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Finally...a Motorola Talkabout FRS radio WITHOUT companded audio


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I keep a few FRS radios around for occasional light casual use, especially when my young nephews come for a visit. Even though I have higher end commercial radios for GMRS and ham use, I keep a few FRS radios around to have as disposable radios and for my nephews to play with.

One thing about the Motorola Talkabout FRS radios and Motorola's analog business radios is they use companding on narrowband channels. It is an audio enhancement feature to try to improve the audio S/N ratio. Motorola claims it helps the audio sound "clearer" compared to other radios. Motorola calls their companding system "X-Pand" and implemented it across their product lines. With Motorola's top tier radios, the compander can be enabled or disabled per channel. On the Motorola Talkbabout FRS radios and business radios or business bubble packs as I like to call them, the compander is always enabled and there is no option to disable it. Motorola went all in with companding on narrowband channels in their low end radios.
 

en.wikipedia.org

Companding - Wikipedia

 
en.wikipedia.org en.wikipedia.org


Motorola's X-Pand companding system generally works as advertised but it requires ALL radios talking to each other to be companding their audio for all radios to sound right. It's an all or nothing type deal. Problems arise when some radios talking to each other don't compand their audio. The expander in the Talkabout's receiver expands audio that wasn't compressed originally and blows it apart, resulting in muffled and distorted audio. The Talkabout's receive audio overall sounds like 'expletive' when this happens. It sounds like somebody stuffed a sock in the speaker. This is what Motorola's crappy and much hated X-Pand audio companding system tends to sound like more often than not. Motorola could really clean up the audio on the Talkabouts and business radios if they provided an option to disable the compander. Use the compander if ALL radios talking to each other are companding their audio, otherwise don't use the compander at all.

I found a couple of Motorola Talkabouts don't have the companding feature like the others have. The Tx/Rx audio is a world of difference better on these radios. One model is the T600 waterproof radio. I recently picked up a few of these and was pleasantly surprised to find this model DOES NOT compand the audio. Yay!! The Tx/Rx audio sounds pretty good compared to my commercial radios I use on ham and GMRS. The Talkabout model the T600 replaced (MS350R) also did not compand the audio.
 


Just thought I would share what I found about the Talkabout T600 waterproof FRS radio. image.gif.85a698bd8eee8be4de6f86a8fa25cd0e.gif:)

 

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I've read that the T800 has X-Pand but the fella who started the RadioReference thread says it seems less offensive.  I wonder too about the T400, which was what I was considering as hand-out radios since high power on them is 1.7 watts according to the FCC test data in their grant.  The T600 and T800 are listed as 0.75 watts in the FCC grant.

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4 hours ago, WRNA236 said:

I've read that the T800 has X-Pand but the fella who started the RadioReference thread says it seems less offensive.  I wonder too about the T400, which was what I was considering as hand-out radios since high power on them is 1.7 watts according to the FCC test data in their grant.  The T600 and T800 are listed as 0.75 watts in the FCC grant.

LOL, that's me.  I am the one who started that thread on RR.  I have a couple of T800 Talkabouts and the X-Pand in them appears to be a little less aggressive compared to the older Talkabouts.  Motorola probably has tweaked the amount of compression and expansion over the years to make it work better.  The older Talkabouts were manufactured for Motorola by Giant International in China.  The deal with Giant International ended several years ago and the newer T-series Talkabouts are genuine Motorola manufactured in Malaysia.  I noticed the build quality is much better in the newer T-series Talkabouts.

I thought Motorola may have tweaked the companding in them based on past (bad) experiences with the older TalkAbouts.  My wife (g/f at the time) and I had a pair of Motorola Talkabout 250 FRS radios back in the early days of FRS (14 channels).  This was around 1997-1998.  The Talkabout 250 aggressively compressed the Tx audio and aggressively expanded the receive audio.  When hearing audio from other radios that didn't compand their audio, the expander in the Talkabouts totally blew the audio apart to the point that basic functionality as a 2-way radio was seriously impaired.  Even when both Talkabout 250 radios talked to each other and properly compressed the Tx audio and properly expanded the Rx audio, the audio was still BAD.  It was square wave audio between the Talkabouts and hearing expanded audio from non-companded radios was even worse.  It. Was. THAT. Bad.  It is no wonder that Motorola's X-Pand audio companding system is so seriously hated.

The Talkabout FRS radios and Motorola's business radios aka business bubble packs as I like to call them could be cleaned up and made a lot better if Motorola would add the option to disable X-Pand.  Using X-Pand requires ALL radios talking to each other to be using X-Pand in order for all radios to sound right.  Use X-Pand when all radios are using X-Pand and disable X-Pand when one or more radios in a group don't have X-Pand.  If a radio has an audio companding feature, the radio needs to have the ability to enable or disable the feature.  Unfortunately X-Pand is always enabled in the Talkabouts and in Motorola's analog business radios and there is no option to disable X-Pand.

I expected the T600 H2O radios to have X-Pand like the other Talkabouts and was pleasantly surprised to find it is one of a few Talkabout models that don't have X-Pand.  The only newer T-series Talkabouts I have experience with to date are the T800, T600, and T460/465.

T460/465:  Has X-Pand

T800:  Has X-Pand

T600 H2O:  NO X-Pand

 

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