Review of the Gospell GR-216 portable DRM multi-band radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ed, who writes:

Here’s a review on a Swedish Hobby Radio website of the GOSPELL GR-216 MULTI-BAND AM / FM /Shortwave / DRM receiver, which you reported about on 9/6/2016 and is now is reportedly about to go into production:

The latest Mediumwave / Shortwave / VHF-FM receiver GR-216 from Gospell can receive both digital and analogue mediumwave and shortwave signals as well as VHF FM broadcasts. The software-defined receiver is based on a NXP chipset. The firmware may easily be updated over the USB connector on the front.

The size of the radio is 240 mm (w) x 120 mm (h) x 150 mm (d) (without the knobs). It is supplied with a 230 VAC power cord, a 230 VAC / 9 VDC power supply and a user’s manual. Its retail price is about xx USD.

The radio has a pleasant design like your favorite kitchen radio but it is also fit for any livingroom. Unlike other products the GR-216 has a soft and clean design and all buttons and controls are easy to operate. It weighs about 2 kg and sits firmly on a table or a shelf. Much of the weight comes from its large loudspeaker (77 mm diameter) and the mains transformer. The two strips on the bottom of the cabinet prevents the GR-216 from slipping around when tuning or pressing the pushbuttons. The AF output power amplifier is 4 W.

There is also a 12 or 24 hour clock and a dual alarm clock (radio or buzzer) and a sleep timer. In addition to the built-in AC/DC power supply there is a DC jack on the rear panel for an external 9 Volt DC power supply if so required.

Continue reading…

Thanks for the tip, Ed! Reading this, it’s most encouraging to see that Gospell reached out to radio enthusiasts and used their input for firmware and hardware upgrades prior to production.

This may be the most encouraging portable DRM receiver yet. Indeed, Paul Walker, has been enjoying his Gospell GR-216 tremendously and–using an external antenna–has captured a number of DRM broadcasts from Pennsylvania. He might produce a review of his own to post here soon.

If anyone else has notes about the Gospell GR-216’s performance, please comment! Could this finally be a DRM portable for the DXer?

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14 thoughts on “Review of the Gospell GR-216 portable DRM multi-band radio

  1. David

    This is something free radio hobby stations could experiment with.
    The Tesco radio ‘takes in’ the whole signal (no narrow IF’s and using some sort of DSP chip), so it would qualify.
    Perhaps free radio could be the way forward for DRM? I agree its potential is great, due to good propagation of the MF / LF frequencies. DAB fails dismally for portable radio use -a roof antenna is a must., but removes the ‘portability’.
    I do a bit of ‘hobby radio’ on LW’s, so may give it a try.

  2. David

    It’s a pity DRM did not ‘take off’ in the UK. It’s too late now as DAB and soon 5G will dominate. DRM is a ‘curio’ that radio amateurs and hobby and pirate broadcasters can experiment with, and who knows what they may achieve?
    The Gospel radio is too high priced for next to no DRM broadcasts.
    A more realistic approach would be a small inline DRM to audio converter ‘box’ that goes into the headphone socket output of a cheap radio (such as Tesco’s RAD113 at only £10). This kitchen portable works very well on LW and MW, and uses a ‘novel’ detection
    system that does not reduce audio bandwidth once tuned to a station. This radio would be ideal for DRM. This radio also performs much better than much more costly radios in heavy SMPS domestic noise, due its unusual detection method., David

    1. Tom Servo

      That’s an interesting idea, but the radio would still have to output the full 10 kHz wide sideband-tuned signal through the headphone jack, and I don’t know any radios that do that.

      There’s already a huge untapped set of DRM-capable radios out there: SDRs. I’m pretty sure that even the cheapest SDRs will output the audio necessary for Dream to decode DRM live. So while there’s no market for dedicated radios (and thus few transmissions to serve them) there is a huge audience that could, with some simple bits of software, decode DRM quite easily.

  3. Mark O'Byrnes

    I just ordered 2 ! can’t wait ! they have a classic version which looks great check out their FB page and also see the new GR-227 car radio which works via USB and mobile app ( I think ) or works with android auto and Apple car Play.

    I suggested to Jerry to include LW reception on both the GR-227 and GR-216

  4. Ted

    was quoted $200 plus $60 shipping for this radio. Not going to pull the trigger til they get a U.S. distributor and a reasonable price.

  5. Tom Servo

    Paul noted that is has a pretty hot AM section, which is good for DXers of that band, but unfortunately it only goes to 1620 kHz, so it’s missing part of the North American expanded band.

    1. Tom Reitzel

      I’m looking forward to this DRM receiver when it’s finally released. Performance should be fine indeed. The firmware is currently being debugged. Thankfully, I’m pleased that DReaM doesn’t currently include the xHE-AAC codec so potential listeners will have to buy a new DRM receiver. Just listen to noisy and fading analog or connect to the Spynet. 😉

  6. Keith Perron

    This is just another DRM product that will vanish from the market in 12 or 18 months. Sadly DRM’s time has passed. With the nearly 20 years of “so called” testing. Testing what the technology does work. Other more modern distribution platforms have come alone.

    Last week I interviewed the curator of the Museum of Failure in Helsingborg, Sweden. He told me they have been keeping their eye on DRM for the past 2 years and they have already collecting 3 DRM receivers to add to their museum as soon as this latest venture fails.

    DRM is a great technology. But the only ones using it in a way that makes sense is Radio New Zealand International. RNZI use it to distribute their content to stations in the Pacific. In teh past few years we have seen India investing millions in upgrading their HF and MV transmitters for DRM as well as the Brazilians. But both are now looking at something other than DRM.

    The DRM Consortium , which use to include SONY, Panasonic, Sangean and other manufactures. And broadcasters like the VOA, CRI, and many others. Have all left. What is very funny is on the DRM website SONY is still listed as a member of the consortium, but yet SONY pulled out of the project years ago. Same with nearly all listed.

    At the beginning of this year even Tecsun, which had been looking to release a DRM receiver. Stopped even before it got to the R&D stage.

    In July I was at a meeting in Singapore made up up broadcasters from Southeast and East Asia. When DRM was brought up at one of the meetings. DRM was referred as Doesn’t Really Matter.

    1. RonF

      Y’know, I don’t always disagree with you, Keith 😉

      DRM was an interesting technical development, and the potential was there for it to be the next big thing – but that was 10+ years ago. It failed to capitalise on that & take off, so now it’s nothing more than a technical curio. They shot themselves in the foot in so many ways:

      – A history littered with announcements of radios that never saw daylight, prototypes that never saw production, and production that never amounted to anything.
      – Almost zero receiver availability: It’s telling that the DRM Consortium often has to fall back on radios that haven’t been manufactured for 10 years to pad out their displays/presentations (seriously – if you attended, or even look at the pics from, any of the events in Asia earlier this year, half of the 4 radios on display were released in 2007…)
      – Receiver quality: I’m sure Keith will agree that the Newstar & Avion models (the only non-car radios actually available in any sort of quantity this decade) were/are absolute dogs – poor build quality, woeful UI/ergonomics/layout, and poor-bordering-on-awful performance.
      – Receiver cost: Nobody in their right mind is going to pay $250+ for a radio like the Newstar or Avion (when I had the opportunity to play with an Avion on a trip through India, I decided it was an OK AU$50 radio – problem was, back then it was nearly AU$300…). The closest to affordable will be the Titus II – if it ever arrives – at around US$100. And that’s more interesting as possibly the first generally-available wideband self-contained SDR than for its DRM capability.

      And that’s leaving out much of what I consider to be questionable behaviour on the part of the DRM Consortium – playing up every purchase/installation of a DRM-capable MW transmitter as “a new DRM transmitter” (regardless of whether it’s intended for DRM or not); announcing every demo/trial as “[country] is adopting DRM”; etc…

      Don’t get me wrong – I’m more or less a fan, and have been DX’ing DRM on-and-off since the early RNZI trials – but, these days, it’s pretty much a zombie technology looking for new hosts to infect.

      Tom (below): I believe it’s been confirmed that it will cover the full US AM band when configured for 10kHz channel spacing.

    2. Ted

      Gee, you wouldn’t know India is looking elsewhere by the rate at which they are rolling out DRM transmissions.

  7. John C.

    I was quoted a price of $240.00 plus Air Frieght charges which would have brought the cost to over $300.00 USD. I just couldn’t see investing in another Radio just to get DRM which I can receive on my Winradio G33DDC SDR. With SW station DXing which is my primary focus, the bands have less stations broadcasting now since we’ve been losing stations yearly. Additionally DRM broadcasts are to few and far between since this mode of transmission never really took off in the past 5 years since I’ve been in the hobby. JMHO!

    1. zfyoung

      $240.00 is way too much if they want to it to be popular. Don’t know the comparative price for HD IBOC radio considering both use similar technologies. On the DRM receiver side, maybe they can learn from the success stories of HD radio (How did they manage to overcome the high price problem)?


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