook or barbecue the ears. I experienced no fatigue or vegetable-head-syndrome even after hours upon hours of contesting or even when engaging in some really long late night ragchews on 80 meters. The kind of sessions that makes your XYL wonder why, or if, she still is your XYL, if you know what I mean…?

A welcomed improvement for my ears and my shack, most appreciated!

The sound, ears
The first thing I noticed was that these headphones must have been designed by a sound-engineer. And yes, so they are!
I have a pair of headphones from AKG that I have used for over 20+ years (I just love the old K270´s) among some other pairs, all intended for use either in a music recording studio or for live work like mixing the sound at a concert, and I am pleased to say that these headphones play in that league. Ok, I know this is largely a matter of taste and whilst this is just my personal view on the sound they reproduce, it´s a very subjective perception. But since I have the possibility and facilities, I performed a simple A/B -test in the studio and I can honestly say as a “pro” user that they really ARE that good headphones. Impressive!

For amateur radio, which is mainly narrowbanded to it´s nature, the sound is nicely filled with a shimmering crisp treble, and for BC listening is has all the bottom you´ll ever want and more too. As a bonus they also have a switch that makes the sound binaural, making a simple mono signal like SSB or CW seem broadened and panned out as opposed to smack flat in the middle. This is a very useful switch indeed!

I´ll try to explain the difference experienced when listening to any SSB portion of the HF bands;
Imagine a long line of people standing in front of you, all talking at the same time. A swirling chorus of voices, hard to sort out and discern, right? Now imagine sitting in a room with the same pople spread out, with voices now coming from the left, the right, in front and behind you. That is what you will hear with this function switched on, remarkably it is almost akin to a simple 3D sound system. And it´s hooked up to the worlds best DSP ever, your own brain!

The sound, microphone

HC6 performance

Now the HC6 microphone element is custom-designed for the purpose. Again crisp and clean, with a nice lift in the high mid´s that enhances the articulation of any voice, without getting harsh or sound too sharp! Also the ambient noise pick-up seems to be very low indeed.
All off-axis sounds are surprisingly faint, effectively taken out of the picture. The fans in my Expert K1-FA amplifier is not heard unless I lay my head resting on the amplifier up on the desk, which makes for an incredibly stupid working position, now doesn’t it?

I especially like the HC6 dynamic microphone element´s deliberately engineered peak, or should I say “lift + peak” between 2 – 4 kHz or somewhere thereabouts. It also has a nice smooth roll-off upwards. Same goes for the low frequencies which are nicely, not steep but gently rolled off somewhere below 180-200 Hz and downwards (see picture above).

So, what´s left is exactly the frequencies and sounds that I want to convey via my transmitter, the most important, intelligible sounds. Combining this with the rejection of off-axis sounds makes all the difference. In my opinion, those are the only important factors on HF and amateur radio no matter how or by which method my voice is delivered. And here is where they all generally fail, gaming headsets, cheap computer headsets and what have you. Many commercial and so-called “professional” headsets have serious issues here too, even tough they are very expensive indeed, believe it or not. They do work of course, some better than others, but the sheer articulation of the HC6 leaves most of them behind, big time!

To sum all of the above superlatives up;
If you are into ham radio on HF, if you are into SSB and/or AM, and if you are interested in putting out a nice sounding and true pile-busting signal, this is the stuff to use. Get your own, or get stuck in the pile !

Mr Bob Heil, K9EID

I always try to give positive feedback when such is due. And while surfing the Heil Sound website, I sent a message trough their message board or “get in touch” page just to show my appreciation of my new headset. I got very pleasantly surprised to get a handwritten answer instead of the usual automated response a company normally would send in return from a corporate webpage. Well, not this time. Not from Heil-sound. Instead, what I received was a very nice letter from Mr Bob Heil himself!

I am delighted that he took the time to respond in person. I have never heard of any CEO or other kind of corporate business owner in today´s rather distant and impersonal age of on-line shopping getting in touch with a customer half way round the globe in this manner. But now Bob are three things more than just the average usual business guy;
he´s a ham (well, of course Dr Watson), he´s a very experienced sound technician (who makes his own equipment) and last but not least, he´s a musician. Just check the website or search the web and you will find him playing the organ, and play, that he can…!

Keep up the great work OM and 73´s from Sweden!

´til the next time…