Degen refreshes shortwave product line


Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Paul, who commented with a link to the new Degen DE221 “ultralight” radio:

Paul’s link lead to the discovery of several new Degen models, in fact. Many of the new models have the same form factor–and a slightly different model number–from their predecessors.

Degen DE221 (updated from Degen 321)


Degen DE22


Degen DE23


Degen DE26


Degen DE27


Degen DE36 (updated from Degen DE32)


There may be even more 2015 Degen models than those I listed here and, in fact, they could’ve been on the market for a while.

I’ve already purchased the Degen DE221 for review since its predecessor, the DE321, was an acceptable radio for the $20 price tag. The DE321’s analog dial made for very vague tuning, however, so I’m curious if the DE221’s new digital display will be a worthy improvement. At this point, I don’t plan to review any of the other models above.

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13 thoughts on “Degen refreshes shortwave product line

  1. William

    Hi all

    I have just purchased a DE221 recently from a Chinese online store with a rocket bottom price (about $10 US dollars). I was thinking of purchasing a pocket-sized SW and FM radio which powered by 2X AA battery. Both DE321 and DE221 fits the need but I prefer the DE221 which has an alarm clock.

    Having used the radio for several days, I have found that both sensitivity and selectivity on SW are not as bad as I thought. I could hear the KBS world radio in the evening and RNZI later at night. However, the RNZI is heavily jammed by the CRI during the evening. I believe that it would get a better reception if the could get a band selection, just as the Tecsun PL-380 does.

    Interestingly that I have found is the FM selectivity! The FM selectivity is quite poor in DE221! Itmay covered-up the weak station when there are several strong FM stations sit next the channel.I have read some articles related to the DSP chip (which is si4844). I have found that the chip has a feature called “ADJPT_ATTN” which increase the volume of the adjacent strong station and covered up the weak station. This makes the radio is desirable for listening local strong FM stations. However, that feature is not available in DE321, since the radio is powered by another DSP chip (si4831). I am a bit regret to buy DE221 now.

  2. Phil Ireland

    Hi all,
    I’ve just received my DEGEN DE27 from China. Interesting little radio, I haven’t had a good chance to put it through its paces yet but my initial impressions are the radio seems well built and fairly intuitive to turn it on. However, all the instructions are in Chinese so luckily there was someone in my office who could set the language to english otherwise, setting up the radio is a nightmare! I will have to take the radio outside to test its performance as the office environment is useless to listen in. The box says the radio tunes from 3.2 mhz to 21.850 mhz however, I havent been able to work out how to make it tune out of the standard SW Broadcast Bands yet. Toggling between 10 khz and 9 khz steps for AM is easy as it setting the FM band coverage but I’m yet to determine the SW settings. It appears tuning is only in 5 khz as well on SW.
    As for venturing into MP3 settings and recording, I’ll leave that, it seems too much of a challenge! The clock and calendar, sleep timer, alarms are all fairly straight forward but there is an “E-Book” setting which defies description! It has a USB flash disc function and inputs for a micro SD card. Charging the supplied Lithium battery is via a supplied USB cable.
    The display is easy to read and attractive with excellent backlighting. I’m not expecting stellar performance on any band, after all, it was a cheap radio (about 40 AUD with free postage) but it is built around DSP architecture. Only a single bandwidth is available and there is no SSB capabilities. The radio hopefully will be ideal to throw onto a backpack or pocket as a travel portable. If DEGEN read these comments, perhaps an english manual put online would be extremely helpful to allow users to get the most out of the 27.
    I’ll comment more on the performance later but for now, the radio shows promise.

    1. Alexander Silva Araujo

      Dear Everyone,

      Can you inform me where can I download the firmware file to the product in the title?
      It was kept in a drawer without the battery, even so, when it had been remounted the radio stopped to work! The other features work normally. I suspect about the firmware, then I’m looking for it to reinstall. May you help me?

      Waiting for hearing about you, thank you in advance,


    1. Thomas Post author

      I just received the unit yesterday–nearly a month after ordering. I’ll pop some batteries in today and start to check it out. I strongly suspect 5 kHz steps, but it would be awfully nice if 1 kHz steps were possible.

    2. Ken L

      From my use of it so far, it’s 5khz. I don’t see any option to change it. Same for the MW/AM, looks like it’s set to 9khz. Chinese manual doesn’t help (me at least LOL ), although some of the links posted here showed english labeled versions which helped a bit with the basics.

    3. Thomas Post author

      I just turned on the DE221 for the first time this morning.

      Looks like SW tuning steps are limited to 5 kHz.
      Also, MW is fixed to 9 kHz steps.

      This was the same with the DE321; I suspect the DE221 is simply a DE321 with a digital display and buttons. Of course, the labels are all in Chinese–as Ken points out–so it’s possible I’m missing something here.

      From my tuning around this morning, I prefer the DE221’s digital display over the DE321’s analog display. Still, it can be a little tricky to land right on a frequency. Tuning is a little tight.

      Other observations:
      – SW bandwidth is wide
      – SW selectivity is poor
      – Sensitivity is OK so far

      The combo of poor selectivity and wide BW remind me of the short-lived Tecsun R-2010D:

      This morning, it was impossible to tune to Radio Australia on 9,580 kHz while CRI occupied 9,570. If I tuned to off-freq to 9,585 kHz, I could hear RA, but not without a lot of interference from CRI.

      Still, I’ll spend much more time with the DE221 before forming any strong opinions. 🙂 These are just some initial observations.


      1. Ken L

        “Of course, the labels are all in Chinese–as Ken points out–so it’s possible I’m missing something here.”

        Further back in these comments are two links to pictures of DE221s with english labels, which helped me figure out the basic functions. With a simple radio like this I doubt there are to many hidden or combo key press functions.

  3. Ken L

    I just received the DE221. Anyone know if the AM can be changed to 10khz, it’s default is 9khz. Otherwise, after a quick check I was able to receive on all bands, so the radio works OK. Going to play with it some more over the next few days. Digital read out is a big improvement over analog.



  4. Tom Stiles

    I was looking for a review of the Degen DE27 which this article is tagged but nothing but a picture of it. Does anyone have any information on the DE27 or where I can find a manual?

    Love this website,


  5. John

    Nice! I have the Kaito version of the 321 and still use it quite a bit. For roughly $20, it is a fun little radio. The analog dial with digital tuning was a little odd at first but not a big deal. I’ll be interested to see how this one performs!


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