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. More on that later.

I learned of this radio due to an Amazon pop-up in my email advertising the V117 for $9.99 whereas it normally sells for $15.99 – $17.99 depending on the day. (By the way that Amazon ad is uncharacteristically inaccurate. It describes the radio as having two bands while it has three and it quotes SW coverage as 8 – 10 MHz but it covers approximately 8-18 MHz). For $9.99 I could hardly pass it up. A few days later it arrived and I quickly had it up and running for some quick tests. It is a palm-sized mini radio which is very easy to carry around but it sounds amazingly full and natural and in fact, better than some more pricey radios which are a bit larger. Of course, there is no tone control and no variable bandwidths yet even without them the little V117 sounds just fine for typical AM or FM listening…a big point in its favor.

As for reception, first the good. AM sensitivity is not bad at all. Suburban grade signals are received loud and clear on the Retekess and are pleasant to listen to. Even weaker out of town signals came in surprisingly well and better than some pricier earbud-only portables. In fact, I expected a larger internal antenna than the 2” ferrite rod I found inside but nevertheless the V117 is not too shabby on AM. There is a bit of audio muting below a certain signal level but the volume reduction is not too severe and it only affects fairly weak signals. As the signal rises above this threshold the volume pops back in. Not a big problem for this class of radio but something to be aware of. At night with the AM band full of signals the V117 sometimes had trouble separating competing stations which I could tune in on better radios but again, for the price, it is not bad at all.

FM too was reasonably good with decent sensitivity and selectivity. While not a DXer by any means you’ll have no problems with your usual FM stations which will come in just fine. Again, for the money it’s hard to beat. Correction…it’s hard to even match.

2″ Ferrite Rod

If I have to say anything negative about the V117 at all it would be the SW band. The main issue is that it only covers roughly 8 – 18 MHz, so here in the US it is not that useful at night when most SW reception is in the lower frequency bands. In the daytime you can scan the SW band and hear very little although using a digital radio as a spotter I did locate some weaker signals which I could then find on the V117 but you have to tune very slowly and critically. There is also that muting threshold I mentioned in the AM discussion so while tuning very weak signals you can hear the audio drop below that threshold. I found that by moving the radio and placing my hand behind it for some antenna or counterpoise effects I could sometimes get the radio to stay above that threshold, but daytime SW reception is best described as weak and finnicky to tune. I tried a reel-up antenna clipped to the whip and that did help quite a bit in keeping signals above that threshold, but I would say that although I like this little radio for routine AM and FM listening it is not a SW lover’s radio. Perhaps in Europe with stronger daytime signals this would be different.

Conclusion: For $9.99 – $17.99 it’s hard to fault the Retekess V117 on AM and FM. Its reception is better than many other inexpensive radios I have tried and the sound is amazingly satisfying for such a small inexpensive radio. I don’t think many SW listeners will find this radio useful however, but with that in mind I can recommend the V117 as in inexpensive  little AM/FM carry-about portable.

January 2021

Jay Allen

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