Tag Archives: Degen

Anon-Co special offer on the Degen DE1128

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Troy Riedel, who shares the following:

Anon-Co has just placed the Degen 1128 on “special offer” for $46.99 plus $9 shipping to the U.S.

The Degen 1128 is – or was – the Grundig G2 Reporter.  Dave (N9EWO) conducted a great review of the Grundig G2, Degen 1128 & the Degen 1128H.  The G2 had its issues, but the 1128H version is an improved version though still with some quirks.  Dave (N9EWO) only recommends the 1128H version and Anon-Co doesn’t specifically state that their listing is the updated/improved 1128H though their product photo clearly shows “1128” without the H on the radio.  Could this be an old stock photo or a 100% true representation?

If anyone is interested, I’d recommend they first read Dave’s review page – and if potential buyers are still interested – they should contact Anon-Co & ask them to confirm if this is the 1128 or 1128H.  I noticed a few months ago the 1128H was priced $88-$95 direct from China to the USA via Internet retailers & the current delivered eBay price China to the USA is $75.  If the Anon-Co listing is for the 1128H, $55.99 delivered is a good price – though to repeat, confirm with Anon-Co before placing an order.

Click here to view the Degen DE1128 at Anon-Co.

Version 2.0? Julio’s positive review of the Degen DE1103

IMG_20151126_165751594_HDR

[Correction: Julio’s version of the DE1103 is the first, non-DSP (current) version.]

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Julio Cesar Pereira, who comments with his mostly positive impression of the DSP version of the Degen DE1103 receiver:

I’ve got a DE1103 and haven’t noticed any AM bleeding on SWL so far. I sometimes stay at one of my family’s properties located at the center of a city with lots of stations. There I use the balcony on the 9th floor and I get a lot of spurious interference from FM stations, which is normal once you’re surrounded by buildings. However, I already tuned some images on SW. I used an old SW7600G to check it out and it didn’t get any.

I kind of started to dislike DSP, for it can be annoying to hear it engage and disengage when a signal constantly drops down and recovers. It is fantastic when a signal is strong and constant for it improves audio quality whether it is MW, SW or FM.

At one time, I even thought it would be perfect for the DE1103 to have this [DSP] feature, but you know what? I’m very happy with the way mine is right now. I find this receiver to have the best FM reception compared to the others of my little collection of tabletop and portable receivers, which includes scanners ICOM IC-R20 and R5, receivers PL-660, SW7600GR, ICF-2010, etc. The DE1103 is by far the most sensitive and selective one, it even beats my old Realistic DX-440.

As for SW, I like the combination of its very good AGC and very low floor, which allows me to do DXing with the RF attenuator on and does not have any annoying filter like the PL-660. I also enjoy its audio quality, especially on the headphones, for it is more natural, not processed like the PL-660’s or over-processed like the SW7600GR’s.

You can tell I’m a big fan of this little radio. It has its flaws, but I can live with them.

Thank you for sharing your experience with the DE1103 DSP, Julio!

Degen DE1103 DSP Version 2.0?

Julio, I’m now very curious if your receiver is the “Version 2.0 Model” mentioned by this seller on eBay. [ Julio has now confirmed that it is not the DSP version.]

DegenDE1103-2.0

If you’ve read my DE1103 DSP review, you’ll note that I haven’t been the biggest fan of the new DSP version of the DE1103. I did review a very early model and wonder if Degen has tweaked the DE1103 DSP to provide better performance? Can any other readers comment?

I’ll search through the various models of the DE1103 on eBay and see if there are any specifics about the new 2.0 version in product descriptions. I’ll also attempt to contact sellers for details.

Please comment if you have any information.

Update: Several readers pointed out that the “Version 2.0” might simply be a way sellers are using to indicate that this is the DSP-based DE1103–rather than this being an improved version of the original DSP receiver I tested. 

Phil’s initial impressions of the Degen DE27

Degen-DE27

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Phil Ireland, who comments:

I’ve just received my Degen DE27 from China. Interesting little radio, I haven’t had a good chance to put it through its paces yet but my initial impressions are the radio seems well built and fairly intuitive to turn it on.

However, all the instructions are in Chinese so luckily there was someone in my office who could set the language to english otherwise, setting up the radio is a nightmare! I will have to take the radio outside to test its performance as the office environment is useless to listen in.

The box says the radio tunes from 3.2 mhz to 21.850 mhz however, I havent been able to work out how to make it tune out of the standard SW Broadcast Bands yet. Toggling between 10 khz and 9 khz steps for AM is easy as it setting the FM band coverage but I’m yet to determine the SW settings. It appears tuning is only in 5 khz as well on SW.

As for venturing into MP3 settings and recording, I’ll leave that, it seems too much of a challenge! The clock and calendar, sleep timer, alarms are all fairly straight forward but there is an “E-Book” setting which defies description! It has a USB flash disc function and inputs for a micro SD card. Charging the supplied Lithium battery is via a supplied USB cable.

The display is easy to read and attractive with excellent backlighting. I’m not expecting stellar performance on any band, after all, it was a cheap radio (about 40 AUD with free postage) but it is built around DSP architecture. Only a single bandwidth is available and there is no SSB capabilities. The radio hopefully will be ideal to throw onto a backpack or pocket as a travel portable.

If DEGEN read these comments, perhaps an English manual put online would be extremely helpful to allow users to get the most out of the DE27.

I’ll comment more on the performance later but for now, the radio shows promise.

Thanks so much for sharing your initial impressions, Phil! Please keep us informed as you discover more about this little radio!

This reminds me that I have yet to put my Degen DE221 through the paces. Stay tuned!

A review of the Kaito KA29 / Degen DE29

Kaito-KA29

While doing a somewhat random search on Amazon a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a radio with a model number that I didn’t recognize–the Kaito KA29.

The form factor of the KA29 is very reminiscent of the Degen DE1129 I reviewed two years ago, but it’s smaller and sports a number pad on the front. On a whim, and with possible use of this radio in my charitable work at ETOW, I purchased one. At ETOW we have used similar radios with 16-32 GB Micro SD cards, chock-full of educational audio content. At $35, the KA29 is an affordable MP3 player and radio.

 

Kaito-KA29-Top

On a side note, I suppose I should mention that I was pretty disappointed with the DE1129 because I had hopes it would make for a great all-in-one portable radio recorder for ETOW. While the DE1129 could record FM/AM and SW radio directly, it had serious problems: it auto-adjusted the volume level during recording (one could not turn off the internal speaker), it degraded audio quality in recording, and medium wave was plagued with a “ticking” sound every 10 seconds. It produced digital hash on various meter bands. My summary of the DE1129:  fine concept, poor engineering. Read my full review of the first version of the DE1129 here.

The Kaito KA29: First impressions

The Kaito KA29 is a cute little portable. Mine has a black body with orange band encircling the diameter. That orange band is actually a nice addition–it helps the radio show up a bit better and makes the ports a little easier to see when lighting is low.

Kaito-KA29-Side

The overall quality of the radio feels fine: the hard plastic body has a smooth matte quality and the buttons have a very tactile response. The telescopic whip antenna is long for the overall radio size, but is still a little on the short side for good HF gain. Oddly, unlike most radios, the antenna cannot swivel at its point of attachment to the chassis; it can only be extended and tipped side-to-side–but not front to back, or back to front. Like the DE1129, the KA29 lacks a back stand–a big negative in my book–but admittedly a back stand would be of little use while SWLing with this rig because the antenna can’t be swiveled or tipped into a useful vertical position. Hm.  Also like the DE1129, the KA29 uses a slim rechargeable battery pack.Kaito-KA29-Back

When I first turned on the KA29, I thought I had received a faulty unit: I pressed and held the power button for a second, the display lit up a bright green, I released the power button…and the unit turned off. After a little trouble-shooting, I realized that the KA29 requires holding the power button a full two seconds, until the “Kaito” brand name appears on the display.

Unfortunately, the KA29 antenna does not swivel.

Unfortunately, the KA29 antenna does not swivel.

 

This sluggish power-up response is truly an indicator of most functions on the KA29. It’s as if every function is controlled by a slow processor–which I’ve no doubt is the case.

As far as I can tell, all the menu functions are the same on the Degen DE1129; obviously, they’re built on the same firmware. Indeed, Kaito is the North American brand for the Chinese manufacturer, Degen; the Degen model number for this radio is DE29. In this sense, most functions are familiar to me.

Tuning

The one added feature of the KA29 that my version of the DE1129 didn’t have is a number pad, useful for direct entry of radio frequencies. I should note here that I (typically) toss the owner’s manual aside when I first get a radio, in order to test how intuitive its functions are. I spent quality time with the KA29 while traveling a few weeks ago, and as I didn’t bring the manual, I had to learn its functions via trial and error. It wasn’t until I returned that I learned how to use direct frequency entry; the is answer clearly stated in the manual: just key in the frequency, then press the appropriate band (AM/FM/SW) to go to that frequency. Pretty simple, actually. The response time for the radio to start playing the frequency you enter is only about one second.

 

Use of the tuning knob (located on the right side of the radio) is easy and straightforward–tuning up and down will move the needle 5 kHz steps between frequencies. Unfortunately, as on the DE1129, 5 kHz is the smallest tuning step available.  The KA29 briefly mutes between frequency changes, so when tuning slowly it’s very noticeable.  If you tune quickly, the KA29 will produce snippets of audio as you pass signals, but I find it often skips over even very strong signals.  In short? Though I suppose it could be worse, I do not like tuning the KA29.

I should also mention that the KA29 has no adjustable bandwidth; I’m guessing the AM bandwidth is stuck at around 6 or 7 kHz.

Performance

While I no longer have the DE1129 in hand for side-by-side comparison, my impression is that performance between the two radios is very similar.

Audio fidelity

Herein lies the strength of the KA29. It obviously uses the same speaker technology (with an acoustic chamber) that the DE1129 uses. You will be favorably impressed with the audio from this wee radio–it is quite robust for a pocket radio of this size, and in a small room, almost room-filling. It sounds fantastic on FM and AM alike–you can even hear a hint of bass. One day, I tuned the KA29 to a local AM station and listened quite comfortably in another room. Impressive.

But what about receiver performance?

FM

FM performance is quite good. I’ve used the KA29 in two different cities, and found that it could detect most of the same FM stations my other portables picked up.

AM/Medium Wave

I was pleasantly surprised to note the absence of the annoying ticking sound I heard in the DE1129; it appears Degen engineers have succeeded in eliminating this distraction. In general, I believe the KA29 performs acceptably on medium wave for basic local and nighttime clear channel broadcast listening. The AGC circuit is not ideal, though, for any sort of medium wave DXing; don’t consider the KA29 for MW DX.

Shortwave

If the KA29 is better than the DE1129 on the shortwave bands, the improvement is negligible. You’ll be fairly happy with the KA29 while listening to strong shortwave broadcasts. During my review, I listened to the new Global 24 a few hours on 9,395 kHz–an easy catch on the east coast of North America–and the KA29 was fairly stable, producing rich audio.

Here are the cons on shortwave:

Automatic Gain Control

While listening to weak stations, you’ll discover the KA29 to be somewhat sensitive, but again, the AGC circuit is just too active to listen comfortably for very long.

Noise floor

The noise floor is more obvious while listening to weak signals: I believe much of the noise is coming from the internal electronics of the KA29. It produces an audible digital hash sound that makes weak-signal listening a bit of a chore.

Images

Quite often as I tuned around the shortwave bands, I noticed that FM stations bleed through the audio. Check out this audio sample as I attempted to listen to Radio Ryhad:

Indeed, even if the shortwave station has a relatively strong signal (like this recording of Global 24) you can often hear noise:

For comparison, listen to the other radios I recorded at the same time for the ultra portable shoot-out.

Onboard Recording

Fortunately, several of the recording problems I noted with the DE1129 are no longer an issue with the KA29.

Fixed volume

The DE1129, when recording radio, had the exceedingly annoying habit of automatically setting the internal speaker’s volume to a high level. While recording, this could not be changed.

Fortunately, this problem has mostly been addressed in the KA29, which does not increase the volume while making a recording, but still fixes the volume at the level set at the recording’s start. I didn’t find this to be much of a problem.

Audio quality

The recording performance is better than that of the DE1129, which produced noisy, muffled recordings.  The KA29 will produce fair audio recordings on AM, on FM, and on shortwave.  One drawback: you will note a low-volume, high-pitched static noise–a hiss, to be specific–inherent in every radio recording, regardless of band. While it’s not too offensive, nor enough to deter me from making direct radio recordings (at least of strong stations), there is still much room for improvement.  Obviously, I can use the headphone jack and an external digital recorder to make better radio recordings.  But the convenience of an all-in-one recording device plus radio outweighs the slight hiss in the internal recordings it produces.

All in all?  I’m reasonably pleased with the radio recording capabilities of the KA29, and the improvements it’s made over its predecessor. If the Degen engineers could lower the KA29’s noise floor and fix the imaging problems, and add 1 kHz tuning increments, this could be a good value all-in-one radio, a real contender.

Summary

Ever radio has its pros and cons.  The following is a list I made while reviewing the KA29:

Pros:

  • Keypad entry
  • Great audio for a tiny radio
  • FM reception quite good
  • MP3 playback audio is good
  • Onboard radio recording acceptable (see con)
  • 9/10 kHz select-able medium wave steps

Cons:

  • Sluggish response to most actions; if (for example) volume control has been used, you must wait nearly 4 seconds before using another function
  • Awkward menu to navigate
  • No bandwidth selections
  • Imaging on SW bands
  • Fixed 5 kHz steps on shortwave
  • No adjustable bandwidth
  • Digital noise on portions of MW and SW bands
  • Low audio hiss present in all internal radio recordings (see pro)
  • No back stand
  • Antenna does not swivel 360 degrees for optimal placement

Conclusion?

Kaito-KA29-Front

If you’re looking for a pocket radio to make local radio recordings on-the-go, and the quality of your recordings is not a major concern, you might give the KA29 a try; chances are you’ll be fairly pleased with the affordable KA29.

If you’re a shortwave radio hobbyist or DXer of any stripe, however, don’t waste your time or money on the DE1129. Instead, pitch in $10 more and buy a Tecsun PL-310ET–it has no MP3 recording or playback, but it will receive circles around the KA29.