Guest Post: Comparing the Reuter Pocket and the Icom IC-705 from an SWL’s perspective

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Uli (DK5ZU), who shares the following guest post:


SWL with a Reuter Pocket and the Icom IC-705

by Uli (DK5ZU)

Some time ago I asked how the IC-705 performs on longwave and I got some great feedback. Thanks a lot again. Since the HAM bug bit me again, I wanted to do SWL and HAM Radio portable with one rig. I started with SWL some weeks ago (just before the bug bit). I acquired a second hand Reuter Pocket RDR 51 Version B2. It is a standalone SDR Receiver 0 … 30 MHz / 50 ..71 MHz, and in my B2 version it has also FM (Stereo/RDS) and Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB). You may find the detailed specs here:
https://www.reuter-elektronik.com/html/pocket.html

The Reuter Pocket could, at one point, be configured as an QRP Transceiver, but it is no longer supported. There is a new RDR 52 small tabletop models, which can be ordered as a transceiver, too. But due to Covid related supply chain problems and price changes for the components, the new model is currently postponed.

The IC-705 is available, though. And for portable HAM operations it is a no brainer; obviously with a high price tag, but comparable with a new Reuter RDR 52 tabletop. And since my budget for the hobby is limited, I thought about funding part of the IC-705 price by selling the Reuter Pocket. But I wanted to do a side-by-side comparison so I ordered the 705 and was able to check them both on one antenna. The goal was to compare their sensitivity and selectivity on the lower bands: BC on AM and HAM bands for SSB. I did not compare CW since I am not a CW operator.

The antenna is a MiniWhip from PA0RDT which works quite well on the lower bands.

This comparison is not at all scientific and reflects just my opinion and what I heard. But anyway, there may be some people out there interested in this. So much for the intro.

Let’s start with my overall findings.

Regarding the sensitivity, there was no winner, I heard everything on the Reuter which I heard on the 705 and vice versa. On every band and mode I tested. Looking at the selectivity, both are at the same level, when the Reuter is set to the “time-based” demodulation. I did not check it in detail, but as far as I know, this is more or less the same technology as the 705.
The Reuter Pocket has another way to do the demodulation, though. Mr. Reuter calls it “Spectrum-Based Signal Processing (SBSP)” and explains it in like this:

It allows for an extremely selective filtering and low-noise demodulation with finely tunable parameters without the use of internal or external computers.
The basic concept of the Pocket is based on fully digital signal processing. The amplified and filtered antenna signal is digitized directly (DSR: Direct Sampling Receiver). There is no preceding frequency transformation (“mixing”), no adjustable frequency processing (PLL, VCO, DDS or similar) and no conventional filters (Quartz, Piezo, LC or similar). This results in an extremely linear phase response without additional phase noise or mixing interference, a prerequisite for clean, trouble-free and low- distortion demodulation.

Please check the webpage of Reuter Electronic for more details.

During my tests, I found that the Reuter, using the SBSP mode, had less splatter and the receiver was more quiet. This could be heard on SSB and AM. There was less noise and especially the rendering of voice on AM BC or HAM SSB was better to my ears. On the other hand, it misses some fidelity or richness of the sound compared to the time-based demodulation on the Reuter. Switching vice versa is done by two tips on the touchscreen. This reflects the description of the two modes in the manual of the Pocket.

Concerning the splatter, it was no problem to cope with it on the 705 by using the filters, but in some situations, a splatter was there on the 705 but missed on the Reuter with exactly the same filter settings. To sum it up, listening to the Reuter in SBSP mode was a little more convenient compared to the 705. The noise on the 705 is not bad either, but somehow a little higher in its tone which is not so good to my ears.

Using all the sound options on the 705, the signal rendering came closer. Still, the Reuter was a bit ahead.

Concerning ergonomics, the 705 is quite a bit ahead of the Pocket. Since the Pocket is operated only by touchscreen and one wheel, it is not too convenient operating it as it is the 705, which has some more knobs and keys. The display on the 705 is easier to operate, too. Since the touch fields on the Pocket are quite small, a touch screen pen is mandatory to operate it. For the 705 I did not need it. I do like the scope features on the 705 while the pocket is somehow limited there. For example, as far as I know there is not way to show the waterfall and the line spectrum at once like on the 705. Adjusting the scope is also easier on the 705.

Do not get me wrong, you can adjust everything on the Reuter, too. But not as ergonomic an on the Icom.

One thing really disappointed me on the Icom. Since it has Bluetooth, I thought I could connect it to my Bluetooth speaker to have a better audio compared to the internal speaker of the 705. The connection is only possible when the speaker can act as a headset. Luckily, mine does since it can be used for phone calls. My other “speaker only” model was not to be connected. But even the one which worked just gave a quite flat audio. I guess this is due to the BT standard which is used by Icom. If anybody has an idea how to solve this, I would really appreciate it.

The Reuter also has Bluetooth for audio and this works like you connect the speaker to a mobile. Full, rich audio. A pleasure to listen to, especially the big guns on Long- and Mediumwave and for FM and DAB. Especially on FM, the Reuter has RDS, Stereo and many filters. You may do FM DX with the Pocket, the 705 is limited here due to its single FM Filter.
I would really like to have a firmware update from Icom to fix this Bluetooth limitation if possible.

On the other hand side, the 705 can be CAT controlled via Bluetooth. This is a huge plus. The Pocket cannot be controlled by a computer right now.

Regarding the overall amount of features, the 705 is the winner. Not only because it is also a transceiver, the charging options are better, as said it can be controlled also remotely and you have more options to tweak it to your personal needs.

To compare both rigs, one have to be careful not compare apples to oranges. But just from the SWL point of view, and if someone is just on SWL, I would prefer the Reuter Pocket. It is basically the Swiss Army Knife for the radio listener. You can use it from 2 kHz way up to FM and it is a quiet and has a high selectivity. It has every feature you will need as a SWL I guess. That said, the IC-705 cannot replace it as an SWL rig (for me). On the other hand side, the 705 is really versatile and full of great features and caught up to the modern technologies which I missed at HAM radio rigs a lot.

So, back to the initial question: Sell the Reuter Pocket or keep it? I am not decided yet. I would appreciate your comments, opinions and experiences.

Best regards and 73,
Uli
DK5ZU

Spread the radio love

10 thoughts on “Guest Post: Comparing the Reuter Pocket and the Icom IC-705 from an SWL’s perspective

  1. luciano

    I have pocket c1. In CW ,narrow band and wake signals, the audio note is awful. On my RFT EKD 500 in the same conditions, the note is very fine.Even with my diy direct sampling receiver the note is better.The noise in the pocket ,filtered by cw filter , became terrible with wake signals ( s1 ..s3)

    Reply
  2. Dan

    In 2020 I was able to obtain a RDR54, an older Reuter model but using it is like driving a high end racing car. It will be interesting to see if Reuter can follow through with the new smaller 52 model.

    Reply
    1. Uli

      Hi Dan,
      according to the specs, the RDR 52 will be a little bit ahead of the Pocket. Due to more space, better heat management is possible and it will have the 16bit ADC like the C Models of the Pocket as standard. My Pocket B2 has a 14bit ADC. In addition, the 52 can be equipped with the FM/DAB modul plus the tranceiver or exiter module. For the Pocket just one of them is possible.
      73,
      Uli
      DK5ZU

      Reply
  3. Geir

    What ever you do, keep the Reuter if you can. I have one too and as you said, these high quality receivers are currently a bit hard to get for the time being, so I’ll keep mine for sure. You’ll never find any as good receiver as the pocket in such a small size. I know, I have and can compare it with both the bigger Icom IC-R9500 and and Icom-IC-R8600 and I also have both the small Grundig Satellite and the Sangean ATS-909×2. None of these two portables, almost same size as the Reuter, comes even close to it.
    73’s
    Geir, LA6LU

    Reply
    1. Uli

      Hi Geir,
      thanks for your comment and that is exactly my thought. It is probably to good to sell it again. And due to its FM and DAB capabilities, it is a great everyday radio, too.
      73,
      Uli
      DK5ZU

      Reply
    1. Uli Zehndbauer

      Hi Marc,
      I bought it years ago at the HAM-Radio in Friedrichshafen. The DARC Verlag has an online shop, you can buy it possibly there, too.
      73,
      Uli

      Reply
  4. Thomas Post author

    Wow, Uli!

    Thank you so much for sharing your findings. I have never used the Reuter Pocket, so appreciate this comparison. I believe the only time I’ve seen one in person was when I was with my buddy Matt Blaze who has one. I was amazed at the size. I could see where ergonomics might be a challenge, but it did have a lot of functionality and features. I find the IC-705 to be very intuitive.

    I think I would try to hang onto both of these units if budget allowed. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Thomas

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.