Category Archives: Shortwave Radio Reviews

The diminutive but brilliant Sony ICF-SW100: a few autumn/winter DX catches

Hi there, I posted an article on this brilliant little radio a few months ago because it had demonstrated a level of performance way beyond my expectations. Notwithstanding it’s incredibly small size the DX results I obtained with it were beyond my ICF-SW55 and up there with the iconic ICF-2001D. Armed with synchronous detection, selectable side bands, SSB, CW and sensitivity seemingly boyond it’s tiny form factor I can’t recommend this radio highly enough.

 

Originally introduced into the market in 1993 and discontinued in 2005, the ICF-SW100 won’t ever be repeated – a point I made in my original post, but of course they are available on eBay and prices remain robust for what is now essentially a vintage receiver. Unfortunately, I don’t get to use my ICF-SW100 very much as I have various other receivers and have been involved in antenna building/testing and MW DX for the past few months. However, on the couple of occasions when I have taken the Sony on a mini DXpedition, it’s resulted in some fine DX. As demonstrated in the examples below, Mali, Guinea, Alaska and Japan are amongst the more difficult signals to copy in Europe and yet the ICF-SW100 delivered them! Text links to reception videos on the Oxford Shortwave Log YouTube channel follow below and futher down you will find embedded videos. Thanks for reading/watching/listening and I wish you all great DX!



Clint Gouveia is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Clint actively publishes videos of his shortwave radio excursions on his YouTube channel: Oxford Shortwave Log. Clint is based in Oxfordshire, England.

Oxford Shortwave Log: Sony ICF-SW77 vs ICF-SW55 vs Tecsun PL-310ET

Hi there, I recently posted an article regarding a couple of recent DX catches with the Sony ICF-SW77 receiver and went on to explain the background to a multi-receiver test I had started conducting, comparing it with its stablemate of the time the ICF-SW55 and, just for the hell of it, a more modern, yet modest portable in the shape of the brilliant little Tecsun PL-310ET.                                                Sony ICF-SW77

The initial results confirmed the performance of the Sony receivers to be very similar and thus the justification for the original price delta of £100 in the UK to remain in question. The first target signals chosen and in the original post were ABC Northern Territories on 4835 kHz and Radio Mali on 9635 kHz.

Sony ICF-SW55                                                        Tecsun PL-310ET

The initial results reinforced my view that the PL-310ET is a great portable for relatively small money; it managed to copy both signals, something you might not expect from what is essentially a budget receiver.

Below are links to the next 6 reception videos on the Oxford Shortwave Log YouTube channel and once again, featuring all three radios. I have used two different antennas during the testing – a 75 metre longwire and the Wellbrook ALA1530 active loop, running on batteries. The accompanying text description to the videos indicates which antenna was used.

Although the PL-310ET clearly struggled with the more ‘hard-core’ DX signals amongst those detailed below, the fact is, for less than £40 in the UK (and I’m certain even less elsewhere), Tecsun have delivered us a portable radio that really is capable of real DX. With DSP, a number of audio bandwidth filter options and great sensitivity, it’s a winner for beginners to DXing and to ‘old hands’ who want a radio in their pocket when they take the dog for a walk for example (something I do all the time – you never know when you’re going to come across the next barbed wire fence!). As for the Sonys, well I’m still not convinced one way or the other that the £100 price delta on the original price of the ICF-SW77 was worth the money – the ICF-SW55 is pretty close to it in terms of delivering discernible audio across all of the below reception videos. I’d be interested in your views and note there will be a final posting on this 3-way receiver comparison to wrap things up. In the meantime, thanks for reading/watching/listening and I wish you good DX!

Enbedded videos follow below.

Clint Gouveia is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Clint actively publishes videos of his shortwave radio excursions on his YouTube channel: Oxford Shortwave Log. Clint is based in Oxfordshire, England.

Sony ICF-SW77: recent DX & comparing performance with the ICF-SW55 & Tecsun PL-310ET

Some of you might remember the extensive tests I conducted last August, comparing this great portable receiver against the model it was introduced to replace – and arguably one of the best-ever portables – the Sony ICF-2001D/ICF-2010. I conducted a back-to-back series of comparison tests at the very quiet wood in Oxfordshire I use for my DX’peditions, using the same antenna for both recievers – the excellent Wellbrook ALA1530 active loop. In total, I made fourteen reception videos comparing the ICF-2001D and ICF-SW77 and posted them to my Oxford Shortwave Log YouTube channel. Both receivers performed very well, delivering excellent reception on the Tropical Band and elsewhere on the shortwave spectrum, however, the ICF-2001D proved to be the clear winner, with what proved to be far superior synchronous detection.

But that wasn’t the end of the road for my ICF-SW77. It remains a very capable receiver (one of my all-time favourite portables) and one which I continue to use regularly. However, every now and then, it surprises me with something exceptional. Since conducting the tests against the ICF-2001D, the SW77 has brought in my best-ever indoor reception of Radio Verdad, Guatemala on 4054.8 kHz….and when I say best-ever, I really do mean it; the audio was significantly clearer than anything I had copied previously at home with the Elad. More recently, I copied Zambia NBC Radio 1 on 5915 kHz on a DX’pedition with a far superior signal to anything I’d previously heard, with any other reciever, including the ICF-2001D and the Elad FDM DUO. Some of this of course is down to short-term conditions of propagation, however, the SW77 continues to prove why it has such a loyal following and continues to command premium prices on eBay. Text links and embedded videos to both reception videos on Oxford Shortwave Log follow below:


Further to these recent catches, I promised some of my YouTube subscribers that I would conduct another, similar test with the ICF-SW77, but against it’s cheaper ‘sibling’ the ICF-SW55. A review at the time of the ICF-SW55’s introduction concluded that the price premium of the ICF-SW77 may not be justified since the performance of the two receivers was very similar, despite the SW55 lacking synchronous detection. As someone who has extensive experience with the SW55 out in the field – it was my mainstay DXpedition receiver for more than a year – I was just as interested as my subscribers in how these two vintage Sonys would measure up against each other. The lineage is all very obvious from their respective industrial designs, but the lack of Synchronous detection on the SW55 might have been the one element of functionality resulting in poorer performance, particularly in challenging band conditions and in the presence of adjacent channel QRM etc. To mix things up a little, I have also thrown the brilliant Tecsun PL-310ET into this test. Such a sensitive and selective receiver for less than £40, it has provided more surprises with regard to it’s performance than just about any other radio I’ve owned. How would the Tecsun compare to these two vintage, but high-end Sony portables? Stay tuned to find out! Two reception videos follow, using signals from ABC Northern Territories (4835 kHz) and Radio Mali (9350 kHz), with more to follow on Oxford Shortwave Log and a further posting on swling.com/blog. Thanks for watching/reading/listening.

Clint Gouveia is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Clint actively publishes videos of his shortwave radio excursions on his YouTube channel: Oxford Shortwave Log. Clint is based in Oxfordshire, England.

The brilliant little Tecsun PL-310ET: serious DXing on a budget – part 2

Hi there, here is part two of my original post containing various reception videos for the amazing Tecsun PL-310ET pocket shortwave receiver. I continue to be amazed at the sensitivity and selectivity of this rather modest and diminutive receiver, particularly at it’s price-point of around £40 in the UK and less elsewhere! Here is the second half of the reception videos, with some nice signals from Brazil, Guinea, Ethiopia, Swaziland and India. You might notice that some of these catches involve the use of a 240 metre (approx.) length of barbed wire fence! I’m not sure how beneficial the electrical properties of the fence were, probably somewhere between not great and not good lol, but some pretty decent DX was had with the PL-310ET attached to it via the external antenna socket and a crocodile clip!

The barbed wire fence extends almost to the treeline on the horizon; about 240 metres

I hope you enjoy this set of reception videos, they certainly help to demonstrate the great performance of the PL-310ET and in addition of course, it’s ability to handle large antennas quite well. Embedded videos and text links follow below. Lastly, there are now approaching 1,200 reception videos on my YouTube channel Oxford Shortwave Log and I would like to take this additional opportunity to thank everyone for their support, friendship and advice.  In the meantime, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and excellent DX!



Clint Gouveia is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Clint actively publishes videos of his shortwave radio excursions on his YouTube channel: Oxford Shortwave Log. Clint is based in Oxfordshire, England.

 

 

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.