Troy reviews the Audiomax SRW-710S

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Troy Riedel, for the following guest post:


A Mini-Review of the Audiomax SRW-710S

by Troy Riedel

Why would someone want a sub-$20 shortwave radio? Wait … I guess I should be answering questions & not asking them, right? But I’ll give you my answer to “why I want a sub-$20 shortwave radio”: I have many nice radios, but I wanted one that I consider “disposable”. I define “disposable” as something I won’t be upset if I lose, get it splattered with paint, or leave it outside only to get rained on. Taking the family of four to the movies nowadays costs upwards of $100 (the three ladies I live with can really throw-down pop & popcorn!) so a sub-$20 radio, even a “disposable one”, is a true bargain.

I have seen the SRW-710S badged under three different names: Audiomax, VITE and TIVDIO. There very well may be other badging. I paid $18.52 for my Audiomax badged device direct from a vendor in China. I’ve subsequently seen it as low as $13 on eBay and as much as $37 on Amazon. So much for a sub-$20 radio, huh?

The SRW-710S comes with only a USB charging cable in the box to recharge the Li-ion BL-5C battery (no earbuds, no case or pouch – just a very simple set of basic instructions). The 710S features a small LCD screen that offers menus in three languages: English, Spanish & Chinese.

The screen greets you with “welcome” (lowercase) when turning it on & “Bye Bye!” when you power-off. There is a Sleep Timer function that I have yet to use. All of the ports are on the right side of the unit (nothing on the left). It has a TF Flashcard Slot – no card provided – for recording off the radio & for playing pre-loaded mp3 & wma files from the flashcard.

It has 100 memories, a Line-In port, a built-in mic, and a headphone port. There is no ANT-In port. This radio has AM, FM & SW (no LW) with the appropriate international tuning steps. Lastly, there is no folding stand on the back (one is provided and is attached to the wrist strap – it is inserted into a small slot just above the battery cover).

One Chinese web site listed the SRW-710S as having an “AKC6951 DSP chip”. Until now, I had never heard of this DSP chip and I frankly know nothing about it. Maybe some more informed readers can comment?

Operation is easy (except for one quirk that I will detail later). There are two rows of numbers for direct input of a frequency. Simply input the frequency … and then wait (there is an approximate 3-5 second delay from input to the radio actually tuning to the frequency … I am still getting used to this pregnant pause). You also have an option of tuning directly to a meter-band.

Of course, there is no SSB for this low price.

The one speaker is a bit “tinny” but adequate (stereo via user-supplied earbuds). And considering the price point, the RF shielding isn’t too bad. I can actually use the shortwave band of this radio in my kitchen and breakfast nook (I cannot say that for my more expensive receivers).

The biggest limiting factor in reception is the size of the telescopic antenna (15.5”). However, for its size I am quite impressed (it’s exponentially better than the old Grundig G2000A Porsche that has a 21.25” antenna – but that radio is notorious as needing a reel antenna). Just via the telescopic whip, I can actually tune the major broadcasters to NA (e.g., Radio Romania), I can adequately tune to the VOA 15.580 MHz signal to Africa during the North American East Coast AFTN, and the time signals are easily audible (of course, frequency appropriate for the time of day).

I do not plan to open the radio’s chassis, but AM reception seems to be limited due to the obvious small size of the ferrite antenna (the radio itself is essentially palm-sized, approximately 4.75” x 3” & less than 1” thick). My postal scale indicates it weighs 5.5 – 6 ounces including the battery. The radio must be propped to support it when attaching the telescoping whip to a Slinky Antenna (even the weight of the Slinky’s alligator clip causes balance problems)
One quirk I have found: there is a “Lock” key. However, it only seems to lock the radio power “on” (locks are used to lock the power “off” during transport so the power remains off and the battery doesn’t drain). The “Lock” feature is not discussed in the instructions and at present I have not figured-out if this switch works in the traditional way. I find this to be quite amusing because it’s either an odd quirk or I’m just not smart enough to intuitively figure it out.

I am quite satisfied with my new “disposable” $18.52 Shortwave Radio (I have no information whether the quality I have considered is consistent through a production run or between badging). For those who wish to listen to a local AM or FM station – or listen to one of the “major” shortwave broadcasters with a booming signal into your part of the world – you can’t beat it for this price point. I can see myself using this radio while I complete outdoor household repairs or while cleaning-up the garage. Too bad it’s so close to Christmas, this would make a great stocking stuffer to introduce someone, young or old, to the world of shortwave.

Update: Searching for the SRW-710S

Note that the lowest prices omit the model number in eBay search results.

Click this link to search eBay for the SRW-710S on eBay. 

Scroll through search results to find a matching receiver.


Thank you, Troy, for mini-review of the SRW-710S! Like you, I have very low expectations from shortwave portables at this price point. Still…for the glove compartment of your vehicle, for outdoor listening, for small gifts? These fit the bill! I’m most impressed you could receive the number of stations you did from inside your home. 

25 thoughts on “Troy reviews the Audiomax SRW-710S

  1. Cap

    I have one of these, decent audio…SW is OK, FM receiver pretty hot though.
    Awkward tuning, no tuning knob, fine for direct access.
    Worth the money but may be better putting money towards a Tecsun PL-310ET.

    Reply
    1. Troy Riedel

      Hi Cap,

      Thanks much for chiming in. I’d like to offer a somewhat different, but respectful view & also agree at the same time.

      I don’t find the tuning to be awkward other than the pregnant pause after direct entry, Yes, no tuning “knob” but it does have up/down buttons (I didn’t mention in the min-review that the mp3 FFWD key advances the tuning & the REWIND key decreases the tuning). To me that’s basically a tuning knob … did I mention the sub-$20 price point? 🙂 And as mentioned, direct entry keys. I really like my Tecsun PL-365, but it’s size and function don’t really allow for the inclusion of direct tuning keys. Some may find tuning that to be awkward? Of course, you can always program frequencies into the memory – of any radio – to make it easier to “jump” ahead or behind. But I stress, I am not directly comparing the SRW-710S to a PL-365!

      I too like the Tecsun PL-310ET but to me there is no comparison because I do not consider the Tecsun PL-310ET to be “disposable”. I see a definite advantage to owning both for different reasons. Sort of like my diesel HD2500 pick-up truck and having a hybrid commuter vehicle for my wife’s 130-mile daily roundtrip work commute. Both fill a very specific niche/need in my household – she doesn’t take my diesel to work and I don’t take her hybrid to the local home center 😉

      But yes – if a person were to only buy one – either the Tecsun PL-310ET or the SRW 710-S – by all means I absolutely & 100% agree with your assessment that it would be better to put that $18 towards the better Tecsun PL-310ET!

      Thanks again,

      Troy

      Reply
    2. Troy Riedel

      Cap,

      BTW, if you know how to make the “Lock” key “lock” the radio [power] off, please let me know 🙂

      Thanks,

      Troy

      Reply
  2. Pedro J. Moreno

    Only cons is it doesn’t have neither clock or alarm to wake you up. True, it offers sleep timer, but that is all.

    Reply
    1. Troy Riedel

      Yes indeed Pedro. Thank you for pointing that out.

      I have about a dozen or so SW radios. If I need a clock … I use another.

      The SRW-710S offers a record feature, but I have other higher-end SW radios that I’m sure will do better. I don’t expect a $17-18 radio to provide high-fidelity 🙂 Again, I use another.

      But for paint splatter? To use at the telescope in the high-dew & high humidity of Virginia so I can monitor the time signal for accurately timed astronomical observations? Sure, this will be the one I choose.

      I routinely pay more for mediocre dinners out. This fits a niche I had low expectations but this radio definitely exceeded them.

      Thanks for posting!

      Troy

      Reply
  3. Phil B

    I found this radio on eBay for $17.50 and the shipping was a very reasonable $43.35 shipped from Mars (not the planet), PA.
    I bet these are just flying out the door!

    Reply
    1. Troy Riedel

      Wow Phil. $43.35!?

      Free shipping from most Chinese vendors for around the $17-$20 price point. Delivery will be approximately 25-30 days.

      Thanks for posting!

      Troy

      Reply
          1. Troy Riedel

            Thomas,

            There are other multiple search criteria on eBay that will reveal less expensive models of this radio.

            One is http://tinyurl.com/jdo79he

            Or search “mp3 shortwave radio” on eBay. This will show Buy it Now versions of this radio as low as $18.04 incl free shipping.

            I wish I could remember the other search criteria, but I know there should be multiple listings for around $13 & up.

            I hope this helps!

            Troy

          2. Troy Riedel

            Readers,

            Try this:

            http://tinyurl.com/zbu7uu9

            Scroll down and you will find it beginning at the $15 listings.

            Try various eBay searches using multiple keywords “mp3” … “SW” or “shortwave” … & even add “TF Card” to some searches. I know there are listings on eBay beginning around $13.xx

            You can Google it, too. You will find links directly to Chinese retailers. The site I bought mine from seems to change their price daily. It’s $19.49 today. Two days ago it was $17.xx. That website even offered a recent coupon for 5% off. The Chinese websites I checked always offer free shipping (3-4 weeks).

            This radio is not worth $40 as it is coming up on some of the searches. You can get is for much, much less.

            Troy

  4. Johan Janssens

    thanks Troy for a great review, love it. I’ve been an SWL since 1960, and own an extensive
    collection of SW receivers, from the sony World Orbiter (crf5090) up to the tecsun 660. cheap SW receivers are a special interest. as you can guess, no SDR’s for me! thanks again keep up the good work !
    Johan Janssens, Everberg, Belgium.

    Reply
    1. Troy Riedel

      Johan,

      Thank you for the very kind words, you are too kind! I’m envious of the Sony World Orbiter mate.

      I keep telling myself I do not need another receiver. Then something like this pops up and I say, “Oh, what the heck?”.

      Thanks again,

      Troy

      Reply
  5. Marc

    “the pregnant pause after direct entry”
    If you hit the play button after entering it a frequency, it switches immediately.

    Not sure how you can call the sound “tinny”. Maybe yours is defective. It is the nicest sounding small portable I have. It actually has some bass. It sounds much better on strong stations than my Tecsun PL-310ET and PL-380.

    I replaced the original battery with a larger capacity one from an old cell phone. Lasts much longer per charge now.

    Reply
    1. Troy Riedel

      Marc,

      Maybe “tinny” was a bit harsh!? But I’m spoiled by my other portable receivers (10 others plus this 1 makes 11). Of the 11 portables I own, this one has the tiniest speaker and thus arguably the worst sound of the 11. However … my intended point was that I would not expect high fidelity from a $19 radio and for the price point this is more than adequate.

      Thanks for the tip re: the pause … I’d still like to know if and how the “lock” is engaged to lock the radio power off. I haven’t had much time to play with it for many days so I’m still hoping to intuitively figure that one out b/c it’s not addressed in my set of instructions.

      Thanks for the comments,

      Troy

      Reply
  6. Chuck E

    I also have the Audiomax version of this radio…I mini-reviewed it on Amazon. Overall I’m very pleased…the stand is a nice touch, and yes, I can also listen to the stronger SW stations on mine. The recording feature is a huge draw for me…I collect recordable radios and am waiting for a really high-quality one to show up on the market. Thanks for bringing everyone’s attention to this fun radio!

    Reply
  7. Mike from Toronto

    ….can someone tell ME something, which we have been wondering about for a very long time! How do these new (DSP) radios ( 310et, Sangean 909x, Tecsun 606, etc.) compare with the radios of OLD…..eg Zenith Royal 7000, some Grundig 200 , Panasonic RF 2200?…….mechanically these new radio, cannot compete with the mechanically solid ones of the 1970’s, but overall, how would the newer compare? …we can’t go back to the ’70’s and purchase those older radios!……………….rsvp

    Reply
    1. DanH

      The Sangean ATS-909X is heavily built. I haven’t seen a stronger built multi-band portable on the current market. The newer radios don’t have as many moving parts to break, especially in the tuner. I sometimes get better reception of weak SW signals in noisy band conditions with the 909X than with my well-maintained Hammarlund SP-600. This happened last night listening to the BBC on 7445 kHz at 0500 UTC. Good DSP is a valuable feature. All of these radios have their strengths and weaknesses and should be evaluated individually. The 909X really needs an external antenna to perform at its best on SW.

      Reply
    2. Pedro J. Moreno

      Excellent question. I would also love to hear knowledge comments about this…. even not as far as the 70’s but what about the 80’s or 90’s…. sensitivity MW, LW…..

      Reply
    3. Phil B

      An excellent question. The older radios were mostly use at a time when there was a lot more activity on the SW bands and better care given to the broadcast stations along with higher power. This was during a time when SW radio was still viable world-wide and broadcasts were ongoing throughout the day and night.
      I remember those times.
      In my opinion the radios of today are much better than their predecessors but in order to compare them fairly you would need to be able to take the newer rigs back in time. Back to the time when SW was big and stations and their programming were abundant. In that way you could compare older to newer and feature to feature in a much broader spectrum from many more different sources and frequencies.

      Reply
        1. R. Stevense.

          The chip has more possibilities than the radio uses as you can see in the above PDF. Interesting question is the possibility of adjusting the software of this marvelous radio.

          Reply
  8. Pingback: Tom reviews the Tivdio V-115 | The SWLing Post

  9. Cirrus

    I got my710S on Monday. After charging the battery I turned it on. It defaulted to Chinese. Does anyone know how to get it be in English. I can’t read the dialogs in the radio’s window to figure out how to change the settings.

    Reply

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