Radio Communication Speakers
With the removal of Morse code from the list of HAM radio requirements, the role of the speaker has only grown. While a HAM radio external speaker doesn't look that much different than the ones for a bookshelf stereo, their function is very different. The most important thing to remember is that HAM radio equipment exists to transmit voice, not music, and the speakers reflect that focus. It's easy to spend a lot of money on everything from your antenna on down, but don't forget the humble HAM radio speaker. The better your speaker, the more pleasure you're likely to get out of all those hours spent listening.
How Does a Speaker Work?
All speakers are basically pumps. They create pressure waves to move air, which humans interpret as sound. Every speaker has the same basic elements:
- Diaphragm: This is what people think of as the heart of the speaker. Its vibrations are what create the pressure waves you hear.
- Magnet: Speakers use an electromagnet driven by the input signal to move the speaker cone in time with the signal.
- Enclosure: The enclosure confines the air and helps make the most efficient use of the speaker power.
What to Look for in HAM Radio Speakers
When you're choosing speakers for radio communication you have to look at different features than when you want high fidelity musical reproduction. Speech is different than music and your choices have to reflect that. The other big factor you have to contend with is the signal quality. Music speakers are all about reproducing the highest quality signal you can get as perfectly as possible. HAM radio communication doesn't deal with pre-recorded signals with changes clarity. It deals with noisy lossy signals that people create in less than perfect conditions and seeks to make them intelligible. There are a number of factors to consider.
- Size: Larger speakers handle low frequencies better, so you need speakers large enough to capture the full range of the human voice. Small speakers often sound tinny, which makes them hard to hear.
- DSP: More and more communications speakers include digital signal processors. These integrated circuits take the incoming signal and filter it to remove noise and static so you can hear speech more intelligibly.
Using HAM Radio
Radio communications means more than just throwing up a giant HAM radio antenna. It means getting a license and joining a century old tradition. One of the most important benefits comes during emergencies because you can still use a handheld radio even when the Internet and cellular networks are down. The combination of long range and lack of infrastructure requirements makes HAM operators a vital part of any emergency response team, and clear communication needs good speakers.