I wonder how experienced this reviewer is with this class of audio devices.
First he states that the Solo receives AM. I doesn’t. (Unless you count receiving AM stations via their Internet streams.)
It does receive FM, although its sensitivity to fringe signals is a bit substandard comparatively, even with the built-on rod antenna. He notes a disappointing audio performance at higher volumes, but fails to distinguish between sources. Lower bit rate digital audio does reveal its insufficiencies with increased volume, but that would be true regardless of the speaker ratings.
A 30 watt RMS driver/tweeter speaker combo in a box this compact bespeaks a pretty efficient and powerful digital amplifier that would shine if fed audio of sufficient “heft”. With so much compressed digital audio out there–especially on Internet radio–it’s hard to judge what the objective limits of this unit aurally truly are.
He also doesn’t seem to be conversant with the set-up process, which is quite intuitive, or the fact that the unit comes with a remote.
At $300 MSRP, it is premium priced and will be too rich for the blood of some. Furthermore, its Internet station list as provided by Frontier Silicon seems a bit more limited than others I’ve experienced. But it is beautifully designed and presented and is quite versatile. Then again, as much as I like it, I can’t see myself populating my home with one in every room. There are other products out there that do this more efficiently and affordably.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, John Figliozzi, who writes:
Sean at Universal Radio in Reynoldsburg, OH put me on to another terrific product that does the job fabulously and quite easily. It’s called MaxPro Ink/Adhesive Remover and is a citrus-based cleaner/solvent that won’t harm the radio’s plastic casing. You can get it on eBay for around $11 with free shipping:
It took me a total of less than 3 hours to clean both my E1s. I used a lot of paper towels, working a section of the radio at a time, spraying the solvent onto the towels and then rubbing the surface free of the degraded and sticky rubberized coating. After removing the coating, I simply wiped down the radio with a wet paper towel to remove any residual solvent. They are now clean and smooth and look like new with all the white print intact. And my hands didn’t suffer any from contact with the solvent.
A reminder if you do this: It’s important to seek out citrus-based solvents and avoid petroleum based solvents. It was so easy with this product that I wished I had done this a long time ago and wasn’t so nervous about taking it on.
Thank you, John! I just noticed that a few of my rubber-coated receivers are starting to get tacky. I like the idea that this adhesive remover is gentle on the chassis. Click here to search eBay for MaxPro Ink/Adhesive Remover.
We’ve posted a number of solutions for sticky radios. Click here to view past posts.
I’m very pleased to have just received the 7th edition of John Figliozzi’s Worldwide Listening Guide (WWLG), the latest, most updated version of the excellent guide I’ve often reviewed.
As I’ve said, you may want a copy of the WWLG in your shack, especially alongside your computer or Wi-Fi radio.
SWLing Post readers know that I’m a huge fan of the Word Radio TV Handbook (WRTH); it’s my go-to guide for radio frequencies and schedules. Well, Figliozzi’s Worldwide Listening Guide is my go-to for programming and content, not only helpful on the shortwaves, but also handy when tracking online content.
WWLG: The Content DXers Guide
Like many SWLs, I’m something of a “Content DXer:” I love chasing obscure programming––news, documentaries, music, and variety shows, anything the broadcasting world has to offer. For this, I often turn to Wi-Fi radio. Wi-Fi radio offers the discerning listener the ability to track down fascinating regional content from every corner of the globe––content never actually intended for an international audience.
But the fact is, there’s so much content out there, it’s hard to know where to start. This is where the WWLG comes in: Figliozzi exhaustively curates more than 4,000 programs (!), indexing their airing times, stations, days of broadcast, program types, frequencies, and web addresses. Additionally, he sorts the programs by genre: arts, culture, history, music, sports, and more. And Figliozzi also includes a well-thought-out directory of at least forty genres. In short, this directory has helped me not just locate, but identify, programming I would never have known about otherwise.
Frankly, I’m not sure how Figliozzi manages to curate such a vast assortment of programming. But I’m happy that he does, and especially, that he offers it for the SWL’s benefit––!
Thus the WWLG has become a permanent reference book in my shack, alongside my trusty WRTH. There’s a surprising amount of information packed into this slim, spiral-bound book…enough to keep even a seasoned DXer contented for years.
The 7th edition of Worldwide Listening Guide can be purchased here:
With a retail price under $25, I feel like the WWLG is an excellent bargain.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Thomas Ally, who notified me that he has just purchased a copy of the WWLG 7th edition through Amazon.
Here’s the description of the new edition:
New, fully-updated 7th edition provides a complete guide to listening to radio in all of today’s formats: “live,” on-demand, WiFi, podcast, terrestrial, satellite, internet, digital, and of course analog AM, FM, and Shortwave.
The introductory section explains all of the newest delivery methods for radio, and the devices used to access broadcasts from around the World at any time of day or night. Listening to programs from distant lands is no longer a late-night activity dependent upon shortwave propagation conditions. There are thousands of radio stations worldwide that use the Internet to stream their broadcasts. Traditional radio is being augmented by computers, tablets, smartphones, satellites, WiFi receivers, and multiplexed digital transmission methods, greatly enhancing the listening experience.
The Worldwide Listening Guide shows you how to access all of this audio content using these different delivery platforms. The Guide is focused on English language broadcasts that can be heard in North America. There is a comprehensive listing of more than 3500 programs. These are then placed in separate categories by program type, such as news, music, talk, current affairs.
Whereas the WRTH–also just released–is a guide to stations and broadcasts, the WWLG is a guide to content and programming. I always have copies of both in my shack.
Thanks, Tom Ally, for the tip!
The following article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of The Spectrum Monitor magazine.
Every year, I attend two great radio conventions: the Dayton Hamvention and the Winter SWL Fest. While the Dayton Hamvention draws a massive crowd of ham radio operators, vendors, and makers from across the planet–and it’s truly a fun and fantastic event–the smaller Winter SWL Fest is actually my fave of the two.
Any why is this? A re-cap of the 2015 Winter SWL Fest might provide some clues.
The Winter SWL Fest is organized and sponsored by the North American Shortwave Association (NASWA) and each year draws well over 100 radio enthusiasts to Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. While it is a shortwave radio festival––with its roots firmly in the shortwave medium––it’s certainly not limited to the HF bands only; in fact, here’s a list of some of the forums from 2015, and their subject breadth is remarkable:
- Radio on the Road 3. Janice Laws shared radio recordings and videos from her various travels across the planet, showcasing the local flavor found on the FM and AM dials.
- The Year in Pirate Radio. George Zeller once again hosted the shortwave pirate radio forum, covering the year in pirate radio, and announcing inductees into the PIrate Radio Hall of Fame.
- Time Travel, Teleportation, and Spectrum Hoarding for the Contemporary DXer. My good friend Mark Fahey and I co-hosted this forum. In this forum we discussed our obsession with collecting and sharing spectrum recordings, highlighting the added context spectrum playback provides that traditional broadcast recordings cannot. We brought along several terabytes of spectrum recordings from my home in North Carolina and from Mark’s home near Sydney, Australia, to share with this forum’s attendees.
- Coast to Coast: Geographically Enhanced Mediumwave Reception. Bill Whitacre shared what he has learned from mediumwave DXpeditions to Grayland, WA, and Lubec, ME, over the past 5 years. Bill focused on the advantages of carefully-selected geographic locations for the best DX opportunities.
- Ultralight Mediumwave DXing. Gary Donnelly hosted a forum which touted the virtues of the most simple radios and receivers and the immense fun that can be had from them. Gary discussed some amazing reception records obtained with these pocket-sized “ultralight” (and ultra cheap!) receivers.
- Crisis Radio. Michael Pool (a.k.a., “The Radio Professor”) focused on radio as it sounds locally during crises. He shared recordings and airchecks he had captured during natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and moments of civil unrest. Through these recordings, and with the advantage of some emotional distance, attendees could form their own opinions as to how the media handled each event.
- Radio and Today’s Teenagers. Anthony Messina (age 18) focused his forum on the way teens view radio today, taking into account the medium’s ongoing evolution. Anthony also discussed how he got interested in shortwave radio and DX’ing in the age of internet and smartphones––a remarkably fascinating (and familiar) journey.
- Kickin’ It Old School: A Return to Regenerative Receivers. In this forum, Skip Arey proposed that a radio design, at the very roots of RF Technology, is experiencing a resurgence: regenerative receivers. He discussed the classic regen circuit and how to use it to bring a new dimension to shortwave listening.
- The View from Europe. Finn DXer Risto Vahakainu, who travels to the Winter SWL Fest with a contingent of Finnish DXers, reported on the state of the radio hobby in Europe and specifically in Finland. He focused upon the impact of SDRs and also described remote DX sites one can rent for one’s own DXpedition in northern Finland.
- “UFOs, Gliders and Planes, Oh My!” Tom Swisher––noted member of the SWL Fest so-called “scanner scum”––covered the wide array of frequencies that can be monitored with “your trusty old scanner” after local law enforcement goes digital.
- Monitoring Dusty War Zones and Tropical Paradises: On Being a Broadcast Anthropologist. Mark Fahey––who travelled from Australia to attend the Winter SWL Fest for the second year in a row––presented a tour of his monitoring station (i.e., his house). We saw how Mark combines several satellite, internet, and SDR feeds from across the globe to create a custom video and audio listening post with feeds. Mark, who is also an avid traveler, shared some of his highly original, out-of-the-box ways of collecting rare radio DX.
- The Keeping of Time. In this forum, Mark Phillips discussed the importance of accurate time-keeping as our hobby moves toward the digital realm. Mark explained the difference between time sources, why they are different, and why accurate time is so important.
- Recognizing Digital HF Signals: Eyes and Ears. TSM contributor Michael Chace-Ortiz taught that simply with one’s eyes and ears, it’s possible to identify a number of the digital modes and anomalies on our HF bands. Mike gave an interactive audio-visual tour of numerous modem signals, Over-The-Horizon RADARs, ionospheric sounders, ocean sensing systems, and various other digital oddities that can be heard today.
In short: what a dynamic––and diverse––forum line-up!
Of course, for the second year in a row, David Goren’s annual Shortwave Shindig was broadcast live from the Fest via WRMI. It was great fun receiving live reports from listeners across the globe.
I’m sure some twenty-eight years ago when the first SWL Fest was held, forum topics all centered around the shortwave radio hobby fairly exclusively. But today, how we define radio has changed, and the shortwave radio is no longer the only way to glean accessible content from across the globe. Most of the SWL Fest attendees and hosts, however, maintain and cultivate the spirit of DXing: finding innumerable paths into an ocean of diverse broadcasting. I was happy to be a part of the shortwave radio-related forums that centered on the use of software-defined radios, no doubt a revolutionary game-changer in our listening hobby, and a technology I actively explore (see my review of the TitanSDR next month).
While the 2015 line-up was diverse and drew on the expertise of some of the most noted enthusiasts in our field, this experience is actually what I’ve come to expect from the SWL Fest. So many amazing projects, including a Sundance award-winning film (!), have played a part in making the Fest what it is today.
I encourage you to keep tabs on the Winter SWL Fest and make plans to attend in 2016. Details will be posted on the Winter SWL Fest website: http://swling.com/blog. One thing is for sure: if the crazy winter weather conditions this year didn’t stop me from driving several hundred miles through snow and ice to the Fest, nothing is going to stop me next year! Hope to see you there.
(Note: SWLing Post email subscribers may not be able to see the embedded slideshow above. Please visit this post online.)
A parting note
As you may imagine, since the SWL Fest has been ongoing for many years, strong bonds have formed among Fest attendees––indeed, the group has become like an extended family. This year, we learned during the annual Saturday night banquet that we had just lost one of our Fest family, one Martin Peck, following a battle with esophageal cancer. Marty, as we all knew him, was an incredibly kind fellow, well-loved and warmly regarded at the Fest. He was not only an avid SWL, but a talented musician, and a member of the New Westchester Symphony Orchestra. Marty could play some of the most obscure interval signals on demand with practically any wind instrument. He found a welcome home at David Goren’s Shortwave Shindig.
Marty, pal, we’re going to miss you.