Category Archives: About

About

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

Tecsun PL-990/990X

The original post I sent earlier today had an incorrect model number so it has been corrected in this repost – I apologize for the error.

Jay

Tecsun PL-990/990X The long-awaited PL-990/990X is here and my radio just arrived. Opening the box and handling the radio revealed a beautifully designed solid brick of a radio. Of course I will compare it to its apparent predecessor PL-880 and put it through the full range of tests to see how well it performs….full report coming soon at https://radiojayallen.com/

Tecsun PL-990/990X

The original post I sent earlier today had an incorrect model number so it has been corrected in this repost – I apologize for the error.

Jay

Tecsun PL-990/990X The long-awaited PL-990/990X is here and my radio just arrived. Opening the box and handling the radio revealed a beautifully designed solid brick of a radio. Of course I will compare it to its apparent predecessor PL-880 and put it through the full range of tests to see how well it performs….full report coming soon at https://radiojayallen.com/

Degen Mini AM/FM Earbud Radio

The Degen DE-115 is among the least expensive and the smallest (less than 2” tall) AM/FM earbud radios I have tested, costing $23.99 plus shipping from Anon-co.com and a few dollars more on eBay. In spite of its relatively low price many users have given the radio high praise with some claiming it is as good as any radio in this category…a strong claim. I was of course anxious to compare it with my reference earbud radios…and I have several, to see just how good it is.

Read the Degen DE-115 review:

Jay Allen

AM & FM Mega Shootout 2020 Updates

It’s a Holiday Weekend here in the US but for all of my readers everywhere I am excited to announce the 2020 Updates to two of the most read articles on the website – the AM and FM Mega Radio Shootouts. Every 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 helps support the purchase of new radios, antennas and accessories for review.

So here they are:

AM Mega Radio Shootout 2020 Update:

FM Mega Radio Shootout 2020 Update:

Thank You!

Jay Allen

 

Realistic DX-440/Sangean ATS-803A AM/LW/SW/FM Radio

Every now and then someone sends me a comment or asks me a question about a vintage radio that I’ve never seen or owned. There are so many of these that it is impossible to obtain all of them, but occasionally one seems to grab my attention, either because I’ve read about it and known about it for years or simply because it occupies a unique niche in portable radio history and seems to hold a special place in many people’s hearts. One such radio is Radio Shack’s Realistic DX-440/Sangean ATS-803A from the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

What Makes the DX-440/ATS-803A so special and how does it perform compared with other vintage radios and today’s portables? All will be revealed in the Realistic DX-440/Sangean ATS-803A Review.   (

Jay Allen       radiojayallen@gmail.com

Sangean PR-D9W AM/FM/Weather Radio

The Sangean PR-D9W is the size of a paperback book, and features standard AM, FM and NOAA Weather band reception with Alerts. It is currently selling for about $56 on Amazon.

Sangean has several radios at approximately this price point, each has its own merits and features. We’ll check out the PR-D9W for reception, sound and ease of use and, in addition we’ll compare it with the same-riced yet quite different PR-D7 to see what Sangean’s focus is with these two radios.

Read The Sangean PR-D9W Review: 

Jay Allen

Sangean WR-16/WR-16 SE AM/FM Table Radio

Sangean WR-16/WR-16SE 45th Anniversary Special Edition

The WR-16 and deluxe version WR-16SE continue Sangean’s long-respected line of wooden tabletop radios with upgraded technology. The radios are identical in all regards except the 45th Anniversary Special Edition features enhanced cosmetics.

Although they tune like analog radios and feature a smooth tuning knob with an attractive analog dial scale they are in fact PLL digitally tuned and offer Bluetooth connectivity to let you stream audio from your smart phone or other Bluetooth audio source, a USB charging jack to charge an external device, the ability to use internal or external AM and FM antennas, Aux In, Record Out and Headphone jacks and the ability to operate either on AC or 12 volts DC.

If there’s a table top radio in your future join me and the WR-16SE for a test drive to see how well it performs.

Read The Sangean WR-16/WR-16SE Review

Jay Allen  radiojayallen@gmail.com

Sears Silvertone 800 – Models 6223-6224-6225

(And a look at a completely different Silvertone 800 as well).

I haven’t owned more than one or two Sears portables over the years and Sears is not a brand I have read much about in regards to transistor radios, so I was pretty much starting out with zero knowledge, trying to piece together as much information as I could from the internet.

I quickly discovered that Sears used the name “Silvertone 800” and Silvertone 900 for many different radios over the years. Silvertone 800/900 seems to have always applied to their top performing AM portable radios with tuned RF stages and 8 or more transistors. I also found that Silvertone 700 radios lacked the rf stage and had fewer than 8 transistors, and there was a smaller Silvertone 600 Series Sears Silvertone 800 – Models 6223 (Tan) – 6224 (Olive Green) – 6225 (Black)

as well. I acquired two distinct Silvertone 800’s but there were many others over the years.

This article will focus on a 10-transistor design made around 1966 and comprising three models: 6223/4/5 in different cabinet colors

How good were Sears best portable radios? Read the Silvertone 800 Review:

Jay Allen

Retekess/TIVDIO V-111 AM/LW/SW/FM Stereo Radio with DSP

TIVDIO V-111

Retekess V-111

The Retekess V-111 (and the seemingly identical TIVDIO V-111) are DSP designs featuring AM/LW/SW/FM Stereo reception with most of the usual digital features such as 100 Memories, Clock. Alarm and a Sleep Timer. You even get a pair of stereo earbuds…all for only $11.99 (from Amazon US . I also found the same radio as “Used But Like New” under the TIVDIO brand for $9.49 from a third party seller also at Amazon, and the radio did appear as a new one…it still had the plastic protector sheet covering the display for example. A Later check on this version showed it as Currently Unavailable.

But what kind of multi-band performance and earbuds can you get for $11.99? Is this a possible new value leader or just a so-so cheapie? Read the Retekess/TIVDIO V-111 Review: 

https://wp.me/P1wpLu-1bA

See it at Amazon:   https://amzn.to/2UEV1IT

Jay Allen    https://radiojayallen.com/

Retekess V111 / TIVDIO V111 AM/SW/FM Stereo Radio

Retekess V111TVIDIO V111The Retekess V111 (and the seemingly identical TIVDIO V111) are DSP designs featuring AM/SW/FM Stereo reception with most of the usual digital features such as 100 Memories, Clock. Alarm and a Sleep Timer. You even get a pair of stereo earbuds…all for the princely sum of $11.99 (from Amazon US . I also found the same radio as “Used But Like New” under the TIVDIO brand for $9.49 from a third party seller also at Amazon, and the radio did appear as a new one…it still had the plastic protector sheet covering the display for example.

But what kind of multi-band performance and earbuds can you get at $9.49 or $11.99? Is this a possible new value leader or just a so-so cheapie? Review coming soon at:

https://radiojayallen.com/

Sangean CP-100 Retro-styled AM/FM Radio with Bluetooth

I must admit that I didn’t know quite what to make of the CP-100 when I first saw it on Sangean’s website. The design resembles the horn speakers of vintage acoustic wind-up 78 record players and I had to have the radio in my hands before I understood what it is. In brief, the horn is an elegant design for an acoustic port to augment the bass response of the front-firing speaker. In this case, Sangean decided to use the port to create a retro look that harks back to the days of wind-up Victrolas, and I must say the CP-100 will elicit comments from your friends who see it. But how well does it actually perform?

Read The Sangean CP-100 Review:

See it at Amazon: 

Jay Allen

 Retekess TR608 AM/FM/SW/Airband Portable Radio

Another new model from newcomer Retekess, the TR608 is an inexpensive, travel-sized, digital multi-band portable at a relatively low price of $39.99 (via Amazon as of January 2020). It covers MW (AM), SW, FM and Air band and has a large, bright display. So, what can today’s technology give you for $40?

Read the Retekess TR608 Review

See it at Amazon

Jay Allen 

TECSUN AN-48x AM/LW/SW Active Loop Antenna

An inexpensive new antenna from Tecsun ($27.99 plus shipping from https://www.anon-co.com/product/tecsun-an48x-antenna has just hit the market and after using the antenna over a period of many days and with several different radios I’ve figured out its strengths and weaknesses. It offers unusual connection flexibility and I found several cases where reception was indeed improved, but at other times the results were less spectacular. Knowing the behavior and quirks of this antenna are key to getting the most out of it and I think that as much as some users will dislike its fussy tuning behavior others will find it an inexpensive way to learn the advantages of a remotely placed loop antenna. Is it for you?

Read the Tecsun AN-48x Loop Antenna Review

Jay Allen 

 

 

The RCA Globe Trotters: Radio’s Unsung Heroes

RZG133E Globe Trotter

RCA Victor’s line of Globe Trotter radios has to be among the longest running of any product nameplate in radio history. It stretches at least as far back as 1933 and continued into the 70’s. My first (and one of my favorite) models was an RZG133E circa 1969 given to me by a friend who owned several of them and told me it was one of his better-performing AM radios. I already had an older Globe Trotter model 7-BX-L8 tube type as well as a 1-T-1J and a 1962 model 3-RG-81, all in unrestored condition. I later acquired a few other models of this series and restored an RLG34T which is another excellent transistorized model.

The Globe Trotter series of radios is also unusual in that it originally ran the gamut of console, table and portable tube and solid-state models with band configurations ranging from AM-only to sophisticated multi-band radios. Later on, in the tube era and continuing into the transistor models, the name continued to be applied to RCA’s best performing AM portable radios.

We’ll take a look at several of these radios in words and pictures and describe the design and  performance of two representative transistorized models.

Read the RCA Globetrotters Article: 

Jay Allen    radiojayallen@gmail.com

CC-3 Post Had Wrong Picture

I attached the wrong picture to the post I just sent about the CC radio-3…here is the correct photo. I apologize for the confusion.

Jay

C. Crane CC- Radio 3

CC Radio 3 – AM/FM/Weather/2 Meter Ham Band Radio With Bluetooth

CC Radio 2E (Same Radio Without Bluetooth)

Crane has released the new upgrade to the still available CC-2E – it is the CC-3. I was lucky enough to receive an early production sample of this radio but it is now in regular production and it has become my new daily player. It is truly excellent – in fact, it is identical in performance to the still available CC-2E which means it ranks as ***** in both my AM and FM Mega Shootout articles,

https://radiojayallen.com/am-portables-mega-shootout-2019-update/

https://radiojayallen.com/fm-portables-mega-shootout/

except it has added Bluetooth capability. I have learned from the company that it is indeed the same radio as the CC-2E with Bluetooth added so now you have a choice. The CC-2E will continue to be available for $169.99 while the CC-3 will set you back $199.

Read the CC-3/CC-2E Review:

Jay Allen

Retekess TR604 AM/FM Portable Radio

The TR604 is not a great radio. I’m not sure I can even call it a good radio. But for less than $30 is there any reason to own one? Maybe, but you’ll have to decide based on its features versus its operating quirks.

Read The Retekess TR604 Review:

Jay Allen

Sangean PR-D12 AM/FM/Weather Alert Radio

The new PR-D12 from Sangean continues their tradition of quality in the world of portable and tabletop radios. Rather unassuming in appearance, the PR-D12 receives AM/FM and NOAA Weather Band frequencies and offers the Weather Alert feature which can be a lifesaver if you are in an area threatened by dangerous weather conditions.  We’ll check it out, compare it with some reference radios and see how well it performs.

Read The Sangean PR-D12 Review:

Jay Allen

Sangean PR-D17 AM/FM Radio for the Visually Impaired

When Sangean asked if I was interested in testing a new AM/FM portable radio they were introducing, designed specifically for the visually impaired, I envisioned something a bit less than what I received. I expected a radio with bright knobs, braille and other raised labels on the major controls and a large, bright display, along with simplified menus for initial set up and use.

I was pleasantly surprised that what I received was so much more. This radio speaks to you in its own voice telling you which button you have pressed and what the status is, such as, “Power On – AM Band – 100% Battery Level – AM Eight Eight Zero (880)”.

Aside from its special qualities the PRD-17 is also a winning performer. Read the Sangean PR-D17 review:

Jay Allen

 

Eton Radios On Sale At Amazon

Executive Traveler

Elite Traveler

Eton Elite Models Summer/Fall 2019

Eton is revamping their lineup of radios with the new Elite designation and with a new flagship Satellit which is promised for November. That radio externally resembles the former and very highly-regarded E1 and should be an excellent performer.

Eton’s popular multi-band radios will now be named Elite – the new model lineup,  now available, includes the Elite Mini, Elite Traveler, Elite Executive (formerly the Satellit Executive Edition) and the Elite Field (formerly the Field BT).

In my review of the new Elite Executive  I discovered it is identical in every respect to the previous version the Executive Satellit except for the case color. This is currently my travel radio of choice and is highly recommended. More great news – all of the older models are now available at Amazon at great savings.

I suspect the other Elite models, like the Elite Executive, will be identical to the previous versions. So those older versions are great values at their currently discounted prices.

Check out this article for details and links – grab the deals while they last!

Jay Allen

OOOPS! Here’s the link

I forgot to include a link to the new review – here it is.

CC-3/CC-2E Review

Jay

C. Crane CC-3/CC-2E AM/FM/Weather/2 Meter Ham Band Radios

CC Radio 3 – AM/FM/Weather/2 Meter Ham Band Radio With Bluetooth

CC Radio 2E (Same Radio Without Bluetooth)

Crane has announced their upcoming CC-3. I was lucky enough to receive an early production sample of this radio and it has become my new daily player. It is truly excellent – in fact, it is identical in operation and performance to the still available CC-2E which means it ranks as ***** in both my AM and FM Mega Shootout articles,

https://radiojayallen.com/am-portables-mega-shootout-2019-update/

https://radiojayallen.com/fm-portables-mega-shootout/

Jay Allen

Eton Elite Executive AM/FM/Air Radio With RDS

Eton Elite Executive

As of Summer 2019 Eton has revamped their lineup of multiband radios with the new Elite Designation and in addition a November introduction is promised for the new flagship Elite Satellit. Their multiband portables will now be named Elite – the new model lineup includes the Elite Mini, Elite Traveler, Elite Executive (formerly the Satellit Executive Edition) and Elite Field (most recently the Field BT). The upcoming Elite Satellit externally resembles the former and very highly-regarded E1 and as I am a big fan of the E1 I am eager to see the new one when it is available, but the other new models are available now so I ordered the new Elite Executive to see how it compares with the earlier versions.

Read The Elite Executive Review:

Jay Allen

Reader’s Questions

Thanks for being a subscriber to Email Updates from radiojayallen.com

I have just finished updating and expanding the Reader’s Questions Page:

I hope you will find some interesting reading there and please feel free to send me any radio-related questions you have…I try to answer all emails and save the ones of widest interest for the Questions page.

Jay

 

RADIWOW R-108 FM Stereo/LW/SW/MW/AIR/DSP Portable Radio

For those of us who follow the market of old and new radios, the arrival of the Radiwow R-108 was somewhat of a surprise. Nothing to do with the little radio itself, but rather how it came to be in the first place. It’s not a bad little performer, but it has a colorful backstory.

 

Read the Radiwow R-108 Review 

Jay Allen

Panasonic RF-562D Retro Design AM-FM-SW Portable Radio

The Panasonic RF-562D is one of the more interesting, relatively inexpensive new radios I’ve discovered recently…I found mine on Amazon for $48.99. It offers a leather-like carrying case which allows you to use the radio while in the case…something almost all radios used to offer in the good old days. It is also one of the few remaining true analog radios being made today with no DSP (Digital Processing) chip. As such it has both strengths and weaknesses and it depends on exactly what you want to listen to whether you will love or hate it. But in today’s market place it may be a one-of-a-kind radio from Panasonic, one of the truly iconic names in analog radios of days gone by.

Read The Panasonic RF-562D Review: 

Jay Allen

AM Portables 2019 Update

It’s Here! The AM Portables Mega Shootout 2019 Update has just been posted. This is one of the most comprehensive performance ratings of portable AM radios anywhere and for 2019 dozens of new models have been added. I have carefully tested every one of these myself with the emphasis on actual performance, not just features, plus more radios are in house. Their reviews are on the way and will be added in the coming weeks and months. New entries include new models in current production and some vintage radios I have acquired over the past year.

In addition, I am continually re-evaluating many of the classics and have made subtle adjustments to some of their relative rankings. Although these rankings are based primarily on AM performance, I have added more comments regarding FM and SW performance to give a clearer picture of how particular radios compare overall.

Read the new AM Portables Mega Shootout 2019 Update

As always feel free to email me with questions or comments:

Jay Allen

Sangean DT-800 AM/FM/Weather Pocket Portable Radio

The Sangean DT-800 is Sangean’s new top of the line Walkman-style radio and it is another winner. I’ve owned several Sangean earbud portables from the earlier DT-200 and DT-400W to the newer DT-160 and DT-210 and have found them to be excellent performers, particularly the newer DT 160 and DT-210 models, both of which are excellent, but the DT-800 tops the list with some added features and a better built-in speaker than usual in these Walkman-style radios which are meant primarily for headphone use.

Read The Sangean DT-800 Review:

Jay Allen

Panasonic RF-2400D AM/FM Radio

The Panasonic RF-2400D is an upgrade to the original RF-2400 and is externally identical to the first version. It is available in silver or black and has a street price the same as the original at about $30.

The RF-2400 generated lots of interest because of the Panasonic name. Definitely a no-frills set the RF-2400D is a basic AM/FM portable radio with a pleasing retro look and a large slide rule tuning dial. At its price it offers good utility where maximum performance is not needed nor expected. Controls are basic – and it is a cute little radio with a convenient folding carry handle which also acts as a support to rest the radio at an angle if so desired.

Regarding the updates from the RF-2400 to the RF-2400D one could assume the “D” means DSP…I did not try to confirm nor deny that, but it does tune like a DSP/analog design with discreet steps as you tune. For me the proof of the pudding is to see how this new model performs and how it compares with the original version. So let’s find out!

Read the Panasonic RF-2400D Review:

Jay Allen

Sangean HDT-20 AM/FM/HD Tuner

The HDT-20 is one of very few component HD tuners currently available, with an average street price around $155 it is the only component HD tuner anywhere near its price. With the popular Sony XDR-F1HD discontinued, Day Sequerra is the primary alternative and their models begin at ten times the price of the HDT-20.

Every HD radio I have tested previously has been either a portable or table model and although most of these can feed an audio output to an external amplifier, none were created as a true component designed to be used as an audio source for an external audio system. But exactly what are the specific advantages of a component style HD tuner compared with a stand-alone radio?

The HDT-20 is designed to easily interface with any home audio or audio/video setup with standard RCA Line Out jacks along with SPDIF Optical and Digital outputs for maximum connection flexibility. It’s large front panel and clear controls make it easy to master and use. And theoretically a component may be designed for maximum performance compared with table or portable models which stress convenience over ultimate quality.

I’ll put the HDT-20 through its paces and see just how well it does.

Read the Sangean HDT-20 Tuner Review

See It At Amazon:

Jay Allen

 

Eton Field BT – A Good Radio Gets Better

As of December 2018 the Eton Field BT has been upgraded and is somewhat improved over the originally released version. I can’t tell you just when these improvements took place but you can identify the new model by the fact that the words “Grundig Edition” have been removed from the front panel…the newest version simply says Field BT at the top right. Otherwise the radios are externally identical.

The original release was a top performer and a great bargain in almost every way, with excellent FM and SW reception and great sound. But there was a serious problem with the AM band…at the top end of the band the volume of weaker stations dropped way down to the point where I could receive almost nothing. It was so bad I assumed it was defective so I bought a second sample – the second unit was a hair better, but not enough for me to keep the radio.

Now Eton has upgraded the ‘BT. The new version does perform better than those two older ones so I have updated the review to reflect the changes.

Read The Updated Field BT Review:

Jay Allen

Pocket AM/FM Portables

Pocket Radios Under $20  

Degen DE797 – Kaito – KA-210 – Tecsun R-233 Vondior 926

 

And a comparison with other models from the original Pocket Portables review still available including the Kaito KA-200/Degen DE-333, Sangean SR-35 and Sony ICF-P26.

 

It’s been a while since I compared pocket-size portable radios. Since then some models have unfortunately disappeared but many new ones have appeared. These small radios will fit into a large pocket but they still vary considerably in size with some literally half the size of others, so choose accordingly. As a group they remind me of the old “transistor radios” we all carried with us in the 50’s and 60’s. Of course, today’s pocket sets bear no internal relationship with those all-analog sets of old.

The most interesting thing I found is how much these pocket radios vary in their areas of strengths and weaknesses and there’s no way to know which are best on AM or FM reception or which sound best without comparing them to each other. Some are better on AM, others are better on FM, and some have more balanced sound than others.  While no one expects top grade performance from a $10 to $20 pocket portable, picking the right one can make all the difference depending on what is important to you. And one new Chinese offering is an obvious copy of a very popular Sony model which is now discontinued. How does the clone perform compared with the original? I was frankly surprised and think you’ll find the results interesting.

Read the Pocket Portables Review

Jay Allen

XHTATA D-808 AM/FM/SW/SSB/Airband Portable Radio

The XHDATA D-808 was born as a result of the sometimes strange state of affairs in Chinese manufacturing today. The story goes that it was derived from the Redsun-designed C. Crane Skywave SSB. In China today there seems to be no protection from theft of intellectual properly…there is no patent protection. Presumably to prevent conflicts with US-based C. Crane the D-880 cannot be sold directly to the US but it is now available here on eBay shipped via Tel Aviv. It is based on the same Silicon labs DSP Chip as the Skywave yet has several differences. It omits the NOAA Weather Band of the Skywave but adds FM RDS. It also is built into a slightly larger cabinet which allows improved sound quality and a larger AM ferrite rod antenna.

We’ll put the XHDATA thorough its paces and compare it directly with the Skywave SSB and several competing travel-sized radios.

Read the XHDATA D-808 Review:

 

Jay Allen

C. Crane Updates Their New CC-EP-Pro

Left: CC-EP-Pro Right: Original CC-EP

           This Is An Addendum To The Original Review  –  August 31, 2018

I have just received the latest update of the CC-EP-Pro and it has been improved over the original model. You can identify it by the presence of an additional slide switch on the rear panel beneath the Ext/Int Antenna switch, and it is labelled 9K/10KHz.

 

9L/10K Switch Has been Added

The addition of the 9K/10K switch allows the radio to be used in countries where 9K spacing is used. That is all well and good, but as they say…”Wait…there’s more!”

There are two other enhancements which further improve the CC-EP-Pro…read the Revised Review here.

Jay Allen

Degen DE29-Kaito KA29 AM/FM/SW Radio with MP3 Record & Play

Although not a new model on the market I wanted to try one of these because I was looking for one specific capability which none of my other small mp3 player offers – the ability to scan forward or backward within a track. All the portable players I have seen (and I’ve seen a few nice ones) only let you select a track – none let you search or scan within a track. This is a big problem when listening to half hour Old Time Radio shows which is what I often use my player for. The DE29/KA29 does offer this feature so I bought one to check out. Currently $36 at Amazon let’s see how much Degen/Kaito have packed into this cute little box. I also uncovered an undocumented feature that could be crucial.

 

Read The Degen DE29/Kaito KA29 Review:

Jay Allen

Cuthbert FM To AM Converter

Cuthbert FM to AM Converter MKII  $59.99

The Cuthbert FM to AM Converter lets you listen to FM stations or an external audio source on an AM-only radio. It consists of an FM tuner connected to a low power AM transmitter. Tune in your favorite FM station on the Converter and rebroadcast it as an AM signal to any nearby AM radio. As far as I know this is the only such unit available today. I’ll check one out and describe how it performs.

Read The Cuthbert FM To AM Converter Review:

Jay Allen

 

Sangean HDR-14 Compact AM/FM Stereo HD Radio With RDS

Sangean HDR-14 AM/FM Stereo HD Radio

The Sangean HDR-14 is a small, travel-sized AM/FM portable radio offering HD and RDS reception. As far as I know this is the smallest radio to offer both AM and FM HD at this size and at a street price of $79.99 ($99.95 list price) it is a bargain to boot. We’ll put it through tis paces and see how it compares with its larger brother HDR-16 and other HD portables.

Read The Sangean HDR-14 Review

Jay Allen

Cuthbert 6 Channel/3 Band Audio Compressor

If you are a home broadcasting enthusiast you have probably been disappointed that your personal “radio stations”, while being lots of fun, never sound quite as good as the professional stations. Of course, the transmitters themselves have limitations but one of the biggest differences is in the audio processing ahead of them. Radio stations use very sophisticated, expensive audio processors, such as Orban’s Optimod line which are way beyond the reach of home hobby broadcasters. Now, the Cuthbert 6 Channel/3 Band Audio Compressor, which was pattered after the Optimod, brings the home user surprisingly close to that level of performance for $159. My single word description for it is “Amazing”!

Read The Cuthbert 6 Channel/3 Band Audio Compressor Review

Jay Allen

Cuthbert AM Stereo C-Quam Transmitter

Top: Cuthbert AM Stereo C-Quam Transmitter Bottom: 6 Channel/3 Band Compressor

Cuthbert – An Affordable New Home AM Transmitter

As a lifelong professional and home hobby broadcaster I was excited to learn of a new kid on the block, the Cuthbert AM Transmitter. You can find this and other electronics goodies Sean sells on eBay if you search “AM Stereo Transmitter” – his seller name is sean-jcil. Sean graciously sent me his AM Stereo C-Quam model for evaluation and I found it to be a very cool addition to my home setup. But how well does it stack up to my long-reigning reference AM Transmitter?

Read The Cuthbert AM Stereo C-Quam Transmitter Review:

(A full review of the audio compressor is coming soon).

Jay Allen

Sangean WR-7 Mini Bluetooth Radio with FM

The good folks at Sangean US sent me one of their newest goodies a few weeks ago, the little WR-7 and I haven’t wanted to put it down since I opened the box. I didn’t appreciate how tiny this unit is but its high-tech speaker will amaze you with how much powerful sound it can pour out. ..the WR-7 has a fullness of sound that belies its small size and I find myself marveling at how well I can hear the bass lines of my favorite songs. FM reception was also a pleasant surprise and the Bluetooth function worked flawlessly.

Read The Sangean WR-7 Review

Jay Allen

C. Crane CC-EP Pro AM/FM Analog-tuned Radio

The CC EP-Pro is set to be released May 15th. This new version of the now-classic CC-EP looks externally exactly like the original model, the only give-aways are the very slightly lighter color and the EP Pro label on the front. But inside the EP Pro is all new…a completely different circuit design, and in the important areas of performance – AM/FM reception and sound quality, it is a definite step forward. The EP Pro is not perfect…no radio is. There are a few tips and tricks you need to know in order to coax the best performance this new radio is capable of, and we’ll discuss those in detail in the CC EP-Pro Review.

Jay Allen

Sony ICF-2010/2001D Addendum

I have been advised that the Steve Whitt Archive CD I mentioned in the review is still available at this link:

http://www.mwcircle.org/member_cds.htm

The CD contains his original two booklets as well as a treasure trove of additional info on this radio – if you are interested in the 2010 you will find a wealth of useful information here and I recommend itg highly.

Jay