Tag Archives: Tecsun

Tecsun S-8800: Unboxing, photos, and initial impressions

Yesterday, I received a Tecsun S-8800 from Anon-Co in Hong Kong.

I like opening radio boxes to find a cardboard insert like this one. It protects the radio and has so much less waste and individual cardboard bits inside.

As I always do when a new radio comes on the scene, I requested to purchase an early release of the Tecsun S-8800 radio for review months ago.  But this time, my contact at the Chinese distributor Anon-Co, Anna, insisted on sending us one “as a gift for the Chinese New Year of the Rooster.”

Because I’ve worked with Anna at Anon-Co for at least a decade, having purchased numerous radios for review and as gifts for family and friends, this was difficult to refuse.  I decided there was no need to do so. Each time I do an in-depth review and note shortcomings or deficiencies in the radios I’ve purchased from Anon-Co, Anna immediately passes my feedback and criticisms directly to the manufacturer’s engineers. I believe this feedback loop between customers, reviewers and manufacturers leads to improved product iterations. Of course, sometimes the negatives can be so problematic, manufacturers simply drop the product line and move on (remember the Tecsun R-2010D?  Case in point). So, while there are a number of other eBay retailers in China that distribute Tecsun radios, I prefer Anon-Co for these reasons.

Thank you, Anna!

The S-8800 is packed face-down to protect the front panel.

Manufacturers and retailers who send me products for review know that we radio geeks have fairly high expectations of our gear, and will therefore hold them to exacting standards. I’m not the least among these.  While I endeavor to be realistic, understanding producers’ limitations and the need for product growth, I also try to keep my reviews as objective as I can, and accommodate my own and others’ particular requirements and preferences.

So In the spirit of full disclosure, I must note that I’m not as avid a user of large portables like the S-8800 (or the Grundig GS350DL, S450DLX, or the C.Crane CCRadio-SW).

Personally I prefer smaller, full-featured travel-friendly portables, or else larger tabletop models.  Radios with a form factor like the Tecsun S-8800 are an “in-between” product in my world, thus I rarely use them.

That said, every month I receive questions from readers looking for this very “large portable” form factor. Some hobbyists enjoy a radio that’s easy to operate, featuring simple controls, robust audio, and dedicated external antenna connections.  For these listeners, a large tuning knob and generous display are more important than things like SSB and synchronous detection.In other words, they want a broadcast receiver. Some have literally asked for a modern version of the venerable Panasonic RF-2200 (which I admittedly love, an exception to the rule of my avoidance of large portables). In terms of aesthetics, it’s impossible to live up the legendary solid-state RF-2200, in my opinion…kind of like comparing a modern muscle car with the 1960s original from which it copies its design.

The S-8800, and its many predecessors, were certainly influenced by the RF-2200’s popular design & form factor: large speaker on the left, large tuning knob, wide-spaced knobs, and a generous display. Like the RF-2200, it has a durable, adjustable woven carry strap.  

The S-8800 ships with the accessories in the photo below: an IR remote control, two rechargeable cells, an RF adapter, and a USB charging cable.

Note the charging cable is only a cable; the S-8800 doesn’t ship with a wall-wart type charger. If you’re like me, you probably have a handful of USB chargers scattered around your home that you could use for the purpose of charging this radio.  And if you don’t, you can also use any free USB port on your PC to charge it.

USB chargers are cheap and well-known to spew RFI. I doubt you’ll enjoy listening to shortwave or mediumwave/AM while charging the S-8800’s internal cells. It doesn’t appear the S-8800 was designed for listening while plugged in; Tecsun clearly wants you to charge it and then listen, off battery power. The latter is my preference for listening anyway, but it may put off some potential S-8800 owners.

The display is easy to read from any angle, and it’s also easy to view in bright sunlight. In low light, you’ll be pleased with the backlight function.

On the right side of the S-8800, you’ll find an internal/external antenna switch, a DX/local switch, RCA type stereo line-out ports (covered in the photo above) and a stereo headphone jack.

On the back, you’ll find a mini USB port for charging, an antenna port for a radiator and ground wire, as well as an FM antenna port. 

The battery cover is predictably located at the bottom of the back panel and––a first for any shortwave radio I’ve reviewed––accommodates two (supplied) 3.7V Li-Ion (internally) rechargeable cells.

The right side panel has no connections or controls.

I must admit…the Tecsun S-8800 has some front panel controls I really appreciate. Most notably, it has a dedicated AM bandwidth selector and fine tuning control. I also like the dedicated treble and bass controls which can also be found on its predecessors’ front panels.

Over the next week, I’ll be evaluating the performance of the S-8800. I plan to post blind audio samples as I’ve done in the past, comparing the S-8800 to other portables: likely the PL-880 and the ICF-7600GR, PL-660 or PL-680.  Please be patient, however, as making these recordings takes time as I like to make sure each radio has a true representative sample and fair shot at showcasing performance.

What about those initial impressions? Yes, I must say I do like the package of the S-8800 better than its predecessors. I like the dedicated IR remote control, the many antenna connections, and, so far, the audio fidelity from the built-in speaker. Makes for a nice package.

But, ultimately, the proof is in the pudding:  let’s put the S-8800 on the air and compare it with some benchmarks!

Follow Tecsun S-8800 posts by bookmarking the tag: S-8800

Used Tecsun PL-880 only $119.95 at Universal Radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Walker, who notes that Universal Radio has a used Tecsun PL-880 with box, manual and accessories for $119.95 + shipping. This radio is listed as being in “good” condition.

Universal Radio backs their used equipment with a 60 day limited warranty, so you can buy with confidence.

You’ll need to call Universal Radio (800-431-3939) to purchase items from their used list.

Thanks for the tip, Paul!

Another review of the Tecsun S-8800

In reply to our Tecsun S-8800e overview, SWLing Post contributor, Hymefly, comments:

I own this radio. Its performance on AM and shortwave is better than my Kaito 1103 and Sangean ATS-909x. My Grundig Satellit 750 beats it on SW. The 8800 is a bit better on AM than the 750, though.

The 8800 and my GE Super Radio 1 are just about equal on AM. The 8800 beats my Panasonic RF-2200 on SW, but not on AM. I didn’t compare it to my other radios on FM, as I really don’t listen to that band nor have any interest in it.

I did try out the FM band, though. It seems to have good sensitivity. The speaker provides good sound quality, but not “Super Radio” good. Display looks outdated. Not a fan of those amber/yellowish displays with spotty screen coverage. Not even close to the display on my 909x. But then again, no other radio comes close to the 909x’s display. Why can’t manufacturers implement nice bright white lit displays like the 909x?

The remote works ok. By the way, all comparisons were done utilizing each radios’ own built-in AM and telescopic antennas for SW. Overall, I can compare it more closely to the RF-2200, but with 8800 having slightly less sensitivity on AM and better on SW. The two even look almost the same. The 8800 seems to be an updated and refined modern design borrowed from the RF-2200. The RF-2200 has a more robust solid built, though. Overall, I give the 8800 a score of 7.5 [out of 10].

Thank you for your input, Hymefly. I’m pretty impressed the new S-8800 even comes close to the performance of the Super Radio 1 and the Panasonic RF-2200. I’m very curious what the price will be when the S-8800 hits eBay.

TECSUN S-8800e availability in Europe and Bertrand’s first impressions

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bertrand Stehle (F6GYY), who writes:

Hi Thomas,

The new SSB portable receiver TECSUN S-8800 has been available from Germany, since the beginning of 2017.

Supplier:https://www.wellenjagd.com/ has the S-8800e, a Europeen version.

I have one unit here and also being an owner of the PL-880, [I would describe it as] a better PL-880 with more features.

DSP filters on SSB: 0.5 – 1.2 – 2.3 – 3.0 and 4.0 kHz

DSP Filters on AM: 2.3 – 3.0 – 4.0 and 6.0 kHz

Long telescoping Antenna L = 92 cm

BNC Antenna socket

AM External antenna (500 Ohm ) on panel….with an internal /external antenna switch.

Main and fine tuning [much] like the PL-880 , but all metallic buttons, bigger and of better quality.

VFO main tuning knob is large and has a good feeling.
Line out is stereo ( 2 channels ) L and R
Separate bass and treble control
2X LiH Batteries 18650 ( no external power supply possible, no 12V socket). Batteries can be charged while the rx st still in use.

On this S-8800e–my first impressions:

  • Very sensitive on longwave… ( PL-880 was not )
  • Very good copy of ssb stations
  • RX does not get so quickly overloaded as the PL-880 does…
  • Quite bigger than the PL-880 => 27 cm X 17 cm, about 7cm thick.

Wow–many thanks for sharing your first impressions, Bertrand!

I’ve been waiting quite a while for the S-8800 to be released. I will have one on order soon and will do some comparisons with the PL-880 and PL-660.

As you discover more about this receiver, please share your impressions with us!

Anyone else have the S-8800?  Please comment!

Tecsun PL-880: Richard shares winter DXing notes

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who lives in New Brunswick, Canada, and sent the following update earlier this month:

I often go outdoors to escape the RFI generated in and around the house, which can be even worse during the holidays with all the LED Christmas displays.

Trouble is, the snow is getting a bit deep for the trek to the back of the cleared part of my yard.

The attached photos show my setup on New Year’s Day to record Stephen Cooper’s DigiDX program over WRMI.

One thing about DXing and SWLing outside in the winter is that the knobs on the Tecsun PL-880 can become stiff to turn if it’s too cold and the battery doesn’t last as long as when it’s warm outside. Best approach is to go out with a fully charged battery, tune to a particular frequency and record the audio for later playback.

[…]I’ve also noted on a couple of occasions that the Tecsun will shut itself off after a few hours in really cold weather (around -20°C). And it’s not that the battery power is exhausted. I can turn it back on manually and it shows plenty of battery capacity remaining.

Thanks for sharing your notes, Richard! It certainly looks like a winter wonderland at your home. I like how you’ve made such a lightweight, portable station that protects the PL-880 from moisture.

Paul Walker also uses the PL-880 extensively in Galena, Alaska–in some very cold temps as well. Perhaps we can compare notes.

Post readers: What radios do you use outdoors in winter conditions? Please feel free to share your experiences!

By the way: I should offer my sincere apologies for sharing beautiful winter wonderland scenes while many of our dear readers in Australia are coping with a sweltering heatwave! 🙂 Perhaps we should also be sharing notes about high temp outdoor DXing!?