Category Archives: Reviews

Critical reviews of the $37 HanRongDa HRD-737 shortwave radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Glen and James Fields who shared their experience after  publishing a post about the HannRongDa HRD-737 portable radio.

Glen writes:

I received one Saturday I had ordered from Aliexpress. In one word, avoid. The performance is really terrible everywhere except the FM broadcast band. Reception there is OK, but it is prone to overload more than my other radios. Aircraft reception is terrible. Only very strong shortwave signals are present. Same with AM broadcast. VHF performance is abysmal. To illustrate, my closest NOAA transmitter is so strong it trips the “close signals” quick scan in my Whistler TRX-1. On the HanRongDa, the NOAA signal is present, but it’s weak. All my other weather band receivers can get signals on all 7 frequencies. The HanRongDa hears only the very close one. This is easily the worst receiver I’ve ever gotten. Perhaps it’s defective. Eager to hear experiences from anyone else.

James Fields writes:

Received mine yesterday. Have only tested in my office which is a challenging, RFI-rich environment, so trying to withhold final judgement. However so far my experience matches Glen’s. Can only pick up the strongest shortwave signals. MW AM so far terrible. FM broadcast passable but not at all remarkable, and most stations have a LOT of hiss in the background. Have yet to pick up AIR band transmission on frequency that I can get on every other receiver I have. Nothing on CB yet. Cannot receive any NOAA frequencies, including two that I get solidly on other radios. Interestingly I can receive local police dispatch frequency pretty well.

Construction is pretty cheap.

Positives? I got mine for $37 shipped from a reseller on Ali Express . If I had paid over $40 I would feel worse about the value. And it really is a shirt-pocket portable. Super small and light.

At this time I cannot recommend this for anyone, for any purpose.

Thank you for sharing! I think I’ll pass on the HanRongDa HRD-737!

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The Prof recommends the Sangean DAR-101

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, The Professor, who writes:

I’ve had one of these for along time, and it’s been pretty much the only way I’ve recorded radio for years. It’s an easy to use rock solid workhorse.

My biggest complaint is the lack of recording format choices, and I’ve long hoped there would be a firmware update to expand them. Sure, being able to record WAV files would be welcome, but I’m not really in need of that. What I would like is a broader range of MP3 encoding options, up to 320kbps. And of course, to be able record in mono or stereo. All MP3 options on everything are just stereo by default, because almost everybody is dealing with post 50s music in the MP3 format, and that’s always stereo. But AM and shortwave radio are of course only mono, as are phone conversations, which this device is specially outfitted to record.

It’s a waste of a channel. If it’s a mono source it’s a waste of space on the SD card just for starters. But don’t forget that the encoding rate is divided by two in a stereo format. A 160kbps mono file is equal to a 320kbps stereo file. So, a 192 mono file would be superior to a 320 stereo file. Of course, I could get into “joint stereo” and VBR and throw in more variables, but what I’m saying here is pretty much on point.

That said, AM broadcasting is rather limited in acoustical dynamics, at least as we know it. I’ve found that it’s very hard for almost anybody to hear any artifacts in a 32kbps mono recording of AM radio. It stands up to compression well. And it also stands up well to RE-compression. I often expand the MP3 files I make on this into mono WAV files and tidy them up and normalize and edit them. I never notice any artifacts in the MP3 encode I make of the resulting file(s). So, I’d like more encoding formats, but the 192kbps stereo option on the DAR-101 is fine for me in the end.

This recorder also makes a fine speaker for a laptop. When you hit record the first time the speaker monitors the audio source out loud. You press record again and it starts to lay down audio on the card. So if I want to use it as a speaker I just leave it in “ready to record” mode. Works fine.

And for you old cassette heads, it looks enough like a cassette deck, which is comforting I suppose. I think the wall wart AC power adds a little noise. I just make sure the batteries are charged when I’m going to use it. And sometimes it makes a difference to keep it a couple feet from your radio to avoid any little bit of RFI.

In general, I highly recommend the DAR-101. If anyone has any questions feel free to ask.

Thanks for sharing your review of the DAR-101 and your recommendations for recording amplitude modulation!

The DAR-101 is currently $87.95 on Amazon (affiliate link) and $99.95 at Universal Radio. I’ve also found used ones on eBay for as little as $50.70.

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Tivdio V-115/Audiomax  SRW-710S: Keith approves of everything save battery performance

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Keith Stephens, who writes:

Regarding the Audiomax  SRW-710S  radio.

I was very pleasantly surprised at more than one aspect of this radio.  First, it sounds like something with a much larger speaker.  It has the base capability of at least a 6″ speaker.  My favorite FM music station comes from a mountaintop repeater over 70 miles away.  The 710S is one of two radios I have tried through the years that brings it in clear and clean.  The other is a much bigger more expensive radio.  And of course, the voice quality of the local AM talk shows is excellent.  I lost my instruction booklet (as usual) but I do want to record the FM station for times when I am out of range.

It is a pity that I have to tell of a bad shortcoming on this wonderful radio.  Alas, I couldn’t believe it the first time it died at the end of three hours.  I thought I had a bad battery, but a fully charged new battery only lasts 3 hours!  I would pay twice the price for the same radio if it had a better battery life.  Please let me know if there is a better battery or the same radio with a larger battery.

Thanks for your mini review, Keith! Admittedly, I’ve never tested the battery performance of this set because I typically use it for short (1 hour) recording sessions.

Click here to read other reviews of the Audiomax  SRW-710S/Tivdio V-115.

Retailers:

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Dave’s review of the Sangean DAR-101 digital recorder

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Zantow (N9EWO), who notes that he has updated his Sangean DAR-101 recorder:

Yes, a newly tested (latest production) sample of the [DAR-101]. My years old “lightly used” sample died back in the fall. New one seems to work less sluggish with the updated firmware as well as adding monitor speaker selection in the menu’s.

http://n9ewo.angelfire.com/dar101.html

The AC Adapter info should also be valid for the ATS-909X as well.

Nice standalone MP3 recorder with a built in amplifier and large speaker.

Thanks, Dave.  This is a very tempting purchase. I do quite a lot of off-air recordings for the SWLing Post and, especially, the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. I typically use my Zoom H2N for line-in recordings, but at home would prefer something that would sit on my desktop better and with a built-in speaker. The DAR-101 might fit the bill.

I see that it’s currently $81.52 on Amazon right now (affiliate link) and $99.95 at Universal Radio.

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DE1DGK reviews the affordable Tecsun R-9012

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, DE1DGK, who shares the following mini review of the Tecsun R-9012:

I also have the Tecsun-R-9012, the little analog brother of the R-920c with digital display, and like to tune over the given bands with it. The sound is loud and clear and speaker-quality seems to be quite good as well. With earphones you can listen FM in stereo sound.

Either on Shortwave and Mediumwave, selectivity and sensitivity are fantastic for such a little 20€ worldband receiver. On FM, the bigger stations come in fine but it’s not very selective for weaker signals or FM-DX.

For shortwave, an external antenna like Tecsun AN-05, often overloads the receiver. It’s not recommend to use it for such low cost receivers at all.

In fact, the serial telescopic antenna works good enough in most of the situations. It could be helpful to shorten telescopic antenna a bit so reception might be better when there is too much RFI around. It depends from band to band. Battery life is amazing. It only needs two AA-batteries and works over months.

When you look for a basic worldband receiver, the Tecsun R-9012 is one of the best analog devices in the 20€-price-range. On the internet are out many reviews and tests about this little receiver which are all positive and often outperforms much more expensive worldband receivers. I would rate the Tecsun R-9012 with all pros and cons with 4.5 out of 5. It does perform great. Ideal for shortwave beginners and listeners who like the analog-feeling or those who want a universal little radio with shortwave.

Thank you for sharing your review!  I agree–the R-9012 is a safe choice for simple and affordable radio fun.

Tecsun R-912 retailers:

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