All credit for these reviews should be given to the readers of Rec.radio.shortwave and not me. If you disagree with what is written here or just want to add your own comments then write a review of your own and send it to me. I will add it to the collection. You can also send me a message simply stating that you use a given radio, and I will update the number of users following the model number.
John Lloyd KE4UTXjlloyd@raleigh.ibm.com
AOR - AR3000
Grundig Satellit 500
Grundig Satellit 700
Grundig YB-500 (RDS Only)
Japan Radio Company NRD-515
Japan Radio Company NRD-525
Reviewed by Gary W. Thorburn KD1TE
Price: US$ 171 to 250 (street prices observed by reviewer) Size: 20 cm x 14 cm x 3.5 cm, telescoping antenna
93 cm when extended.
AM or SSB:
144-353 kHz at 1 or 9 kHz steps, 520-1710 at 1, 9 or 10 kHz steps, 1711 - 30000 kHz at 1 or 5 kHz steps, FM /FM stereo: 87.50 - 108.00 at 50 kHz steps.
Direct keypad frequency entry, direct entry of meter-band, up/down frequency slew tuning, up/down slew through memory channels, station scan tuning up or down. am/fm switch, ssb on/off, FM mono/stereo, 2 bandwidths, high/low tone switch, dx/local switch. Fine-tuning (+/- 1 kHz) for SSB. 40 station memories, LCD display with light, frequency indicator, LCD signal strength meter, two 24-hr clocks, and FM stereo indicator. Other controls and jacks: Sleep switch, Power-on timer (wakeup), volume control, keypad lock switch. Stereo headphone jack, external SW antenna jack, microprocessor reset button. "Ear bud" headphones, batteries, instruction booklet, and listening guide included. A 7m wire "reel" antenna which plugs into the antenna jack is also included, as well as a nice cloth lined vinyl case with velcro closure.
6 AA cells or 9v external thru barrel-jack, negative center. AC power adapter is NOT included. Observed battery drain 60-100 ma depending on band selected and audio volume level. System shuts down with "battery check" message displayed in the LCD window when total battery voltage drops to just over 6v. Memory is retained and clock keeps running for about an hour with batteries out, facilitating leisurely battery replacement.
This is the first shortwave radio without a tuning knob that I have owned. In my view nothing can replace a knob, but the YB400 has comfortable and easy to operate up/down frequency keys, a station scan up/down key of some usefulness for finding strong signals if the QRM is not too bad, and a very good station memory system. With 40 memories, I find that I can afford to store multiple frequencies for a favorite broadcaster.
The tuning system is smart in many ways: If I key in "102.5" it knows that this is an FM station, and automatically selects the FM mode. Conversely, "1025" reverts to AM. If I key in "41" it knows that this is a meter-band designation, and selects a frequency near the center of the 41m band. A separate pair of keys slews up or down through the memories. Direct access of a memory location is easy by keying in the memory number and then hitting either of the memory slew keys. When you attempt to store new station information in a used memory location, the frequency already stored flashes in the LCD window requesting confirmation before overwriting. Memory locations can be completely cleared as well. A "free" key finds the next unused memory location. If you are tuned to a station, and wonder if you have previously stored it, a keystroke will search the memory for the frequency. If found, the location number where it is stored is displayed. In all AM modes, frequencies can always be entered at a one-kHz resolution even if the system is set to slew at higher resolutions.
The narrow/wide bandwidth switch functions in all AM modes. In FM, it doubles as a mono/stereo switch, which I suppose is ultimately a bandwidth function. In AM, the narrow bandwidth helpful to separate adjacent signals. The tone switch can be thought of as an audio filter, and the four possible combined settings of these switches can help significantly to make adjacent signals more listenable.
The SSB mode functions on all AM frequencies. My baseline for SSB performance is an ICOM 725, a modern but bare-bones ham transceiver. The YB400 does not match the ICOM, but with some practice, hams on USB, LSB or CW, the occasional SSB broadcast station, as well as Volmet and other utilities are quite listenable. The thumbwheel fine-tuning control, with a center detent, bends the frequency +/- 1 kHz. Using this in conjuction with the keyed frequency entry takes some getting used to. The SSB mode is quite stable, but because the frequency resolution is only 1 kHz, the SSB mode is not useful in zero-beating AM signals for precise frequency identification.
Antennas and SW performance:
The whip antenna is functional for Shortwave and FM. The antenna jack is for SW only. An internal ferrite rod is the antenna for MW and LW.
Shortwave sensitivity is good with the built in whip antenna, but the 7m reel-out wire antenna, provided, will deliver more signal strength. The reel antenna connects to the antenna jack. This is a standard miniature 2-conductor (monaural) phone jack. When a plug is inserted, the whip is disconnected. The jack has two conductors, both are electically active. The reel antenna only connects to the "tip" of the phone plug. I made a dipole about 8m long, such that one leg connects to each conductor of a phone plug, and I find that it performs better than the provided reel antenna. Connected to my 30m outdoor dipole, strong Carribean and European SW broadcasters overload the YB-400, swamping large parts of the band. During the day, when signal strength is much lower, the long dipole works well. As might be expected, the sensitivity and immunity to overload of the ICOM is somewhat better, as subjectively determined by comparing each system tied to the exterior dipole. With an antenna that does not overload the YB-400, adjacent channel rejection (at 5 kHz) is very good. My ICOM is not equipped with narrow band filters for AM SW listening, and the YB-400 in narrow band mode is often at least as good as the ICOM in its 6 kHz wide AM mode. However, while the YB-400 narrow band filter is useful, I get the feeling that its shape does not have particularly sharp skirts, as would be expected in a modestly priced radio.
At least one post on the internet news group complains of permanently lost sensitivity on a YB-400 after using an outdoor antenna; perhaps as a result of static damaging a front-end transistor. So use any outdoor antenna with extreme caution or not at all. Consider the use of diodes or transformers to reduce the possibility of damage.
The MW sensitivity is certainly better than what I have found in a sampling of AM/FM digital portables, but not as good as some older analog portables. However, the selectivity is more than adequate for separating adjacent US stations at 10 kHz intervals, even without the narrow mode. The antenna jack does not function for MW or LW, so an external MW antenna requires the use of a loop to inductively couple to the internal ferrite rod. The YB-400 responded very well to being placed near my 3- ft homebrew tuned box loop. I cannot judge LW performance except to note that I can hear several beacons, and I have logged "Atlantic 252" (Ireland) from a DX sweet spot in Rockport, Massachusetts, with no external antenna.
Fine for general listening, but not exceptional either in capture ratio or sensitivity. An old Sony analog portable (ICF-6500w) is still my baseline for good portable FM. The 50 kHz tuning steps means four keypresses to step up or down one US FM channel, which is tiresome for casual bandscanning. However, by tuning off 50 kHz you might be able to make listenable a weak signal which is adjacent to a strong station.
The YB-400 is a very nice sounding radio on all bands, considering its size. A miniature stereo headphone jack is provided, which enables FM to be heard in stereo. Through good headphones, a rather high level of audio hiss, apparent particularly at low volume levels, makes FM stereo listening less pleasant than a modestly priced walkabout radio. Be sure to use a stereo plug if you want to use the jack output for recording purposes.
Comments on other features:
There are two 24-hour clocks, which remain synchronized to the second. Either but not both clocks are displayed at any time; one key toggles between the two clocks, even with power off. Seconds are displayed only when the power is off. It is easy to set the clock to the second, (particularly if you are tuned to WWV !) I find the clock on my unit gains about 5 seconds a month. There is a timed power on (clock radio) function, and a sleep function which can be set for 10 to 60 minutes. The LCD window has a green light which can be turned on by hitting a bar on the top of the unit. It stays on as long as there is keyboard activity. If the keyboard activity stops, the light goes off in a few seconds. Perhaps I'm asking for too much here, but backlighted keys would be nice too like most handheld transceivers. The shortwave listening guide included with my unit was hopelessly out of date, but would give a newcomer to SWL some clues as to what to listen for. A stylized global timezone map and a chart of meter-band frequency ranges are printed on the back of the unit.
The YB-400 is assembled in China. On the whole, it is far more solidly made than any other Chinese consumer electronics I have used. But I note the following caveats: The whip antenna mount is very flimsy mechanically. And when it wobbles, some electrical crackle can be heard because of sliding mechanical contacts. I fixed the contact problem by removing the back and soldering a piece of flexible stranded insulated wire to provide a better contact. The back of the unit is very easily removed. But as with most small electronic products, foam tape adhesives are used to reduce rattles and enhance structural rigidity; some of this might be compromised if you disassemble your YB-400. There is a snap up stand on the back of the YB-400 which enables it to stand at an angle. This stand is also very flimsy. It supports the unit fine if you don't touch it, but it will not support comfortable use of the keypad in this position. I also expect that a minor accident, such as a couple hardcover books toppling over on the unit with the stand raised, would snap off its mounts.
I was looking at the Grundig Yacht Boy 500 recently because of its having RDS - I suspect that the RDS on the Satellit 700 is similar / identical. It has a diagnostic feature where you key something like 1-2-3-4-5 before switch on. It then will read various details of the RDS - like PI, TA, TP and also the RDS "quality".
But it does not use any of these features. It displays the PS - station name - but I am not sure if it uses the AF automatic retuning of RDS. It display the Travel News flags TA & TP in diagnostic but does not use it at all.
There is a clock on the radio but it is not updated from the RDS CT clock. Its a great pity that a bit more thought had not been put into the design. Incidentally this diagnostic function is present on some car radios, usually needs a series of key presses to get into the mode.
I ended up getting the new Sony RDS radio - its not a SW radio just VHF/MW/LW I was quite disappointed with the design of that also and wrote to Sony in Japan - they confirmed my suspicion that it was designed in Japan where they have no RDS !
It does update its clock from CT though. Also uses the TA/TP flags to allow you to get Travel News from another channel.
They do not have fully automatic returning using AF but you push a button to step through the various Alternative Frequencies.
I was most disappointed by its not fully using EON (Enhanced Other Networks), it has it so that it can retune to another station for Travel News. But I was hoping that I would be able to tune one memory to BBC Radio 2 in a new town and the other 4 memories would be loaded with the local frequencies for Radio 1, 3, 4 etc using EON. But it doesn't.
I tested three ICF SW 77 receivers and each time gave it back to the dealer. My feedback is that I appreciated very well this set on a functionality point of view (synchronous button facility, quick page, several frequencies under the same station name), but there are lot of problems:
I found it VERY easy to plug in and start listening. The supplied instructions are adequate for what they do, but are not really enough to really start enjoying the radio. The whip antenna works great at home, but just doesn't cut it at work (way too much metal/interference). Even the supplied wire antenna does not seem to help at work (I have not yet tried it at home (no real need).
I've owned this little radio for about a year now and am really pretty happy with it.
Advantages: Size - Measuring approximately
4 3/4 x 2 5/8 x 1, you can take this little
mini anywhere! Even slip it into your shirt
SW bands - Covers 9 SW bands: 49m, 41m, 31m, 25m, 21m, 19m and 16m.
MW, FM, FM Stereo (thru headphones)
Travel Power lock
Push button control
Runs on two AA batteries or AC adapter
Disadvantages: It's an analog unit, guys and gals,
no digital display.
No back stand
Antenna does not rotate up
I've had a lot of fun with this little receiver. The SW sensitivity is quite good for my area of the country, Cleveland, Ohio. The speaker has a nice sound and improves thru the earphones. FM stereo thru headphones is great! MW DXing is surprisingly good! I can grab signals from Boston, Chicago, New York and Cincinnati much better than on my Magnavox AE 3625 Digital!
Summary: A nice little travel radio that's fun
to fiddle with or take for travel when you're in
a pinch. Radio Shack has discontinued this model
so you might be able to find it on sale for around
$50.00. I love the size! Ideal for travel! I'm
beginning to think that anything larger is too
cumbersome. I do miss the Digital Display and all the
features that go with it: Freq. display, Alarms,
world time display, etc. If I were buying today, though,
I'd consider what else is out there for just a bit more
money. For example, the new Sangean 606 is only
slightly larger and has all the digital features mentioned above that I miss. I
've seen it priced for as little as
I bought this radio when I first started out in shortwave listening because it was the cheapest thing at Radio Shack. I think I paid $60 for, but I'm pretty sure the price has gone down since then.
Nowadays I mostly use it as my travel radio. Sesnitivity is okay for the price, but not too great. When I'm at home (western US) I can pick up the major international broadcasters, but no too much else. On my trips back East, I've found sensitivity picks up some, but it's still only fair.
Performance on the AM and FM bands is average, but longwave seems to be nearly useless. I've never heard any nav beacons on this one, even though there are several near my house.
Radio Shack sells a reel antenna for about $8, and I picked one of these up when I bought my radio. It helps reception a little, but not very much. A much better solution is to wrap a stripped end of a wire around the the whip antenna, and attach the other end to a metal windowframe. I've tried connecting my longwire to it, but that just overloads the receiver (not surprising).
One major problem that I've noted is that the dial markings on some shortwave bands seem to be off by up to 10 kHz. If you know about it, it's not much of a problem to work around, but initially it could be quite confusing.
Overall, this receiver is average for its price. There's no real surprises, either good or bad. If you really want an inexpensive radio, go for this one. Otherwise, I would advise saving your money and going for an inexpensive digital radio.
It costs $99.99 though I got it for $89 since I had a coupon for a rebate. For the price I think I got a good deal. It has digital tuning and direct input of frequencies which allows tuning to be a pretty simple job and not a time consuming act of patience. It uses two C type batteries... I use rechargable ones and they last a pretty long time..
It is not small enough to carry in your shirt pocket but it could fit in the front or side pocket of an average sized backpack. It is just great when you are walking back home from school/work ... it can be easily carried in one hand as you catch up on the news from BBC/Deutschewelle/Radio Australia/etc.... as you walk home.. I get decent reception of all the `big stations' even indoors and have, on occasion also been able to tune to Radio UAE....
The sleep function is perfect for someone like me who likes to fall asleep with music... the FM sound is pretty good in stereo (headphones)... The AM reception is also fairly good but it has a very high tendency to catch those Bible bashing stations...probably a reflection of the region where I live...
The strap is a little shoddy and I have a feeling I may have to `fix it' soon... I expect it to pop out any moment.... Despite that, I like it...
I've owned a DX-380 for about 9 months now and.... It's a GREAT RADIO! However, I should qualify this. I bought it on sale from Radio Shack for the bargain price of $129.95! It regularly retails for $179.95. At $130.00, this radio is a real steal!
About the size of a large paperback book, the 380 is feature packed!
*ALARM WITH RADIO/BUZZER
*60 MINUTE SLEEP TIMER
*DIRECT FREQ. ENTRY TUNING
*TUNES IN 1 OR 5 KHZ STEPS
*CLOCK DISPLAYED SEPARATELY
*STEREO THRU HEADPHONES
*CONTINUOUS SW COVERAGE...NO GAPS!
*AUTO SCAN UP OR DOWN
*ANTENNA ROTATES AND SWIVELS
The sensitivity of this radio is GREAT! With a reel antenna, it's even better! I read another review that said reception was lousy....I think that individual should check his particular receiver as he might have the rare defective unit. MW reception is also outstanding and with a Slect-A-Tenna is greatly improved! Herein Cleveland, I pick up Chicago, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh during the day WITHOUT the select-a-tenna! With the S-A-T reception gets an added boost! (these are all 50,000 watt stations)
I have found it to be about the perfect travel size. I would like something smaller, like the 606. This size, however is fine. I've carried hardbound books on jets that are larger. The many features makes up for it's slightly larger size over a mini. It does not have SSB, but I really don't miss it.
All in all, A great radio priced at $130.00! I would not have bought it for the price of $179.95. There are other radios in that price range that ive ya more bang for the buck. At $130.00, it's a great deal! If you can get it at that price, snap it up!
I am by no means an expert, but I have a DX-380 and can give some of my experiences. First of all, I would pay the extra to get the 390 to get the single side band capability. I miss it. I miss it. Also, the sensitivity for foreign broadcasts (I'm in DC) without an external antenna is poor. You get the BBC and some German broadcast relays from Canada transmitters, some south american stuff, and that's it. BUT with a 50 m Cu wire out my 2nd story window attached to the antenna with an alligator clip, I regularly get Abu Dhabi and Australia at night.
Great mid-sized digital portable. Good sensitivity and selectivity. Digital display shows time, frequency, signal strength, and memory location. Covers LW (in 9 kHz steps), MW (in 9 or 10 kHz steps) and SW continuously from 150 kHz to 30000 kHz. FM reception (88-108 MHz) with stereo through headphone jack. BFO control for SSB reception. Built-in timer/clock, 9 programmable memory locations per band, except 18 on SW. Good audio output. RF Gain and AM bandwidth controls. Keypad frequency entry. External antenna, AC-adapter inputs.
A great radio for the beginner or as an upgrade from a smaller and/or analog unit.
Purchased from Radio Shack for $219 in January, 1992.
I have a new Realistic DX-390 (alias Sangean 813??). Seems to be a great value for the price $169 US. I haven't yet heard from someone who can recommend a radio for the same price that is better, and can back it up with facts.
Truly a world-class portable, digital receiver. Excellent sensitivity and selectivity. Digital display with two separate clock/timers, signal strength meter, band selection, frequency readout, and user-definable eight-character "name" for each memorized station. Has RDS circuitry on FM to decode the newlyphased -in system for identifying stations by call letters, format, etc. 512 memory positions, upgradable to 2048. Tunes in .1 kHz increments. Selectable wide/narrow bandwidth for AM mode reception. Tunes MW in 9 or 10 kHz steps. Keypad frequency entry. Receives USB and LSB. Synchonous detector helps pick difficultto -receive stations out of the crowd. Selectable automatic/manual gain control. Covers LW (150-353 kHz), MW (528-1611 kHz), SW (1612-30000 kHz), and FM (87.5-108 MHz). Excellent audio output, with separate treble and bass controls. Stereo through headphones or external speakers. Line-level out (left and right), external antenna, and 12 VDC-in jacks. Local/DX switch. Built extremely rugged. Multi-national power supply included.
An outstanding performer, and worth the price to a serious SWL or DX'er who requires portability.
Purchased from Universal Radio for $479 in April, 1993.
Both of the receivers you are looking at are pretty solid. The
Sony is slightly smaller and has a somewhat more "finished" feel
about it. The Grundig is SOLID with a much better sound. Neither
is as good a SW signal receiver as the previous Sony, the '2010
(2001). However, they both have very advanced features;
multiple (and in the Grundigs case, expandable) memories with
alphanumeric tags so that you have a name as well as a frequency,
all sorts of memory grouping and scanning etc. The Grundig has
good RDS ident. on it's FM band, but I have a feeling that this
isn't used much, if at all, in the US. If you intend to buy
second-hand, be very wary of the SW77 - the early version was
pretty flakey. The later version is better but still not as good
as the '2010.
I think that the choice comes down to "feel". They are both quite complex to use, but both work as advertised. Try 'em both as they have quite distinct operational methods. If sheer performance on SW is the main point for you, compare them with the Sony ICF2010. You'll buy it and save some loot !
For what it's worth, I tried them both and settled on the Grundig. I have my Satellit 700 in daily use and it's performed without a hitch.
My reasons for the choice were:
I hope this splurge hasn't clouded the issue for you.
I have one of these radios and love it! I sent the following message to someone just after I bought it.
I just recently forked out $500 and bought a Grundig Satalit 700.
The sound from the radio is truely impressive! I have always
wondered why broadcasters put music on shortwave, because it
alway sounded like garbage. However with the 700 I can listen and
enjoy the music. The 700 has Bass and Treble controls, which
improve the sound quality but the Automatic Gain Control most
likely does the most toward improving the sound (I'm not an
expert, so this is just a guess!). Anyway my Wife
regularly listens to music coming from a 60m band radio station
in Guatemala, and can enjoy the sound. However there are some
bad points. It is programable, but I have not worked out how to
do it yet. Well I tried once and gave up. This is not too
bad though, because BBC, Deutche Welle, and about 10 others
are stored in a ROM table. And these frequences actual work
(i.e. they are the frequencies for North America and NOT
Also I connected a long wire antenna and found my local AM station on shortwave. I guess the front-end is not good enough to sort the signals out when coming from a large antenna. But don't worry about this either.
If you only want to listen to the biggies like BBC, Deutche Welle, you won't need an external antenna. I am planning to put a Pre-selector between The Radio and the Antenna, and I think this will cure the problem of AM stations on shortwave and cut out some interference. Finally I recommend this radio to you. I'm sure you will have hours if enjoyment from it.
Formerly Grundig's flagship portable SW receiver, this is
still an excellent piece of equipment. Excellent sensitivity and
selectivity. Digital display with two separate clocks (only
one displayed at a time), signal strength meter, frequency
readout, and four-character user-definable "name" for each
memorized station. 42 memory positions. Tunes to .1 kHz
increments. Selectable wide/narrow bandwidth for AM mode
reception. Tunes MW in 9 or 10 kHz steps. Keypad frequency entry.
In addition to AM, has three receiving "modes" for LW, MW, and
SW: USB, LSB, and "Sync," which should more accurately be
described as "fine tuning," as this implementation of synchronous
detection operates differently from the Satellit 700 or Sony
2010. Selectable automatic/manual gain control. Covers LW
(150-353 kHz), MW (528-1611 kHz), SW (1612-30000 kHz), and FM
Excellent audio output, with separate treble and bass controls. Stereo through headphones. Line-level out (mono), external antenna, and 12 VDC-in jacks. Local/DX switch. Built extremely rugged. Power supply included.
An all-around great performer. Now that it's discontinued, many outlets are selling this unit at close-out prices, making this radio an excellent value for the money. Purchased from Universal Radio for $379 in December, 1992.
I have a Grundig Satellit 500 and am basically satisfied with it. I miss the 512 memories of 700 and 'SSB clarify' control sometimes.
Yes, its 'sync' is exactly fine tuning in 100 Hz steps. However, it is rather simple to make it work similarly to '700 and '2010, because the detector chip is the same in all three. Only a switch with two pairs of contacts is needed. Another design fault, the excessive distortion in SSB mode, can be partly cured by adding two resistors. For serious DX-ers it may be important that the internal ferrite rod cannot be disabled on MW and LW in both 500 and 700, so the in-house noise may become a problem on these bands.
The Lowe HF-150 (sold by Universal and EEB) is a nice compromise. Similar number of cubic inches as the Sony (different shape), but offering some features of the R8. Also the Lowe is made with a mostly solid alumnum case, which is better than the Sony or the Drake. The Lowe has dual antenna inputs (wire or SO-239), record out, audio out, 12vDC in. It can run off any 12V DC battery. I use 7 aH gelcells which I recharge. The Lowe also takes 8 internal AA nicads *OR* disposable batteries. It will recharge the nicads with a builtin recharger if you plug it into an external power supply. It's a nice semi-portable radio. It has a few ideosyncracies, but you might want to look at it.
I've had an HF-225 for a few years now, and I'm pretty happy with it. I use it mainly for broadcast listening. It's connected to 25m of random wire via a 5m coax run inside the house.
I tried using an ATU to improve the matching between the aerial and the coax, and on some frequencies it gave a (small) improvement in signal strength, but it was such a pain to keep retuning that I gave up using it.
I recently bought a "magnetic longwire balun", and this seems to offer the best of both worlds - improved matching between the wire and the coax, but no retuning necessary. It's rather expensive, though, and it may be that I'd have been just as well off with a home brew transformer on a ferrite ring...
The other potential advantage of an ATU, filtering out of strong signals well away from where you're listening, seems to be completely irrelevant on the HF-225. I've never yet found a case where switching in the attenuator did anything beneficial. The receiver's front end seems to be excellent in this respect.
I've got the sychronous detector option, and I wouldn't be without it. It quite often makes a heavily fading signal quite pleasant to listen to. Pity it doesn't have a selectable sideband option, though - I quite often find myself tuning an AM signal in the LSB or USB modes to try to get rid of an adjacent interfering signal.
Would I buy it again? Yes, unless I decided that I really wanted a receiver which offered a computer interface.
I bought an SW1E over a year ago, for listening to broadcast SW
and FM at home and while travelling. I like this very small radio
a lot. It is maybe expensive for a portable, but the build
quality is very good, - everything looks and feels right.
Battery life is good, and the set DOES work with NiCads (2*AA)
contrary to the instructions. Reception of broadcast SW is good,
either with the whip or clothes-line antenna. I've never noticed
any big problems from adjacent channels either. As a bonus, FM
stereo reception is good through headphones. Audio quality from
the in-built speaker is fair, but you'll want to use phones for
noisy environments. The only bug with this radio is the memory
capacity - only 10 mems is really not enough to cover ALL of AM
Summary - if you want a very small portable, and appreciate high quality (and can afford it), I would recommend the SW1E. Note the E, which denotes the SW1 kit without the active antenna and brief case - these add a lot to the price, and I don't rate the antenna too highly either.
I bought one of these puppies on impulse the other day (at my age you should give in to the occasional impulse, just so they keep coming). Cost $85; you could probably do better by shopping the discounters.
Dual Conversion Receiver, 6 1/2 x 4 x 1 1/2 inches, 3 AA or 4.5v DC.
FM: 76-108 Mhz, 10.7 Mhz IF.
SW: 5.775 -6.425; 6.875-7.525; 9.375-10.025; 11.6.5-12.265; 15.00-15.65
17.50-18.15; 21.325-21.975. 1st IF 10.7 Mhz; 2nd IF 455 Khz.
MW: 530 - 1710 Khz; 455 Khz IF.
Analog Tuning dial, volume control, music/news tone switch, 7 position SW band selector. FM/MW/SW select buttons double as "on" switches. "Off" button. "Hold" button to disable "on" (prevents accidental turnons) Slide rule, multicolumn frequency display. Hand strap, foldout stand to hold at angle on table, soft carrying case. Basic shortwave guide. Telescoping antenna. FM/MW/SW "on" and tuning LEDs. Mono earphone jack.
I'm pretty impressed. Sensitivity is up there with the Pomtrex [:-)] without the "splatter" of strong stations. Analog tuning dial requires a delicate touch but for me that's part of the fun. Drift seems nonexistent; you get a station and it keeps it without a lot of vernier twiddling. MW performance was surprisingly good, as was FM. I'd recommend it as a starter radio.
I bought this radio in Kuala Lumpur in 1988, and I'm not sure if it goes by the same model number in other parts of the world. It is a shirt pocket analog tuned radio with coverage from 6MhZ to about 21MhZ in seven bands. The radio is very rugged and has served me well despite of the physical abuse it has gone through. Because of its small size the speaker is only small and the sound from it it a little tinny, but I used it mainly to receive news in countries without English language news services and in remote areas while camping etc. I recommend this radio to anyone, who considers size the most important factor. Cost was about US$70.
I was very happy to find your receivers review. I want to add to it my new SONY ICF-SW7600G. The new sony is not my 1'st receiver but I think it will be my last for some time. I'm using receivers for more than 20 years. I started with SP600 & AR88 so I know what to look for in one. At the moment I have TS430 amateur transiver, SONY 2010 & SONY 7600DS. The new 7600G is small receiver (191.2 x 118 x 32.3) and weights 615 gr. It covers all HF 150k - 30mhz and FM 76m -108mhz. It has 22 preset stations and direct tuning down to 1khz. SSB is selected by USB or LSB switch & fine tune of +- 1.5khz. But what really make the difference is the Synchronous Detection on AM reception. You can't compare of course this set with the full size TS430 or any HAM rig but you can compare it to all the others. I was getting tired of the large receivers. I wanted something small and reasonably priced, I got my 7600G for less then $200 in N.Y. and that was the price I got by selling my old 7600DS. Even after modifying my 2010 I still didn't like it size. My new 7600G is very sensitive and uses one ceramic filter, the MURATA SFR 455I, it works fine but I think it can be modified to a better one quite easily. The FM filters are two standard SFE10.7MA which are 280Khz wide I think I'll change them to the J type that are 150Khz wide.
In some respects this is my favorite radio. No bells no whistles no FM stereo -- just a good solid (feels like a small brick) analogue unit. It covers AM, FM and has 10 SW bands that cover most of the "out of band" frequencies. Band switching on SW is done by a slide on the front of the radio while buttons are used to switch from AM to FM to SW. The dial is accurate to 5 kHz so is very easy to locate a station. I believe that it was simply the best low cost analogue rig out there. It's still around and can be had for well under $100.00. Grab it!!
I have a 7601 also. Most of its weight is from the batteries and the speaker, giving it better tone and volume than smaller, lighter sets.
As with other cheap analog sets, it wasn't very hot out of the box.
If you "super tweek" the 7601, it's pretty good on AM, but no match for a 2010 or Superradio III. Most of the shortwave bands peaked up well, but I never could get 19 meters working right. As with most analog portables, the whip is part of the RF tuned circuit, so one must be careful to duplicate the exact listening conditions when tweeking the radio. Even the presence of headphones will shift the antenna tuning.
Unfortunately the 7601 picks up FM stations at various places on the shortwave bands. If you're far enough away from FM and TV stations you might have room for an R-390.
When going on trips I usually take my SW-1 because of the convenience of the presets and the reception flexibility provided by the active antenna that comes with it.
I've owned this radio (SW33) for about 9 months and use it as my "carrying around the house rig." It was purchased to replace a Sony 7601 that now resides on my desk at college (things electronic can grow legs on a college campus). By far the best features of this unit are its convenient size and excellent performance on all bands, AM, SW and FM stereo. Don't get me wrong -- this is not a DX machine on SW but for listening to the major broadcasters, it's excellent.
The single filter selection seems just about right and tuning on SW is in 1 kHz intervals. This at least gives you a "fighting chance" to move away from interference. That's a major improvement over the 5 kHz that many radios in this price range allow. In addition, the dual conversion design on SW keeps image interference at bay - a major plus for a small portable.
The radio does not have a keypad so entering frequencies is a bit clumsy. However, by entering the middle frequency of each of the major SW bands in the 7 memories (5 memories plus 2 timer memories) and slewing up or down from those positions you can get around reasonability fast. The SW bands are changed by a combination of 2 keystrokes.
The sleep control (shuts the radio off after 1 hour) can let you be lulled to sleep and the timer alarm can make sure that you get to work on time (radio shuts down after 2 hours if it is turned on by the timer). Setting the radio alarm is very easy - once you have set the clock, but that frankly, is a pain. The clock function, which works very well (combination world/home time), takes at least 7 distinct steps to set it. Fortunately the clock is fairly accurate (looses about 0.2 sec/day) so you don't have to reset it very often. The lighted dial (stays on for 20 sec at the touch of a button) is a nice touch.
Battery life is excellent contrary to the 1994 Passport to World Band Radio (see below). The radio has a battery "gauge" that is activated at the touch of a button radio and shows in the display as a battery icon with 3, 2, 1 or 0 dots inside of the battery outline. It disappears after about 5 seconds. As soon as the number of dots reaches 0, the radio shuts off immediately. I ran a a series of tests with Radio Shacks Super Alkaline batteries and got the following results: 3 dots showed for 37 hours, then 2 dots showed for an additional 11 hours, and finally 1 dot showed for 3.0 hours for a total of 51 hours. (Radio ran 1.5 to 2.5 hours/day with the volume control set at 1/2 volume most of the time). At $2.89 (plus 5% for tax) for a package of four AA batteries (the radio takes 3), that figures out to 4.5 cents/hour which is excellent. This figure differs greatly from that given in the 1994 Passport (25-30 cents/hour). I have no explaination for the difference but I stand by my test values.
Would I recommend this radio to anyone? If you do a lot of bandscanning, forget it; it will drive you crazy. But at about $140.00 plus shipping (NYC mail-order) it's an excellent "second" radio to carry around for listening to the major broadcasters. I like it!
I have a DX-440 and I think it is a good 'dabble' radio but if I ever get serious I will look for a > $500 table model.
I love this radio! It's my main radio and I use it exclusively at home, moving it from room to room. It really is too large for travel
I've found the sensitivity to be tremendous on SW, MW and FM! Very rarely do I need to attach a clothsline antenna! It has continuous SW coverage, a great sounding speaker, BASS and Treble controls, two bandwidths, great sensitivity, good spurious signal rejection...It has all the features I wanted in a starter radio! I bought it about three years ago on sale for $150.00! I still don't know why Radio Shack discontinued it. If you're looking for a good starter shortwave radio and can still find one laying about at a Radio Shack store priced to move, GRAB IT!
I bought this radio since they have a 30-day money back guarantee and I did not know if I would like the hobby or the radio. Good points: direct-entry tuning, 36 station memories, fairly small so it is easy to travel with, speaker sound was good, reception was okay, but improved dramatically with the addition of the Radio Shack 23' rollup longwire ($8.95). Bad points: only 5kHz tuning steps, only major broadcast bands tunable (large gaps between bands), selectivity not so good, no fine tuning, no BFO, no SSB or CW, poor FM reception. All in all, not a bad radio of $69.90, however, it left me wanting for more, so I got rid of it.
I have seen a couple of posts asking for a low cost SW receivers. I have recently bought a DAK Model DMR-3000, for just $69.90+$6.00 shipping from DAK - a mail order company. The receiver has a direct access, so you can type in the desired frequency, and a manual / automatic scanning system. It also has a dual time clock with alarm and 'sleep' timer. Unfortunately you can tune only to the commercial frequencies on SW, AM and FM bands. I have to say though that cheapness comes at a price. The first receiver I got was defective so I had to ship it back and ask for a replacement. Now, I received a new one which works very well.
Compared to my Sony ICF-7601 the DAK unit is an insensitive
brick. The fancy clock and timer features aren't really worth it.
About the only thing nice is the FM Stereo support if you plug in
headphones but the FM sensitivity leaves much to be desired as
Something else to watch for.... That pretty lettering on the buttons will wear off REAL fast. If you haven't used it much yet you won't see a wear off REAL fast. If you haven't used it much yet you won't see a problem. After you've done some tuning you'll see the pretty arrows disappear from the buttons.
Since I was now turned on by SWL'ing, I moved up to what most people agree is the best all-around radio for this price. Good points: excellent frequency band coverage (150kHz to 30mHz), fine tuning, good selectivity, BFO for SSB and CW, many scanning options, lots of accessories included, good AM and FM reception. Bad points: way too big to travel with, high battery consumption, synthesizer noise in background all the time, scanning frequently skipped lots of "listenable" stations that I was able to get by manual tuning (what's the use in scanning, then?). I found that adding a longwire antenna only increased interference and noise while not improving the set's scanning sensitivity. Overall, a fairly good radio for the price...
I have a Sangean ATS803A which I love. Comments to quote me on would be that it's an excellent beginner's radio for the price. Although I've heard that the 818 is the "latest and greatest" in this price/performance category. I especially love the full coverage 150kc-30mhz and the (albeit lo tech bfo) SSB capability.
I was in dispair when I could not find a decent travel portable for under $200. However, I accidentally crossed paths with a Sony ICF-SW20 on sale (normally $99, on sale for $49.99) at a local store and had to check it out. It is an analogue set, but since I got a 30-day return policy on it, what the heck? Good points: analogue tuning so no problem with confining 5kHz tuning steps, INCREDIBLE SENSITIVITY - this radio blew the DAK and Sangean away with the number of stations I picked up, good selectivity (no fine tuning knob - all you need to do is turn the tuning knob slowly), tiny size (4"w x 3"t x 1"d), small whip antenna (only 18"), addition of Radio Shack rollup longwire increased sensitivity even more, great low price (if I lose it or its gets destroyed, no problem replacing it), tuning bands are wider than the major broadcast bands, so you do get some utilitiy reception as well as WWV, AM and FM are really sensitive while FM goes from 76mHz to 108mHz so I can pick up some TV as well. Bad points: frequencies cover only seven broadcast bands (I can live with that, though), only monaural earphone included (however, you can get a $1.39 mono to stereo headphone plug), no BFO for SSB or CW, no station memories. All in all, this radio gave me the best price/features/size ratio of the ones I checked out first-hand. It's a keeper for me!
Finally received my Magnavox 3625! Well, I'm certainly happy I purchased this little radio. Sure, it's not top shelf, but it's suitable for travel purposes and gives adequate SW coverage.
Has these features:
Alarm (beeps, does not turn on radio)
9/10 KHz switch - for world travel
12 hour clock (however, when unit is swith to 9 KHz steps 24 hour clock kicks in)
20 presets - 5 for each band FM, AM, SW1, SW2 Dual time
Auto store - this feature allows the radio to automatically find
the five strongest stations in an area and program them into the memory of the FM & AM band.
Antenna swivels and rotates
Runs on four AA batteries.
Well, the sensitivity is quite good. Steps in 1 KHz increments.
No tuning knob but the slew tuning buttons work just fine. It's
about the size of a paperback book and can be taken anywhere
reasonably well. No carrying strap,
though. The SW coverage is limited but it grabs the major broadcasters exceptionally well. Example: the 41 meter band is covered from 7100 to 7300. So if you want to listen to the BBC on 7325, you're oput of luck.
However, I like to listen to the BBC on 12095 or 15070 European signals during the day that I cangrab when I attach a long wire. The 3625 can't tune these freqs. but it can grab 15400 (from africa) WITHOUT a long wire antenna! I'm pretty impressed.
Bottom line....A GREAT little travel radio for $70.00! Call a Magnavox outlet if you are interested.
Great little digital portable. Good sensitivity, average selectivity. Covers MW (in 10 kHz steps only), FM (no stereo), and SW in two "bands": 3200-7300 kHz and 9500-21750 kHz. Builtin timer/clock (12 hour format only), 5 programmable memory locations per band. Great for travel use.
Purchased from Damark for $49 in May, 1993.
$50 from Damark closeout -- cheapie category
Great analog portable. Good sensitivity and selectivity. Covers MW, FM (stereo through headphones), and SW in 8 bands (roughly split out as 13m, 16m, 19m, 25m, 31m, 41m, 49m, and 60/75/90/120m). An excellent travel portable. This is the same radio as the Sangean SG-789.
Purchased from DAK for $49 in June, 1988.
Sony ICF-5900W was a good radio in its day, but isn't worth listing now.
I purchased my R70 in early 1983. It came with a scratched plastic window for the digital display, which the factory replaced. It is an extremely sensitive receiver. I installed the FM detector board option, which is highly useful for Sub-Carrier detection from FM broadcast receivers in conjuction with the R70's ability to tune below 100khz without a frequency convertor. The so-called PassBand Tuning (PBT), in actuality an asymmetrical bandwidth narrowing control, is very mediocre with the factory 455khz filters. Replacing the 455Khz ceramic SSB filter with a Fox-Tango FT-44 2.4khz 8-pole crystal filter (equivolent to the ICOM FL-44) makes the passband filter work as one would want. The AM 455Khz ceramic filter is junk, and was replaced with a higher quality "4Khz" ceramic filter from the long-defunct Radio Plus firm. The actual specs for the 4Khz filter indicate that it is a slightly asymmetrical filter of 5.6Khz bandwidth, causing a slight degredation of the "highs" (The original spec is for a 6Khz bandwidth; the 9Mhz AM filter is a 6-pole device). Inclusion of both replacement 455Khz filters results in a combined shape factor of much better than 2:1 on AM or SSB. In addition, the RF amplifier was enabled for AM broadcast band use, and an MOV was placed across the AC input for protection against voltage transients. [Actually, a Transorb would be far better in defending against narrow transients.] For awhile, I replaced the diode AM detector with a Shottkey diode, but my ears could detect no difference in distortion, and so the original AM diode was returned to the circuitry. It's been serviced once by ICOM for an intermittant problem ($150 ouch). There exists several modifications to enable selection of the 455Khz SSB filter whilst in AM mode for additional selectivity.
Eskab & Edvis of Sweden used to offer a Phase-Locked AM (PLAM) detector for the R-70 and later R-71; they also offer a version for the NRD525. I have the R71 version. It is a synchronous detector which allows selection of USB or LSB via the IF filter/BFO offset. The PLAM board phase-locks one of the R71 local oscillators (I forget which one, probably the BFO) to the AM carrier. It contains its own product detector. The lock range is not very large, perhaps +/- 20 Hz. The detector seems to have lower distortion than the ICOM AM detector.
Compared to ECSSB, aside from the advantages of phase-locking the product detector BFO, the PLAM unit also lowers the corner-frequency of ICOM's low-pass audio filter, giving better bass response than normal SSB mode on the R71. I find that this improves the intelligibility of the signal.
The PLAM board piggybacks in the mounting area for the ICOM FM option board; both can coexist. Installation is somewhat difficult, as it involves connecting over a dozen wires to various boards in the R71.
Eskab & Edvis also offered a 4 KHz 2nd IF crystal filter for the R71. This installs fairly easily in place of the narrow CW filter. It is very much better than the stock ICOM 6 kHz bandwidth, which is wide-open until it hits at cheap ceramic filter in the 3rd (455 kHz) IF.
I don't know if Eskab & Edvis still offer the R-71 PLAM and 4 kHz filter. They used to advertise in the WRTH.
Regarding other options: I believe Sherwood Engineering offers an outboard synchronous detector for the R71 as well as other receivers. The Kiwa MAP unit should also be adaptable to the R71.
Also, Dom Moman of Shortwave Horizons publishes a modification manual, which details mods like enabling the preamp on MW, true pass-band tuning, sub-10 Hz RIT, etc.
I know it's not a reciever, but since it has general coverage,I decided to put it in here.The TS-450S is an amateur transciever that costs little more than a R-5000,and if you have your ham ticket or are thinking about getting it,may be worth checking out if you are in the market for a new toy.I'd be willing to bet the replacement for the 5000 will look just like the 450,just like the 5000 looks like the 450's predacessor,the TS440S.First thing it is EXACTLY the same size as the 5000/440.Unlike the 5000/440,it has an LCD display that is unlike any other I've ever seen.It is almost too bright!The brightness cannot be adjusted,unfortunatly.The 450 recieves in all the standard modes except for fax.It has a"normal"keypad unlike the 5000 and the aggravating CW that is produce when a major button is pressed can be silenced by y -a simple menuss,you dont have to cut a wire like the 5000he S-Meter is a bar-graph type that I like but some people dont.It also has an Audio meter function that kin baffles me.I still dont know what use it is,but it looks nice!Probably the most notable thing you will observe when using the 450 is the QUIET!It is so quiet,it seems strange the first couple of times you use it.The AGC is non-defeatable and has a fast/slow toggle.It is the strangest and slowest AGC I've ever seen,on slow the S-Meter just sits there and then SLOWLY goes down.On fast,it just isn't quite so slow.It seems to work ok,but is really odd.The stock filter for AM is a mile wide but you can add the YK88 AM filter but you wll lose the open slot for the 8.83 ssb filter.I'm not sure,but the 450 seems to have the same stock am filter the 5000 has.On SSB,it uses one of the better Murata ceramic filters and is ok but the optional SSB filters are highly recommended.The audio is FANTASTIC on all modes and if you put one of the minimus speakers from Radio Shack on it,you will like it a lot.Dont bother with the Kenwood speakers,the one that goes with the 450 is not too good and is expensive too!The ergonomics are pretty good,except for the tuning knob,yes like all the recent vintage Kenwood rigs,IT DOESN'T HAVE A FINGER HOLE!!Why does Kenwood insist on putting these awful knobs on all the rigs they have made lately!All in all,it is a very good riever in almost all respects,and since t it only costs about $100 more than a 5000,it is worth a lookND as a bonus, the recieve coverage goes up to 40 mhz!If you are into low band scanning,you will hear things on the 450 you never knew existed on your scanner.If you can swing the 450's sister model the TS690,you can recieve all the way to 60 mhz. When the 5000 is put out to pasture,if it's replacement is the 450 without the transmitter,it will be very tough competition for the other makes.All it needs is Sync.detection and you really couldn't ask for much more.
THE all time most user-friendly recieveof recent vintagHas PBT,analog fine tune,four I.F.bandwiths,AM,LSB,USB,and RTTY modes.There is no squelch but it really doesnt matter much.Of all the recievers I have owned,or ad over here to play with,it is the most sensitive in the SSB modeI have the standard 6 and 2.4 khz filters,and th600 and 300 hz filters whitch are great for RTTY or CW(if you are truly desparate!)The "protection"diodes have been removed due to intermod from a local AM station.The reciever's case,front and back panels are made of Aluminum,no plastic to crack on the 515!The audio in AM is very bad,almost as bad as the Icom R-71a,but in a different way.The audio is "fuzzy"out of the speaker jack,but not too bad out of the record jack but still a little "fuzzy".In the SSB modes,the audio is pretty clear and doesn't fatigue me like the Icom dos far as thergonomics goes,it's almost prefect!All the knobs are the right size,the tuning knob is large and has a nice deep finger hole(Kenwood,are you listening???).The S-meter is big and easily seen across the room.Dynamic range is very good after the diodes have been clipped(a one minute operation).The filters all are good quality and have good shape factors.This was the first "affordable"rig that had a memory option that was worth something with 24 or 96 channels available. The NDH-518 I have(96 ch.)is also made totally out of cast and sheet aluminum and matches the 515's styling.It stores frequency only,unfortunatly, due to the year it was designeIm guessing.There are lots of these recievers floating around on the used market for about $600 or so.Universal seems to have a lot of them passing thrgh the store.
This is a great reciever,marred only by bad audio and a hiss that will drive you bonkers if you have good hearing and a speaker that can put out the highs. I have had two of these,the first I traded for a sateite setup,and the one I have now.The newer reciever has mucbetter audio then the first one and lesess hiss too.Ergonomics are very good MUCH,MUCH better than the Drake R-8.(IMHO,the Drake is seriously overrated and all the stuff about made in the U.S.A.is kind of funny cause a LOT of the innards are MADE IN JAPAN!!!)Oh well,back to the 525,if you are into AM,it's probably not the reciever for you, but in allthe other modes,it is one of the best consumer grade recievers ever made.Performance in all modes is basically excellent except fothe audio pr problem,and stability is rock solid.JRC has only cut a few corners compared to the 515,probably the ultimate in construction for consumer recievers. The case is made of very thin sheet metal and the front panel is plastic.The keys fit loose in the keypad but work ok.The display has four brightness levels and is very easily read from across the room.The S-Meter is "digital" and is a floating vertical bar segment that seems to be yellow on some samples, and green on some others.It is sort of "spastic"and twitched a lot on the first one I had,but not as much on the seconone.The first 525 I had would "click" on strong AM signals,but the new one doesn't.The main tuning knob spins very smoothly and has a nice finger hole.(KENWOOD,WHY DONT YOU LISTEN!!) All in all, a great reciever.
I have been using a NRD-535 for two years and i am very pleased with it. Although the relative high price makes this a radio for the serious DXer and maybe not the average Shortwave listener.
The NRD-535 has very good ergonomics. It is very easy to operate during long listening passes. It has 200 memory channels which comes in handy for storing interesting frequencies that you want to check later, or stations that you want to check regulary.
On the plus side there is the BWC and the very good sensitivity. The BWC combined with the PBT makes it possible to make a station readable that is very close to another station, or a interfering RTTY transmitter. I find that i mostly uses the SSB mode and zero tunes the station, and then uses the BWC and PBT to get the most readable signal. The BWC and PBT has saved a lot of reports for me. The sensitivity is excelent. It is among the best in this price class.
The conclusion is that the NRD-535 is a very good receiver for the serious DXer but it has some shortcomings. The 535 is much better than the Icom R-70 that i had before, and i would recommend it to anyone that asked me. What you might want to do is change the filters to somewhat sharper filters. That goes for both the 9 MHz and the 455 kHz filters.
$220 from Universal, EEB, etc. -- my main set, an excellent portable, many features, nice construction and details.
This is my principal radio at the present time (I also have the Sony ICF-SW33 and the Sony 7601). This rig is an extremely sophisticated piece of equipment. I especially like the fact that you can store up to 125 frequencies on 25 electronic pages that can be named as you wish (by country). Once programed this is very convenient. The two filter selections are well chosen (much better than the stock Sony 2010 filters). My use the radio to copy WEFAX with excellent results attests to its stability (and that it receives USB and LSB).
The versatile timer/alarm and tape remote feature allow automatic recording with certain tape recorders (Sony and others) of up to five times and frequencies in a 24 hour period. I use this feature all of the time. Audio (stereo on FM) qualitity for a portable is very good; better I believe than the stock 2010 although as with the 2010, it is improved with a set of external speakers.
Unlike the 2010, the SW55 does not have synchronous detection.
That's too bad because I believe that if it had this feature it
would blow away
tition. As it stands it is an excellent radio. Most interference can be eliminated with the narrow filter or moving away from the interference a bit (the radio is tunable in steps of 0.1 kHz) so the lack of sd is not critical. I really believe that Sony did not include it because it would have then had a very negative impact on sales of the SW77.
Would I buy this radio again. You bet! The only problem I've had
in the year an
owned it is that the lettering has worn off the 1, 5, 0 and EXE keys on the keypad. That should not happen on a $300.00 radio!
I just got a SW-55 for Christmas and find it to be an outstanding radio. Now that I've said that, you should know that I am new to all of this "DX-ing" (is that how you say it?). However, I can tell you that it's reception with the built-in antenna and with the included auxiliary antenna is very good. I found that the radio comes pre-programmed with a number of stations (BBC, Radio Moscow, etc.) and they come in great.
As for your questions, I've found the speaker in the SW-55 to be very high quality, delivering plenty of volume and good sound. There are several "tone" switches (news vs. music setting, etc.) that enhance the reception and its sound. And, the unit is packaged well for travel.
The radio itself has several nice features (I don't know how they compare to other radios since I didn't comparison shop). There are several output jacks that make it easy to connect to external speakers, tape recorders, headphones, etc. There are local/long distance antenna settings. There are lots of ways to set and look at the time (local, UTC, Daylight savings, etc.) There are alarms and sleep settings (for on the road).
The tuning portion is quite nice. The radio of course offers digital tuning (punching numbers in to get to a freq.). But I find that I often use the "analog" tuning dial as well to either fine tune a station or to see what else is out there.
Best of all, the unit is packaged well. As a new user, I have enjoyed the little things Sony has done to make this experience a good one for the new user. Everything from the documentation to the carrying case has made it quick and easy for me to start listening to short wave. Included is a book that is a publishing of all the various countries broadcasting, with their freqs and times. (I gather that these things change quite a bit, but I presume that Sony updates it often)
In short, in my experience, the AE3905 is no real great shakes. It looks neat as hell, and marks its owner as a man of taste and distinction with more money than brains (like I said, *I* have one). Its shortwave performance is mediocre. Using this in a hotel last February, I found that attaching the included reel antenna caused the radio to overload fairly badly. The batteries don't last very long. The filters included are fair, but you still get a fair amount of interference from adjacent stations (not as bad as some small portables, but not good). I certainly wouldn't want to use this as my primary radio. For portability, it's fantastic. I can listen to the BBC or VoA anywhere. The radio fits in my shirt pocket, although reception in my pocket isn't all that good. In short, the radio isn't worth what Philips charges for it, but if you've got more money than you know what to do with and a desire to have a flashy looking toy, it'll do. The radio has only recently been available in small quantities in the U.S., and appears to have been discontinued in Europe. I got a reconditioned copy for $179 from the Magnavox factory outlet in Kentucky. Universal lists the radio in their catalog for something like $250 new if I recall correctly. You're not likely to find it anywhere else.
I will be doing a lot of comparisons to my other receiver, an NRD-525. To give a basis for comparison, the NRD-525 has been upgraded by the following modifications:
ESKA PLAM board with four added filters following the IF strip Installation of ESKA Aux filter in the NRD Aux position Installation of the JRC 1.8 KHz filter in the Narrow position Replacement of RF chokes on the filter board with shielded units ESKA agc modification
These modifications have improved the shape factor on the NRD's filters from an average of 2.0:1 to 1.7:1 (60:6 dB). The ultimate rejection has improved from about -60 dB to -75 dB. These modifications are noticeable in on the air listening tests. The NRD hiss has been removed.
About two months ago, I bought another receiver, a Watkins-Johnson HF-1000. I didn't really think this receiver would be much better than the NRD, and I intended to return it if this was the case. I was wrong. The WatkinsJohnson receiver is clearly superior to the NRD in on the air listening tests, almost in every case. In rare cases it is a tie. The comparisons are done using an A/B switch that switches both the RF and audio lines so that comparisons can be made quickly on the same signal. Comparisons were all done in ECSS mode with the receiver settings made as close as possible to each other.
I also did some bench testing of both receivers, and the numbers that the tests give are not all that much different for both receivers, with the exception of filter shape factor. The HF-1000 shape factors run about 1.1:1 (60:6 dB). This does not explain the main difference between the comparisons, however. The HF-1000 seems to be superior in pulling out weak signals. I have heard many signals that are muddled and hard to understand on the NRD-525 sound sharp and clear on the HF-1000. Several other points:
AGC: The digitally processed AGC on the HF-1000 is far superior to the analog AGC on the NRD, even with the ESKA kit installed. Notch filter: Again, the digital IF notch filter is superior. Audio: The NRD audio has always sounded low frequency and mushy; audio on the HF-1000 is crisp and clear. This is an important item. Operating: I like the controls on the HF-1000. They are flexible, yet easy to use. The set is a pleasure to operate. Synthesizer spikes: The NRD has a synthesizer spike every 100 KHz.
While these are not all that strong, some of them fall on inconvenient frequencies, like the propagation beacons on 14100 KHz. There are a few spikes on the HF-1000 at even 2 MHz points.
The only shortcomings in the HF-1000 I've noticed are the lack of synchronous detection (this is supposed to be sent out as an upgrade chip later), and IF passband tuning would be useful in the SSB modes. It is present in CW.
As you have probably guessed, I'm real happy with this receiver. I think
it will be the last one I will have to buy for quite a while.
Watkins-Johnson HF-1000 Review Part 2
Watkins-Johnson SAM option for HF-1000
Recently I received the firmware for installing Synchronous AM (SAM) detection in my HF-1000 receiver. I was able to install it in about 1/2 hour and it worked great. In testing it I compared it to the ESKA phase lock AM board installed in my NRD-525. Here are the results for strong and weak signals:
Parameter ESKA+NRD HF-1000+SAM --------- -------- ----------- Weak signal lock range +- 20 Hz +-250 Hz Strong sig lock range +- 40 Hz +-900 Hz
As an on-the-air test I tried to lock onto Radio Pyongyang, 13760 KHz at 1300 UTC. The signal was weak and fading rapidly at 1300 UTC and was being broadcast on 13760.1 KHz. The HF-1000 was able to lock it immediately even when set to 13760.000. NRD was not able to lock it at all, even when set to 13760.1. Impressive!
Another modification in the new firmware is a change in the AGC function. It is now possible to set three decay rates from the front panel for each AGC setting, Fast, Medium and Slow. In addition it is possible to allow the manual gain setting to control the AGC threshold while in AGC mode. This is a great help for the AGC control. I spent many hours trying to get the AGC decay rates correct on my NRD receiver, and was never happy with that AGC. This required pulling out the IF board, replacing some of the SMDs, putting it all back together, and then trying it. Digital AGC processing on the HF-1000 makes this a snap, taking only a few seconds.
After several months of using this new mode of reception, it is the one I nearly always use for SWLing and DXing. For weak AM signals it is hard to beat. If the signal is readable at all, it will be able to lock on it. By using both sidebands, you end up with a better signal to noise ratio than with only one sideband. The HF-1000 is even more impressive now with this addition. The only times that I have had to resort to ECSS on AM signals is when there is interference on one sideband. Watkins-Johnson reports that they will have single sideband SAM in the future which will get around this. There are several other options that they are working on, one of which is a plug in board for PC processing. I assume this will have real time spectrum analysis and memory functions built in.
My general impression, is that this is anyhow a very good apparate. It offers continuous coverage 0.1 : 2036 Mhz, all mode, RS232 interfacing, quite good operating commands, triple conversion, 400 memories; it is very compact (small tabletop, 1.2 Kg.), semi-portable; its 13 auto-selected front-end band filters reduce to some extent unavoidable intermodulation. In general, this set offers a self contained and very well balanced compromise of a lot of different demanding features, but will show its best when fully interfaced.
Its price, here in Italy, has been varying greatly during the years. Therefore I cannot say how it really competes with the choice of HF receiver + scanner setup. It is still unclear to me how far is the AR3000 from dedicated traffic receivers.
I'm finding a number of defects and "whish it was" that I'm going
to list (I would like to hear comments about), but perhaps I'm
just pretending too much from a receiver in which something had
to be traded off between versatility and performance. Please note
that I have a 4 years old AR3000; some defects could have been ameliorated
in the 3000A, or may eventually be specific of my unit.
-AM selectivity is mediocre (approx 10 khz bandwidth). I feel the lack of a variable Am bandwidth. SWL in crowded bands is too often spoiled by the 5Khz whistle. Thinking it was a problem of i.f. detuning, I once sent it to the service to have it retuned, but with no perceivable gain.
-In AM I do experience blocking. A strong transmitter mutes any weaker adjacent signal lying some -+30 khz apart. I suspect this may be rather a problem of AGC voltage (see below on squelch), because the feedback signal is obtained from the previous to the last i.f. stage, which may have a larger than necessary (for AM) bandwidth.
-The squelch control (essential in search mode) is not very functional.
On my set almost everything passes for knob positions below .3 and
only >S6 passes when I increase to .5. It may be a problem of adjustment,
but also reflect the inaccurate behaviour of the S-meter, which (I have
no measurements to support) seems not properly logarithmic. I have
the impression that weak signals give a high S readout when close to
stronger ones, because the S-meter averages on a larger bandwidth than
Also, the squelch just mutes the a.f. output, but not the line out signal.
-The internal speaker fidelity is scarce. No tone controls exist. Clarity improves a lot when connected to an external speaker or lineout. No noise reduction circuitry is present. External audio equalization does a lot, but of course is not the cure for low selectivity.
-There is no i.f. direct output for say a spectrum analyzer or a different demodulator (say wide band AM for satellite or TV, stereo FM decoder, sinchro SB AM decoder). A modify could be to buffer it to a backpanel jack.
-Intermodulation IS present. I live very close to power MW transmitter, and in the times they're on the whole band .5 : 2.5 Mhz is unusable, with crosstalk on every possible combination of transmitter frequencies. At evening I sometimes hear sw bc stations crosstalks on 20 : 30 Mhz, even with a short random wire antenna. However, I don't hear crosstalk due to FM transmitters, which are also close to my place. The 13 front end filters seem to do their job, since strong signals don't cause crosstalk out of their respective preselector bands.
-I'm not very satisfied with the small and clicking rotary tuning control. In
the AR3000a it has been replaced with a (I guess optically encoded) smooth
one. I would rather appreciate a jog-shuttle like the one on VCRs, and the mod
itself seems quite easy too.
The tuning is however digital, and stepping frequency causes clicks, which eventually trigger the squelch threshold during search. The final a.f. is briefly muted while stepping, but I prefer the line-out signal which is unaffected and thus has a faster response.
-There is a single antenna input for the entire range. I think this however is correct, because whichever choice on different antennas is entirely dependent on the user setup, and should be rather left to an externally programmed antenna switch.
-Some digital RFI is generated, expecially in the high HF and low VHF. A real antenna connected with a shielded cable and a good earth however wash it out.
-Some small change in sensivity and background noise can be perceived when passing across one of the 13 band boundaries (by the way, they are 0.1-0.5, 0.5-2.5, 2.5-10, 10-30, 30-50, 50-108, 108-136, 136-174, 174-224, 224-335, 335-500, 500-940, 940-2036 Mhz), but this is unavoidable, and also due to the change of the superetherodyne scheme.
-Scanning is already very versatile for such a small machine. However, auto memory storage of catched frequencies was forgotten. Also, the oddities in the S-metering (see above) impose manual choice when scanning non regularly channellized bands.
-There is a priority channel lookup feature, but the attention threshold has to be the current squelch position. Apparently (see //ftp.funet.fi/pub/dx/receivers/mods/aor300.mod) in the 3000a a programmable lookup time was implemented, but it is not present on the 3000.
-The mode and the tuning step change are set with several keystrokes. I feel it quite tricky, expecially considering that I generally have to switch quickly between 50 Hz/SSB, 500Hz/Am, 1.25 Khz/nfm, 50 Khz/WFM. The step x10 command is very useful, but not enough.
Since the S-meter signal is output on the RS232, and the unit may be fully remotely commanded, all this limits can be cleverly threspassed by an external control software, thought.
I have experienced problems with the 232 interface. The cpu goes crazy very
easily when the connector is plugged in/out, unless the "remote" switch on
pin 7 is previously operated. This is (I understand) the reason why it was added
on the 3000a. When the cpu goes on the moon, one generally has to open the set
and to push the reset button (backside of the keyboard), losing all the memories
Also, I cannot interface the scanner with an Atari St, either because the TTL level Txdata is to low for that serial port or because the continuous output of the S-meter simply is too fast for the Atari bios. Passing by, note that the RS232 speed can be set to 9600 baud with a switch on the cpu board.