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Reviews Categories | Microphones for ham radio | Astatic D-104 Help

Reviews Summary for Astatic D-104
Astatic D-104 Reviews: 62 Average rating: 4.7/5 MSRP: $90.
Description: The Liliypop Mike
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W4KVW Rating: 5/5 Nov 2, 2017 18:53 Send this review to a friend
Love the Punchy Audio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have been using these microphones for over 50 years on Ham Radio & CB radio & have NEVER had a bad one.I have many different models in my collection (26) at the time of this review.The GOLDEN EAGLE,SILVER EAGLE,NIGHT EAGLE,the TUG-8's, TUG-9's,& TUP9's & they all work GREAT.I plan on adding many more to my collection if at all possible.I use a D-104 desk microphone more than any other microphone.I Love my HEIL PR-20 on my ICOM 7600 but most every other radio has a D-104 attached to it.The most BEAUTIFUL microphones EVER made in my opinion & the have GREAT audio if adjusted properly so get you one or more & see for yourself.ASTATIC D-104 desk microphones work great on Amateur radios & CB Radios.It does sometimes require more than plugging in a microphone & most all of today's transceivers have some type of built in EQ adjustment so take some time & use it & stay away from outboard EQ boards which are a huge ripoff & put you in the 24/7 radio check club & require you too wear headphones & listen to yourself all of the time.
K5UJ Rating: 5/5 Nov 2, 2017 10:07 Send this review to a friend
Excellent ham radio mic  Time owned: more than 12 months
The D104 a.k.a. D-Wonderful, is a great microphone if you know how to use it. My experience is limited to my unamplified Astatic D104 made circa 1937 with a crystal element. This was a mic made for ham radio. In fact, the D-104 was introduced decades before CB radio as an inexpensive solution to the microphone problem hams faced in the 1930s. In those days, hams often used carbon mics that produced poor readable audio with the modulation methods of the day. The D-104 changed everything with a high voltage.output and wide frequency response with a rise at 3 kc followed by a roll off of ~ 20 dB. The microphone design resulted in clean clear audio with enough output to make them testable directly into the vertical input of an oscilloscope. By the way, the D-104 model number technically refers to the mic head--the base doesn't matter. Mine is on a floor stand; it's still a D104.

To get the best performance, you have to pair the D-104 with the right audio load impedance. The original D-104 was intended to be used with a tube speech amplifier using a grid resistor of 5 to 10 megohms. This matched load allows for the passing of bass audio down below 100 cycles (if the operator has that deep a voice) and the coupling capacitor values are around 0.1 mfd in the audio circuits of the transmitter. To pass high sibilance, bypass capacitors should be low value, around .001 mfd.

I have no experience using a modern D-104 that has the transistorized pre-amp, but a regular D-104 will not work well at all with a modern plastic radio's low impedance audio input. As is the case with an old Vibroplex bug, the good old D-104 works great if you know how to use it and its high output can really drive an old transmitter's audio input stage.
N1KDO Rating: 4/5 Nov 2, 2017 07:14 Send this review to a friend
Impedance Matching!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Fun and highly retro, these mics work well into a very high-impedance input.

I put W9AC's common-source buffer (see his QRZ page, great!) into a D-104 that I bought at a hamfest for $35 and I use it with my KX3, just for the hilarious juxtaposition of using something so old and clunky and chrome-y with something so new and black and modern. This arrangement actually sounds quite good.

Those that complain about "screechy" audio likely have an impedance mismatch.
KC2QYM Rating: 3/5 Nov 2, 2017 06:31 Send this review to a friend
When is a D-104 not a D-104  Time owned: more than 12 months
The trouble with some reviews is that the D-104 that the reviewer has may not actually have the Rochelle salt crystal element that was within the original D-104. Many of these mics are retrofit with electret condenser elements which change the entire sound of the mic. Unless you inspect the enclosure of the microphone you pick up at some hamfest or via ebay, you may not be buying the original article. Therefore, these mix and match elements may be in the D-104 enclosure but it's a totally different microphone. The original D-104 produced ear bleeding high, screechy audio which is perfect for high noise, QRM, DX situations...but not recommended for rag chews unless you want your friends to clear off prematurely.
N2DTS Rating: 5/5 Nov 2, 2017 05:10 Send this review to a friend
been great for 35 years!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Works great into about a 2 to 4 meg resistance, depending on how much bass you want.
Nice mid range peak in response, high end rolls off quickly which is great for wide open AM rigs that would pass 10 KHz audio, the D104 will not pass much above 5000 Hz.
Every one sounds slightly different, the ones with the preamp are poor I think, the unamplified D104 will not work into a low impedance radio (solid state), it will sound shrill with no low end at all.
The higher the resistance, the greater the low frequencies, some run as high as 10 meg.

No longer made, prices for a clean one are going up...
WW1I Rating: 0/5 Nov 1, 2017 12:20 Send this review to a friend
CB era JUNK  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
For crying out loud, these microphones were junk when they were new. They have the worst audio I've ever heard in my life. They made a comeback during the CB era buy non-hams that don't know anything about audio. To listen to a D104 is pure hell. Brassy, harsh, shrill, high freqs and weak and poor middle range and bass. Simply the worst hunk of junk mic I've ever heard in my life. I would not have one in my junk drawer, and if you have one, please do us all a favor and toss it in a dumpster. If you care, perhaps listen to Bob Heil's comments on the D104 on youtube. He is spot on!
K4JPN Rating: 5/5 Mar 5, 2017 17:22 Send this review to a friend
Excellent  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought a 2nd hand D-104 back in 1963, used it with my Ranger, later used it with my HW-101 and got excellent audio reports. When I built my Elecraft K2 I built a simple FET amp for use with the K2 (high impedance D-104 to low impedance K2) and again got excellent reports. So I have owned this D-104 for over 50 years. I would recommend anyone with a new rig use one, but build the N9WB circuit, rather then the amp that came with later D-104s. The link is N9WB shows using a 9V battery, but I had good results using the 5V from the rig.
K1VCT Rating: 5/5 Mar 5, 2017 13:45 Send this review to a friend
Great audio reports  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I always liked the look of the D-104. Something very cool and retro looking. I had the opportunity to get one in nice shape (cosmetically) for a reasonable price, had the cash, so said... hey, what the heck.

The mic I received has a plain old "G" stand. That is, a SPDT switch in the "chicken choker" and two two wires (plus old fashioned braid)in the cord. The inked stamping in side the base reads 10-58. That, coupled with 2 cloth covered wires and fiber cord surrounded by litz wire in its stock cable, make me think the base (at least) is from 1958, as the stamping suggests.

I had no idea if the mic would work, but I wired it up for my ICOM IC-7200 with a 4 wire cord, keeping the "audio ground" and "PTT ground" separate, which meant a minor revision the D-104 base wiring. I used a Sprague "Orange Drop" .1mfd capacitor to block the DC on pin 1 of the mic connection.

Things are pretty tight in the 8 pin shell, so I removed pin 2 (+8v) completely from the plug's housing, preventing any potential for future smoke creation.

After a bit of testing to make sure the mic's switch still worked, I plugged it in, tuned up on 40m, and joined the only ragchew I could find in the middle of an ARRL contest weekend.

"GREAT AUDIO" was the response. Later, another QSO with two locals confirmed solid readable audio, with a bit of the high end the D-104 is noted for.

Here's what I learned, and was unable to find with reasonable certainty elsewhere on the 'net.

1. Keep the PTT and audio grounds separate. That may involve getting the plug at the top of the base off (easy, 1 screw) and snipping a wire to ground on its "solder" side of the pins.

2. Bob Heil is perhaps too conservative regarding how the IC-7200, and maybe other "low gain" ICOM radios will perform with the stock Astatic D-104 element. Mine has plenty of gain. Gain set a 55 with the "comp" setting of 4 on the IC-7200 works fine, according to reports. And that's with the mic at a comfortable distance away, on the desktop.

3. In this particular case, impedance be damned, it works, but I can't say why. I'm assuming the IC-7200's mic-gain control has enough latitude to make it work.

4. Reports of hum, noise, scratchiness, buzz, rasp, or any other nasty audio artifacts were non existent. Other than the perfect call of "that mic of yours sounds exactly like a D-104!", and the aforementioned traditional D-104 weighting in the high mid-range, nobody had anything negative to report.

So there you have it. The marriage of an Astatic D-104 oldie to a more modern ICOM IC-7200. What I read on the net suggests some jumping through hoops, but the worst of it was soldering the wires into the 8 pin plug.

My "normal" mic had been the stock "JAPAN" marked HM-36, which has now been put away, but kept on the "reserved" list.

And one last item. I can't imagine the Heil 5.1 element "upgrade" being any worse with the IC-7200 (even though its not Heil's best ICM element).

Hopefully some of this will be useful to another HAM down the road....
NH7AA Rating: 5/5 Aug 24, 2016 01:46 Send this review to a friend
Love the D-104!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Over the decades, I have used a number of lollipop's. Restored a Silver Eagle, put a Yaesu 8-p Foster on it, connected to my FT3000. Got on a few DX nets and after the net, got a few to standby to do a comparison for me. I then connected my H**L Pro-7 to get a baseline of the audio'punch' and understandability...then switched to the the SAME REPORT!! The only 'mod' was to add the 10:1 Z-conversion (680R & 6K8 resistors) in line with the mic output.
If you want AM-quality audio, then do not even think of using a D104...and please...don't 'bastardize' it with fancy new preamps, etc... The original designers KNEW WHAT THEY WERE DOING... The makers of the newer preamps 'mean well' and probably don't make much money from them...but, please do not change the existing ones...if your preamp isn't putting out good punching audio, then FIX IT...It is so easy to replace the 2 transistors with a PN200 from Radio Shack and the caps... The element can be replaced with another CRYSTAL element available from many sources. (although they might need to be 'secured' in the lollipop).
BTW, I have a number in stock, and will refurbish and add a connector for any rig. Email me.
KB1BC Rating: 5/5 Sep 6, 2013 18:27 Send this review to a friend
D-104 Easily Modernized  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Picked up a D-104 with T-UG8 Stand which was in very good shape 3 days ago off of local craigslist and then ordered W2ENY's HiFi Electret MIC Element upgrade kit (Just Google it). Removed the original mic element and old coiled cable, then soldered in the new element and rewired a black CAT-5 network cable for use with my IC-706MKII. The upgrade was fast and easy and most of the time was spent cleaning up the chrome parts when reassembling. Now I am using a classic microphone that sounds awesome and also matches the impedance requirements of my modern transceiver. Total cost for me was $73 which is way cheaper than the cost of an ICom desk microphone. If you can find a D-104 with good chrome on the head and neck stem and a working switch it is a perfect candidate for this easy upgrade.
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