Dave notes unfavorable reviews of the Tecsun PL-310ET

[Update: Most comments point to these negative reviews as outliers–possibly a bad batch from the factory. All-in-all, the PL-310ET is favorably reviewed.]

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Zantow, who writes:

I see the Tecsun PL-310(ET) has been receiving some very negative reviews over on eHam in the last days. Too bad:


Thanks for the heads-up, Dave!

Perhaps these reviewers simply received faulty/lemon units? Internal soldering and construction can vary. On the other hand, both reviews were submitted on Feb 1, 2017 implying their units probably came from the same production batch. There are a couple of recent negative reviews on Amazon.com as well (though not detailed).

Of course, it does make one wonder if Tecsun made any internal design changes to the PL-310ET. But again, perhaps these two reviewers simply received units from a faulty batch.

For sure, these reviews are not consistent with the excellent performance of the PL-310ET I know–which is, by any standard, an amazing little radio!

I don’t want to imply there’s something wrong with the current PL-310ET production run, but I am curious if anyone else has been disappointed with their recently-purchased PL-310ET. Comments?

[UPDATE: based on the many comments–thank you!–it appears at least PL-310ETs that were purchased up to the end of December 2016 are functioning perfectly. Again, perhaps these two reviewers received faulty units.]

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31 thoughts on “Dave notes unfavorable reviews of the Tecsun PL-310ET

  1. Brian

    I have a recent model 310 et and it’s a wonderful radio I enjoy using it daily for my morning coffee in the backyard long into the mid afternoon !!! Batteries last a very long time .. It’s great on my Large external outdoor antenna during the day but no good at night because it gets overloaded !!! So I took it outside on it’s own whip and it was amazing on sw, mw, & FM . So I use my larger PL 660 on the larger antennas inside for sw, ssb & FM. But for mw the best indoor bedside rig is the pl360 because it disconnects the internal ferrite antenna and I think this is the only radio that does this to my limited knowledge … So as long as your okay with limiting larger antenna use to enjoy this for what it’s designed for and
    That’s to be a sensitive powerhouse on the whip then I highly recommend this radio !!!

    1. Thomas

      Mine was terrible on the AM band…nearly 100% deaf….until I tried headphones ad then it was great. Anyone know why this might be?

  2. Richard

    My PL-310ET has failed – I think. The radio works pretty well on headphones but no radio signals come out the speaker. However button beeps do come out the speaker. Anyone have any ideas of how to fix it?

    1. Clint Gouveia

      Hi Richard,

      Sorry to hear your PL-310ET has failed. I suffered EXACTLY the same problem with my XHDATA D-808. Audio from headphones is fine, but no loudspeaker output. Very annoying indeed. An electronics guy who works for me is going to take a look at it, at some point and I’ll post our findings. I know it’s a different radio, but a bit of a coincidence that you are suffering from excactly the same failure mode. 73s

  3. Eric

    I got here looking for info on a problem with a faulty unit, my PL310 ET is oding weird stuff:
    1. Clock doesn’t work (Minutes change every 5 minutes, not every minute)
    2. Enabling beeping does work however instead getting beep sound i get buzzing sound.
    3. using the ETM in FM was very fast when I first bought the radio, now it takes very long time.
    4. Buttons still work but sometimes I have to press them very hard

    Any suggestions or tricks? unfortunately there’s no official service or support in my country.

    1. RonF

      Interesting – the number and specific functions that are affected would seem to suggest the system reference clock is faulty & running ~5x slow.

      I can’t find a schematic for the PL-310 (just the block diagram in the manual, and the datasheets/appnotes for the Si4734) but it _appears_ to all run just from a single clock – either 32.768kHz, or some multiple of that running the keypad/display CPU & divided down to 32.768kHz to clock the Si chip. A reasonably experienced tech, electronics hobbyist, or even a technically-adept ham should be able to identify the clock source just by looking, & possess the gear to see if the clock signal is present & running at something like a correct frequency.

      FWIW, 32.768kHz crystals are one of the more unreliable parts, so if that’s the only thing on the board that looks like a clock source I’d suspect that straight away & probably just change it out of suspicion…

      1. Eric

        Many thanks, I´ll give it a try, also, this happened after the radio was stored for a week, coudl ths have been caused by temperature?

        1. RonF

          Wouldn’t think so, unless it was stored somewhere with extreme daily temperature swings. Sometimes, things just fail…

          (To wax philosophical for a bit: We humans are almost hard-wired to wonder “why is this thing broken?” before we fix them. Unless the reason is something blindingly obvious or relevant – like, “it got dropped in the bath”, “I ran over it with my truck”, or “because we’re pumping tens of billions of tonnes of greenhouse-causing gases into the atmosphere each year” ? – it’s usually better to figure out what’s broken before wondering how it broke…)

          1. Jim Gordon

            I recently bought another PL310ET having returned a dud (deaf on shortwave). The returned example was from 2016 ,according to the serial no. The replacement was of 2018 and much, much better where sw was concerned!

            There’s no point in my reviewing such a well reviewed radio. All I have to say it is incredibly sensitive except on Longwave. Will manufacturers please, in future, remember to wind a Longwave coil on their products ferrite rods! I’m sure that they can do that. Some of us here in places like Scotland still like stations like RTE and Radio 4 on LW.

            The rather fierce AGC takes a bit of getting used to but I would rather have that than no signal at all. Has anyone noticed that the volume control is rather quirky? Volume one is really loud and takes a while to get louder when you try to increase it.

            Anyway, I am pleased with the PL310 and it wiil make a good travel companion. Thanks to you all at swling for your reviews and comments. 73s, Jim

  4. Peter Johnsen

    I purchased one now in July. And as Vivencio Flores says the AGC is not good, that is my main claim. It should not be that way, really annoying. The bandwidth control is also not so good in the widest mode, but for that price, one cannot expect so much, but the AGC should have been better anyway, is nearly useless.

  5. Vivencio Flores

    Here”s my experience with a PL-310ET purchased in November of 2016 which I have tested under various conditions for several months now. My main complaint is the annoying volume pumping on strong stations on speech modulation peaks both on medium wave and shortwave. I figure this may perhaps be due to a too responsive AGC. I found that by tuning 1 Khz off up or down the center frequency of the received station the volume pumping is eliminated, however with a significant drop in overall audio level. I thought perhaps I had just gotten a defective unit, but a PL-380 purchased just in March of 2017 also exhibits the same volume pumping. On stations with relatively steady modulation (audio compression/limiting) this is not a problem. I hope Tecsun corrects this in their future production batches. Otherwise, both radios are top-notch receivers. For best shortwave reception I connect to an external antenna as the built-in whip does not do a good job at receiving weak signals at my location in the central Philippines.

  6. Charlie

    I have just taken receipt of a 310 today. I hooked it up to my external antenna (half size window) and I have to say I was disappointed considering the rave reviews. It appears to overload very easily but OK on the internal whip. MW however is superb. So perhaps mine is from a poor batch too and I need to get back to Anna at anon-co. I have watched Clints video amongst others who have praised the 310 so I am a little surprised by my findings. Further testing required.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Honestly, I would only judge the 310ET based on what it does with the whip antenna. It’s a small portable and they’re just not as well equipped to handle any sort of largish external antenna. Of course, I believe Clint has had very good luck with it hooked up to one.

      1. Charlie

        Tom Brogan also used it on a long wire and found good results so I’m a bit puzzled. I have emailed Anna this morning and will await her reply.

  7. Clint Gouveia

    Hi there, I’m not so surprised this receiver has been given a bad review or two on eHam.net. A written summary of the effectiveness of a radio receiver is, by it’s very nature, subjective. Unless you’re presenting hard evidence that a certain feature is not up to specification, then it’s always going to be open to interpretation. Empircal evidence in the form of measured performance is best of course, but if that’s not possible, then evidence in the form of a recording of a signal (or signals) is very useful. I have tested the PL-310ET with longwires, an 800 ft barbed wire fence and an ALA1530. Using these various antennas I have heard and recorded, KCBS Pyongyang, ABC Northern Territories, Zambia NBC Radio 1, Bangladesh Betar, Radio Guinea, Radio Fana, RTM Sarawak, Radio Nacional Brasilia, amongst many others. Intentionally, the stations I’ve listed here aren’t the easiest signals to hear on shortwave, in fact some of them are quite difficult to copy on a high-end portable.

    So, what can we conclude? Fundamentally there is clearly nothing wrong with the design of the PL-310ET. In fact, for the very modest price, it’s a brilliant radio; I can’t think of a better portable in terms of performance as a function of price. Poor reviews such as those highlighted have to be down to either a bad manufacturing batch – and I run a manufacturing company, so I know all about poor yield – it happens. Or, for whatever reason, the user hasn’t managed to extract the best performance out of their radio. Thomas Brogan was spot on when he stated that the PL-310ET is actually a better-built radio than some of Tecsun’s more expensive models and rather untypically for a Chinese manufactured radio, actually feels like a quality product. Mine is certainly superior to the PL-680 I previously owned; that radio started falling apart straight out of the box. Whenever I’m asked (and it happens quite frequently), I always strongly recommend the PL-310ET as a budget portable that capable of real DX.

  8. 13dka

    I don’t want to sound like a sinophobic grampa but I’ve had a big enough share of DOA and. Die-too-soon events with chinese made electronics to get the impression that QC is stilan issue. Tecsun is no exception – the first PL-660 I got stopped tuning after a few weeks, after a year the replacement. unit developed an unhealthy static build-up when it’s running for a while and now the antenna jack starts failing after using it like 10 times – a typical issue. 8’d be happy to pay more money for better quality and better reliability, but even if I pay a lot more, like for my chinese made Alinco, still getting failing encoders, failing jacks and a first unit being even more defective than the replacement.

    In our hobbyist circles, these radios are often sitting between non-chinese-made radios that have working jacks and knobs that still do their job after several decades

  9. Cap

    Regarding the eham reviews, take them with a pinch of salt, true, there may have been QC issues but the second review giving a 1 out of 5 rating which is very harsh indeed. Yes, MW is not the best but shortwave is superb and you are not going to get Hi-Fi quality from a 2 inch speaker.
    Overall a cracking portable radio IMHO.

  10. Thomas Post author

    Thank you all for your comments! I just added a note to this post regarding the positive experience from you all. Sounds like your PL-310ETs are forming as expected.

    The PL-310ET is a brilliant little radio for travel. I take it or the CC Skywave or the ICF-SW100 with me on all trips.

  11. Ben

    I ordered mine from Amazon shortly before Christmas 2016 (December 23) based on all the positive descriptions of it on your site, and I am very pleased with this radio. Very well made (I accidentally knocked it to the floor without any ill effects), excellent sensitivity, especially on FM, and great sound from a small speaker.

  12. Aaron Kuhn

    My 310-ET I received for Christmas has been performing wonderfully. I’d take any reviews on eHam with a grain of salt …

  13. Tom Stiles

    I recently received and reviewed the 310ET on my YouTube channel (hamrad88) and found it to be a very good performer. I have seen quality control problems on radios coming out of China lately. For instance the Eton Executive Satellit radio I reviewed was not impressive but others like it. Or maybe it just ones point of view. 🙂

    Another Thomas

  14. Cap

    The PL-310ET is a great radio for the price. The si4734 DSP chip is the winner and provides selectable bandwidths to limit co-channel interference with great sensitivity. The Easy Tune feature is actually very useful, especially if you move about a lot for business.
    If only Tecsun could add SSB into the form factor of the PL-310ET 🙂

  15. Thomas Brogan.

    I have a Pl 310 ET, and its an excellent little radio and as to the comment about build quality it’s actually better made than some of the pricier Tecsun models, actually you only need to watch the very comprehensive in depth series of video’s from your very own Oxford Shortwave Log. Actually i don’t believe anyone else who has went into as much detail on this little radio, watch some of his videos on this little radio and you will be amazed. Let’s face it this guy has been out in the woods putting this radio to the test. 73 Thomas.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Hi, Thomas–I totally agree. The PL-310ET is an amazing little DX machine! Clint has certainly put it to the test. I think what I’m asking about are those who’ve recently purchased the 310ET (in 2017) to determine if there’s simply a bad batch being sold.

  16. VE3MTL

    I received my Tecsun PL-310ET just before Christmas and have found it to perform as good as the majority of reviewers stated. It receives as good or better than my venerable Sangean ATS-3A on all bands. Lets face it, the audio on the tiny speaker will never rival the larger sets, however it is quite adequate for most shortwave listening. I really like the ETM scanning function and use it to guide my listening on the desktop units which lack that function. Perhaps the reviewers got a defective unit or rough handling loosened or broke some connections. I am very happy with mine.

      1. VE3MTL

        I ordered it from Amazon a week before Christmas so it came from stock that was in Amazon’s warehouse. No clues as to production date but I would guess it was recently made.

        1. VE3MTL

          I just checked the radio again and found a serial number? under the flip out stand. It is 41620161C01500. This might give a clue to manufacture date or batch.


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