This morning, I received a question I’m often asked. It usually goes something like this:
“Should I purchase the Tecsun PL-600, or invest a little more and purchase the Tecsun PL-660? Is it worth the price difference?”
I decided it best to post this question, along with my response, below.
SWLing Post reader, Warren, writes:
“I have been on your web site for a couple of hours now. I especially appreciated your super review. From that I decided I liked the Tecsun PL-660 best. As I was looking for one on ebay, I saw an ad for a Tecsun PL-600. Although I did find specs on your web site, I did not find a review by you. I did find links to other reviews.
One person said a PL-600 was a PL-660 minus the AIR band.
Another said the SSB didn’t work until he took it apart and replaced a capacitor.
Another said the filters didn’t work as well on the 600, or didn’t exist.
Many said the quality was excellent – buy it! Many said it was terrible.
Can you tell me, in your opinion, which, if any, of the above you agree with? And give me your own rating of the 600?
The 600 is much less expensive than the 660. If it is missing filters and sound quality I’m not interested. If it is only missing the airline band I am very interested.”
Here’s my reply to Warren:
“It is confusing and, you’re right, for some reason I don’t think I’ve ever done my own review of the PL-600–though it’s been included in comparisons.
Here’s my answer to your question:
If you want the best overall performance, go for the Tecsun PL-660. I think it’s well worth the price.
The PL-660 has a great synchronous detector–something the PL-600 lacks–which helps with selective fading and pulling weak signals out of the murk. Since you can select the sideband for the sync lock, you can also use this function to help mitigate adjacent signal interference.
Don’t get me wrong: the Tecsun PL-600 is a great radio in its own right. Of the sub-$100 portables [currently $96 shipped via Amazon, $89.95 plus shipping via Universal Radio], it’s one of my favorites.
The ‘600 is one of the few portables on the market in this price range that has a BFO for single sideband listening (along with the CountyComm GP5/SSB and the Degen DE1103 DSP). When newcomers to the hobby want a full-featured sub-$100 radio that’s simple to operate, I often suggest the PL-600. I’ve never had any issues with my PL-600, by the way–it performed as specified right out of the box and continues to do so today.
But again, if one’s budget allows I always recommend the Tecsun PL-660. In my opinion, the ‘660 offers the best performance and features for the price [currently $109.95 plus shipping at Universal Radio, $119.99 shipped via Amazon].
At home, I believe I actually reach for the PL-660 more often than I do my pricier PL-880.
In a nutshell? Your hunch is right. Get the Tecsun PL-660.”
Readers: Do you agree or disagree? Feel free to comment!