Category Archives: About

About

Retekess V112 Earbud Radio

The tiny V112 is another interesting model from Retekess who has offered many models of widely varying quality over the past few years. The V112 is a no-frills, truly tiny earbud-style radio (we used to call them Walkmen) offering AM and FM stereo in a very small, inexpensive package. What can you get in a $20 radio? Read the Retekess V112 Review: 

Jay Allen

Retekess PR15

The Retekess PR15 is not a new model but is worth checking out as it packs a lot into its tiny size. Measuring a mere 3 ½” x2” x 5/8” it is a true pocket size radio but despite its tiny size it is surprisingly usable, featuring not only standard AM and FM but also NOAA Weather band. I got mine from eBay for $17.99 with free shipping. How good can a sub-$20 be?

Read The Retekess PR15 Review:

Jay Allen

C. Crane Skywave SSB 2

When C. Crane first introduced the compact Skywave and Skywave SSB radios I was frankly amazed at what they had accomplished and I described the original SSB model as the “Swiss Army Knife of Portable Radios”. The Skywaves are unique in their band coverage and as far as I know are the only travel-sized radios to cover all the bands they do. For a bit of history, you can read the original reviews here:

C. Crane Skywave: 

C. Crane Skywave SSB: 

Most of this information still applies to the still available original Skywave and the upgraded Skywave SSB 2. The SSB 2 arrives nicely packaged with a handy protective travel pouch, a reel-up SW antenna, a set of CC Earbuds, and a clever Antenna Adapter Plug which allows bare wires to be connected. The Skywave SSB 2 is currently selling (at the end of 2022) for $169.99.2

So, what is new with the SSB 2?

Read the C. Crane Skywave SSB 2 Review:

Jay Allen   

NordMende GlobeTraveler II

I recently received a beautiful NordMende GlobeTraveler II radio and I was excited about it because I had briefly checked one out many years ago and was impressed. Fast forward 15 years and another friend sent one to me because he wasn’t using it and thought I would like it. Well…I do! The GlobeTraveler II is the US import version of the TN6000 which looks very similar but has FM limited to 104 rather than 108 MHz.

I’m not sure exactly how many years this model was sold but I found it in the 1968 Radio Shack catalog and the 1969 Allied catalog selling for $179.95 which translates to $4,990 in 2022. Being typical of other German radios of the era such as the large Grundigs it is a very large, heavy chassis with an incredibly complex design, housed in a leatherette-covered wooden cabinet. Many technicians have quipped that if there was a more complex way to do something that’s how these old German radios were designed and they can sometimes be a real challenge to service due their complexity and difficult access. We’ll take a close look inside, work out a few problems then see how well it performs.

Read the NordMende GlobeTraveler II Review:

Jay Allen    

Sony ICF-P27 AM/FM Pocket Portable

And A comparison with the previous ICF-P26

The Sony ICF-P27 is a very basic small AM/FM portable radio which is well suited for non-critical use where size and weight are of prime concern. It replaces the similar-looking ICF-P26 which may still available at increasing prices as a discontinued model…the ICF-P27 is currently selling for $23.88 at Amazon and the other usual retailers.

The Sony ‘P27 appears virtually identical to the outgoing ‘P26 but is a total internal redesign using a DSP chip whereas the P26 was all analog. We’ll put them side by side to see how they compare.

Read the Sony ICF-P27 Review:

Jay Allen   

New Eton Satellit Issues Continue

As most of you know the long-awaited Eton Satellit was finally released to less-than-glowing reviews. Problems included a high noise floor, muting while tuning and problems with the PBT Passband Tuning among others. Fred and Barbara at Universal have told me that there are remaining issues with the radio’s performance after this initial update but that Eton is aware of the complaints and is “working to address as many as possible”.

Some people have decided to delay their purchase in the hopes that Eton may indeed improve the radio again and I have decided to wait a bit. Others will still want to get the new radio as soon as possible and let’s hope the revisions will please them.

I will keep you posted.

Jay

C. Crane FM Transmitter 3

I have been using C. Crane’s FM transmitters since the original model was introduced many years ago. Their new FM Transmitter 3 is an upgrade over their previous Transmitter 2 which in turn was a substantial improvement over the original FM Transmitter. Once again, C. Crane has taken a singularly-excellent product and made it even better. Most of my career was as a professional broadcaster but I’ve also been a home hobby broadcaster since I was 13 years old and I still love the ability to program my own radio station with exactly the stuff I want to hear.

We’ll check out the new C.Crane FM Transmitter 3 and discuss way tot enhane yhour enjoyment of it.

Read The C. Crane FM Transmitter 3 Review:  

Jay Allen

Zenith Royal 500N-G/Royal 555G Suncharger AM Radios

The Zenith Royal 500N-G/Royal 555G were introduced in 1965 and were available in White or Charcoal. They were the last of the famed Royal 500 line, one of the most iconic lines of its day. They were later rebadged as the Royal 41 and Royal 56 to freshen their names but they used the same circuits and were therefore identical in everything but their model numbers. This renaming is something Zenith did with some of their other models in the mid to later 60’s when new product introductions were expected each year.

The 500N and 555G were identical radios with the only differences being the Suncharger on the Royal 555…the 500N ran on regular AA cells. The Suncharger feature was a first for Zenith and makes the 555 an interesting model but how does it compare with the earlier Royal 500’s?

Read the Zenith Royal 500/555 Suncharger Article:   

Jay Allen

Radio Shack/Realistic DX-390/Sangean ATS-818

The Radio Shack/Realistic DX-390 is a rebadged Sangean ATS-818 and was available between 1992-1993. The 1992 Radio Shack catalog lists the radio at $239.95 while the 1993 catalog showed a “New Low Price” of $219.95. This is the successor to the well-received DX-440/ATS-803A. My sample carries the Realistic name as shown in the catalogs but I have also seen the Radio Shack name on this model which is curious. Interestingly the Sangean version seems to have been available at a lower price but various sources quote it as having been between $175 – $220 so I’m not sure of the exact amount. They were also sold under other names such as Roberts R827 and Siemens RK 665. Radio Shack also marketed a version with a built-in cassette deck as the DX-392 as did Sangean as the ATS-818 CS albeit with a smaller speaker to make room for the cassette mechanism.

The DX-390 was one of the first serious multiband portables I owned back in the day. Now, years later I decided to try one out again to see how it compares with the many receivers I’ve owned since.

Read The DX-390/ATS-818 Review:  

Jay Allen   

Zenith Royal 400 – A Lower Priced Alternative to the Royal 500 Series

This is another in a continuing series of retrospectives remembering some of my favorite vintage analog radios.

Between 1955 and 1964 Zenith marketed the highly acclaimed Royal 500 series of radios. The 500’s packed a powerful punch and helped Zenith earn their reputation as a leader in technological development and overall quality. But the Royal 500 series commanded premium prices and as competition from low-priced Japanese imports heated up Zenith had to offer lower priced models to remain competitive. And offer them they did with several models selling for less than the 500’s.

This time we’ll look at the Royal 400. There were several others of this same size and general design, including the Royal 250, 265, 275, 280, 285 and 300 and they were generally good performers. However, the Royal 400 is interesting because of all Zenith’s lower priced radios it is in some ways the closest in overall performance to the 500H.

Read The Zenith Royal 400 Article:

Jay Allen   

Zenith Royal 450 & Royal 475 – 2 More Great Vintage Analog Portables

This is another entry in my look back at some of my favorite analog portable radios of the past. If you scroll down the Home Page you will see several of these radios which I’ve recently reviewed and more are planned. In this article we’ll take a look at two, perhaps lesser-known models from Zenith – the Royal 450 and Royal 475.

These are 7 transistor horizontal designs with vernier tuning. Both measure approximately 6 ½” x 4 ¼” x 2”. The Royal 450 has an untuned RF stage with a two-gang air variable tuning condenser while the Royal 475 has a tuned RF stage and a three-gang air variable, and each runs on 6 AA batteries. The Royal 450 retailed for $59.95 (equivalent to almost $600 in 2022!) and was available from 1958 – 1960 in Ebony, White and Orange. The Royal 475 was introduced as an upgrade for 1961 -1962. It retailed for $49.95 ($475 in 2022) and was available in Ebony or Beige.

Let’s check out the Zenith Royal 450 and Royal 475:

Jay Allen

Panasonic RF-738 AM/FM Analog Portable

The RF-738 is a medium size AM/FM design featuring a 2 ½ x 4″ speaker, a Hi-Lo Tone Switch and a dial light. It runs on 4 AA cells and has a built-in 120 volt AC power supply. It is heavy and solid in the tradition of the best old radios and it sports a large ferrite rod antenna of approximately 7” so the potential is there for great AM sensitivity.

The Panasonic RF-738 is a cool-looking AM/FM all-analog portable radio manufactured around 1965. It was recommended to me by a reader who is fond of this model and thought I should check one out and I thought it would be interesting to see what a mid-line AM/FM radio from Panasonic’s heyday might be like. This is part of my continuing look at several vintage all-analog portable radios.

Let’s take a look at the Panasonic RF-738.

Jay Allen  

The Rise and Fall of Hi-Fi AM & AM Stereo

…plus a look at two AM Stereo Radios and some Wideband AM Mono Radios

and a comparison with other models offering Wide Bandwidth AM options.

Recently a reader graciously sent me two radios for evaluation – the much sought-after Sony SRF-A1 AM Stereo Walkman and the Aiwa FR-C30U. Manufactured around 1983 the Sony was one of several Stereo AM receivers available as AM Stereo was being promoted. The sender was particularly interested in my feelings about these with regards to their wideband sound quality and some reports which once circulated claiming that AM Stereo “sounded better” than FM.

Having worked at two AM Stereo stations I had several recollections of our experiences with AM Stereo in its heyday, and I still had my Realistic TM-152 AM Stereo Tuner, so it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at AM Stereo and to look at the state of AM broadcasting today in terms of audio quality.

There are no AM Stereo stations receivable at my location but I do have an excellent mono AM transmitter and the unique Cuthbert C-Quam Stereo AM transmitter which allowed me to do some interesting tests and comparisons. Does AM Stereo sound better than FM?

Read The Rise and Fall of AM Stereo:

Jay Allen    

Realistic 12-665 AM/FM Portable Radio (Sony TFM-7250W Clone)

…and a look at clone radios in general…

For many years I had been curious to check out Radio Shack’s Realistic 12-665 radio because it so closely resembles one of my favorite portables, the Sony TFM-7250W.

The whole topic of radio clones is an interesting one and has been around for decades.

The Realistic 12-665 initially sold for $39.95 and later $44.95. It caught my attention at the time because I owned the Sony version which retailed for $69.95, and it looked so similar I wondered if it was really the same radio or a cheapened copy. Let’s find out!

Read The Realistic 12-665 Review:

Jay Allen      

Sangean WFR-32 Internet Table Radio

The new Sangean WFR-32 Internet Table Radio is the latest offering from Sangean, a company with a long, proud tradition of top-quality products. Externally it resembles their RCR-40 Stereo Table radio, but internally it is a completely different design with an almost entirely different feature set, and in fact it does not even contain an AM or FM tuner at all. It is a dedicated Internet/WiFi device and in that realm, it offers a wealth of capabilities for those who want easy access to everything other than regular AM and FM stations. It’s list of features is long and we’ll check them out on our Sangean WFR-32 Test Drive.

Jay Allen   

XHDATA D-901 AM/FM/SW Radio With MP3 Player & Bluetooth

The XHDATA D-901 is an interesting device for several reasons. I got mine for $29.98 at Amazon:  

The D-901 is a DSP-tuned analog-style portable. It covers AM from 520 – 1730 KHz, FM from 64 –  108 MHz and SW from 4750 – 22,999 KHz. It features an analog-style tuning knob and dial scales, MPs playback via Tiff card or USB stick, Bluetooth playback, Aux audio input, SW/FM antenna input, headphone jack, a flashlight with a simple slide switch for easy access and an unusually comfortable soft carrying handle. It also has a digital readout showing playback modes such as BT or Track number and it can run on a built-in USB (Type C port) rechargeable 18650 Li-ion battery or 2 conventional D cells.

Can a $30 radio with all of these capabilities live up to your expectations? Let’s take alook and find out.

Read the XHDATA D-901 Review:     

Jay Allen   

Happy Holidays from RadioJayAllen!!!

I just want to take a moment to wish each and every one of you a happy and safe holiday season. It has been another tough year for many people and we all hope, once again, that next year will be better. I hope you will all be able to spend time with family and friends and to remember the things that are most important in our lives.

I have also updated the very popular AM and FM Mega Shootout articles. I have added new radios which have been reviewed during the past year and have made a few adjustments up or down for some models based on evolving technology and ongoing testing. As of now both of these articles will be continuously updated so new reviews will be included as soon as possible.

Thanks so much for all of your support during these past many years – I look forward to 2022 with hope and optimism.

Jay Allen

2022 AM Mega Shootout:

2022 FM Mega Shootout:

GE 7-2875A AM/FM Radio “Baby SR” And a look at the completely different GE 7-2857A

The GE 7-2875A is one of a few mid-sized GE portables unofficially referred to by hobbyists as “Baby SR’s…smaller relatives to the very popular original GE Superadios. They were sold in the late 70’s and 80’s concurrently with the Superadios and although they are quite different internally than the SR’s and don’t actually perform quite as well, they are nevertheless very nice analog portable radios with good performance and many positive attributes. The GE 7-2875A is one of the nicer models, and we’ll also look at the confusingly similarly named model 7-2857A…just two transposed digits but a completely different radio. GE nicknamed the 7-2875A “The Performer” and advertised its “Big Sound”. It is an all-analog design and as such features smooth, natural tuning and low current drain…let’s check it out.

Jay Allen

Sony TFM-7250W Super Sensitive AM/FM Radio

The Sony TFM-7250W is one of a long line of “Super Sensitive” radios Sony offered over the years. The TR-84 and 6R-33 Super Sensitive radios were earlier, AM only models which had great performance and are radios I also have in my collection. There were also several AM/FM/SW portables in the Super Sensitive series such as the TFM-8000 and CRF-5100. The TFM-7250W has had a special place in my heart since I first got one in the mid 1970’s. Not until fairly recently did I decide to try one out once again to see what I would feel about it in the context of 2021. Was it really as good as I remembered?

Read the Sony “Super Sensitive” TFM-7250W Review:

Radio Shack 12-625/12-639 AM/FM Portables

The Radio Shack 12-625 was available between 1985 – 1993 and sold for $39.95. Described as “Our Best Full-Size AM/FM” in some ads and “High Performance” in others the 12-625 was a step up from the less costly 12-716 “Budget Priced” ($24.95) model. The 12-625 boasted switchable AFC on FM, a 4” speaker and a variable Tone Control knob. In 1994 the 12-625 was replaced with the seemingly similar 12-639 which was sold through 2000. I bought basket cases of each so we’ll take them apart to fix them, then see how they perform. I love vintage analog radios for their natural tuning feel so we’ll see how they perform.

Read the Radio Shack 12-625/12-639 Review:

Jay Allen

Radio Shack/Optimus/Realistic 12-726 AM/FM Portable

Read The Radio Shack 12-726 Review

The Radio Shack 12-726 is one of many seemingly pedestrian portables Radio Shack offered over the years. At the time these were current I had little interest in them, assuming they were mediocre performers and not in the same league as some of the sexier radios then being offered by companies like Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, Channel Master, Zenith and others. Lately however I’ve become more interested in old-school AM or AM/FM analog radios and curious to see how they perform compared with the best portables of the day as well as some of today’s digital radios.

Jay Allen            

I Can’t Reply To Outlook.com emails

I have been having a problem trying to reply to some emails I have received…the email addresses end with outlook.com

Several readers with outlook.com emails have written to me and when I try to reply I get an error message saying it cant find the address. If you have recently emailed me and not heard back (I almost always reply within a day) please see if this might be the problem. Or if you have an alternate email address you can use that should let me respond to you as well. Hopefully this will eventually be resolved but for now please read this:

Unable to receive email from Gmail accounts in Outlook.com [WORKAROUND]

We are aware that some users may not be able to receive email from Gmail accounts. We are investigating a possible problem.

WORKAROUND

Check that you have not accidentally blocked the Gmail domain when blocking one Gmail user.

Open your Blocked Senders list.

If Gmail.com is in the list, select the Remove next to the entry and press Save

Jay Allen

Radio Shack SW-100 AM/FM/SW/CB/TV/Air/Weather Radio

The SW-100 is a real step back in time…more so than many other radios of its era. While 1993 doesn’t seem like ancient history to me, this radio demonstrates just how much has changed since then, primarily because of its band coverage. In addition to AM/FM, SW and VHF (which includes Air & Weather) it also includes VHF TV sound which is no longer useable (since analog TV transmissions no longer exist) and Citizen’s Band which, while still in use, is not nearly as popular as it was 30 – 50 years ago.

But we’ll take a look inside and see how the SW-100 performs compared with today’s portables.

Read the Radio Shack SW-100 Review:

Jay Allen

5Core 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. Some online sources have raved about how great this radio is…we’ll check it out and see if it lives up to the promise.

Read the 5Core T-22 Review       

Jay Allen

Corrected URL

I’m sorry…the link I sent for the Sony 7600 Series article appears to have been corrupted. Here is the correct link for the the article. https://radiojayallen.com/sony-7600-series/

My apologies.

Jay

Sony 7600 Series

The Sony 7600 series of radios was an extremely popular and long-lived line of paperback book-sized radios which spanned the years from approximately 1977 – 2018. Under the guidance of Sony Co-founder Akio Morita who was passionate about portable electronics (he later invented the original Walkman), the 7600 series occupied a mid-sized, mid-priced niche and were innovative and of generally high quality. They were great travel-sized radios which were also good enough for in-home use and were good values.

Read the Sony 7600 Series Article:

Jay Allen

Prunus J-160 Retro AM/FM/SW Radio with MP3 Player & Bluetooth

The Prunus J-160 is almost irresistibly cute. It offers a DSP tuner with AM/FM/SW reception, Bluetooth as well as an Aux input and the ability to play audio files from either a Tiff card or USB stick. How does it compare with other retro radios on the market?

Read the Prunus J-160 Review:

Jay Allen

Sangean WFR-28 WiFi Internet Radio

The Sangean WFR-28 is the first Internet Radio I have tested which runs on batteries and it is specifically this capability that drew me to it. The radio is built into the same cabinet as the PR-D4W (a traditional AM/FM/NOAA Weather radio), whereas the WFR-28 is designed for Internet Radio and Podcast streaming, FM (with RBDS/RDS) and USB flash drive playback. It can also act as a network music player accessing files on a computer linked via Wi-Fi, it can access the Spotify streaming service and it can be remote controlled by an Android or I-Phone App. Additionally, you can register your radio online then set up and organize lists and groups of Favorites and My Added Stations and create Playlists if desired. We’ll take the WFR-28 for a test drive, check out its many features and performance and report on what we found.

Read the Sangean WFR-28 Review:

Jay Allen

Lost emails

As you probably realize I receive many emails each day from readers and I try my best to answer all questions. Even if I don’t have an answer I still respond to every email I receive.

However, last week I somehow lost several emails with questions I had intended to get answers for, so if you sent me a question in the past week or so and have not heard back from me, please resubmit your question so I can respond.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Jay

radiojayallen@gmail.com

Sangean RCR-40 AM/FM RDS Stereo Clock Radio with Bluetooth

The RCR-40 is a stereo clock radio in a wooden case with excellent performance in typical Sangean tradition. There is a long list of features, many of which other clock radios offer, but the RCR-40 is more than a typical clock radio – it is a combination of clock radio and high-performance, compact stereo table radio. As of Summer 2021 it is selling at Amazon for about $105.74. How does it perform?

Read the Sangean RCR-40 Review:

Jay Allen  

Tecsun PL-368 Owner’s Manual

I have been getting many requests for the owner’s manual for the PL-368 – I just received it and it is available for download here: PL368 – English Manual

Jay

AM & FM Mega Shootout 2021 Updates

Greetings from radiojayallen.com! I am excited to announce the 2021 updates to two of the most read articles on the website – the AM and FM Mega Radio Shootouts. I can’t rank every radio I test on these lists but every important radio I have tested in the past year has now been added to these lists which, as far as I know, are the most complete and most accurate of any such ratings available anywhere. My tests are all done in real-world conditions, with radios side-by-side in a variety of locations and with a variety of signals to evaluate. My lifelong work in broadcasting and electronics has given me a unique insight into how radios work and what the typical user experience is likely to be and I think my reviews relate closely to what you are likely to experience with these radios. I focus not only on features and specifications but also on how well they actually pull in hard-to-get stations, how they sound and whether they possess that “fun factor” which make some radios more enjoyable to use then others.

I also appreciate your feedback, both in terms of your experiences and your questions as well as your recommendations about radios you think I should check out. I can’t buy all of them but I have gotten many good tips over the years and welcome any information you may care to pass along.

As always, I ask that you help to support this free site at no cost to you by using the Amazon Links found in many of the reviews – from there anything you purchase during that Amazon session helps to support the purchase of new radios, antennas and accessories for review.

So here they are:

AM Mega Radio Shootout 2021 Update:

FM Mega Radio Shootout 2021 Update:

Thank You!

Tecsun PL-368

Tecsun PL-368

The new Tecsun PL-368 is the third major version of this vertical, hand-held “walkie-talkie-style” radio. It is of course not a walkie talkie but rather an unusual multiband receiver. Initially there was the PL-360/CountyComm GP-5 DSP (which seems to still be available from some sources). The next version (also still available) was the PL-365/CountyComm GP-5-SSB which added a few improvements along with SSB. Now a real game-changer…this latest version adds a keypad for direct frequency entry, elevating the PL-368 to a much higher level of usability.

Should the PL-368 be your next radio purchase? Read the Tecsun PL-368 Review:

Jay Allen

Two More Inexpensive MP3 Player/Recorders

Several readers have asked if I could find any inexpensive MP3 players that also had the ability to record. Two such units, the Prunus J-401 and Rolton E500 are the focus of this article. Like the Geson and Aocome I reviewed a few months ago, these are relatively inexpensive units; the Pronus is currently selling on Amazon for $21.99 and the Rolton goes for $19.99. As such I didn’t expect top performance but rather basic functionality – for me the purpose of such units is the ability play audio files stored on a TIFF card and to easily record from the radio or to make non-critical recordings from the built-in mic or other external sources. Each player has some advantages over the other:

Read the Prunus J-401 & Rolton E500 Review:

Jay Allen

Tecsun S-8800 2021 Update

Tecsun S-8800 AM/LW/FM/SW/SSB Portable Radio

This is a 2021 update to my original review of the Tecsun S-8800 published in 2017.

With the arrival of several excellent new radios from Tecsun such as the PL-330, PL-990 and H-501, I decided it was time to re-evaluate the S-8800 as these four are my personal favorites from Tecsun’s incredibly extensive line. Looking at anon-co.com there are dozens of models at every price point, feature set and performance level, several of which I happen to own so I have first-hand experience with many of them. To be sure several models have specific qualities that may be of special importance to some users, but the four above are the ones that seem to offer a good balance of performance and value. I have also learned about a list of Hidden Features I was not aware of before so I will include that as well.

Read the Tecsun S-8800 2021 Update:

Tecsun H-501/H-501x

FM/AM/LW/SW/Audio Player with Bluetooth & Stereo Speakers

Tecsun has emerged over the past several years as one of the largest manufacturers of multiband portable radios and their latest H-501/H-501x is an interesting new addition to their very extensive lineup. Coming on the heels of their well-respected PL-990 and PL-330 the H-501 is unique in several ways including a high-tech 4-speaker stereo system and a switchable dual battery design utilizing two 18650 Li-ion batteries. Other notable features include auxiliary antenna inputs and the ability to disconnect the internal antennas on all bands, audio playback capability from a Micro-SD card, the ability to play digital computer audio through a USB connection and Bluetooth. The H-501 has much to recommend it – Read the Tecsun H-501/501X Review:

Jay Allen   

Read The Tecsun H-501 Review:

Sangean ATS-909X2 AM/LW/FM/SW/Air Radio

The ATS-909X2 is the third generation of a well-known series of top-of-the-line multiband portable radios from Sangean. The immediate predecessor was the ATS-909X which replaced the earlier ATS-909 which was also marketed by Radio Shack as the DX-398. Each upgraded version has represented an evolution of performance and features and the newest ATS-909X2 is no exception. Outwardly extremely similar to the ATS-909X, the new ATS-909X2 offers many advanced and upgraded features over the older model which can enhance the user experience. There are also some important performance improvements – read the Sangean ATS-909X2 review:

Jay Allen    

Two Inexpensive MP3 Players – Geson RV-155 Pro & Aocome L-088 AM

Or When Is A Radio Not A Radio?

20210325_164238

Once again, I am taking a look at two very inexpensive MP3 players which also happen to contain AM/FM radios. These days, such devices are often referred to as “speakers” rather than as radios or MP3 players and in this report, I will focus on their MP3 playback ability as their foremost feature because their radios capabilities are…shall we say…unusual.

Read the MP3 Player (with radio) Review:  

Jay Allen  

Yorek YK-901 AMFM/SW Radio – A $10 Radio

20210317_140431 (Large)A reader emailed me and asked if I would review a $10 radio he found on Amazon. Although my initial reaction was to dismiss it as not worth the time it would take, something about the $9.99 price grabbed my attention. After all, it was only weeks ago that I reviewed the QFX-R24 which was selling at the time for about $15 and that was a total disaster…I concluded that even at $15 it wasn’t worth it. But a digital AM/FM/SW radio for $9.99 (with free shipping for Amazon Prime customers) seemed too enticing to pass up, although I wasn’t expecting much. Two days later I found it in my mailbox and although it won’t’ replace my more sophisticated radios I’ve got to say that for $9.99 it isn’t half bad (and certainly its better than that QFX-24). So, just want can you expect nowadays in a $10 digital radio?

Read the Yorek YK-901 Review:   

See It At Amazon: 

Jay Allen  

CC WiFi 3 Internet Radio 

The CC WiFi 3 is a new offering from C. Crane and is a great addition to their radio lineup. I must admit that prior to this most of my online listening had been via my smart phone and this method does let you hear a world of information, but the Skytune software in the CC WiFi 3 makes many more stations available and much easier to find. As someone who never tried a dedicated WiFi radio before it was a fun experience!

Read the CC WiFi 3 Review:

Jay Allen

Sangean ATS-909X2

New Report Posted

Sangean ATS-909X2 AM/LW/FM/Air Radio

The wait is finally over. The ATS-909X2 which has been available in some areas in pre-production versions is finally officially available here in the US. I just received my ‘909X2 from Sangean US and have been having a lot of fun checking it out. I was initially told it would only be available here in White but mine is what Sangean calls Graphite and it is a stunner. Although externally it looks almost identical to the previous ATS-909X there are several upgrades and enhancements which make it more desirable. In addition to all the features of the previous model the ATS-909X2 adds Air band, a new Info readout, more filter choices along with defeatable Auto Bandwidth Control, 1674 memory presets, advanced battery charging which monitors each cell independently, switchable FM Soft Mute and a lot more

The features are great and the radio is a joy to use but what everyone is waiting to know is how the raw performance of the new flagship ATS-909X2 compares with the older ‘909X as well as with other popular multiband portables.

Read The Sangean ATS-909X2 Review:

Jay Allen

Home Page:

Retekess V117 AM/FM/SW Radio

The Retekess V117 Is a no-frills portable that has been around for a while. Although it has a SW band, I consider this to be primarily an AM/FM radio, at least here in the US where its SW band coverage is a limitation to its usefulness. But it’s not bad for the price on AM and FM. It is available on Amazon for between $9.99 to $15.99 or $17.99 depending on the day.

After some bad experiences with other bargain basement radios I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Read the Retekess V117 Review:

Jay Allen

Tecsun PL-330 AM/LW/SW/FM Portable Radio 

The new Tecsun PL-330 is a very small Ultralight-sized, DSP-based radio and is a worthy upgrade to the still available and less costly PL-310 Et and PL-380 radios, adding several features and somewhat better overall performance as well. It is now available for $59.9 at www.anon-co.com

Covering AM/LW/FM/SW it packs some unusual features for such a small, relatively inexpensive ($59.95) package. For example, it offers Synchronous Detection, making the PL-330 the least expensive radio I am aware of to sport this feature. It also demodulates SSB (Single Sideband) signals, and allows the use of external antennas on ALL bands…one of the very few current production portable radios to offer that terrific capability.

The list of extra features is long and in this article we’ll check them all out and compare the PL-330’s performance to some other popular competing models.

Read the Tecsun PL-330 Review:

Jay Allen

Sangean HDR-15 HD Clock Radio

The Sangean HDR-15 is the first HD Clock Radio I am aware of. It is an unassuming little box which makes no pretense of being a hobbyist’s radio, yet in some ways it is unique among clock radios. It offers a long list of features, many of which are unusual for a clock radio.

Read the Sangean HDR-15 Review:

Jay Allen

Crane CC Radio Solar Emergency Radio

I was lucky enough to receive a pre-production sample of the new CC Radio Solar, a feature-rich, high quality Emergency Radio with all the bells and whistles we’ve come from top-of-the-line emergency models plus several added “Hidden Features” I haven’t seen on any other such radio until now. According to their new 2021 catalog the CC Radio Solar will not displace the still-available (and highly regarded) CC Solar Observer which sells for $59.99. The CC Radio Solar will sell for $99.99. What does that $40 difference get you? Quite a lot!

Read the CC Radio Solar Review:

Jay Allen

QFX-R24 AM/FM/SW Portable Radio

Everyone loves a bargain, right? Sure we do, so, when a reader alerted me to the QFX-R24 I had to check one out. You see, it’s a dead ringer for the Panasonic RF-2400D which I have reviewed favorably.

What caught my attention, other than the fact that these two radios look virtually identical, is that the QFX-R24 adds 2 shortwave bands whereas the RF-2400D is AM/FM only, and although the QFX-R24 mentions a list price of $24.99 it was selling for $15.78 with free shipping from Amazon…roughly half the price of the Panasonic model. This seemed too good to be true so I ordered one and eagerly awaited its arrival.

What did I find? Read the QFX-R24 Review:

Jay Allen 

Two AM/FM Pocket Portables From Radio Shack

There’s no doubt that pocket portable radios can be a lot of fun, and not only for those of us who remember the excitement they engendered in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s but for anyone who wants a small companion handy for camping, travel or listening to a ball game out in the back yard or wherever you may be. Today’s pocket portables are in some ways a far cry from those radios we loved in their heyday.

Radio Shack, once a marketing giant has closed its doors but remains as an online seller so I decided to try two of their new Pocket Portables to see what they offer for the money.

Read the Radio Shack Pocket Portables Review:

Jay Allen 

Sangean WR-12BT Analog AM/FM Stereo Bluetooth Radio

The WR-12-BT has been around since 2012 but just recently came to my attention thanks to a reader who asked what I thought of it. In fact, I was unaware that Sangean still has a range of ten analog radios in their catalog with the WR-12-BT being an interesting model with FM stereo, three channels of amplification (left, right and woofer) along with Bluetooth technology to let the radio act as a great sounding stereo speaker for your BT audio sources. Sangean also offers the WR-12 which is the same but without Bluetooth. Do the three channels of amplification really make a difference? We’ll take the WR-12BT for a spin and let you in on the facts.

Read the Sangean WR-12BT Review:

Jay Allen

Tecsun PL-990X/PL-330 New Hidden Feature

Switch From The Ferrite Rod to the Whip for AM and LW

A new Hidden feature, allowing you to switch from the internal ferrite rod to the whip for AM and LW has been discovered and it is very easy to use. (It also applies to the new PL-330).

In AM or LW mode, Press and Hold for two seconds the Number 3 Key. The display will read CH-5 (standing for CH-S for SW which means the whip) and you are now using the telescoping whip for that band. The display will also show AM or LW and SW on the left-hand side.

Press and Hold the Number 3 Key for two seconds again and the display will show CH-A (for AM) and you will be  back to the ferrite rod. The display will read AM or LW (no SW).

This setting is retained after Power Off/On cycles.

As we’ve discussed before, news of new Hidden Features always causes an internet buzz, but now the important question is, how important is this? My take it that it is great for people who like to experiment and in my own tests it did improve AM reception in some cases, but in general the ferrite rod was superior. (I didn’t test it on LW).

When you compare a whip antenna to a ferrite rod antenna you discover why ferrite rods were put into use in the first place. They are compact. Being a form of loop antenna they often suppress noise better than a whip (or wire) antenna and they are directional which often helps to null out an offending signal or noise and peak the desired signal. But a whip can be a good signal grabber when it is long enough and when local RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) is low, and in my own tests there were some AM signals that were actually stronger and clearer with the whip. But on the majority of signals reception was similar or worse on the whip. This will come as no surprise to people who own the (excellent) Eton E1. One of the major criticisms of that radio was its use of the whip antenna for AM. We soon discovered though that in low noise environments (such as outdoors) the E1 with its whip was a formidable DXer, but in most people’s homes the noise desensitized the radio and made AM reception less good than on most ferrite rod equipped radios.

So enjoy this new feature of the PL-990 and PL-330, but know what to expect. It may work well for you or it may not. The lower the noise level in your setting the more you are likely to benefit from it but hey…it’s a fun thing to try out!

Tecsun PL-990X/PL-990 Multiband Radio/Bluetooth/MP3 Player

The PL-990X is an upgrade to the still-available and very popular PL-880. At this writing (Fall 2020) the PL-990X is just becoming available and some sites are selling early production units at wildly varying prices. Anon-co.com is now selling the regular production version for $235 while the PL-880 goes for $149 in its basic from or with a deluxe package going for $209.99. I have compared the PL-990X with the PL-880 extensively and also compared it with other models from Tecsun and other manufacturers and I’ll share all of that information with you in this report.

Read the Tecsun PL-990X Review:

Jay Allen