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Categories | Microphones | Heil Goldline Help

Show all reviews of the Heil Goldline

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W6LBV  Rating: 3/5 Feb 2, 2013 09:38  Send this review to a friend!
A   Time owned: more than 12 months
This is my second review of the Heil Goldline microphone; the first was published just over seven years ago. During that time I have made good progress in the field of non-professional audio engineering, including collecting a number of additional microphones and using them both on-air and for recording.

I have set a personal “guideline” about buying microphones: any microphone whose purchase price is more than $75 has to be suitable for other purposes in addition to Amateur radio. I believe it is today possible to produce acceptable quality Amateur radio voice transmissions (across the 0.3 to 3.0 kHz SSB speech bandwidth) even with $20 imported microphones (such as the Audio Technica ATR1300). The wide availability and use of Amateur radio audio equalizers and processors today, both rig-internal and stand-alone external, makes it possible to correct many of the limitations found in inexpensive mikes. So Amateur-use-only microphones need no longer be expensive.

But expensive mikes are higher quality mikes, and they are worth purchasing if one does more with them than just Amateur radio. For example, a Neumann U87, selling for over $3,000, would be “overkill” for just Amateur radio use, but not if one wanted to do very high quality recording where small performance differences are noticeable. In this case the use of the U87 for Amateur transmitting would be incidental to the main task.

Applying the “guideline” to the Goldline (and specifically to its “wide band,” not the “DX Dream,” element), the cost of this microphone places it in the over $75 category. This means that it must be both useable and acceptable for purposes other than solely Amateur radio. And that guideline is how I evaluated the Goldline.

As to the “useable” part, the Amateur version of the Goldline microphone has some distinct disadvantages. Its output is by means of a four pin XLR plug, while all other quality mikes use an industry- standard three pin XLR plug. Therefore immediately the Goldline requires an exception in audio cabling that is not necessary for other microphones.

I well know that the Goldline’s third and fourth XLR pins are used for the PTT keying, but I would rather see the radio keying done independently of the microphone, via a separate pig-tail coming directly out of the radio’s microphone connector. Then the Goldline’s own output connector could be put back to a conventional three pin XLR. The Goldline, despite its shape, is more likely to be used in Amateur operations as a fixed microphone, one which is mounted on either a desk stand or a mike boom, than as a hand-held. In that case, the usefulness of its (non-latching) PTT switch on the mike case is downplayed, since the operator is not hand-holding the mike continuously.

The Amateur version of the Goldline’s use of an unbalanced audio transmission line (audio hot conductor and audio return through the cable shield) is an anachronism today, when most radios have microphone inputs with separate microphone hot and microphone ground pins, plus a third cable shield pin going to chassis ground. A balanced audio transmission line (in this case, really pseudo-balanced) from a microphone could easily be used for a redesigned Goldline instead, with its own noise-rejection advantages.

I put the Goldline and all my other microphones through several series of “direct-to-digital wide bandwidth performance tests” over the course of several years, recording my own voice in a standardized test sequence and listening to the playback with minimum amplification. No input or output equalization was used for any of the testing. However, it was not the Amateur- issue Goldline that was tested.

The original dynamic cartridge in my Amateur version Goldline mike failed, and I paid for a factory replacement of the cartridge. I believe that I ordered and Heil repair installed the “professional” dynamic cartridge as used in the broadcast series of mikes; the new cartridge is labeled “Studio One by Heil Sound.” Thus it should represent one of Heil’s “best efforts” in the competition for product acceptance at the professional level.

Over the course of time, the quality of the recorded wide band audio tracks produced by the Goldline has tended toward “indifferent.” Not “rotten,” but also not “superior.” My subjective impression is that the Goldline’s speech audio is somewhat range restricted and lacks clarity within some of the audio frequency bands. On-air use of the mike has given acceptable but not spectacular results.

Thus there is nothing in the testing or on-air use that marks the Goldline as being an exceptional performer. It is certainly a “good” mike, producing results far above those from the T-1 carbon buttons that were much in use when I began in the Amateur Service. But it is also not a “great” mike.

The results can be summarized: For Amateur use, with the Service’s limited microphone performance requirements, the Goldline will certainly work acceptably well. But it is too expensive for Amateur-only use compared to equivalent results available from the crop of under-$75 microphones now on the market. For non-Amateur purposes, its “full range” performance is unimpressive for the price compared to other mid-priced professional microphones (such as the EV RE-320). The Goldline is a very pretty microphone that will enhance the appearance of any shack. But it just doesn’t “carve its own unique niche” within the range of performance results produced by other microphones in either class.

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