Detailed photos of the Tecsun PL-990x and difference between it and the PL-990

This week, I received a pre-production unit of the Tecsun PL-990x.

You might have noticed the “x” in the model number which is used to specify the particular model that will be exported and distributed by Anon-Co.

It’s my understanding that the PL-990x is essentially the same as the PL-990 when the MW tuning steps are set to 10 kHz. When set to 9 kHz steps, however, it differs. I was sent the following chart showing the differences between the models:

PL-990x photos

Click to enlarge the following photos:

The side ports have small, protective inserts installed. They’re tiny and not attached in any way to the chassis so could be easily lost.

They can be a bit finicky to put back in as well. I’m sure I’ll simply remove the one from the headphones port permanently and leave the others in.

It’s a nice option to keep unused ports free of dust and dirt.

The radio comes with rubber pads installed on the tuning, fine-tuning and volume knobs. This does add a little extra grip while rotating the knobs, but I don’t personally think they’re necessary. Fortunately, they’re very easy to remove if you don’t like them.

Another thing I love about the PL-990 are the dedicated mechanical switches on the front of the radio for functions like antenna switching, gain/attenuation, and back lighting:

The keypad layout is very logical and in keeping with previous Tecsun models.

I’ll soon be putting the PL-990 through the paces! So far, I’m very impressed with the build quality and built-in speaker audio. I’ve yet to properly evaluate performance.

Funny: I’ve been so eager to check out both the PL-990 and the lab599 TX-500. Both have been held months up due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This week, on the same day, I received them both. For a radio geek like me, it’s almost overwhelming.

Stay tuned–there’s much more to come!

(Also, check out George’s recent PL-990 review!)

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30 thoughts on “Detailed photos of the Tecsun PL-990x and difference between it and the PL-990

  1. JJones

    Get yourself a Skywave SSB and save a bag of money. Not to mention having the air band and excellent SSB operation.

    1. Shawnj

      I just purchased the pl990 version from Amazon and noticed the radio layout is identical to the pl990x except the difference in freq range but for shortwave ssb it’s the same as the pl990x. I ask anon company and they said the pl990 is suited for North America and South America that the x is intended for outside North America and doesn’t have 2 battery but the radio seems like a very nice radio

  2. Steven Adler

    I have the Tecsun pl-660. For the quality, capabilities and cost (< $100) it’s been a great SWL receiver.

      1. Rob K

        I suggested the actual price and was pretty close.

        QUESTION1 : The info sheet on PL 990X suggested that Ext Antenna affected FM / AM / and SW = cool if true.
        QUESTION 2 ( worth 34.7 points if answered correctly lol) :
        Can broadcast AM be split into LSB/USB then fine tuned and SYNCED for DX listening AM Broadcast Band ?

        Thank You .

    1. Robert Richmond

      Even ~$300 for a new SWL portable would be a stretch for me.

      Then again, look at Eton’s re-release of the Tecsun S-2000 at ~$400?! o.0

      1. George Joachim

        I have the Tecsun S-2000 as well, it’s very good but it is HUGE! A ghetto blaster of a shortwave radio.

    2. Snoop54

      Opino lo mismo, esta equipado con excelente funciones que me gustan pero ese precio carisimo ? difícilmente ahora, me tienta pero no me atrevo comprarlo considero oneroso aunque tendré que esperar que baje demanda y quizás

  3. Babis

    hi well done received …
    1)when you will test the radio, is possible to compare MW 990X vs 880 or a similar unit?
    2) this external antenna plug in jack, can also connect mw external antenna? or is just for FM/SW

    we wait if you will get and the pl-330 as well … thanks

    1. Thomas Post author

      I do plan to compare it with the PL-880 and the S-8800.

      I’ll have to check the MW antenna connection. Thanks for the reminder!


      1. Robert K Scorpio

        I will be looking forward to how the 990 or 990x respond on AM with an external antenna as well.
        I personally now lean toward listenable DX on AM where it is nearly static free and also FM in a similar way .
        I hope the 990 or the 990x is a step up on AM Broadcast and a little crisper ( maybe just a more effective bright switch than 880 – ).

        Either way – if the Bandwidth Control and the SYNC for distant AM – using the stronger sideband work and it is more sensitive than the PL660 – and it sells for $200 to $250 US – could definitely be worth it .

        Wishful thinking ? Maybe …..I just sent back an Etòn Executive Elite because it was not quite as sensitive nor hifi enough for me ….very low hiss though …I may try another …but I wish for a better speaker and separate knobs anyway..990 may be it.

  4. Matt

    Tecsun Australia has this available for preorder. It’s $550 AUD, which comes out to a little under $400 USD. Right now I can’t see this unit being worth that much, but I guess we’ll see what the reviews say.

  5. stogieguy7

    It says it utilizes DSP. So I wonder if this is could be an FM reception and selectivity champ? Such would also normally provide selectable bandwidth options for MW as well. Eagerly awaiting your review of this rig – it’s the most intriguing new model I’ve seen come out in a while.

  6. Mangosman

    Since the PL990 is aimed at ITU region 2 (the Americas) it is a pity it is not designed to receive HD radio.

    The PL 990x is aimed at ITU regions 1 & 3 which is the rest of the world. Norway has switched off all network FM transmitters and it has no AM. For that market and lots of Europe and in Australia, DAB+ is already important and becoming more so.

    Since this radio is designed to receive LF, MF, HF available in DRM, and it must contain a microprocessor which should be able tor receive DRM modulation in both models. DRM now covers 600 million Indians and looks as if the Brazilians are going to transmit it. US Government owned Radio Marti is also transmitting DRM in the HF band.

    1. Ron F

      > Since this radio is designed to receive LF, MF, HF available in DRM, and it must contain a microprocessor which should be able tor receive DRM modulation in both models.

      As far as is known both models use a Si47xx DSP/receiver chip & small uC for the front panel, same as most other similar radios. If so, it hasn’t got a chance of receiving DRM.

      1. Mike S

        Therein lies the problem with the evolution of this product line as it is essentially at a dead end. It seems they have basically reached the peak of performance achievable within the capabilities of the current SiLabs chipset. So instead they are playing “me too”, adding things like MP3/memory card support which do not materially add to the usefulness of the products as radio receivers. I hope that some head-to-head performance tests prove me wrong, because this basically strikes me as a PL880 clone in an old style case, at a much inflated price to boot.

        1. Ron F

          Via I/Q out – so they still require a separate I/Q DSP/demodulator/decoder for HDRadio or DRM.

          But I should’ve been clearer & stated the PL-990 & H-501 apparently still use a Si473x (i.e. 30 to 35; the 36 to 39 don’t support SW), rather than shorthanding it to Si47xx – if only to avoid your confusing that range with the Si47xxx range.

          (FWIW, its only the Si47972 that supports DRM at all – the Si47971 doesn’t. The short datasheet is wrong in that respect; a later PCN and the full datasheet are correct)

        2. Mike S

          Thanks. I am reminded that Eton did engineer a version of the Satellit which received DAB+ but never marketed it because of perceived lack of demand. There is a publicity flyer, made for a US consumer Electronics Show still floating around, that attests.

    2. Henry N6HCM

      Does not HD radio require some software licensing from the iBOC people? that adds cost, and people are already grumbling about price here …

      (that said, I agree that HD would be awesome to have here … )

      1. Mike S

        This is correct.

        HD Radio manufacturers need to pay a licensing fee to Xperi.

        In the product segments covered by this blog, the only manufacturer to step up to the plate has bene Sangean, and they have only done so on AM/FM sets, not multiband SWL receivers.


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