Hidden feature: Adjusting the Tecsun PL-880 muting threshold

Tecsun-PL-800-Sync-SWLing-PostSWLing Post reader Owl points out another hidden feature of the Tecsun PL-880:

“Press and hold 9 when you listen to AM or SSB, you may adjust the muting threshold using either tuning knob. Press 9 again after you are done, the new threshold will be saved.”

Many thanks, Owl, as this solves a small problem I discovered with my PL-880.

Evidently, the muting threshold of the PL-880 defaults to 5 DBu. I found that listening to a marginal station produced a dip and jump in volume as the signal level hovered around 5 DBu. It was most annoying!

Owl is correct–simply holding the number 9 down while listening allows you to adjust the muting threshold between 00-25 DBu.  It seems setting the threshold to 00 turns off all muting. I prefer it off, so this is the setting I will use most of the time.

The PL-880 has a number of hidden features.  I will post them as they are uncovered.

You can follow all Tecsun PL-880 updates by bookmarking/checking this link.

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30 thoughts on “Hidden feature: Adjusting the Tecsun PL-880 muting threshold

  1. BobL

    When you press and hold the zero (0) key, two “00” come up in the right corner of the display…. What does this hidden feature do??

    Reply
  2. Tim

    Hello,

    I have a PL-880 with firmware 8820, build date 30 04 14.
    I can NOT use the hidden features on keys 6 and 9. Nothing happens when pressing the keys during AM or Ssb reception.
    My radio is one of the newer with all glossy black cabinet.
    Does anyone observe the same?

    Reply
    1. mutezone

      Hello. I have the 14 04 30 build date version, & the following should work on yours according to a post I found. This works perfectly on mine…

      “If you press and hold the 4 key (with the power ON) on a recent release Tecsun PL-880, it will toggle to “On”, and you can now use the 6 and 9 keys as described for the DNR and soft mute. If you press and hold the 4 key again (with the power ON) until it says “Off” , pressing and holding the 4 or 6 keys (with the power ON) will then do nothing.”

      Reply
      1. dukeof becker

        Yes… I just received PL-880 Special Deluxe Edition from Anon-CO with firmware 8820 and build date 140430….
        As described above, I needed to press & hold 4 key with power ON first to enable 6 and 9 keys to choose DNR and mute options.

        Mutezone, thanks for this post! I never would have found this quirk on my own!

        Reply
    2. John Valente

      Before Keys 6 or 9 will work, you have to activate the 4 key by holding it down while the radio is on. For whatever reason, it works as on/off switching for keys 6 and 9.

      Reply
  3. Jonathan

    This one only works on FM for me. Threshold settings from 00 to 05.
    On LW, MW, SW, holding down “9” does nothing.
    Software version 8820. Date 14 04 30.

    Reply
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  6. PJMM

    A couple of days ago I received my TECSUN PL880 from Anon-co with the latest firmware loaded. Also I own two other TECSUN receivers PL398MP and PL390. Comparing side by side the PL880 FM sensitivity with this two other receivers, I have found the PL39x receivers seems to display always higher levels of signal than the PL880. That surprises me a little.

    Reply
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  9. Bertrand

    Hi,

    new hidden function ==> holding Key ” 4 ” ????

    changes the voltage limitation of the Li-Battery bewteen 3.4v and 3.7V ???
    Did that anyone try ??

    Bertrand

    Reply
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  11. millerliu

    BTW, the SNR(Signal Noise Ratio) is useless. Sometimes, the reading is zero while listening intelligible signal. So forget and skip the SNR number, just monitor the informed signal strengh reading.

    Reply
  12. millerliu

    The signal strengh reading is useful for local comparision. You can easily know the difference of the same staiton on different recieving location. The scale is quite linear according PL310 tested by Chinese DXer using HP8920. The difference for AM mode is 23 dB average. So displayed 23 dBu on PL310 equals 0 dBu tested by HP8920 signal producer. 33dBu–10dBu, 53dBu–30dBu, 64dBu–40dBu, 75dBu–50dBu, 85dBu–60dBu, 95dBu–70dBu, 98dBu–76dBu. So using the reading and switching ferrite bar to different heading, I located one LW navigarion antenna.

    But for FM reading, the difference calibration value is variable according high/low FM band. 88MHz reading displayed on PL310 should deduct 7dB to get exact reading on HP8920. likewise, 93MHz–8dB, 95MHz–9dB, 98MHz–10dB, 102MHz–11dB, 108MHz–12dB. Therefor, the siganl strengh reading is excellent amateur field tesing instrument. If you’re serious, using HP instrument to calibrate exact value for PL880 is quite rewarding for further propagation exploration.

    Reply
  13. RadioFlynn

    Thanks for the link, millerliu! And Bertrand, after using the dBuv and dB signal-to-noise display to orient the radio and antenna a few times, I think you will get used to it. Maybe it is not as useful as a proper signal strength meter calibrated in S-units, but better than a simple bar graph.

    Reply
  14. Bertrand

    Hi,
    thanks very much for the detailed table…..waht concerns S-meter calibrations…

    Some of us, do optically miss the thick bargraph indication anyway…….!!!

    Vy 73.

    Bertrand

    Reply
  15. Bertrand

    Hi Thomas,

    OK on all that…. Have found a conversion table dBu => S-Meter ….not easy…

    Usually, those indications dBu and DB ( Signal/ noise ratio ) are on high end commucation receivers like Racal und Rodhe-Schwarz .. but not on a small portable….

    Will try to send you the conversion table, its from a OM from HB9 land.

    Your sincerely , vy 73…..

    Bertrand

    Reply
  16. Bertrand

    Hi,
    not bad, it jumps from ham band to ham band…..quite positive…

    but the s-Meter reading in DBu is disturbing, normally, opnly professional receivers have got that….

    Vy 73.

    Bertrand

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      Hi, Bertrand,

      FYI: I’ve tried every display combination and cannot find a simple S meter configuration. The display can be toggled off, to show other info, but the S/N meter is the only one it has.

      Cheer,
      Thomas

      Reply
    1. Tom Stiles

      Can you explain further what you mean by it jumps between HAM bands. I know way the ham bands are but I don’t understand what you mean about jumping.

      Thanks for your time.

      Tom

      Reply
      1. Thomas Post author

        Hi, Tom,

        What he means is when the 880 is set to SSB mode, if you press the SW up or down buttons, it cycles through the internationally recognized ham bands (160 meters, 80 meters, 40 meters, etc.). If in AM mode, it cycles through the broadcast bands in the same way. Nifty, thoughtful feature!

        Cheers,
        Thomas

        Reply
  17. Bertrand

    Hi,

    can the S-meter indication be changed ? DBu disturbs me really…
    maybe because I ma used to ham s-meters…..

    Bertrand

    Reply
  18. owl

    Yes Tecsun should have set the default threshold to 0 (I made the suggestion to Tecsun but either it’s too late for the first batch from which your sample came, or they decided to stick to the original threshold value)

    BTW, the default muting threshold and levels of adjustment for AM are different from that of SSB. Also, I noticed that on a “near-final” sample of PL880 the phenomenon of muting on/off still occur on some very weak stations even though the threshold has been set to 0. Later Tecsun’s engineer said it is due to a soft-muting setting which had been corrected. Hopefully this is no longer an issue on your sample (you may check the firmware version – mine is 8818 – by press and hold the AM BW key when the radio is OFF.to bring up the full LCD display, then press the same key again to display the firemware version and a third press to reutrn to clock display).

    I was told there are a few other “hidden features” such as to FM de-emphasis time constant setting and AM frequency “zero-out” (e.g. if the 10MHz beacon sounds best at 9999.90khz, you are able to reset the display to exact 10Mhz). Hopefully the methods to use these features will be available soon (either discovered by users or announced by Tecsun).

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      OK–this is good info, Owl. Sorry, somehow your comment slipped past me earlier. Just been challenging keeping up with PL-880 updates while life is happening in the background! 🙂

      My firmware version is 8820.

      I wonder if anyone has discovered the zero-beat feature yet. Will search through the comments and test some buttons.

      Hope to have a full review out within a couple of days.

      Cheers,
      Thomas

      Reply

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