Ed's Bio

Ed Davis at Devils Tower, 2006

Who is Ed, and what's EdSets all about?

Hi, I'm Ed Davis, an engineer, motorcyclist, guitar player, photographer, web designer, geek...and most happily President of EdSets, LLC.

When I got my first Goldwing, and spent tons of hard earned money on headsets, and found them all lacking, I decided to use all that engineering education I paid for to do something besides rocket science and microelectronics design.  The result of making my own headset was pretty amazing and after a friend borrowed my spare helmet one day, I never was able to turn away from making them for folks because the demand started with that one person, and never let up to this day thanks to the internet and online forums.  We don't advertise much since word of mouth is far more effective at getting the message of EdSets out there.  Good news travels in big circles, just as the bad news does.  Our success is based on the good news part of it all!  People everywhere love their EdSets!

I'm a very picky guy and wanted the best for myself, and that turned into EdSets eventually setting the standard for intercom and helmet headset performance.  The spiffy name "EdSets" came from the notion that that "Ed sets the standard", or "EdSets, The Standard" or even when my friend called them 'Ed's Sets' so at least they have a name!  Who can remember stuff like that years later?

Either way, all the other headsets out there are gonna have to play catch up with us.  We're never finished innovating and improving. They probably never will catch up, because we don't intend to ever back off!

I was born in Anniston, Alabama in 1953. Smack in the middle of 4 sisters! My dad was a sewing machine mechanic and inventor of all things mechanical. I spent most of my childhood watching dad create everything from overhead stock-moving monorails to cloth tape folding guides to custom made industrial sewing machines. Whatever it took to make a large sewing factory work, Bob Davis could do it, and often with style! I can recall more than once plugging in a new custom made industrial machine at a distance with an extension cord, "just in case"...  But they always worked, and for years ran without maintenance.  Smartest guy I ever met!

I inherited or learned my mechanical aptitude from dad and got my manners and gentle ways from my mom. She could still whip me into my late teens, by the way...and won at arm wrestling till then too!  At 78, I'm still afraid of her.  She's passed on now, as is Dad, so it's my job now to continue to wreak havoc on the world in their names!

Growing up in that shop-based environment meant that you took for granted that there was always something you could do with your hands to improve things, to build what was needed, or to fix whatever was broke. It never occurred to me that there was any other way to live. You need something, you design and build it.

Around 3rd-4th grade, I had already built a crystal radio into a red baseball cap, complete with tuning knob in a matchbox glued to the front of the hat (read: GEEK with no chance of a date unless the girl is from Mars and has antennae...), and of course, two earbud speakers wired into the hat for 'dual mono' sound. Wolfman Jack could be picked up all the way from California, or was rebroadcast locally, never was sure about that, but thanks to that little radio, the world quickly became a very small place and the possibilities seemed unlimited.

Dad had a 1960 Mercury Park Lane with 12-channel surround sound back in early 60's thanks to Ed's innovative and yet-to-be-discovered 'secret behind the headliner' installation of all the small midrange drivers from Dad's home stereo console extension speakers! I took them out without asking. I think that was my first near-death experience when Dad found out, but when he heard how it sounded, he granted a stay of execution for the time being.  Not to be satisfied with the better sound, I also added adhesive wood-grain accents to the radio and it's knobs for that 'complete experience'.  I had my first date in that car, and I have to believe the electronics and styling innovations was the crucial element to getting a date, it sure wasn't the skinny little geek driving it! 

When the Beatles released the "HELP" album, I got a copy of it and on the front was a word I'd never seen on an album: "STEREO". Instantly, I tore into the console stereo, traced down the circuit board that fed the main amplifier and tapped into the preamp to get a headphone output signal and promptly bolted two 4" speakers to a piece of perforated pipe hanger strapping and cut some foam rubber out of my pillow and covered it with a stylish piece of red and black paisley print material to make a pair of ear-pads, and when I plugged it into the old RCA console stereo, I heard stereo imaging for the first time in my life and was so thrilled that I decided right there that audio electronics was the most fascinating thing in the world.

A lifelong love of music and electronics was accompanied by a life long love of motorcycles. Might have started when Dad had me sitting on the gas tank of the Indian while he did donuts in the gravel out front of the house. I was less than 18 months old then. "No point in waiting till he's too old to have a good time..."  In the picture, I had a diaper on.  Different world. Yes, dad was a certified maniac when it came to horsepower. Motorcycles, airplanes, cars, you name it, he liked them fast and powerful. Following my Aldens mail-order Mini Bike in the 3rd grade, my first full size bike was a Honda Sport Cub 65 when they first came out. Followed quickly by a 90, CB-160, 350 and so on. Dad made me an amateur pilot too...I used to fly the Mooney Exec 21 he had, only wrecked it once...landed on wet grass on a short field...who would have ever thought of that?? No time to pull up so we hit the pine trees about 30 feet off the ground and had a rough ride down, but Mooney came out and put a new nose gear and prop on it and flew it to Texas to fix the dent in the left wing. I did better after that. Never got a license, tho...

On weekends in the 3rd and 4th grade, I'd take the mini bike the 15 miles or so over to Clayton, Alabama to visit my buddy, Michael. Early touring? Yep. I had accessories too. US Flag, backpack, goose horn and a windshield made from some unknown material. And of course, a string attached to the butterfly governor for those times when I needed to pass a slow moving truck out on the highway. The sad part is that I'm not kidding about any of this.  I had no idea a Briggs-and-Stratton 3.5 HP lawnmower engine could rev that high with the governor defeated!  It was like a drug, and I still take it!

Well, in spite of my upbringing, I survived long enough to get drafted in 71 and spent 7 years in a blue uniform with the USAF. Worked in missile maintenance squadrons under Strategic Air Command during the cold war. Nobody there had a sense of humor, especially the guys that guard the nuke bombs. I can prove that.

After that, a quick entrepreneurial thing with cable TV and I was back in school for my first electrical engineering degree, and years later finished my masters in EE, as well as a computer engineering degree. Now I was not only certified, but still dangerous as ever. I did a thesis on how to use an electric guitar to control a synthesizer using computer processing of the signal to make computer commands out of it. Fun stuff. But the point is that I was combining things I love: music and electronics.

I won't remark on 20 years of working for the USAF as a researcher and manager except to say there's few things in life as gratifying as contributing to our country's security by bringing the war-fighters the technology they need to be safe and ensure victory. It's been a lot of fun, but government work is tough and political.

When I graduated college, I had pictures of touring motorcycles on the walls of my study, but other pressures led us to get a boat....and when that "phase" passed, I went for the first Goldwing...a 2002 Illusion Blue model, and when it was three weeks old, it already had 10,000 miles on it. Poor thing never had a chance to break in!

But during that first cost-to-coast ride, it was clear to me that my headsets weren't up to par. What's a boy to do...considering my background??? I know! Make a set to my own design!!! With three engineering degrees and access to tools and equipment, NOTHING is ever simple, easy or quick with me. But when I finished, I was satisfied with the result and tossed all the excess components. I was done with my latest project and time to think on the next one. But...a friend listened to my headset at a Quaker Steak and Lube outing one evening, and asked if I'd make him a set. I ordered up the parts and fixed him up, no sweat.

Without me knowing it, he mentioned that I'd done that on the gl1800.org website, and I got some emails asking for instructions or if I'd make up a set for some folks. Sure, I said. If you don't mind that the speaker grilles are made from sink drain caps from the hardware store and that the connectors are from Radio Shack!

What happened next was totally unexpected and it changed my life. The pent-up demand for a decent sounding headset at a reasonable price was huge, and I was soon faced with a choice: Move to Bolivia and change my identity, or go into business and embrace the community's desire for EdSets!

I deliberated for a bit and realized that EdSets would combine my three great passions: Music, Electronics and Motorcycles. Finally, at 50, everything that made me who I am...the things that have been part of my life since Day One, had come together in one neat little package called the 'Sonic N-Vader'.  That first handmade headset, whose name came from God knows where 'invaded' the market in the fall of 2002, and proved that quality audio sound was doable and had now been done!.

I had finally found my niche in life, something that allowed all three of my passions to come together and from that trio of passions, I draw triple the strength for this work. EdSets is a blessing that came to me, and I am devoting my life to it from here on out. It's proof that if you do what you love, you will always be successful.

My family has been supportive, my friends and coworkers have understood when EdSets took time from other pursuits and most of all, my customers have embraced and welcomed EdSets onto the scene, and have allowed it to grow to something of value. Thanks for reading, and if you see me at an event or on a ride, wave and say hi, we can swap a few war stories and talk about music, motorcycles and whatever else interests us!

Best regards, and ride safe!


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