Ivan checks out the Kenwood TH-D74’s mediumwave performance

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ivan (NO2CW), who writes:

One category of receivers not much talked about are the wideband handhelds. I first owned one of those in 1992 when I paid a ton of money for an AOR-1000. Not only did it cost me a lot but I also ordered it from the UK so it was not subject to the “cellular blocked” rule. Don’t ask me why, it never made any difference in the end.

As a busy shortwave listener at the time I was eager to check out reception as the radio also featured Shorwave coverage and even a BFO (Beat Frequency Oscillator) knob! To sum it up it was a great receiver above 30 mHz but Shortwave and Mediumwave was barely there, with a 15 kHz wide filter and low sensitivity.

Well today I have in my hands a Kenwood TH-D74A – a top of the line handheld triband amateur radio transceiver with Medium Wave and Short Wave coverage. The radio is expensive due to the presence of GPS, D Star and APRS, but those are a features for the radio amateur. What about performance on the low frequencies?

Here is my video of the test which revealed surprising results:

Click here to view on YouTube.

So next time you consider purchasing a new receiver,as you dive into the choice of portables, SDRs, tabletops and classics from eBay you may consider adding this category as well – handhelds with wide band coverage.

Thank you, Ivan!  You’ve inspired me to check out mediumwave performance on a few wideband handy talkies I own: the Yaesu VX-3R, Yaesu FT2DR and the Kenwood TH-F6A. To my knowledge, all three have internal ferrite bars (tiny ones) but I’ve never actually compared their performance with each other. That could be a lot of fun. I also own an AN200 MW loop antenna so this could be an excellent test to see how it pairs with each radio.  I’m especially curious about the wee VX-3R!

Thanks again, Ivan. We always enjoy your videos and posts.

Spread the radio love

7 thoughts on “Ivan checks out the Kenwood TH-D74’s mediumwave performance

  1. TC

    A couple of years ago, I published a side-by-side comparison of the TH-F6A and the TH-D74 on youtube comparing reception of a local AM broadcast station. The F6A was far more sensitive on the AM broadcast band than the TH-D74.

    You can see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9EbYWrm7BM

    I didn’t take the internal orientation of the bars into account, but the D74 is less sensitive in pretty much any orientation compared to the older F6A.

    I contacted Kenwood about the difference, and they stated something to the effect of while the TH-D74 does receive MW, it wasn’t necessarily designed for it, and thus the reception there suffers compared to the F6A.

    However, the tradeoff here seems to be better shortwave reception in the TH-D74 compared to the F6A.. hook the D74 up to a large wire antenna and you can easily pull in stuff on the shortwave broadcast and ham bands, and the IF filters help quite a bit as well.

  2. Tim

    Total nonsense. Anyone can purchase ANY amateur radio, receiver OR transceiver. They just can’t legally TRANSMIT without the appropriate amateur LICENSE. Which is part of the question pool you should learn if you took the test.

    1. RonF

      > “Total nonsense. Anyone can purchase ANY amateur radio, receiver OR transceiver.”

      Umm… no. There’s quite a few countries in the world where a ham licence is required to purchase (new or second-hand) or even possess ham radio transmitters or transceivers, regardless of whether they’re used to transmit or not.

      I don’t know where Paul (who raised the point initially below) lives – but speak for yourself, not for others.

      1. Mike N7MSD

        I don’t know this for fact but it wouldn’t surprise me as many countries clearly make it very difficult to become a ham without outright banning it. These countries are usually the ones with the worst human rights records or at least highly questionable.

        India easily falls into that second category: over a billion people yet there are less than 17 thousand hams. No mistake or exaggeration. And when you see the stories (pop up on eHam & elsewhere) it becomes clear that India is scared to death of any comms they can’t directly control & monitor because their national security hangs on by a rather thin thread with so many internal conflicting parties much less external ones like China, Pakistan, etc. This point is driven home by the fact they ban all (?) satellite phones, something even China & Russia don’t do (though they have major controls on them).

        Then there are some countries where it seems impossible to “open” things up more: Japan & S. Korea seem to fall in here, where regulations tend to be onerous for any new tech & everything requires a license mod; even Australia has this problem, not to mention charging ridiculous fees for said licenses & mods. Compared to these places, the US & Canada are probably the most open countries in the world for hams & scanner enthusiasts!

    1. Mike N7MSD

      This comment is as outdated as the laws implicitly quoted: today, that band (Band 5 to be specific, the original Americas cell phone band) is just a small part of all the bands in use, and which continue to grow.

      That said, the analog comment has been true for 20 years or so in the 1st World, and a decade in the 3rd World (where something other than GSM was deployed for 2G).

      As an extreme example, most 4G LTE channels are a minimum of 5 MHz wide in each direction (FDD), with many being 20 MHz wide. With 5G on higher bands, minimum 100 MHz wide channels are in use with smaller bandwidths limited to low frequency bands (old UHF TV channels, the above Band 5, etc). For comparison, a TV signal is 5 to 6 MHz wide and getting the signal chains to be linear over a bandwidth that large was one of the big challenges in the early days of TV.

  3. Paul

    It should be noted that this is a ham radio transceiver meaning that the ordinary SWL/DXer will not be able to purchase one if a ham licence is required.


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