Ron’s mini review of the Sangean DT-160 AM/FM radio

Sangean-DT-160Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ron, who shares his impressions of the new Sangean DT-160:

The DT-160 just came in and here are a few impressions:

1.) The heft and feel of this set is superb…it has that solid feel the earlier DT-200X doesn’t. It is markedly smaller,too and the buttons have a firm solid feel the earlier models lack (finally!).

2.) Jay’s review is spot-on as usual…but the AM section is not what you find in a Sony SRF-59 or SRF-37W digital. Expect to get locals and semi-locals fine but it’s not going to be a DX machine on AM as the Sony’s are.

This is doubtless due to the need for a smaller ferrite bar; a Q-Stick or loop will fix that.

3.) On the other hand as Jay said it leaves the Sonys in the dust on FM, which is superb.

4.) Audio is very good as is ease of operation.

5.) The closest comparison is probably the CC Pocket; they doubtless use the same/similar Silicon Labs IC.

But unlike the CC no birdies were heard on AM. [Update: Ron has since discovered a few birdies on AM, like the CC Pocket.]

Is it worthwhile?

Yes, if only for the promised 100 hour battery life. No other similar receiver will run nearly as long.

[Thomas,] you may wish to order two; one for Dad,and one for you.

I will definitely buy the DT-160 for my father. I wonder if it’s packaged in a way that I could take it out, play with it, then re-package it as a gift? 🙂 Would that be wrong? Of course not! 🙂

I noticed that Universal Radio now also stocks the DT-160 and retails for $49.95 plus shipping.

Amazon’s price (today–they do fluctuate) is $39.99 with free shipping.

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10 thoughts on “Ron’s mini review of the Sangean DT-160 AM/FM radio

  1. rtc

    Thomas:
    Yes it is packaged in a nice small box and you can easily remove and
    play with it before giving it to your Dad.
    Suggestion:
    Just go ahead and order another one,have them send directly it to Dad…
    after a few minutes with the 160 you’ll do this anyway.

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      Ha! Ron, you may be right about that! I think this little radio could serve me well when I mountain bike. I need something light and easy to use when I have gloves on in the winter.

      Reply
  2. rtc

    I use the Sony SRF-59 every day which was the final iteration of the 39/49/59
    family.(It was tuned up per the ultralight websites.)

    The DT-160 will go off and leave it and its PLL SRF 37W sibling in the dust on FM,
    particularly in its ability to slice and dice FM signals,something neither Sony
    can do.

    But note the smaller size of the 160’s ferrite bar in the clear version.On AM both
    Sony’s are way more sensitive but for general non-dx use the 160 will do OK on
    AM.
    Due to its small size Sangean probably didn’t have a choice in this set.

    Reply
  3. DanH

    DL4NO, it’s a different story here in the USA. My smartphone is a Samsung S4 Mini. This is an Android AT&T phone. This phone was introduced in Europe and Russia with an analog FM radio installed and enabled. However, in the USA the telecom companies succeeded in disabling the FM radios in this phone and others like it, rendering broadcast FM reception inoperable. The phone companies wanted to promote data usage for music listening, not free analog radio. They got their way. Yes, My S4 Mini has the FM radio installed, but it can’t be used in the USA.

    Reply
    1. DL4NO

      Over here you can get a phone with your cellphone plan. But this is hardly cheaper than buying the phone independently. The phone company sends me the SIM card and its PINs, the rest is up to me.

      What you will naturally not get from the phone company is a dual-SIM cellphone. But that they would disable the radios is new to me.

      Reply
      1. Tom Servo

        I’m afraid it’s true, the carriers here almost universally disable FM reception if the smartphone is capable. I believe Sprint is the exception to this rule, though. There is a consortium of radio broadcasters (Next Radio?) that are pushing the cell companies to enable the FM chip as a matter of emergency preparedness, and a few models have trickled out with it enabled on AT&T, if I remember correctly… but that’s about it. I’m on my third smartphone in 6 years that have FM chips in them but are disabled. And they all have locked bootloaders, so there is no way to root them and enable them with third party software!

        I bought a Sony Walkman phone many, MANY moons ago off the internet, in the pre-iPhone mania days and it does have an FM radio with RDS. A very good radio for the small form factor, to be honest. But those are pretty rare in the US these days. You’re hard pressed to find a non-touchscreen smartphone for sell anywhere except online.

        Reply
        1. Shawn

          The best way to work around the carriers’ disabling of FM radios is to abandon their subsidized, locked-down phones and start purchasing unlocked phones from the manufacturers or retailers like Amazon. This was a bigger obstacle in previous years, but prices have plummeted and some really great phones are available at decent prices right now. And some of them have almost no bloatware! I picked up my Motorola Moto G for around $220 earlier this year, and its specs are really decent. Nearly bloat-free, and its FM radio works really well!

          Reply
  4. DL4NO

    At least here in central Europe sets like this are beyond theit time: Most countries around have abandoned AM. For FM reception I use my cellphone these days.

    Many of these cellphone radios are not that bad. They only have two disadvantages: You need to plug in a headphone as an antenna and the speakers of these phones are extremely tiny und sound accordingly. But you could connect amplified stereo speakers instead of the headphone.

    An outstanding FM receiver is in the SWISSTONE SC 560 that costs some 35 EUR. It is by a large margin the most sensitive handheld FM receiver I have. There might help that the electronics in this unit is comparatively simple and produces very little noise in the FM band.

    Even many Android smartphones and tablets contain radios. They have the advantage that you can use them as Web radios, too.

    FM reception hardly reduces the standby time. But Internet radio reception through WLAN or cell network drains the battery fast. Therefore you should consider this mostly for tablets. They have much larger batteries and you need no screen lighting to listen to a radio station.

    Reply
  5. DanH

    It would be useful to see a performance comparison of the Sangean DT-160 to the vintage Sony SRF-39FP, a legendary prison radio. Both share prison marketing demographics and design. Given the limited internet access available to incarcerated AM-FM listeners perhaps a test run simulating the effect of prison walls on AM-FM radio reception would be particularly informative. A good prison radio would be a dynamite radio for those outside the bars.

    Reply
  6. Joe

    I’d be curious how this unit stacks up in actual use to Sangean’s DT-120 and DT-180, to which it looks similar. I have a DT-120, and am generally very pleased with it, although the battery life is relatively short. The 120 and 180 do have the advantage over the 160 of smaller size and lighter weight, and on paper at least they appear to be louder than the 160.

    Reply

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