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Comparison of six portable radios



 
 
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  #1  
Old June 14th 04, 09:23 PM
lsmyer
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Posts: n/a
Default Comparison of six portable radios

I decided to test some radios today to see which of them I would recommend
for simple AM dxing to anyone who asked. The six radios I tested are Degen
DE1102, GE SRIII, Radio Shack DX-398, Radio Shack DX-402, Sangean U1, and
Tecsun BCL2000.

I went to a local park at 1:00 pm and found an area with no nearby power
lines. I started each radio at 530 KHz and I tuned up through the entire
dial, noting the signal strength and clarity of what I heard (if anything)
on each frequency. I also rotated each radio on each frequency to see if it
could pick up a signal in any position.

Sensitivity: Despite being the least expensive out of the group, my trusty
SRIII picked up at least a whisper of a station on nearly every single
frequency (A+). Second was the BCL2000 (A-), third was the DE1102 (B+),
fourth was my DX-398 (C-) and DX-402 (C-), and in last place was my U1 (F),
which picked up stations on the least number of frequencies.

Selectivity: There are other factors in AM listenability, though. One of
which is handling adjacent channel spatter. Of all the radios, the SRIII
seemed to be best at pulling 700WLW (175 miles away) out of the spatter of
two local stations on 680 and 710. The DE1102 was second, and the BCL2000
third. One oddity about the BCL2000, even though it allowed me to hear WLW
between the two other stations, for some reason, WLW was being covered by an
image of a local low power travel station on 1610 that overmodulates
horribly. None of the other radios picked up any images.

Internal noise: No surprise here. The three analog radios, the SRIII (A+),
BCL2000 (A+) and U1(A+), all had lower internal noise than the three with
digital tuning, DX-402 (C) DX-398 (C-), and DE1102 (D).

Dial readability: All of those with digital displays were obviously easier
to read. The DX-402 (A+) and the BCL2000 (A+) have accurate and large
high-contrast displays, the DX-398 (B) and the DE1102 (C) were smaller but
still accurate, the UI isn't very accurate but it's easy to see (C-), and
the SRIII has the least accurate and least seeable display of the pack (F).

Portability: All six are portables and can be operated by batteries. The
three large analog radios can be heavy, but all three have good carrying
handles. The three smaller radios do not have handles. The DE1102 stands out
here for being the smallest by far (A+). The U1, however, is really too big
to carry for very long, despite having the best handle of the bunch, and it
should get the F in this category.

Sound quality: Though highly subjective, I like the sound of the three
bigger radios best. You can turn up the U1 until your ears hurt and it still
doesn't distort. The U1 has by far the most bass and volume but little
treble (A), the SRIII has good bass and treble and medium volume (B), the
BCL2000 has slightly less bass and treble, and comparable volume (B-), the
DX-398 (D) and DX-402 (D) are virtually identical with some bass some treble
and even less volume (D), and the DE1102 (D-) has some treble, no bass, and
very little volume until it starts distorting. Of course, all of these
radios sound better with headphones, but that wasn't what I was seeking.

Conclusion: I couldn't imagine getting rid of any of these radios. It would
be so tough to try to pick just one for me to own. Each one of these has at
least one feature that makes it a favorite in some category. And my little
comparison doesn't even take into account two of the most important
categories to some people: memory operation and external antenna
performance. But of my six radios tested, three were clearly losers (DX-398,
DX-402, and U1) and three were clearly winners (SRIII, BCL2000, and DE1102).

Of the three winners, the SRIII is the most sensitive, has very good sound,
is noise-free, and is the least expensive, but the radio's display is so bad
that serious dxing is virtually impossible for me without another radio
nearby to tell me what frequency I'm listening to. The DE1102 and the
BCL2000 aren't too far behind the SRIII in sensitivity and both offer a
digital frequency display that's easy to see. And though the DE1102 is a
fine little radio (in fact, it is an incredible performer for its size), the
BCL2000 beats it in nearly every category for me (sensitivity, sound
quality, internal noise), so I would have to pick the BCL2000 as my
unscientifically-preferred choice for AM dxing.


  #2  
Old June 14th 04, 09:59 PM
Aaron Burr
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Posts: n/a
Default

lsmyer wrote:

Sensitivity: Despite being the least expensive out of the group, my
trusty SRIII picked up at least a whisper of a station on nearly
every single frequency (A+)....


Out of curiosity, has anyone built a homebrew version of the SRIII?
I suppose with the addition of a calibrated tuning scale, and maybe
a few other improvements here and there, it will be a very good AM DX
machine. Doesn't it use a variable inductor for tuning?

AB
  #3  
Old June 14th 04, 11:51 PM
Brenda Ann Dyer
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Posts: n/a
Default


"Aaron Burr" wrote in message
...
lsmyer wrote:

Sensitivity: Despite being the least expensive out of the group, my
trusty SRIII picked up at least a whisper of a station on nearly
every single frequency (A+)....


Out of curiosity, has anyone built a homebrew version of the SRIII?
I suppose with the addition of a calibrated tuning scale, and maybe
a few other improvements here and there, it will be a very good AM DX
machine. Doesn't it use a variable inductor for tuning?


No. It uses varactor tuning. Voltage changes the capacitance of a diode,
which is used for the tuned circuit instead of a standard variable
capacitor.



  #4  
Old June 15th 04, 01:02 AM
Brenda Ann Dyer
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default


"Dan" wrote in message
...
On Mon, 14 Jun 2004 20:59:25 GMT, Aaron Burr
wrote:

Out of curiosity, has anyone built a homebrew version of the SRIII?
I suppose with the addition of a calibrated tuning scale, and maybe
a few other improvements here and there, it will be a very good AM DX
machine. Doesn't it use a variable inductor for tuning?


Kinda related to this, but I've always wondered: which version of the
SR is the best? I, II, III? What are the differences? Which one
would *you* want and why?



As for 'best', there are differing opinions. As for most technically
functional, the SRII is the best. It and the SRI are nearly identical
electronically, but the addition of the tweeter makes for marginally better
audio on FM.

The SRIII's only real claims to fame are the fact it has a wideband mode and
Xband on AM. The dial calibration and the QC are atrocious.

All three are 'long range' types, with a tuned RF stage after the antenna
stage. The SRI was by far the sturdiest built, with a metal power switch
and large tuning cap. The SRII went to a plastic switch, a smaller tuner
cap, and added the tweeter. The SRIII got rid of the tuning cap altogether
and went with varactor tuning, the 'tuner' is a breakdown prone
potentiometer. Aligning/calibrating the SRI/II is pretty straigtforward.
Doing so on the III is problematic at best, impossible at worst. That being
said, if you happen to get a good SRIII, they make a fine DX radio.. problem
is, you only have about a one in 5 chance of getting one that's 100% up to
spec (calibration is off on almost all of them. Some it's off up to 100KHz
on AM, and up to 2MHz on FM).



  #5  
Old June 15th 04, 01:24 AM
Michael
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default


"lsmyer" wrote in message
...
I decided to test some radios today to see which of them I would recommend
for simple AM dxing to anyone who asked. The six radios I tested are Degen
DE1102, GE SRIII, Radio Shack DX-398, Radio Shack DX-402, Sangean U1, and
Tecsun BCL2000.

I went to a local park at 1:00 pm and found an area with no nearby power
lines. I started each radio at 530 KHz and I tuned up through the entire
dial, noting the signal strength and clarity of what I heard (if anything)
on each frequency. I also rotated each radio on each frequency to see if

it
could pick up a signal in any position.

Sensitivity: Despite being the least expensive out of the group, my trusty
SRIII picked up at least a whisper of a station on nearly every single
frequency (A+). Second was the BCL2000 (A-), third was the DE1102 (B+),
fourth was my DX-398 (C-) and DX-402 (C-), and in last place was my U1

(F),
which picked up stations on the least number of frequencies.

Selectivity: There are other factors in AM listenability, though. One of
which is handling adjacent channel spatter. Of all the radios, the SRIII
seemed to be best at pulling 700WLW (175 miles away) out of the spatter of
two local stations on 680 and 710. The DE1102 was second, and the BCL2000
third. One oddity about the BCL2000, even though it allowed me to hear WLW
between the two other stations, for some reason, WLW was being covered by

an
image of a local low power travel station on 1610 that overmodulates
horribly. None of the other radios picked up any images.

Internal noise: No surprise here. The three analog radios, the SRIII (A+),
BCL2000 (A+) and U1(A+), all had lower internal noise than the three with
digital tuning, DX-402 (C) DX-398 (C-), and DE1102 (D).

Dial readability: All of those with digital displays were obviously easier
to read. The DX-402 (A+) and the BCL2000 (A+) have accurate and large
high-contrast displays, the DX-398 (B) and the DE1102 (C) were smaller but
still accurate, the UI isn't very accurate but it's easy to see (C-), and
the SRIII has the least accurate and least seeable display of the pack

(F).

Portability: All six are portables and can be operated by batteries. The
three large analog radios can be heavy, but all three have good carrying
handles. The three smaller radios do not have handles. The DE1102 stands

out
here for being the smallest by far (A+). The U1, however, is really too

big
to carry for very long, despite having the best handle of the bunch, and

it
should get the F in this category.

Sound quality: Though highly subjective, I like the sound of the three
bigger radios best. You can turn up the U1 until your ears hurt and it

still
doesn't distort. The U1 has by far the most bass and volume but little
treble (A), the SRIII has good bass and treble and medium volume (B), the
BCL2000 has slightly less bass and treble, and comparable volume (B-), the
DX-398 (D) and DX-402 (D) are virtually identical with some bass some

treble
and even less volume (D), and the DE1102 (D-) has some treble, no bass,

and
very little volume until it starts distorting. Of course, all of these
radios sound better with headphones, but that wasn't what I was seeking.

Conclusion: I couldn't imagine getting rid of any of these radios. It

would
be so tough to try to pick just one for me to own. Each one of these has

at
least one feature that makes it a favorite in some category. And my little
comparison doesn't even take into account two of the most important
categories to some people: memory operation and external antenna
performance. But of my six radios tested, three were clearly losers

(DX-398,
DX-402, and U1) and three were clearly winners (SRIII, BCL2000, and

DE1102).

Of the three winners, the SRIII is the most sensitive, has very good

sound,
is noise-free, and is the least expensive, but the radio's display is so

bad
that serious dxing is virtually impossible for me without another radio
nearby to tell me what frequency I'm listening to. The DE1102 and the
BCL2000 aren't too far behind the SRIII in sensitivity and both offer a
digital frequency display that's easy to see. And though the DE1102 is a
fine little radio (in fact, it is an incredible performer for its size),

the
BCL2000 beats it in nearly every category for me (sensitivity, sound
quality, internal noise), so I would have to pick the BCL2000 as my
unscientifically-preferred choice for AM dxing.


I would like to know how the CCrane Radio Plus would have done. I'm tempted
to get one, but I've heard that it isn't narrow enough to DX a weaker signal
next to a strong local.

I have a SR III and as you do, I find it to be wonderfully sensitive and
possessing outstanding audio quality. It's narrow setting is good for
DX'ing. As sooooo many people point out, the tuner set up is a dud. I
also have the KA1102 and I like that as an mw radio too. It is indeed more
noisy then the SR III, but the digital tuning is a big attraction for using
it on mw vs. the SR III.

So... I was hoping the CCcrane Radio Plus would be the answer. It is made
for mw, it has a big ferrite bar and it is digital... BUT.... I just keep
thinking about the band setting not being narrow enough to DX with it.

What to do ????

Michael


  #6  
Old June 15th 04, 03:08 AM
Brian Running
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Of the three winners, the SRIII is the most sensitive, has very good
sound,
is noise-free, and is the least expensive, but the radio's display is so

bad
that serious dxing is virtually impossible for me without another radio
nearby to tell me what frequency I'm listening to.


Thanks for the report -- nice job.

I am obviously in the minority on this, but I just cannot for the life of me
see why the Superadio's dial calibration is a big problem for people. You
say that serious DXing is virtually impossible -- why? Hell, I don't even
look at the dial most of the time. I tune in a station, and listen until I
hear a station ID. Even if you have a digital read-out, you still don't
know what station you've got until they identify themselves -- so wait until
they say the frequency. You never have to wait long. A lot of the time,
I'll listen to AM at night without any lights on at all -- doesn't matter
what kind of display I've got, I'll be able to tell what I'm listening to.
I think the Superadio III is a great radio for DXing -- it would still be a
great radio for DXing if it didn't even have a dial.


  #7  
Old June 15th 04, 04:02 PM
Stephen
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default


"Michael" wrote in message
et...
...
I would like to know how the CCrane Radio Plus would have done. I'm

tempted
to get one, but I've heard that it isn't narrow enough to DX a weaker

signal
next to a strong local.


My CCRadio (the original model, not the Plus model) seems to me to have a
pretty narrow filter, in fact, I often prefer to listen to one of my other
radios because the CCRadio sound quality is overly muffled (for my taste).
Does anyone know if a wider filter is used on the Plus model? If the
filters are different, maybe what you want is a used CCRadio (original
model)? As far as sensitivity goes, the CCRadio and the Superadio II are a
pretty even tie for first place (in my collection). (The CCRadio is
noticably quieter than any other digitally tuned MW radio I've come across.)

-- Stephen


--
Please remove no and spam from my email address if replying by email.




  #8  
Old June 15th 04, 06:35 PM
JCJ
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Michael,

Get the DEGEN DE1103 I found it to be almost as good as the S350 with
the advantage that it is portable and cheaper than the CCRadio and
S350. The only drawback is that the sound in "narrow" band is not as
good as any of the other mentioned radios below. But boy, it is
really narrow and sensitive in MW.

JCJ


"Michael" wrote in message . net...
"lsmyer" wrote in message
...
I decided to test some radios today to see which of them I would recommend
for simple AM dxing to anyone who asked. The six radios I tested are Degen
DE1102, GE SRIII, Radio Shack DX-398, Radio Shack DX-402, Sangean U1, and
Tecsun BCL2000.

I went to a local park at 1:00 pm and found an area with no nearby power
lines. I started each radio at 530 KHz and I tuned up through the entire
dial, noting the signal strength and clarity of what I heard (if anything)
on each frequency. I also rotated each radio on each frequency to see if

it
could pick up a signal in any position.

Sensitivity: Despite being the least expensive out of the group, my trusty
SRIII picked up at least a whisper of a station on nearly every single
frequency (A+). Second was the BCL2000 (A-), third was the DE1102 (B+),
fourth was my DX-398 (C-) and DX-402 (C-), and in last place was my U1

(F),
which picked up stations on the least number of frequencies.

Selectivity: There are other factors in AM listenability, though. One of
which is handling adjacent channel spatter. Of all the radios, the SRIII
seemed to be best at pulling 700WLW (175 miles away) out of the spatter of
two local stations on 680 and 710. The DE1102 was second, and the BCL2000
third. One oddity about the BCL2000, even though it allowed me to hear WLW
between the two other stations, for some reason, WLW was being covered by

an
image of a local low power travel station on 1610 that overmodulates
horribly. None of the other radios picked up any images.

Internal noise: No surprise here. The three analog radios, the SRIII (A+),
BCL2000 (A+) and U1(A+), all had lower internal noise than the three with
digital tuning, DX-402 (C) DX-398 (C-), and DE1102 (D).

Dial readability: All of those with digital displays were obviously easier
to read. The DX-402 (A+) and the BCL2000 (A+) have accurate and large
high-contrast displays, the DX-398 (B) and the DE1102 (C) were smaller but
still accurate, the UI isn't very accurate but it's easy to see (C-), and
the SRIII has the least accurate and least seeable display of the pack

(F).

Portability: All six are portables and can be operated by batteries. The
three large analog radios can be heavy, but all three have good carrying
handles. The three smaller radios do not have handles. The DE1102 stands

out
here for being the smallest by far (A+). The U1, however, is really too

big
to carry for very long, despite having the best handle of the bunch, and

it
should get the F in this category.

Sound quality: Though highly subjective, I like the sound of the three
bigger radios best. You can turn up the U1 until your ears hurt and it

still
doesn't distort. The U1 has by far the most bass and volume but little
treble (A), the SRIII has good bass and treble and medium volume (B), the
BCL2000 has slightly less bass and treble, and comparable volume (B-), the
DX-398 (D) and DX-402 (D) are virtually identical with some bass some

treble
and even less volume (D), and the DE1102 (D-) has some treble, no bass,

and
very little volume until it starts distorting. Of course, all of these
radios sound better with headphones, but that wasn't what I was seeking.

Conclusion: I couldn't imagine getting rid of any of these radios. It

would
be so tough to try to pick just one for me to own. Each one of these has

at
least one feature that makes it a favorite in some category. And my little
comparison doesn't even take into account two of the most important
categories to some people: memory operation and external antenna
performance. But of my six radios tested, three were clearly losers

(DX-398,
DX-402, and U1) and three were clearly winners (SRIII, BCL2000, and

DE1102).

Of the three winners, the SRIII is the most sensitive, has very good

sound,
is noise-free, and is the least expensive, but the radio's display is so

bad
that serious dxing is virtually impossible for me without another radio
nearby to tell me what frequency I'm listening to. The DE1102 and the
BCL2000 aren't too far behind the SRIII in sensitivity and both offer a
digital frequency display that's easy to see. And though the DE1102 is a
fine little radio (in fact, it is an incredible performer for its size),

the
BCL2000 beats it in nearly every category for me (sensitivity, sound
quality, internal noise), so I would have to pick the BCL2000 as my
unscientifically-preferred choice for AM dxing.


I would like to know how the CCrane Radio Plus would have done. I'm tempted
to get one, but I've heard that it isn't narrow enough to DX a weaker signal
next to a strong local.

I have a SR III and as you do, I find it to be wonderfully sensitive and
possessing outstanding audio quality. It's narrow setting is good for
DX'ing. As sooooo many people point out, the tuner set up is a dud. I
also have the KA1102 and I like that as an mw radio too. It is indeed more
noisy then the SR III, but the digital tuning is a big attraction for using
it on mw vs. the SR III.

So... I was hoping the CCcrane Radio Plus would be the answer. It is made
for mw, it has a big ferrite bar and it is digital... BUT.... I just keep
thinking about the band setting not being narrow enough to DX with it.

What to do ????

Michael

  #9  
Old June 15th 04, 07:02 PM
lsmyer
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default

You're right about the SRIII being fun to listen to. It's a great radio for
nighttime listening. You pick it up, turn it on, and just start tuning. And
you can hear things you're not going to hear on any of your other portables.
Sure it doesn't have a dial light, but if you're just listening and not
being serious about it, then it's a sweet radio.

In my comparison test, the radio's lack of accurate tuning was a significant
problem because I was trying to make a written record of how each radio
performed on every single frequency. And since this radio picked up things
that no other radio was picking up, then I was really having a problem
trying to identify frequencies during its test. For my purposes, digital
tuning would have been an enormous help.

Back in the 70s, my dxing hobby included the component of logging stations
by frequency. All I had back then was analog tuning and nothing to check the
accuracy against other than waiting for a known station to identify itself,
and then try to estimate the frequency of the new station. That was even
tougher back then because you had stations like WLAC calling themselves "15
WLAC" even though they were actually on 1510. Now digital displays are so
common that stations say their real frequency, even on FM. I think it also
helps their arbitron ratings to mention their exact frequency.


  #10  
Old June 15th 04, 11:34 PM
Michael
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default


"Stephen" wrote in message
...

"Michael" wrote in message
et...
...
I would like to know how the CCrane Radio Plus would have done. I'm

tempted
to get one, but I've heard that it isn't narrow enough to DX a weaker

signal
next to a strong local.


My CCRadio (the original model, not the Plus model) seems to me to have a
pretty narrow filter, in fact, I often prefer to listen to one of my other
radios because the CCRadio sound quality is overly muffled (for my taste).
Does anyone know if a wider filter is used on the Plus model? If the
filters are different, maybe what you want is a used CCRadio (original
model)? As far as sensitivity goes, the CCRadio and the Superadio II are

a
pretty even tie for first place (in my collection). (The CCRadio is
noticably quieter than any other digitally tuned MW radio I've come

across.)

-- Stephen


Thanx... I may just pick one up... I guess I can always sell it off if it
dosent work out....

Michael


 




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