Tag Archives: Degen DE1103

Version 2.0? Julio’s positive review of the Degen DE1103

IMG_20151126_165751594_HDR

[Correction: Julio’s version of the DE1103 is the first, non-DSP (current) version.]

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Julio Cesar Pereira, who comments with his mostly positive impression of the DSP version of the Degen DE1103 receiver:

I’ve got a DE1103 and haven’t noticed any AM bleeding on SWL so far. I sometimes stay at one of my family’s properties located at the center of a city with lots of stations. There I use the balcony on the 9th floor and I get a lot of spurious interference from FM stations, which is normal once you’re surrounded by buildings. However, I already tuned some images on SW. I used an old SW7600G to check it out and it didn’t get any.

I kind of started to dislike DSP, for it can be annoying to hear it engage and disengage when a signal constantly drops down and recovers. It is fantastic when a signal is strong and constant for it improves audio quality whether it is MW, SW or FM.

At one time, I even thought it would be perfect for the DE1103 to have this [DSP] feature, but you know what? I’m very happy with the way mine is right now. I find this receiver to have the best FM reception compared to the others of my little collection of tabletop and portable receivers, which includes scanners ICOM IC-R20 and R5, receivers PL-660, SW7600GR, ICF-2010, etc. The DE1103 is by far the most sensitive and selective one, it even beats my old Realistic DX-440.

As for SW, I like the combination of its very good AGC and very low floor, which allows me to do DXing with the RF attenuator on and does not have any annoying filter like the PL-660. I also enjoy its audio quality, especially on the headphones, for it is more natural, not processed like the PL-660’s or over-processed like the SW7600GR’s.

You can tell I’m a big fan of this little radio. It has its flaws, but I can live with them.

Thank you for sharing your experience with the DE1103 DSP, Julio!

Degen DE1103 DSP Version 2.0?

Julio, I’m now very curious if your receiver is the “Version 2.0 Model” mentioned by this seller on eBay. [ Julio has now confirmed that it is not the DSP version.]

DegenDE1103-2.0

If you’ve read my DE1103 DSP review, you’ll note that I haven’t been the biggest fan of the new DSP version of the DE1103. I did review a very early model and wonder if Degen has tweaked the DE1103 DSP to provide better performance? Can any other readers comment?

I’ll search through the various models of the DE1103 on eBay and see if there are any specifics about the new 2.0 version in product descriptions. I’ll also attempt to contact sellers for details.

Please comment if you have any information.

Update: Several readers pointed out that the “Version 2.0” might simply be a way sellers are using to indicate that this is the DSP-based DE1103–rather than this being an improved version of the original DSP receiver I tested. 

The New Degen DE1103 DSP: First impressions & review

IMG_20151124_085005760_HDR

When I discovered that Degen had recently refreshed the receiver design of the DE1103, I was intrigued, to say the least. The original DE1103 sported some serious performance for a sub-$100 receiver.

IMG_20151126_165751594_HDR

The 2015 model of the Degen DE1103 implements a DSP chip (the Silicon Labs Si4735-D60).

Yet I was on the fence about purchasing the new DE1103. Why? In truth, I never fell in love with the original DE1103. While I appreciated the 1103’s unique analog-style digital display, I never got used to its quirky ergonomics. Degen had quality control issues, too: I had to return two faulty units before getting one that worked as advertised (incidentally, I had a similar problem with the Kaito KA1102).

Then last week, SWLing Post reader, Ron, contacted me. He had purchased the new DE1103 from Hong Kong-based eBay vendor Bigbargainonline.

IMG_20151124_085138034_HDR

Ron kindly provided the SWLing Post with his impressions of the DE1103, as follows:

Performance is roughly on a par with the earlier dual conversion version. This one is just as hot, but no hotter.

If you were thinking a GP5 on a bigger ferrite bar, yes…and no.

There is one major gripe…[this unit] will not remember frequencies set with the BFO on, like the earlier dual-conversion version did. Instead you have to turn the BFO on for each memory frequency [for which you] need it.

One thing [I] noticed right off was the almost complete lack of AGC “pumping” on CW and SSB that all earlier versions had (yay!) but this plus comes at the cost of having the BFO “remembered” in memory.

Zero-beating (or centering) the BFO to null on WWV and local AM stations to check alignment was…strange. At null beat the BFO seems to quit for a second. It is fine
either side of zero beat, however.

This is doubtless due to Tecsun’s adapting the Silicon Labs IC to a full range BFO like this. Recall the same IC in the GP5 features Upper and Lower selection on CW/SSB.

This 1103 DSP version also has the GP5’s slight tuning mute, not a problem.

But for ease of operation in CW/SSB mode, the GP5 is [much] better IMO.

Ron also notes that he wasn’t pleased with the DE1103’s longwave performance and didn’t feel the mediumwave and shortwave reception was an improvement on the original DE1103.

He decided that he would sell this DE1103 and gave me first dibs, so I bit the bullet. I was eager to compare the new DE1103 with some of the other DSP-based portables in my collection. Ron dispatched the DE1103 immediately–it arrived a few days ago, but I didn’t have a chance to test it until yesterday.

IMG_20151126_165748588_HDR

I took the Degen DE1103 outside, sat it on the tailgate of my truck and put it on the air…

I tuned around the mediumwave band and picked up all of the local benchmark stations. Same with FM. So far, this tuning confirmed Ron’s assessment of the DE1103: it didn’t surpass the original.

But the shortwave bands were a different story.

As I tuned around the HF bands, the DE1103 seemed to receive quite a lot signals.  But in most instances, I could hear local AM broadcasters bleeding in, as well. Indeed, imaging was prevalent across the shortwave bands–the receiver was obviously being overwhelmed by a local broadcaster.  Unfortunate.

Could strong interference account for this? While there are local AM broadcasters around, they’re not exactly “blow-torch” stations. Indeed, I’ve never had overloading issues with other shortwave portables I’ve used in the same location–not even with my Kaito WRX911!

Imaging was prevalent on the DE1103 when it was tuned to pretty much any audible shortwave broadcaster.

Here’s a video of the Degen DE1103 tuned to the Voice of Greece on 9,420 kHz:

What you’re hearing in the audio is a local broadcaster bleeding in. Note that when I tune off-frequency, no imaging is heard.

Wondering if something had changed locally–and just to be fair–I pulled out my Sony ICF-SW100 and sat it next to the DE1103. The Sony had no issues.

This time, I tuned to WWV on the 19 meter band and compared the two receivers:

As Dan Robinson expresses it, the ICF-SW100 “wipes the floor” with the DE1103. There’s no hint of overloading in the SW100.

My buddy, Ron, is clearly a keen radio reviewer; obviously he didn’t hear overloading on the shortwave bands where he tested the rig, else he would certainly have mentioned it. The location where I tested the DE1103 does have some local broadcasters in the area, but no clear channel or high-power stations; in short, there’s no likely interference within a ten-mile radius to account for this debilitating performance problem.

Too bad…!

Obviously, the new DSP version of the Degen DE1103 is especially prone to imaging on the shortwave bands. In fact, it’s the only receiver I’ve ever tested that has overloading issues at this testing location (where I tested the original Degen DE1103, by the way).

My assessment? Avoid the new Degen DE1103.

A much better receiver with SSB for roughly the same price would be the venerable Tecsun PL-600 ($89.99 at Amazon and $89.95 at Universal Radio). If SSB reception isn’t necessary, you might also consider the CC Skywave or the very affordable Tecsun PL-310ET.

Andi provides detailed info and photos of the new Degen DE1103 DSP

de1103-dsp

Regarding the new DSP version of the Degen DE1103, SWLing Post contributor, Andi_84, writes:

I’ve opened [my Degen DE1103] and checked the semiconductors inside.

It’s definitely based on a Silicon Labs chip (Si4735-D60).

1) Display PCB
Valence Tech AP651 “LCD AND KEYBOARD CONTROLLER”: http://www.valencetech.com/products.php?prodID=ap651&type=ics
Datasheet: http://www.valencetech.com/doc/AP651/DS_AP651-Rev0.1.02.pdf

2) Main PCB

a) Silicon Labs Si4735-D60 “AM/FM/SW/LW Radio Receiver IC”: http://www.silabs.com/products/audio/fm-am-receiver/Pages/si473435.aspx
-> Chip is even capable of RDS, but it’s unfortunately not implemented in the DE1103
And, FM range covers down to 64MHz, while the DE1103 goes only down to 76MHz
Datasheet: https://www.silabs.com/Support%20Documents/TechnicalDocs/Si4730-31-34-35-D60.pdf

b) ST Micro STM8L152C6T6 “Ultra-low-power 8-bit MCU with 32 Kbytes Flash, 16 MHz CPU, integrated EEPROM”
Datasheet: http://www.st.com/st-web-ui/static/active/en/resource/technical/document/datasheet/CD00240181.pdf

c) China Hua Jing Electronics CD1622CB “110mw X 2 Dual-channel audio power amplifier”
-> Looks like a “chinese version” of the Sony CXA1622M
Datasheet: http://www.datasheet.hk/view_download.php?id=1039877&file=0024%5Ccd1622cb_203207.pdf

d) LM358 “Low-Power, Dual-Operational Amplifiers”
Datasheet: http://www.ti.com/lit/ds/symlink/lm158-n.pdf

Photos

The following photos are courtesy of Andi_84. Please click the image to enlarge.

External and unboxing

WP_20151111_007 WP_20151111_006 WP_20151111_004 WP_20151111_003 WP_20151111_002 WP_20151111_001 WP_20151111_020 WP_20151111_019 WP_20151111_018 WP_20151111_014 WP_20151111_012 WP_20151111_009 WP_20151111_008 WP_20151111_027 WP_20151111_025 WP_20151111_024 WP_20151111_023 WP_20151111_022 WP_20151111_021
Internal and circuit board

WP_20151114_033 WP_20151114_034 WP_20151114_035 WP_20151114_036 WP_20151114_026 WP_20151114_027 WP_20151114_029 WP_20151114_030 WP_20151114_031 WP_20151114_014 WP_20151114_015 WP_20151114_016 WP_20151114_018 WP_20151114_019 WP_20151114_020 WP_20151114_024 WP_20151114_003 WP_20151114_005 WP_20151114_006 WP_20151114_011 WP_20151114_012 WP_20151114_013 WP_20151114_002
Many thanks, Andi!  These photos are excellent and certainly give us more insight into the new Degen DE1103 design.

I’m very curious how this new DE1103 compares with other DSP portables on the market.

Not all Degen DE1103 eBay listings are the new DSP vesion

de1103-dsp

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Eric Weatherall, who writes:

I’ve been interested by news of the updated DSP version of the Degen DE1103.

I just saw an eBay auction for a used DE1103 which listed “DSP” in the title. But I looked at a photo of the product and it showed the labeling of the original product. If you look at the bottom left of the unit, the older radios have two lines of product description printed in black, and the newer radios have one line.

Based on photos I found online, here is the old product’s description (which applies to both the Degen and Kaito versions)

“PLL FM STEREO/SW MW LW DUAL CONVERSION SYNTHESIZED WORLD RECEIVER”

And here is the new product’s description.

“FM STEREO/SW MW LW DIGITAL WORLD RECEIVER”

I thought this would be useful for anyone wishing to buy the new DSP version of this radio where a photo of the actual unit is shown.

Eric has a good point–many times on eBay, sellers simply copy descriptions from previous or existing listings. You my find a used DE1103 listed as a unit with DSP. It’s best to confirm the version with the seller before purchasing. To my knowledge, only the 2015 version of the Degen DE1103 has DSP.

Tudor confirms: a new version of the Degen DE1103

de1103-dspAfter publishing our previous post about a potentially redesigned Degen DE1103 with DSP, SWLing Post reader, Tudor, comments:

Yes, the DE1103 looks like it’s been redesigned. You can see it dissected here:
http://bbs.tecsun.com.cn/0002.asp?open=724665

Degen-DE1103-OpenBack

Photo source: http://bbs.tecsun.com.cn/ via Tudor. Click to enlarge.

And, if I’m not mistaken, the SiLabs DSP chip can be seen in this picture:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5417175/2015102316185240911.jpg

Photo source: http://bbs.tecsun.com.cn/ via Tudor

Photo source: http://bbs.tecsun.com.cn/ via Tudor. Click to enlarge.

Wow–thanks so much for confirming this, Tudor! This is obviously a redesigned Degen DE1103. I also noticed “NEW-DE1103-MAIN-1.2” silk-screened on the board:

Degen-DE1103-PCboard

Photo source: http://bbs.tecsun.com.cn/ via Tudor. Click to enlarge.

The Hong Kong-based eBay vendor Bigbargainonline is selling the new Degen DE1103 for $79.00 US shipped. I’ve purchased from them several times before and was pleased with the experience.

There are other vendors selling the new Degen DE1103 as well (click here to search eBay) but make sure you’re purchasing the 2015 version of the Degen DE1103 since you can still find the cosmetically-identical legacy DE1103 new in box.

Tudor, thanks again for sharing a link to the discussion on tecsun.com.cn–while I can’t read Chinese (and the Google translation leaves something to be desired!) the photos certainly tell the story.