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Is CB radio suffering from the loudness wars?

Discussion in 'General CB Services Discussion' started by bassman21, Mar 14, 2017.

  1. bassman21

    bassman21
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    I know the band is pretty dead right now, but when skip is in there the band can be very active.

    When I got into CB radio back in 1988 at the tender age of 11, CB radios were not that loud on the air. Most CBers on base stations used quality mics like Astatic and Turner. If you had 1000 watts, you were the king. The higher powered stations stayed on 6 and 12 and left others alone. Most people that ran amps ran Blue Thunder 200s, Gray 300s, Palomar, Boomer and Texas Star amps that did less than 500 watts. When the Super mod became popular in the mid to late 90s CB radio got much louder. Around this time I started to see a lot more class C amps being used and many doing well over 1000 watts. I remember a guy here was building and selling 1500 watt boxes left and right. I had one of his 2x4 and they were splatter boxes! I still have a pic of it if anyone wants to see it.

    I left the CB in 2000 and when I returned in 2015 I was shocked just how much louder and powerful these stations got. Things like the Top Gun Modulator, the common use of exports and these dirty mods have really raised the audio of these stations. I also noticed while quality stations are out there and better than ever, a lot of CBers have what I call trash can audio. That audio that just sounds distorted and over modulated. People just trying to compete with who is the loudest. Back in the day we called them power stugglers and meter watchers. It can be hard to shoot DX because a select few are bleeding all over the band and so powerful they crush everyone else. There are people that will just lock a channel down for hours. When did 32 pill boxes even become a thing? To think there are people that run these on a base station through a high gain antenna! How it must suck to be their neighbors! This existed back in the day, but these stations were usually clean sounding.

    Many people think louder is better. There is something called the loudness wars in the music industry. If music recordings sound louder today to you, it isn't your imagination. Most music today is compressed to eliminate dynamic range and to make it sound louder from start to finish . The idea is if one studios song isn't as loud as the other, people will choose the louder song. The result is horrible sounding recordings to anyone that is into sound quality. I think CB may be suffering from this. Everyone just wants to get the most wattage out of their box and be the loudest as possible. There is this idea if you're not the loudest, people will just ignore you and answer the loud, distorted station. Sadly this is often the case and they will all tell him how good he sounds. Stop yelling in your mic dude, it doesn't help you get out better! Can you imagine if AM talk radio host ran their show like CB? Imagine Rush Limbaugh running a compression board and the radio station with a 10:1 wattage swing! I wonder how loud CB will be in 10 or 20 years if people still get on it?

    I just wish more ham operators used AM.


     
    #1 bassman21, Mar 14, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2017

  2. midnight special

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    yep i agree,,, something like this loud war is going on nightly in the tampa/hillsboro county area,,,,,channel 19 is worthless until they go to sleep or their batteries are dead,,,,,,
     
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  3. space cowboy

    space cowboy
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    RatsoW8 and Rick330man like this.
  4. LeapFrog

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    I know a few old school operators that prefer a clipped limiter, they lower the mic gain if they are told they sound overmodulated, most are from another era. They walk a fine line between being loud & being distorted beyond understanding.

    The advent of "heavy swing" & NPC mods only made "loud" radios more prominent, people will almost do anything for a few more decibels, or a few more watts..
    I feel like these mods have caused people to lose focus of what text book A.M. is and audio processing has all but gone out the window now.


    73
     
  5. Rick330man

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    You said it! It was the first step down the thousand mile journey in the wrong direction.

    I think fondly of the days with my Realistic TRC 448 SSB with a Turner +3 desk mic and my Archer .64 ground plane. Great little base. Ideal audio. Definitely got the most out of 4 watts AM and 12 on SSB.

    One interesting thing I see nowadays is the practice running your mic through a mixer for a studio quality, FM stereo-like sound. When done properly it sounds amazing, but is it maybe a little bit of overkill? Then again, who is to say "overkill" in our current environment of 1,000 to 5,000 watt amps on CB.
     
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  6. 543_Dallas

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    I use an sdr and have the luxury of seeing the "loud" stations on a panadapter and waterfall. There's some pretty nasty stuff on the 11 meter band. Some disappointing signals on the HF bands too.

    Most of the big loud signals are several channels wide. They are so loud it hurts your ears at close range but is piss weak out in the distance.

    They worship the watt meter and there's no hope for them.
     
  7. StrangeBrew

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    I think this is the key right here, there are a lot of people out there buying the gear to sound as good as those who do it properly do but they don't run that gear properly.
     
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  8. bassman21

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    I know some of you here know more about this than me, but here is my take. With AM there are really two types of loudness. There is the loudness of the audio circuit in the radio and loudness of the signal. Most radios have around 70 to 80% modulation from the factory. The radio can be tuned inside to achieve 100% modulation. Anything over that and you have distortion that creates splatter and harmonics, especially with lower voice tones. You may not be able to hear it with the human ear, but it will show on a scope. Using signal processing you can achieve over 100% modulation, but you need a scope to do this.

    Loudness from signal is based on how far you are from other stations. If you're close by you will sound louder than if you are far away. To achieve loudness at greater distance you have to increase your signal and an amp or higher antenna will do this. On AM the more swing you have, the louder you will be. However if your carrier is too low you will sound further than you actually are at a distance and too loud close by. A 4:1 ratio on your carrier in my experience gets you the cleanest sound without audio suffering. Going to a 5:1 ratio will get you an audio boost while still being fairly clean. So if you are putting out 500 watts, keep their carrier around 100 watts. One way to get that screaming audio people have with a solid signal is to get a good 200 to 300 watt carrier and then swing well over that. Since 200 watts is going to get you close to your max signal on the meter, you can take advantage of this by swinging several times over that. So a 200 watt dead key swinging to 2000 watts will get you a 10:1 swing. Unfortunately you will be eating up a lot of bandwidth and splatter several channels and will also be hard on people's ears. It will be worst if you have dirty mods done on your radio. Amps amplify what you put into them. If you have a harmonic at 54 Mhz, that harmonic will only be stronger. Not only is this causing more interference, but it is wasted power. Overdrive that amp and it is even worst. 2000 watts is fine, but it needs to be done right.

    What it really comes down to is CB etiquette. Always be mindful of people talking on other channels as well as people on the one you're talking on. If your neighbor is talking on another channel keep everything turned down so you don't interfere. You shouldn't talk on a frequency for more than 10 minutes without taking a break to let others use the channel. Channel 19 is not a channel anyone should be talking on for more than a few minutes at a time. These people that run high power are interfering with people they can't even hear not to mention their neighbors electronics.
     
  9. Sarasota Slim

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    Etiquette, you say? We live in an age where most people can't see past their own immediate wants and desires. They can't even anticipate an actual need, 30 seconds from now. Much less are they able or willing to consider their neighbors wants, desires or needs.

    It's not just the radio community that suffers; you see it on the roads, the register jockey who can barely be pulled away from FaceBook on the iPhone, for the 2 minutes it takes to ring up your 6 pack, etc.

    Sadly, etiquette and manners are fading out. I don't much care for the trend; it's a disgrace.
     
  10. Mustang 131

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    A 100% stone stock FCC radio with the the right processing sounds pretty loud. Open the AMC and control your negitive peaks to sound even louder.
    Too get louder you need more RF power, not audio. 200% + modulation with negitive peak is for people who not only love meter swang. They like looking at o'scope envelope. Just as dumb.
    Buy a 4cx10000 and you'll win most loudness wars.
     
  11. psycho

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    Loudness is a matter of opinion. I like blaring loud radios myself but some think that bleeding 1 channel will land you a trip to Hell. :rolleyes:
    Most Channel 6 radios seem to be incredibly overmodulated or tight and sound like bacon frying on the grill. When your dead key has a raspy sound, it needs work! :)
     
    #11 psycho, Mar 15, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
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  12. StrangeBrew

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    So is the plan here to completely shut them down with your dead key so it won't take much audio to be louder?
     
  13. Big Kahuna

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    Years ago I used to complain about the idiots on the radio, now I just wish more people were on the radio. Dead air around here, I wouldn't mind a couple of loud idiots on the air.

    As for DX - when it does go I never have a problem finding people to talk to on SSB. 38 can be a bit of a pile up but even so I find no problem getting through, even without turning on the amp. I actually try to avoid using power on 38 because then I end up with 50 people yelling at me at the same time :)

    Most of the loud yahoos stay on 6, 11, 26, and 28. Stay on SSB and you shouldn't have issues.
     
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  14. Mustang 131

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    The point is you can only turn the knob up on your stereo to a point.
    If you need it any louder, you'll need an amp.
     
  15. bassman21

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    I know that sound that you're talking about and that is the sound of an amp being severely over driven and probably poorly tuned. People that run a 500 watt dead key on a 4 pill will sound like that. They probably also lack the amperage to properly drive their equipment. I don't think a lot of those guys down there understand the science behind what they are doing. The sound of their stations explain why the amps on these amp repair videos on youtube come in the state they are in. Most of these amp builders show their amps being pushed beyond the max and when they get their amp back they continue to over drive them and fry them again. Some of the amps they show have already been worked on several times. For what? Just to try to get over another stations? There is always going to be someone stronger. And when you do get over them, then what? Overdiving an amp beyond a point creates more harmonics, it doesn't help you get over anyone.
     

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