5Core T-22 AM/FM/SW Analog Radio
A few readers have alerted me to the existence of a new analog portable radio on the market, the 5 Core T-22. Made in India it is claimed to be of high-quality design and to offer the familiar advantages of a true analog design, primarily a smooth and seamless tuning characteristic which is something many of us love about our vintage analog radios. One generous reader forwarded to me a Youtube link of a review which was overwhelmingly positive, and he offered to order one and have it sent directly to me for review. I certainly couldn’t resist that offer and a week or so later it was here and I was excited to get my hands on it. It is available from https://5core.com/ and is currently (September 2021) selling for $17.49.
The website describes the T-22 as a “Retro Radio with Best Reception Antenna Sound AM FM 3 Band Portable Analog Classic Vintage Battery Powered Indoor Outdoor Kitchen Bedroom 4″/ 10 centimeter Speaker and Ferrite Antenna for good sound”.
Audio System Power Output (RMS): 7W Max
Power source battery DC 3V (D-SIZE) x 2
Dimensions 10″ x 6″ x 3.5″
Telescopic Antenna Length- 10~33 Inches
Checking It Out: I must admit that sometimes I’m as much of a sucker as the next guy when it comes to believing what I see on the internet, so I won’t draw this out any longer than it needs to be…the 5Core T-22 was a complete disappointment and joins the ranks of the QFX-R24 as one of the worst radios I have ever tested.
Although the radio is based on a Sony Chip (Sony CXA1619BS) something in the way this chip is integrated into the external elements of the radio seem to have gone seriously astray. You can download the datasheet on this chip online and the surprising thing is that such monolithic chips are designed to simplify radio design…it would seem that it should perform much better than it does here.
I first tried AM and noted that most stations came in at multiple spots on the dial. As I tuned a station in there were several false images with murmuring, garbled distortion beneath them until I found the true peak which could then sometimes sound OK. I also noted incredibly non-linear tuning such that, although the radio could tune from below 540 to about 1700 KHz, a station at 840 KHz came in at 700 KHz on the dial…totally unacceptable. I will say that on the few stations which I could receive clearly the radio did sound very nice…it obviously has a good speaker. However, 5Core claims an RMS output of 7 watts which is absurd…the spec sheet on the chip specifies 500 milliwatts (half a watt) and since the power supply is spec’d at 2 – 8.5 volts, it receives only 3 volts in the T-22 so I suspect the actual power would be less. No problem though…as I said, sound quality is the one thing that is decent on this radio. I just dislike misleading and downright false power claims.
I hoped FM might fare better but it was in fact worse. The images were horrible…stations at the top of the band came in at various spots down to about 100 MHz. This is one reason why some say the FM is so good that it comes in fine with the whip collapsed. It is in fact better with the whip collapsed because the images are weaker. But overall FM reception is poor compared with other portables.
Finally, I checked SW. Here the actual SW reception was not too bad. I was able to receive a few weak daytime signals which surprised me. Unfortunately, there were images of FM stations all over the dial which interfered with reception in several cases. It is also unusual that the SW dial is calibrated only in meter bands…again not very accurate or user friendly.
Build quality is also quite poor. The case appears to be a very crude mold and the whip antenna is both tight and flimsy. BTW…a friend also bought this radio and his performs similarly to mine so this is not a defective sample.
Overall, I can’t recommend this radio. True…if you happen to find a station that comes in well (and that will be very few compared with any reasonably decent radio) it does sound good. But actual reception and tuning behavior are poor. And although true analog radios should be fun and natural to tune in this one is not.