|N9EWO's HF Receiver's "Previously Owned"|
Here is most (but not all) of my
"Previously Owned" list
of SHORTWAVE HF Receivers owned since 1977 (however it's not
: Number given in " ( .. ) " after the model, indicate
how many samples actually owned.
Please note: I no longer own MOST of these and questions to these receivers I may not be able answer. Here for the general information only and nothing more. NO....none of the below is "For Sale" as a few have come to think for some reason.
This list includes portables as well as table top sets. Yes, my fingers have passed over many sets over the years. As you can tell by scanning down the list, I'm not a "Valve" (Tube) lover , and have not owned any. Also see the bottom of this page for my first VHF-UHF radio experiences. Dave N9EWO
N9EWO's first SW listening experience was with a J.C. Penney (Penncrest) "model number 1996" from around 1972 or so. This is a Solid State 12-Transistor 4 Band portable which was manufactured in Japan by Matsushita Electric (Panasonic) from the late 60's. Single conversion superheterodyne design that featured a fine tune control (second knob in from the right), and a small tuning meter. Frequency coverage was (approx.) - FM: 87 - 108 MHz , MW (AM): 520 - 1605 kHz , SW1: 1.6 - 4.5 MHz , SW2: 5.9 - 18 MHz. Lacked coverage of the "Tropical Band". Single tone control and sounded pretty good with a large 5 inch internal speaker. Operation was with 4 D size batteries. Never owned one of these myself , I borrowed a sample for a time. But many great memories were experienced with this receiver (as anyone's first SW receiver will). Our first "owned" short wave receiver was the Drake SSR-1 in mid 1977 (manufactured by Seiwa Corporation in Japan, see below). (N9EWO Picture Edits)
* DRAKE SSR-1 (with
My first "Real" SW Receiver in 1977. Barlow Wadley design, analog display. This was a bit before the hit of "Digital Readout" sets (at least at a good price). I added a e-tek "Gilfer" GAR-7 frequency counter to it (which blew out LED displays and display driver IC's like popcorn). This gave me a LED display for kHz's. The SSR-1 was not actually not made by Drake. Manufactured by Seiwa Corporation (pre-AOR ?) in Japan with Drake's name on the front. Actual Drake logo was never used. Did not have a SO-239 antenna connector, just 2 "posts" for connections. A well made set but was loaded with birdie issues. Uses a dial string for the MHz tuning / dial indicator. It has at least two variants, using 2 different harmonic generator IC circuits. Some also used MOSFET's while others did not. Another variable was with it's straight wired AC line cord : Some were factory supplied with a 2 wire type while others had a 3 wire grounded cord.
* PANASONIC RF-2800
My first SW portable (1978), and a set with LED digital display on board to boot. A big beast, and was very drifty, so never used it all that much. But was great to have a solid idea where you are tuned to. Remember this was in 1978.
* YAESU FRG-7000 (with Gilfer Mods)
My second "Table Top" , with the tighter Gilfer filter installed. I actually regretted changing the Yaesu filter as the audio really suffered. Was a time trying to keep all of the lamps operating in this set. There were many, and burned bright. Was not a real easy job to replace as you had to take the entire front bezel off to get to the soldered in lamps. The on board clock was very accurate, would not loose a "second" in months. A pre-selector radio (that is a preselector needed to be adjusted). I tuned in stations like the "Voice Of Chile" and "Radio Gabon" (both in English) on this set. Frequency counter noise would bleed into the audio chain, but a switch was easily pushed to turn off the counter (noise would then totally go away).
* SONY ICF-2001 (Perry Ferrell's import unit)
Well after drooling in the 1980 WRTH (back cover), I was wondering in January of 1980 "Why can't I purchase one of these in the US ??". I contacted Perry Ferrell at Gilfer and it so happened had a unit that he had just done evaluating (was wondering to carry it or not) and was about to sell it . He had imported it direct from Japan. So I grabbed it, the instructions were in Japanese but was pretty easy to figure it out. This was in Feb of 1980, and Sony USA started selling the ICF-2001 in the US in later the same year. Of course my sample suffered the push button gremlin (failures) about a year later which is a very common problem with the ICF-2001's.
* KENWOOD R-1000 (3)
Have had 3 samples of the R-1000 over the years. The first one "brand new" was around late 1980 or so and has to go down for the worse case of the frequency display being off. Even after adjusting it to match up in the lower end of a 1 MHz band, by the time you got to the other end, it might have been off my 4 or 5 kHz (was improperly aligned at the factory). This was unacceptable to me and left my shack fairly quickly. It did have pretty good audio however, except for a REAL SLOW AGC (it was a early sample). In later 2008-early 2009 we had much better luck with 2 used "later 1982" made samples. Frequency display was on (AM mode) and the AGC was much better. Great audio with the 12 kHz + filter. In my view the R-1000 was Kenwood's best general coverage they made (even without the memories..etc). Note that the digital display quality varied on this and the R-2000 even out of the factory brand new (uneven lit display). See my full R-1000 review here.
* YAESU FRG-7 (2 Samples, one with Gilfer Mods)
This receiver was very well made. I don't think Yaesu will again make a receiver like this one again. This was one solid radio. Worked good too. A set of good batteries, provided you kept the lamps off, would last a long time. Another preselector radio, analog readout. Really GOOD samples are getting hard to find. Fair to Poor samples are very common even these days. The sample with the Gilfer filter change had poor audio quality (narrower IF filter) to me.
* SONY ICR-4800 (Sony's first modern day micro set)
A radio's size that equaled the performance...."Tiny"...It was super neat having a SW coverage radio in this size and remember it was 1981. But images and whistles were all over the place. SW receive coverage was limited to the 49, 31, 25, 19 and 16 meter bands (lacking the 41 meter band was a huge drawback). Single conversion and no FM broadcast. Lacked external antenna input and fixed audio line output jacks. Just a mono 1/8 inch headphone and 3 VDC external power input jacks. Was not cheap for the day either (about $ 100. USD street price at release but was greatly discounted soon after). But a few good memories anyway. Ran on just 2 AA batteries (again remember it was 1981).
* JAPAN RADIO CO. NRD-515 (With NCM-515 KeyPad Controller)
This was the first JRC radio that I owned, as is the case with many. It's die-cast front panel made it look and feel like a "real" radio. Worked very good for SSB and RTTY signals. Audio quality using AM Mode for MW or SW Broadcast signals, well FORGET IT !!! It was sort like trying to listen to a radio with about 5 blankets thrown over the top of it (gee, maybe that's why Larry Magne used the term "Woolly" ?). And this was in the 6 kHz filter bandwidth. I can remember I tried to clean things up a bit by removing a couple of capacitors that were in the input to the audio amplifier stage. This did help slightly, however it also gave me excessive hiss. So that did not work. If you used manual ECSS with Broadcast Signals, this worked with good results. I can also remember the sample I had, the tuning knob seized up most of the time (BRAND NEW), that it would get so tight that you could no longer turn it unless you gave it a good flip the other way. This was in the very early days of optical encoders, and JRC had to "roll" their own. This JRC was not modular construction and a good part of the RF/IF sections of the radio were on a single PC board. I did not get it with the Memory Unit, but did purchase it with the NCM-515 Keypad .
* ICOM IC-R70
A very well made set. A bit weird to operate, say going from one MHz band to another. When it came out, was the only general coverage tabletop receiver from Japan that had a IF notch filter. Did not suffer from the excessive distortion in the audio that the IC-R71 had, but a very high background hiss level in the audio made me sell this one.
* ICOM IC-R71 (TRIPLE ARF !) (2)
The ICOM IC-R71 must go down as the "WORST" receiver for audio quality I have ever owned ! The battery backed RAM operation software was another big problem for me with this set. When the Lithium Battery Dies, so does the set, and NO it will NOT come back to life with a battery change, it needed to go back to ICOM and get reprogrammed (well not anymore you can't) ! Was pretty stupid idea here, ICOM was not too smart when this set was on the drawing board ! There are after market fixes for this. We revisited a 1984 sample in 2022 and it was just as bad if not even worse with audio distortion with dried out electrolytic capacitors. Runs hot !
* SONY CRF-1 (2)
Drooling in the 1980 WRTH as it was shown in the same Sony ad with the original ICF-2001 (inside rear back cover). The Sony CRF-1 has a metal bottom and a painted plastic top. This was a weird receiver to say the least. Performance was good, however in my view the ICF-2010 (ICF-2001D) beats it out easy. It goes down for the biggest "pain in the rump" as far as ease of operation I have ever used on a SW receiver , portable or tabletop. Every 100 kHz you had to pull the knob out to slide over to the next 100 kHz segment (then push it back in). Only so-so dynamic range, downright excellent whip sensitivity but the CRF-1's real downside is it had a very noisy synthesizer. Another set that required a pre-selector to be tuned, and was pretty sharp. It did have a preselector bypass switch, but did not work well when out of line. These can be had in the used market once in awhile for excessive prices, but beware as the 4 weird panel (dial) lamps burned out fast , volume control were known to fail more than not and the biggie is the rubber wheel (track) that brakes down near the optical encoder (fine tune stops working). The overly used tuning knob are also known to crumble into nothing in it's old age. See our Sony page for more information. The analog power supply went into the empty battery cavity (yes it's a normal analog supply being used here, not a switching type). Most feel this receiver was actually outdated when Sony brought it to market (plus it was WAY overpriced).
* JAPAN RADIO CO. NRD-525 (2 + 2 additional test samples)
Owned a couple of these. Actually have had the chance to use about 4 samples of this set over the years. I noticed a pretty good swing in the audio quality area between all 4 sets used. The overall distortion in the AM mode varied. My feeling that this was due to alignment at the factory, too much IF gain ?? Yes, cutting back the RF Gain control did help somewhat, BUT not totally . The INTERNAL "IF Gain" trimmer pot I feel may have been up too high ?? However it's something I never checked out for sure. The "AUX" filter opening (about 12 kHz or so) on a Stock 525 when on the right "In the Clear" signal using this bandwidth...the radio sounded very nice. But as many already know, using any other filter, the NRD-525's "hiss" problem will drive you out of the room.
* KENWOOD R-11 (TOSHIBA RF-P11)
Little analog bandspread set. Made for Kenwood by Toshiba. Batteries would last forever. The only real gremlin that I can remember was the radio had a bad "Bandswitch Bleed" problem. If I was in the 41 meter band, I could still hear the 49 Meter loud and clear. This set actually had a REAL old style S-Meter on it. Also had a record jack on it !! If it was not for that bandswitch bleed problem...I would still have this one.
* SANGEAN ATS-803 (was not the "A" version)
This was one of the early versions of this set. The units display would always revert back to the clock. So could not have the frequency displayed all of the time. Tuning knob had a cheap feel to it, felt like it was going to fall off. But for the biggest bang for the buck..it was usable. Audio was only so-so even with the bass and treble controls.
* SONY ICF-2010 (4)
One of the best receivers in the Sync Detector department ever made. I like the one button memory presets. Tuning knob was a bit slow with this set (no 5 kHz step, 1 kHz only in Fast) for SW broadcasting. BEST SW receiver that Sony EVER made in my view ! Excellent sensitivity, well chosen IF filtering for broadcast listening (SSB is too wide however), and very easy to use. But the real plus to the ICF-2010 is the excellent sync detector. The front end FET's can be damaged from static when connected to a external antenna, even with the later versions. (Was sold as the ICF-2001D outside North America) . See our SONY page for more information.
* SONY ICF-SW1 (2)
A real digital pocket SW radio. Eats batteries, but was a fun radio to play with. 5 kHz steps only and AM mode. These sets have a trait of drifting off frequency after aging and capacitor failures (in the audio section) are VERY common as well. But no clam shell to have to worry about failing.
* SANGEAN MS-101A
Used it around the house for general use. SW had poor sensitivity. A set of batteries last about 6 months. Single conversion set, so di-da's all over the place. It served me well for many years anyway.
* MAGNAVOX D-2935
This set reminded me of the Panasonic RF-2800, about the same size. However this set was very stable, and had a keypad. The biggest drawback of this set: The keypad was of the membrane type (these also crumble down to nothing with age). Due to the narrow IF filter used (it was a later model), the MW / SW audio quality was quite poor.
* SONY ICF-PRO80
As Larry Magne said about this "Brick" hand held set.."If you like Puzzles...you will love this set"...and he is 100% correct here, is a royal pain to use. But for it's day, was the only set in this package with SSB reception, even if that part of the radio was only fair it did work fine. The PRO-80 was indeed about the size of a real brick. Very high current requirement too and also suffered from audio capacitor failures as did with the ICF-SW1.
* SONY ICF-SW20
Interesting analog pocket set, but was as hissy as a mad snake. No SW coverage below the 49 meter band (below 5.9 MHz). Dual conversion (455 kHz and 10.7 MHz). Just too limited SW coverage.
* JAPAN RADIO CO.NRD-535D (2)
The JRC trait of poor audio continued in the 535 but no "hiss" as was in the 525. But I did a side by side test, same antenna, and as much of the same settings as I could. I was understanding the audio on a weak signal on the AOR AR7030, where as I could not make out 1 word on the JRC NRD-535. Sync Detector and Notch Filter were useless on the "NRD" as well. Well could go on, a generally very well made receiver, but poor audio made me part with it. Another gremlin with both samples was the buzz from the microprocessor and or display that irked into the receiver. This issue was never cured in it's lifetime while on the market.
* ICOM IC-R9000 (2)
This gem covers the entire spectrum, well at least the part we would be listening to. At a little over 44 lbs (20 kg) you do not want to carry one very far,the size with the weight of this beast makes it hard to handle. The paint chips very easily (after owning 2 of these, I know this first hand with the cabinet). As the reports have said over the years, this radio does indeed run VERY H-O-T. One cause is the power supply transistor, and bridge rectifier mounted on the rear heat sink. But other area's on the bottom receiver boards create lots of heat too. I have used an external power supply to power the radio (only as a test) and it makes a difference in the heat. Has a super "Notch" filter, very deep and sharp. Very easy to use. The AM mode audio is OK, however distortion is in there making it a bit ruff to listen to hour after hour. Distortion on SSB signals is almost nil (much better).The "line" output is low in level, I used to use a mic mixer to boost this up.
Limited dynamic range on SW /
HF. With a
decent antenna expect overloading at night on the 41 and 49 meter SW
broadcasting bands without any attenuation on. But was not at any
NOTE : The R-9000 can suffer from the nasty "VCO" issues that plagued most Icom sets in this era. VCO capacitors (and perhaps even more) will have to be replaced out. Yes, it affects SW bands as well !! Very expensive to repair. Of course the other bug-a-boo is the CRT (if you don't have a later LCD version). By now any sample that has been used, as can be figured due to age/heat stress....it's going to be a high failure issue. If you have a desire for a USED IC-R9000, do yourself a favor and just get the much more modern IC-R8600 instead. Not only does the receiver perform better overall and decodes a number of digital voice modes, the Spectrum Scope is leaps and bounds better (with the IC-R9000 one can almost cook a chicken on it's rear panel) !
* SONY ICF-SW77 (Newer Version)
Great set for the person who has a hard time keeping track of SW broadcasting schedules. Works great in this area. Sync circuit is not so good when compared to the older ICF-2010 (ICF-2001D outside North America). Lots of distortion, sync actually degrades audio on many signals. Tuning Knob is actually a disc that you "push On" to tune, gets old very quickly for the band scanner. But for the person who just wants to push a button and be there..this set would "fill the bill" real well. Line out is a bit too weak for a tape recorder. The front panel is all sprayed painted plastic....could show wear real fast, even the buttons have sprayed paint on them !!! Also can suffer from those nasty capacitor failures. Ugh !! A real Sony dud in general !!! The wide bandwidth filter was way too narrow.
* SONY ICF-SW7600G
Another Sony set with a fairly "poor" sync circuit and only one bandwidth filter. But was OK. No tuning knob (huge drawback).
* DRAKE R-4245 (It's a R-7A and RV-75 VFO in a Tan Cabinet)
I'm not sure why this receiver became so highly rated ?? It's nothing more than a R-7A with a RV-75 VFO unit , oh yes in a pretty tacky looking tan cabinet. Very good dynamic range, sensitivity, and the synthesized VFO made the receiver stable after a 15 min or so warm up. Was far from being "commercial". Would never handle the daily demand of a heavy commercial user. The audio quality, when comparing to today's receivers, was very poor. Excessive distortion in AM reception mode. My ears could not take much over 30 min's of listening to SW AM broadcasting stations. SSB was much better. Ran hot.
* SONY ICF-SW100 (2, early version and one near final production)
About as small as you can get. If you need it super small and SSB and sync detection too, this is the ONLY set that will cut it. Be aware that problems happen with early samples with a couple of ribbon cables that connect the half's. If you don't see the little cut out in the hinge area it's a early one. Don't expect any good audio out of this radio either, but with a nickel sized speaker, that can be expected. But the audio I feel is really comprised by the too narrow IF filter (has only one audio bandwidth filter). The early sample had a very hissy trait (MUCH worse than the SW1). However with the later one , this hiss issue was cleared up. WARNING : On the used market, one should be careful as the battery cover (clip) can break (crack) after years of use and parts can no longer be purchased .
* AOR AR7030 (8 Total , 6 Plus / 2 Standard)
A communications receiver with about the best audio that you will find (except for the Lowe HF-250), but also has the worst ergonomics that you can think of too. With many parts quality problems over the years, I have a sour taste in my mouth even to this day. 4 of the 8 (6 if you count the 2 sour ones out of the box brand new I received) samples that I have owned have failed either in some way ,say 6 to 8 months-light use. I guess if you are handy and maybe don't mind fixing the set as you take it out of the box "Brand New", I guess this may not matter ?? Again this is a great receiver, but just understand the fact that the receiver does not have a good track record for using certain parts that could fail. When new it was a very expensive for what you got as well at $ 1500. US for a plus version. Watch out for the main filter capacitor in the power supply and it's internal rechargeable battery. If these fail and if left in this condition can corrupt the microprocessor and no repair (or parts) are available anymore. Be sure and check out N9EWO's Review on the AOR AR7030.
* KENWOOD R-2000 (2)
Was a good, very easy to use tabletop receiver. Had weird sensitivity curves. SSB step not fine enough (50 hz). Poor dynamic range. Audio while OK, had above average distortion. I find the R-1000 to sound much better and a tad better dynamic range. The ATT switch tends to get dirty (just like with the R-1000).
* JAPAN RADIO CO. NRD-93 (With NDH-93 Scanning Unit)
The champ of all ANALOG JRC receivers. Quality of construction in this set was outstanding. High quality parts used, for example the volume/RF gain controls etc, were top drawer. No consumer garbage used here. Audio was better (still not the greatest) then any other JRC set I have ever used , up until the NRD-545. Good news is that the 93 has excellent ECSS, and when used..AM signals sound very good. I tried a Sherwood SE-3 with this set..but distortion was present (Yes, tried different "IF" levels too). But when compared to modern day sets...the 93 is "Long in the Tooth", as it was on the drawing board in the early 80's. Sensitivity being only good not outstanding. To me, internally the construction and parts used (except for the above average variable controls) in it's circuits and pc boards are about the same say to a NRD-545. The front panel construction is way above average. Made a weird "whine" sound that came from the switching power supply section after it warmed up for awhile, this would drive me nuts in short order. This is the main reason I did not keep this one. The more current NRD-301A suffers from this same problem.
* JAPAN RADIO CO. NRD-545 DSP Receiver (2)
A very well made receiver. The audio is MUCH more crisp than the NRD-535 or NRD-93 ever were (still not anything to get excited about).The way you select the IF bandwidth filtering is excellent. However the audio suffers from 2 very weird DSP sounds on broadcast signals (SW or MW). See my page devoted to this set . In its old age suffers from LCD backlight failures and even complete LCD display failures (not normally repairable, parts no longer available).
* WATKINS JOHNSON HF-1000A DSP Receiver / WJ8711A (3)
As is with the JRC NRD-545 above this is a IF DSP set. DSP not only works in the IF filtering area, but also in detection/AGC/Noise Blanker. Triple conversion as with the NRD-545 as well. This set can kick butt as far as pulling out the audio from a very weak signal. However it suffers from it's own gremlins. It does not suffer from the "Burps" and "Ticks" that plague the NRD-545. It MUST be used with good coax feedline and remote antenna, as it creates it's own "buzzie-buzzies" that can irk back into the received signal if this is not done. Another minor gremlin is that SSB reception can have clipping problems on strong signals (not always). Outside cabinet and controls feel (and the weight) like a cheap low end american car.
See the page devoted to this receiver. ONE OF THE BEST SW / HF RECEIVERS EVER made in my view !!!
* SANGEAN ATS-909/RADIO SHACK DX-398 Portable
Works pretty good using it with a external outdoor antenna. The whip sensitivity on SW lacks big time however. Nice "fine" DIGITAL tuning steps of 40 Hz, with OK SSB (at portable standards). But still not fine enough for real serious work. Tuning Knob and keypad both have very good feel. Line out jack provided, NOTE: This is a stereo jack (manual is wrong) and if you do not use a stereo plug into this "Line Jack", it will short out the middle ring connection on this 1/8" stereo phone jack and speaker will distort. So a bit of warning on that one (you seen this info here FIRST !!). As most have said the "flip stand" is a joke and will indeed break (have already seen this one personally). FM broadcast really rocks on this set, great sensitivity and selectivity. Slurps batteries up fast !!! The narrow "Wide" bandwidth" filter does not help this sets fair to poor audio. The "Narrow" bandwidth filter is too wide for real SSB signals.
* VERTEX-STANDARD-YAESU VR-5000 Wide-Band Receiver (2)
OK, this is a wide band "all frequency - all mode - in one box receiver" and I understand that. So its a very low price for such a set. So with that in mind it works and is fun. Has nasty poor dynamic range with any real antenna. Overloading can be PROPERLY controlled on HF with a EXTERNAL VARIABLE ATTENUATOR. A super neat spectrum display that works OK provided it has not launched into overload. Phase noise is also in the nasty poor area too, so manual ECSS is out of the question. Not a set for performance or for ease of use , but with the proper VARIABLE attenuator is most usable on HF (external outdoor antenna). NOTE : Early versions suffered from total lockups and the included unregulated AC wall power supply is garbage. See my page on the VR-5000, for more info. Most aging samples nowadays suffer from missing lines in the LCD (sorry no repair for this bug).
* LOWE HF-250 (with RC250 Remote, DU250 Sync and WA250 whip amp options, Non E version) (2)
This receiver is one of the best (if not the BEST) cleanest sounding shortwave receivers I have EVER had my hands on (with the sync mode in use). Audio quality is even better than the AOR AR7030 to our ears (WITH THE PROPER 2 WAY SPEAKER), and can still provide a bit of low end as well ! It's sync handles fading distortion extremely well. The downside with the first test sample was with a low level-low frequency "rumble" that totally ruined the gains. Was more noticeable with the Sync on but also existed in the virgin AM mode as well. We discovered this was caused by a faulty 100 uf electrolytic capacitor (C156) on the "Q32" 8 volt regulator output. Issue was totally fixed once the capacitor was replaced. BOTH test samples suffered from this same capacitor failure.
The HF-250 also had a real
quirky microprocessor with version 1.1 (first sample). It would lock
the entire receiver
up once in awhile when pushing buttons. This was a "bloody"
pain in the rump when it happened. With the second sample which had
firmware version 1.3, this bug was pretty much cleared up. Ergonomics
are a mixed
bag. It's a chore to even switch
modes. One has to push a mode button, push 2 more to toggle
around the loop to the mode you want and then punch the mode
button AGAIN. Tuning steps were also not good for any
broadcast bandscanning. It was too slow unless you press and continue
HOLD a fast button (VRIT feature was not much use here). The optional
RC250 remote control was also weird to
use but very useful to get around some of it's hostile ergonomics plus
adding direct frequency entry. For the best possible audio quality on
LW / MW and HF from a communication style receiver..this is it ! Has
IF bandwidth filters, one at a nice 10 kHz (non-Europa version), 5 with
the DU250 Sync option installed. FULL EXTENDED HF-250
review is available here.
* JAPAN RADIO CO. NRD-345 (Later Sample)
A JRC receiver that has 2 VFO's and a tilt bail with table protection pads. Of course both lacking in ALL other JRC sets ever made. Solid construction with a steel cabinet. Excellent RF performance, super easy of use , nice LCD display and even a real s-meter. Suffers from the typical JRC trait of poor audio with AM signals even in wide bandwidth (muffled), SSB has very good audio with no distortion or hiss at all. In my view here with SSB signals it's way better over the AOR AR7030. Also very good manual ECSS. Sync detection however is a major joke (just like with the Icom IC-R75). Includes a regulated floor wart that is a bit under rated for current (the USA 117VAC one at least is). A nice little receiver from JRC, but not for listening to broadcast stations. Full review here on the NRD-345.
* PERSEUS "Direct Sampling" HF Receiver
This is a PC connected (Microsoft XP , Vista or above) "Black Box - Direct Conversion" 100% DSP receiver. It requires a computer with some real horsepower to work right and a USB 2.0 or above port. Computer should at least use a 1.5 Ghz processor and 512 MB of memory and that's really at the "min." bottom and it will not work 100% right this way. I would say at least a Intel Pentium DUAL CORE processor in the 3 Ghz area and at least 1 GB of memory (or better). Once that is done THEN sit down for some very good performance. Of course there are NO IF stages in this type of receiver. Better than MOST (but not all) "hybrid" DSP IF receivers. Has excellent sync detection and on board DRM mode too, and endless number of QUALITY bandwidths with nice wide ones too (that I like and require in a HF receiver).
However one of its MAJOR bugs is its (other than the high cost) is the very weak signal sensitivity and noise floor. It's not quite what it could have been and for deep down extremely weak DX signals. Can suffer from self-generated gremlins which is its REAL drawback !! We found this one to be very sour after awhile !
* DEGEN DE1121 (2)
The Degen DE1121 is the only PORTABLE receiver on the planet that can give on board "MP3 recordings" in the SW band that actually works properly. Receiver section works good too including dual bandwidths, and has SSB mode to boot. It's MAJOR down side is that it is NOT easy to use and takes time and lots of patience to learn the strange menu layout. and general operation. It can lock up once in awhile too.The usual Degen "Quality Control" warning has to be stressed, it's highly variable (more like POOR) . Full review here.
* DEGEN DE1123 (2)
The ill-conceived Degen DE1123 DSP Radio-MP3 Player-Wav Recorder. A great idea for the pocket but it comes up way short in a number of area's. Pretty dismal receiver on SW. See review here.
* DEGEN DE1125
Updated version of the DE1123 above. Well not much of any improvement (some parts are worse). Another one that is almost worthless on SW. More lousy Degen quality control too. See mini-review here (bottom of page).
* GRUNDIG G6
Another Degen made set. Nice "near pocket set" that has SSB too with 20 hz fine tuning steps (but only fair performance here). Nice tuning wheel. Sensitivity can vary greatly from sample to sample (even more poor Degen quality control) . Memory operation is weird and doesn't operate properly. Most samples fail soon or later (as ours did as well). Sticky cabinet trait.
* UNIWAVE DI-WAVE 100 (Very rare and now less useful for DRM listening)
"Di-Wave 100" DRM Receiver from UniWave. Our sample came from the first pre-production run of 300 (or less ?) samples. Works great for dedicated DRM use, but is a real pain for any general SW listening. Performance on "analog" SW is good , however excessive audio distortion is a real problem in this mode. Model was discontinued just before any real production samples were made. IMPORTANT NOTE : After "xHE-AAC" CODEC changes around 2020 made these sets less useful for DRM listening (the same goes for the NewStar DR111).
* ETON E1
The closest portable EVER to the Sony ICF-2010 (if not a dead heat). Designed by R.L. Drake, rumored to have used Tecsun Chinese parts and made in India, but gives for some fantastic performance. 3 metal cased IF filters. Excellent sync detector and PBT. As many know it's the extremely POOR quality control that killed this one. You should use this receiver with a good REGULATED 9 VOLT power supply at the proper current (not the "over voltage" garbage wall-wart supply that come with it). Can suffer from the sticky case trait (due to it's "rubberized" painted cabinet). See my review for more details.
* DEGEN DE1126 / DE1127 (2)
While no where near perfect , the pocket size Degen DE1126 "Radio-MP3 Player-Wav Recorder" is a improvement over the DE1123 and DE1125 models (as listed above). At least better off air record and at least usable on SW now on STRONG signals (still has AGC issues). MW stinks, but FM is near excellent . MP3 player has shuffle mode. Microprocessor gremlins with weak off air recordings get mixed in. With the smaller DE1127 variant , on both tested samples we experienced a weird excessive current draw issue , this was not noticed with the bit larger DE1126 model. Shorter (and super thin) antenna reduces the FM sensitivity too. See the full review for details (bottom of this page, including a cure for excessive battery draw when off.). Same POOR Degen quality overall .
* GRUNDIG G2 Reporter (a.k.a. : DEGEN DE1128) (3)
OK, this is ANOTHER Degen designed and made "Radio-MP3 Player-Wav Recorder" set. Based on the DE1123, DE1125 and DE1126/1127 sets but larger. Has a line input and external Micro-SD card slot. Uses the same BC-5L lithium ion battery. Here we have 2 speakers which gives for great stereo effect and punchy audio . SW receiver performance is actually much improved with the AGC issues pretty much fixed (but is still no stellar performer, but OK with a bit of thin wire clipped to whip). Digital Recording and Playback suffered from dropouts on both units which is a real "deal killer" for me. But no more digital noises mixed in off air recordings (now is clean). FM performance is fantastic , MW is downright lousy !! See the entire review here.
* GRUNDIG Satellit 800
The BIG and famous GRUNDIG Satellit 800. Designed by R.L. Drake in the USA and built by Tecsun in China. Basically an improved version of the later production Drake SW8's. Beefier audio amplifier (along with separate Bass and Treble controls) and speaker. But even with those audio improvements, lacks any real bass response when compared to any old larger "German made" Grundig set. Also improved over the SW8's, added an internal small MW loopstick antenna (fair) , a nice LARGER LCD using a much desired GREEN LED backlight color (however it is a bit dim) and a real and fairly accurate real ANALOG S-Meter. Excellent Sync detector. Sensitivity could have been a bit better using the attached whip (pars MUCH better with any external outdoor antenna). Overall we love this receiver. We feel it's one of the BEST featured and performing Chinese SW portables that will ever be made...well so far anyway (even with it's bug-a-boo failure problems over it's years in production) ?? Would have liked to have seen a super wide bandwidth filter, but using the Sync Detection and SLIGHTLY off tuning gives for better clarity on AM mode MW/SW signals. Best used on external power as it's a battery PIG , up to 650 ma at 9 volts with the backlight and SW band with the Sync on (and with some decent audio level) !! NOTE : The included "transformer type" AC adapter creates hum with headphones (it's not regulated) and runs the set over voltage. So we have a cure (see web page here for details). We prefer this set MUCH more over the eton e1 as the Sat 800 has MUCH cleaner audio (no spurious garage in the audio and much less listening fatigue).
* DEGEN DE1128H
version of the DEGEN DE1128 / GRUNDIG G2 Reporter)
Very similar to the Grundig G2 Reporter / DEGEN 1128 as listed above (ARF !!) however with a number of MAJOR improvements. First the DEGEN DE1128H has a much more beefy audio amplifier with an added micro sub woofer in the battery compartment. So this increases the bass response and sound quality greatly (+ the case is about twice as thick). Improved and removable tilt stand. SW receiver performance is still a general disappointment , but OK for the stronger stations (with a bit of wire added to it's whip). FM still excellent, MW is still pretty lousy (SW is so-so) !! See the mini review here (bottom of page) . The dropout issue with MP3 files has been totally cleared up of course. This was was never sold as as a eton / Grundig product and for anyone living outside Asia needed to purchase direct from China (usually via ebay). Uses the usual BC-5L lithium ion battery.
* TECSUN PL-380 (2)
One of those lone DSP chip based "near pocket" sized sets. Early and very late samples are fine. But the middle production units suffered from excessive audio hiss in one channel. But we find the PL380 to be one of the best implemented Silicon Labs si4734 sets around (and not many are). Very sensitive, low noise and 5 MW / SW bandwidths available. Can switch the backlight on full time. No external antenna jack however. Runs on 3 standard AA batteries (none of that weird lithium battery stuff here). Direct Keyboard entry. The 2 speed tuning takes getting getting used to, and even after that moving around with the tuning wheel is a bit difficult. Thank goodness for the excellent ETM mode. But a winner overall provided you can find one without the hiss issue.
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