"Miscellaneous Receiver Reviews"
Miscellaneous lighter content "N9EWO Reviews" which includes guest
contribution's and "Ham Transceiver" notes / reviews. Dave N9EWO
- Sangean HDR-16 AM/FM HD
- C.Crane "Skywave"
- Retekess TR604
- Yaesu FT-70D Notes
- C.Crane "FM REFLECT" FM Antenna
- Grundig / Eton "Field" BT
- CommRadio CR-1A
- Tecsun PL-600
|Guest Review :
Sangean HDR-16 Portable AM/FM HD radio
Craig Menning guest
"micro review" on the Sangean HDR-16 Portable AM/FM HD radio.
Uses the same switching AC power supply as with the newer ATS-909X and DAR-101 mp3 recorder. (many thanks
- Decent sound (for a portable radio)
- AM bandwidth appear to be a
function of signal level. Meaning a wider bandwidth for strong signals,
narrower for weak signals. This gives good audio for locals and good
selectivity for DXing.
- Numerous presets via pages. This gives 20 presets for each band.
- AM quieting on weak signals is good. If there is something to listen to, noise is minimized. (see con).
- FM selectivity is good.
- AM and FM sensitivity is good.
- 2 line display shows little information, you need to page through the information using the INFO button.
- On very strong FM stations there are images heard at +/- 400 kHz. This limits weak signal reception.
- When there is no signal on
AM, the background noise is significant. This may cover up extremely
weak stations. However, once there is some (not a lot) signal this
noise is quickly reduced.
- Slow to turn on or change bands. There appears to be 4-5 seconds needed to load up (program) the radio IC.
- Given only one FM HD broadcast in the area, I can say HD reception works for FM.
- ON AM, in the evening (skywave), I can observe the radio try to lock
to an HD station. But being evening, and the station far away (Chicago
which is 400 miles from test location), the radio was unable to lock.
|N9EWO Review :
AM/FM/SW/AIR/WX Portable Radio
N9EWO's Review on
the C.Crane "Skywave" AM/FM/SW/AIR/WX Portable Pocket Radio.
Country of Manufacture : China
Serial Number (approx.) of Test Sample : 190400183x (Manufactured in
Firmware Version of Test Sample : CSF14 (To display firmware version :
With radio OFF, press and HOLD #1 key for a few seconds)
The C.Crane "Skywave" AM/FM/SW/AIR/WX
pocket portable receiver.
Generally decent performance, however we feel is on the overpriced side
of the fence for what it is.
Just as with ALL other radios, it has it's Pro's and Con's. Custom
manufactured in China by Redsun.
The excessively expensive variant called the C.Crane
"Skywave SSB" adds SSB modes / finer tuning
steps and improved SW coverage (not tested). (N9EWO Photo).
- Decent tactile keys that includes proper telephone layout (see Con)
- Above average sensitivity on all bands (However the Tecsun PL-380
FM sensitivity is better in our comparasions)
- Free from any microprocessor generated noise.
- Non finicky and excellent ANALOG volume control that also allows for
very low adjustments for nighttime use.
- UP / DOWN frequency slewing buttons (something that Tecsun just does
not offer at all).
- Excellent DSP selectivity (except FM) with user adjustment for MW /
SW and AIR
bands (also stores this data in memory channels).
- 2 properly chosen "Knob Tuning" steps of 1 and 5 kHz (see Con).
- Microprocessor selected two step tone control that helps tame it's
shrill audio quality trait.
- Good SW Dynamic Range using it's attached whip antenna (firmware
- 400 Memory channels (10 pages / 10 channels each page / 4 Bands).
- 12 or 24 hour clock format.
- AIR band squelch function.
- Lock Function.
- Sleep Timer (15, 30, 45, 60, 90 and 120 minutes),
- Timed Backlight can be switched on full time when AC Adapter is in
use (is not possible with battery use).
- Excellent audio recovery for spoken words (see con).
- Above average included earbuds with nice voice spoken word audio
quality (that also uses gel tips).
- Nice included carrying case that does not smell like tire factory.
- Low current consumption (100 ma using internal speaker).
- Easy to follow owners manual.
- Uses 2 AA batteries ,not the weird 3 that seems to be the normal for
many Chinese sets.
- "SKWVP" AC adapter accessory option is of no noise design (Regulated
linear transformer type ?) (see Con).
- Steep USD price for features offered.
- "Shrill" sharp audio quality become tiring after awhile.
- Tuning Knob has wobble, rotational play, also undesirable HARD CLACK
between detented steps.
- Build quality fair to our feel and eyes.
track record appears fair.
- Annoying Muting when tuned.
- No External Antenna Jack.
- FM Band Selectivity and Sensitivity only "so-so" on test sample.
- No audio line "Record" output jack.
- Somewhat short 16 inch whip antenna.
- No RF attenuator switch.
- LCD Backlight is very uneven (very bright on the left side).
- Direct Frequency entry requires extra button before use.
- Audio amplifier lacks output (more noticed on the SW bands).
- Somewhat limited SW coverage stopping at 26100 kHz (more expensive
SSB model goes up to 29999 kHz). Still wider coverage over many Tecsun
- No SSB modes. (the much
more expensive SSB model provides this)
- Uses Mini-USB type connector for external power / charging.
- Battery door can get easily lost (is not hinged).
- Keys are near flush with cabinet (not so easy to use)
- "SKWVP" AC adapter is a extra cost option and also has two ferrite
filters molded into it's STIFF cable which makes for difficult use.
The C.Crane "Skywave" receiver
coverage is :
MW / AM : 520 to 1710 kHz
FM : 76 to 108 MHz (Stereo with
Headphones / Earbuds in use, selectable that also includes a STEREO
indicator on the LCD)
SW : 2300 to 26100 kHz
AIRcraft : 118 to 137 MHz
USA NOAA Weather : 7 Channels from
162.400 to 162.550 Mhz (with alert function however no S.A.M.E. feature
Operates on 2 AA batteries and when Ni-Mh rechargeable batteries are
used can be charged in the radio when the "SKWVP"
"Mini-USB" 5 volt AC Adapter
accessory is plugged in (sold separately). Size is 4.75″ W x 3″ H x
1.1″ D inches and weight is a very light 5.5 ounces without batteries,
so can fit in
most shirt pockets so be a bit chubby.
It's use of a DSP design allows for user adjustable bandwidth settings
in MW and SW of 6, 4, 3, 2 and 1 kHz. AIR allows for 6, 4 and 3 kHz
adjustment that all work well. SW sensitivity comparisons with a early
production Tecsun PL-380 were dead equal (using attached whip
antenna's). MW band was also very close. FM sensitivity and selectivity
was better on the Tecsun PL-380 test sample in our view .The AIR band
Audio quality suffers BAD with the "Skywave" for any music listening.
It's ghastly shrill with ZERO bass response and makes for brain pain
after awhile. The electronically switched 2 step tone control helps
control this to an extent. It has independent settings for FM and
SW/MW bands, a nice touch (Note : It does not function in the AIR and
WX bands). However its audio amplifier also lacks
audio punch, more noticed in the SWBC bands. In our view the
early production test sample of the Tecsun
PL-380 faired MUCH better here for audio quality (has some bass
response) and with a more powerful audio amplifier to boot.
C.Crane appears to target this radio more for the "talk radio"
listening crowd, so it seems. In any event the C.Crane "Skywave" is a
decent performing pocket set. The normal retail price is just bit
high in our view for what it is / features provided.
© N9EWO, all
For More Information Links [all
subject to change without notice] :
Review on the Skywave
Blog Review on the Skywave
Owners Manual , later
version (in PDF)
|N9EWO Review :
AM/FM Portable Radio
(also sold as the AIWA AR-A10)
N9EWO's Review on
the Retekess TR604 AM/FM Portable Radio.
Country Of Manufacture : China
Serial Number (approx.) of Test Sample : 1908R604110003x (Manufactured
in August 2019)
low cost (approx. $ 30. USD) "Retekess TR604" Basic AM/FM Portable
The Retekess TR604 is a most useful "low cost" AM / FM
portable for around the house use listening to local stations. While
not a radio for the serious DX'er, it is perfect
for non critical use say in the kitchen, backyard, garage and even for
use during power failures with it's three D batteries and the fact that
it's current consumption is very low. Use of DSP makes for drift free
operation even if the tuning arrangement is not the greatest. It's
powerful 1 watt audio amplifier and 3.5 inch speaker (with a large size
magnet) makes for good listening provided the tone control is
set on LOW. Pleasant low cost household radio with AC power transformer
just remember don't expect a $ 100. set for around $ 30. US
Operates on 3 common "D" size batteries or AC mains power (with
Analog Display but appears to tune digitally with DSP which makes for
no drift operation.
This is a mono radio on FM with headphones (jack located just below the
tuning knob). (N9EWO Photos)
Rear View of the TR604 shows it's "2 Pin" AC power socket.
- Appears to be a DSP based design (receiver on one chip) which gives
for excellent "no drift" stability.
- Slightly above average sensitivity on both bands.
- Powerful 1 watt audio amplifier with 3.5 inch speaker with decent
sized magnet gives for decent audio quality.
- Detachable 4.5 foot AC Power Cable included.
- Internal Power Supply uses a "old school" power transformer (no noisy
switching supply being used).
- 3 D Battery operation that includes low current consumption for
extended operation time. Excellent for emergency situations.
- "ON" Operation LED
- 2 Position Tone Control (Best Left in Low, but High setting can be
useful for AM stations that are muffled for improved audio recovery,
- Large tuning and volume control knobs (see CON)
- Attractive style with metal speaker grill and handy fold down large
- Long 24 inch FM whip antenna that swivels / rotates.
- Headphone Jack (See CON).
- Sold in 110 and 220 volt versions
- Detectable "low level hum" when using AC Power. Unless the
station has quiet audio (or no audio), is not serious issue.
- DSP step tuning makes for very finicky band scanning and fine tuning.
- Play and backlash in dial string tuning system makes for additional
- Selectivity is a mixed bag. Some close stations can get mixed
together (careful tuning can sometimes fix this). On AM almost sounds
like drifting (but it's not).
- Strong "Loud" AM stations can be trounced with a popping-crackling
noise. Rotation of the cabinet and tuning can sometimes help reduce
this (lower signal strength) but not always.
- Fair dial calibration.
- AM signals can pop in and out with nighttime "Skywave" signal fading
- Tone control in "High" setting is so high "shrill" sounding not to be
useful in normal operation.
- FM is in MONO only (at headphone jack).
- No external antenna connections (why would you want it on a radio in
this price point).
- Not a UL listed product (Seems to be decently constructed
for the price. So may be a of little moment.).
Once the 3 heavy D batteries are installed it stands up nicely. (N9EWO Photo)
The Retekess TR604 is packaged in a
brown marked box with styrofoam inserts and includes a detachable
polarized AC cord. Why the use of polarized plug is a mystery as the
end that plugs into the radio can be inserted either way. No UL
certification (listing) can be found. The 4.5 foot length cord is a bit
short when compared to the normal included 6 foot length with electric
products. A standard type AC socket is used here so a longer cord can
easily be fitted if desired. The use of a detachable AC cord is a
refreshing plus vs. a straight wired cord into the set that we see more
of with a low cost radio like this (or the use of wall wart which is
usually a dreaded switching type these days).
There is a detectable "low level hum" when using AC Power.
Unless the station has quiet audio (or no audio), is not serious issue.
Unless the owner turns down the volume fully many never hear this hum
at all. It is more noticeable when using headphones.
Analog tuning, but it's actually using a DSP "digital" tuning scheme
and that can be noticed with first use. It takes a bit of practice and
is somewhat tricky at first, and with a bit of play and backlash with
it's dial string tuning system makes its a bit more of a chore, but for
the most part it gets the job done for the price.
Sensitivity on both AM and FM is "slightly" above average in our view.
Certainly adequate for reception of all local stations with ease. This
is not a set for DX stellar performance (and at this price point can't
be expected). AM band can be taxied by a "Popping-Crackling" sound on
strong LOUD stations. This can sometimes be corrected by
slightly rotating the set (reducing sensitivity)
Also AM stations can pop in and out with nighttime skywave fading
conditions. Also when 2 stations are close together (AM or FM), a mix
of those 2 stations can be experienced. Also with careful tuning this
trait can be reduced or eliminated (but not always).
Tone control is best left on LOW. High is just too shrill and sharp to
be much use (except for the occasional station with very muffled audio).
The TR604 is a battery miser with it's non microprocessor design. We
measured current consumption between 50 to 70 ma on AM and 80 to 95 ma
on FM with decent moderate volume. With the use of large D batteries,
will give many hours between battery changes.
Audio is loud and decent with it's 3.5 inch speaker and D2822M (1 watt
output) audio amplifier IC. The large tuning and volume control knobs
are a nice touch even with a bit of tuning play and backlash that
exists. Even being a MONO receiver on FM, when stereo headphones are
used the sound comes out of both ears (no stereo-mono adapter is
Internal view of the TR604. Uses old school "AC power" transformer.
(thank goodness no switching power supplies are used)
Contains a large 3.5 inch speaker that uses a fairly large magnet to
along with its beefy 1 watt audio amplifier for decent audio quality.
Slight hum however with test sample when using AC power cord. (N9EWO Photo)
© N9EWO, all
For More Information Links [all
subject to change without notice] :
Link for TR604 (including additional reviews)
Retekess TR604 Web Site
Allen TR-604 Review
You Tube Video :
"todderbert" TR604 Review
manual via manufactures Web Site
| Dave N9EWO : Yaesu FT-70D Notes
A few notes from our Yaesu
FT-70DR "Fusion" test sample hand held transceiver (sorry we are
not planning a full review on this radio).
Operates well enough all around with plenty of decent
undistorted receive audio.
- Fusion "Yahoo
Groups" have reported excessive receive
failures since it's release, that is internal speaker fails but still
works with speaker mic OK.
Internal microphone sensitivity between analog and fusion
audio is still far apart and Yaesu should consider separate TX level
adjustments for digital and analog, otherwise TX punch is good.
- Very good ergonomics and
very easy to see LCD display and backlighting.
- Many may not prefer the
electronic volume control (The FT3DR has a top mounted dedicated volume
- No extended
receive above 579.995 MHz (nor MW or FM broadcast).
- Receive coverage lacks
SW broadcast (which the FT3DR has, AM mode only).
The biggest "Bug-A-Boo" with the FT-70DR involves "stand by" current
when off. Many Chinese handhelds suffer from this bug and the Japanese
made Yaesu FT-70D is nasty BAD here as well in our testing. It's
receive current consumption in regular operation is not so great either
even with it's RX LED's off and battery saver in use and this is even
in analog mode (the FT3DR fares MUCH better here in the
specifications). ONLY way around the excessive "stand by current" bug
is to totally remove the battery when not in use (a royal pain in the
rump !). Yes, this is even after the recommended firmware update !
Cabinet is on the "chubby wide" side. For anyone with small hands you
know what I mean. Not easily placed in ones shirt pocket either (unless
you are a lumberjack).
- Included plastic antenna
continues the Yaesu tradition here (that is a bit on the "ugly-thugly" side and only so-so
The Yaesu FT-70DR "Fusion" Dual Band
Handheld. (Yaesu Photo)
|N9EWO Review :
C.Crane "FM REFLECT"
Indoor FM Antenna
C.Crane's "FM REFLECT"
Indoor FM Wall Antenna (it's outer box photo above).
and Respectable. Made in China. (sorry no longer available new) (N9EWO Photo)
PRO : Improves FM Broadcast reception over the standard T-style
that was included with older Stereo receivers. Passive design for
excellent signal to noise ratio. Design is much less affected by people
moving around in the room (a major issue with any indoor antenna). 8
foot 75 ohm coax feedline (no 300 ohm twin lead feeds lines used here).
Mounting ears and center section that have nail mounting holes
(required to use, see con). All white color. Includes a 75 to 300 ohm
CON : Wall mounted antenna, generally ugly and difficult to
be mounted to something and is not easy to deal with with it's thick
elements. Stiff coax cable. Pricey for what it is (at full price). Heat
shrink piece over coax connector was not done properly and made for
difficult connection to receiver (one can just carefully remove it with
a pair of scissors). As it is with any indoor antenna some
experimentation may be required to locate the best hot spot in the room
(may require an extension of the coax cable). The weird whip portable
antenna connection with the provided 75 to 300 ohm balun and alligator
clip did NOT provide any improvement in our testing (we say any host
receiver MUST have an actual antenna and ground connection, 75 or 300
Final Word : This 54 inch "INDOOR" FM broadcast antenna was a
our tests. After trying many indoor FM antenna's over the years, this
one works and no fiddling with some phasing control. We tested this in
a horizontal configuration (see photo below). Not that it will make the
weak station jump to full scale signals (it can't and doesn't). But
when directly compared to a dipole antenna that were included with
older stereo receivers from years past (not a folded dipole type), the
C.Crane FM REFLECT was definitely an improvement (on a some stations it
was quite surprising). Completely passive design, this is NOT another
and undesirable active antenna either (designs which we don't bother
with anymore at all), so NO added noise to the signal. We found it
worked equally well across the entire FM broadcast band (88 to 108
MHz). A bit ugly yes, but is still easier to hide over a even more ugly
pair of "Rabbit Ears".
Sadly this antenna has been discontinued and no longer available new.
© N9EWO, all
"FM Reflect" is a bit on the unwieldy side and is less stiff than one
would hope for. We mounted the test sample on the top of 2 bulletin
boards with it's feedline coax neatly hidden in the space between them.
There are TINY mounting holes at each end and a couple in the middle,
but to use these will take a fairy long and thin nail etc. Being as
"thugly" as it is, it cannot be used without some mounting support
(must be wall mounted). In testing it would have been nice to have seen
the coax slightly longer than it's 8 feet (say 10 to 12). But is easily
lengthened (the shorter the better of course.) (N9EWO Photo)
Guest Review :
Grundig / Eton "Field"
BT (Bluetooth) Receiver
Craig Menning guest
"micro review" on the discontinued Grundig / Eton "Field" Receiver (many thanks
Craig) (Universal Radio Photo)
This version has Bluetooth support (BT model). Appears
the speaker sound has radically changed over the old non-BT version.
been a change to the bass response through headphones. At "maximum"
Bass adjustment, the new version has much less low end. Similar, but
obvious results with the speaker.
Eton Field : Current readings in AM and
FM, no signal, minimum
volume (in mA's)
With LED Backlight ON -
you can see the LED backlight adds 42 mA, something to be
avoided. The new radio seems to draw 14-16 mA more than the old one.
covering the speaker in the new BT version, precluding the conversion
longer AM antenna. Will update this as necessary as Craig learns more
AM (MW) , the new Field and the old version are basically the
same. Some minor sensitivity differences could be seen on a few
but not enough to say one radio was more sensitive than the other. On
the most part they were the same, but there were a few stations that
better on the old radio. On shortwave, using the whip both radios are
for the most part. Around 15 MHz, the new BT version did slightly
revised opinion, from a general shortwave standpoint is these radios
same. Naturally adding a wire antenna helps greatly.
on the new radio's display is better, I also
observe that backlight on the buttons is better. I wish the display
seen with the LEDS off (with any
negative type LCD display this is not
possible…N9EWO). One comment common to both radios is the
terrible. The two speed tuning is annoying.
observation, on AM, the older version had birdies /
hets / whistles on four different frequencies. The new version only had
This is an improvement. I wonder if the new added shielding was a
factor ? The
station had to be extremely weak, barely audible for these to be
stronger signals, they are not noticeable.
did notice that, on the old version, the audio could get
louder. This could be due to the difference between a 4-inch speaker
sub-two inch speaker. Or, there could be other differences?
I wouldn’t get the new version expecting an
improvement in signal reception. Given that the old one likely has
battery life, I’d say that is the better choice. Since both old and new
allow adding the jack for alternate AM antennas, anyone wishing to do
could go with either radio.