Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, TomL, who shares the following guest post. Click here to check out all of the posts in this Audio Plugin series:
Audio Plugins For Radios, Part 3 – VST Technical Setup
Processing legacy audio still has a place in an increasingly digital world for the time being. The first article on this topic was strictly using the speaker jack output from an old Kenwood transceiver using a simple Behringer UCA-202 RCA-to-USB converter. However, my main receive radio is the SDR based AirSpy HF+. Either type of radio should work with the apps discussed below as long as the audio gets to your Windows computer unmolested. There are VST apps for Mac and Linux, too.
VST apps: VST3/VST2/DLL files
Also mentioned was how to install VST Host and the VST apps run inside it. A simple reminder is that VST Host does not really install. It just resides in any one Directory/Folder you want and you create a shortcut to run VSTHOST.EXE. All the .XML files and profiles will be stored there.
I like tinkering with many apps but you may prefer things a lot simpler. I use 64-bit versions when possible, like VST3 and x64 DLL files. Because of the myriad settings involved, I will just list the apps in order of processing with brief comments. The second icon on the top of each app opens up its control panel and the bottom left icon will Bypass the app as if it is not in the audio chain. The top-left icon Links to the Preceding app in the audio chain. Most controls inside the apps let you double-click on that control to reset to a default.
The general functional order of these apps is:
Limiting/Compressing volume – dealing with shortwave signal volume spikes plus judiciously squeezing high & low volumes for a more even sound.
High Pass & Low Pass Filters – limit the frequency range apps will need to work on.
De-noising – the biggest challenge in shortwave is to reduce static and local noise without damaging the wanted audio.
EQ adjustments – frequency tweaks.
De-essing – getting rid of screechy “sss”, “shhh”, and “squeak” noises as well as fading distortion, perhaps the second hardest thing to do.
Then a final Drive/Gain control to feed into the Windows mixer.
Special Effects apps, like adding stereo, or reverb, etc.
I would suggest not to spend any money until you get to use apps from each of these broad categories to understand how they work. It is very easy to destroy the audio with a couple of offending settings. If you need help with understanding how plugins work, there are plenty of YouTube videos available. One channel I like is “In The Mix” from a Scottish music production engineer, Michael Wynne (over 1 million subs!). He gives simple to understand instruction videos (especially EQ and Compressors), among other topics.
Welcome to the world of Audio Production. Here are some plugins (most are FREE!):
Reaper ReaComp – A Compressor which I am using to limit volume spikes in the <300 Hz range.
Kotelnikov – A great dynamic Compressor that helps compress volume peaks in both Peak and RMS (average) levels. Useful for highly variable signals and highly recommended.
Reaper ReaFir – A dynamic processor, the Subtract feature is a special “negative EQ” which only reduces specified frequency “Points”. It is also used as a brick filter for low & high frequency limits.
Klevgrand Brusfri Denoiser – In Swedish, “brusfri” means “noise free”, and is a Denoiser app that functions similarly to Audacity’s Noise Reduction feature but works in real time. I move to a blank frequency on the same shortwave band, have Brusfri “Learn” for about 5 seconds, and it starts working.
Bertom Denoiser Pro – A good Denoiser app but on noisy shortwave it can have digital artifacts that get very loud. I use it sparingly immediately after Brusfri.
Bitsonic Sound Recovery – This app beings midrange more forward and can brighten up dull audio. However, it can lead to increased sibilances, accentuated fading distortion, and “boxy” sounding voices.
TDR Nova – A clean sounding parametric EQ; my settings are a work-in-progress for best settings. I am experimenting with having the Wideband setting do most of the work with a slight expansion of the audio coming from the SDR. Also used as a better Gain control for Bitsonic.
Modern Exciter – Set to MIN for shortwave, this app can enhance the extreme low and extreme high frequencies without increasing noise.
LOADES – A DeEsser from Analog Obsession, controls sibilance and squeaks (beware of wonky controls!).
Klevgrand Brusfri Denoiser & Bertom Denoiser Pro run a second time. More Denoising is needed after the processing done by Bitsound, TDR Nova, and Modern Exciter.
Klevgrand FreeAmp – A simple Drive and Gain control that was free when I purchased Brusfri. It makes sure audio is driven correctly into Voicemeeter AUX Input.
Voxengo Stereo Touch – Allows adding “stereo” to a mono signal. Various Presets are available, from narrow (Voice or Guitar) to wide soundspaces (Stage, Surround, and Wide). Very interesting!
Here are three VST Host processed .MP3 files from an IQ recording of Radio Amazonia using 5.3 kHz & 7kHz filters in SDR Console 3.2 (Noise Reduction 4 was used but only 1dB Reduction). The third one is using the Stereo Touch app using just the lowest setting (Voice). I like it! 🙂 :
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, TomL, who shares the following guest post. Click here to check out all of the posts in this Audio Plugin series:
Audio Plugins For Radios, Part 2 – SDR Recording
I started investigating using the old Kenwood transceiver to send audio to my laptop and process the receive audio using VST Host for a number of functions: Noise reduction, Equalization, reduce Sibilances and fading distortion, increase presence of vocals without sounding boxy, etc. It was a qualified success depending on what VST apps I used, in what order they were used, and what settings each of them were set to. In this episode of ongoing discovery, I will attempt to show how easy it is to OVER-process the shortwave broadcast audio plus comparisons to my regular Audacity post-recording treatment.
I noticed for the first time that the SDR creates a somewhat compressed file which can be seen when comparing the Waveforms of SDR vs. VST Host output files. This means that the unprocessed SDR file will always appear to sound louder because of this compression. This loss of Dynamic Range makes it harder to do the comparison. Therefore, the Audacity-only examples below are reduced 3dB or 5dB to maintain apparent loudness.
Example 1: KBS Weekend Playlist – S6-S9 signal, somewhat severe fading and moderate polar flutter.
SDR Console 3.2 using my usual NR4 set to 2dB Reduction, 30% Smoothing, and 3dB Rescale plus a Blackman-Harris-7, 5.3 kHz filter.
AUDACITY file is using my usual Audacity noise reduction:
VST version 2: Used my first set of VST apps. Sounds harsh with hash-noise and overdriven:
VST version 3: Used way too much bass, too much grunge, attenuated highs, still overdriven:
VST version 4: Using a different order to the Denoiser apps, added in Modern Exciter app, cut back on some bass but still too much, and overly forward sounding midrange:
VST version 5: My current Baseline setup. Adjusted the Denoiser apps, less extreme bass & treble, adjusted the De-Esser app, set the midrange to be less forward with just a single setting:
To my ears, Audacity processing is nice but as discovered before, sounds compressed and does not reduce some of the other problems inherent in shortwave signal fading and loss of musicality. It sounds utilitarian. Also, the noise is a bit more gnarly.
Versions 2-5 go through iterations of listening to the exact same segment over and over (and over) and trying different VST apps and settings. I think my comments are mostly accurate next to each version. However, you may think differently and perhaps prefer the sound of one of the other versions?
Example 2: Encore Classical Music, WRMI (fading S9 signal) – Audacity vs. Version 5 VST settings. VST is quieter and sounds less harsh than the Audacity version. A generally more smooth sound.
Example 3: RCI in Russian, S7-S9 with moderate polar flutter – 7kHz filter in SDR Console but VST Host is using BritPre, an analog preamp using a 6 kHz low pass filter to try to reduce DSP filter “ringing”. It shows some interesting possibilities.
Example 4: RCI in Russian – Music from the same broadcast and VST Host setup in Example 3. The screeching flute is under more control and strings more defined in the VST version.
I like the results of the audio processing that eventually ended up with “version 5” (plus the possibilities at 7kHz, too). It is not Earth-shattering but is an incremental improvement in my opinion (there is always room for improvement). I can use it in a simple Workflow anytime I want to record something off of the SDR. Also, I had already been using Voicemeeter Pro, a software audio mixer. It is setup with different profiles to do SDR, Ham, FM Broadcast, and now, VST Host audio routing. This process took a long time but seems satisfactory to use as a Baseline setup, which then can be tweaked slightly depending on various types of audio coming from the SDR. These changes in VST Host can be stored as their own unique profiles for audio processing.
However, a word of warning! Messing with Windows audio Sound settings and mixer software is potentially a confusing process and one can easily end up with a spaghetti-pile of conflicting connections, no audio output, doubled echo output, distortion, way too loud, way too soft, etc. If you start this experimentation, make sure to write down your current Windows Sound settings, both the Playback and the Recording settings for each item listed.
Having an SDR radio + Voicemeeter + VST Host is a very flexible setup. I can now safely say that the only thing I need Audacity for is to Normalize the peak audio to the -1 dB broadcast standard volume, which is a HUGE time saver. The SDR Console IQ files can be scheduled and processed from there at a later time. Also, the use of Voicemeeter Pro allows me to switch when to use VST Host anytime I feel like it, and Voicemeeter Pro comes with its own (manually engaged) Recorder.
Part 3 of this series will discuss Technical details for my setup. Your setup may need different settings or you may find a better way than I did. This will take some dedicated time.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, TomL, who shares the following guest post:
Using Computer Audio PlugIns with Older Radios
Older radios have a way to get audio out to speakers or another audio input device, usually just a headphone jack. Software for processing audio are plentiful and very useful tools, called VST’s. Furthermore, most Plugins were made for Musicians needing full frequency spectrum capability. I will use my Kenwood TS-590S amateur radio as a test case. I have used its speaker output to a cheap Behringer UCA-202 RCA to USB converter (it has its own volume control to keep it from overloading).
My Windows 10 Sounds Properties sees this audio as “3-USB Audio CODEC” which I have enabled on a physical USB hub with individual power switches for each port. Thanks to Steve (K1GMM) and his YouTube channel (K1GMM Green Mountain Maniac) for describing how to use Windows plugins for processing either Receive or Transmit audio. This article only focuses on Receive audio.
For my simpler needs, I have chosen to use VST Host. It will run the small “apps” that usually have a file extension of .VST or .DLL. I downloaded it right from Steve’s website:
I then downloaded a number of plugins suggested by Steve on his web site (“More” Menu pulldown, DAW’s/VST DOWNLOADS). Each VST file can be copied to a central directory/folder on your computer and all read from the same place inside the VST Host. Most of these are Windows types but there are some for Linux if that is something you use. I found that VST Host does NOT like a write- protected directory, so it and the VST’s reside in my top-level Documents directory.
My resulting “chain” of VST’s process the audio from my 3-USB Audio CODEC in a sequential manner, which are:
ModernAmplifier (a Limiter to keep strong signals from overloading the processing)
ReaFir (an interesting “Subtract” feature where I cut down on the “roar” around 800-1200 Hz)
Bertom Denoiser Pro (EXCELLENT static & background noise reducer)
TDR Nova (a powerful, well-made Compessor & DynamicEQ combo)
Sennheiser-AMBEO-Orbit (a Binaural soundscape).
Once VST Host is installed, create a separate folder for the VST files. Now just copy the VST3 or DLL file for each of the apps downloaded like the ones I list above. If you have a 32-bit version of Windows, you will have to use the VST’s that are 32-bit, not 64-bit.
In VST Host, set the Wave Input and Output and sampling rate (Menu: Devices—Wave). In my case it is the aforementioned 3-USB Audio CODEC for (Microphone) Input Port and VoiceMeeter Aux-Input for the Output Port. The sampling rate is set to 48000 (You can choose Output to your “Default Speakers” which should be in the list if you do not use an extra mixer software like I do).
Now, go to Menu: File, Plugins and load each plugin that you want to use. The VST3 or DLL files should all be in the same directory that you made earlier. You may have to tell VST Host where to find them by setting the Plugin Path (Menu: File, Set Plugin Path…).
Now, once you have all the VST apps opened, you will notice that all of their individual outputs go directly to the VST Host Output. Not good, since your computer will not have enough cores to parallel-process all of these apps at the same time. So, Unchain them all by right-clicking on each app and choosing “Unchain”.
Now you will see all of the yellow connecting lines gone. Arrange (click/drag) each app in sequential order on the screen. Starting from the bottom up, right click on the app just above VST Output and choose Chain After…
Repeat up the chain, choosing the one above it to Chain After until you are left with a Daisy-Chain of apps, each output going to the Input of the next app in your desired order of processing:
Now turn on the radio to get audio going through the chain of apps. Tweaking each app is part of the tedious process of learning if an app will help or not. Just replace and Chain After in the order you want with other VST apps that you find more helpful. Tinkering with this should yield some satisfactory results if you do not overdo applying features in each app. To save the layout and VST settings, go to Menu: Performance, Save As and give it a name to store in the data file shown (just a name since it will put it into the default line 000 for you). You can choose this in future sessions from the main pulldown Menu below File. (Note: It is called “Performance” because this stuff was written for Musicians to save their home studio music along with the settings for shaping the music tracks; 99% of planet earth calls this a “Layout”, a la, Microsoft Office)
Here are two examples of sound from the radio without processing and then adding in each app over a few seconds.
LZ1AA from Bulgaria. Processing 10 secs., off 15 secs., on again 8 secs.
CHU Canada. Processing on, space, processing off. Notice a little “water” effect since AM Broadcast needs quite different settings compared to SSB Ham Radio.
You can check out Steve’s “Green Mountain Maniac” YouTube channel and see for yourself what can be done with sound processing for Radio. Some of his techniques can be used with old shortwave radio receivers as long as it has a working headphone jack or AUX Out jack:
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bob Colegrove, who shares the following:
Power Play – Here Come the Lithiums
by Bob Colegrove
I have belonged to several radio-oriented user groups in recent years and can’t help noticing how often the subject of batteries comes up. It’s almost a sub-hobby within the hobby. There are a couple of reasons for this, first is the unending quest for the ultimate cost-effective, everlasting battery, and second, it’s a rare opportunity for most of us to tinker in an increasingly complex world of technology.
Lithium batteries offer a sustainable voltage output well into their discharge cycle and can deliver a higher rate of current than alkaline batteries. They are somewhat lighter in weight than alkaline batteries – 2.5 oz. versus 5 oz. for D-cells.
Considering the fast pace of technology, lithium batteries have been with us for a comparatively long time, this in the form of cell phone and camera power, not to mention a host of electric appliances. Most of these batteries have limited purpose, that is they have been developed and packaged for just a few applications, thus resulting in an incredible variety of sizes and shapes, and no doubt a host of frustrations due to obsolescence. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the early days of transistor radios which ran on a wide array of zinc-carbon batteries.
Perhaps I have been asleep at the wheel, but it has only come to my attention recently that lithium chemistry has begun to backfill the standard battery sizes we have long been familiar with, namely AAA, AA, C, D, and even the PP3 standard 9 volt.
I have been running along quite successfully for more than 10 years on AA NiMH technology on several portable radios. Although these run at a slightly lower cell voltage of 1.25 Vdc, the one-for-one substitution of these for alkaline chemistry has seldom been a problem in terms of performance. In most cases, newer radios are provided with an alkaline/NiMH-NiCad setting to compensate for the difference in voltage. Even the venerable Sony ICF SW7600GR, for which alkaline batteries are assumed, seems to operate equally well either way.
My problem has always been the larger power consumers running on D-cells – the Sony ICF 2010 and Grundig Satellit 800 to cite two examples. A fresh set of NiMH batteries put the 2010 on the cusp of poor performance. Lithium batteries having a sustainable single-cell voltage of 1.5 Vdc now provide a possible alternative to a steady diet of costly alkaline cells. Even more attractive, some are equipped with a USB-C connector and can be recharged without a dedicated charger.
In the figure above, a set of four lithium D cells are connected simultaneously through a 4-lead USB-C harness and USB charger (not shown). Many of the brands include the harness with a set of batteries. I have added a USB multimeter, which I find very useful to monitor the progress of the charge, but this is not necessary. This particular meter can also show accumulated capacity. However, it should be noted that, unless batteries are charged one at a time, charging rate and capacity will show the total values for the number of batteries being charged. I would also recommend that the USB charger be rated at least 3 amps. In the figure below, one of the USB-C leads is connected at the top of the battery. The built-in LED flashes during charge and remains on when the charge is complete.
Cost is an equally important consideration. There is a lot of hype in the marketing department about how many times these batteries can be recharged. The key compound preposition here is “up to,” and as long as they use those words, they can make the number anything they want to. That said, it simply won’t take more than a few cycles for the cost-benefit cusp to be reached in favor of lithium batteries.
I am just getting started with this. Although the batteries came highly recommended for the portable radio application, I can make no judgment at this time as to their ultimate quality or convenience. It just seems like the next logical way to go.
There are some things to remember when choosing lithium batteries. Not all lithium batteries are rechargeable, particularly smaller sizes. Some do not come with the built-in USB-C charging jack, so a separate charger intended for lithium batteries will be required. D size batteries are also available at 3.6 Vdc/cell. There may be other options, so watch out. Be sure to thoroughly check the features of any batteries you consider.
I would close by warning that lithium batteries come with safety caveats regarding their transport, handling, use, charging, and disposal. These precautions are all well stated in the literature, which should be followed with an abundance of caution. Of note is the fact that not all chargers support lithium batteries, and their capability should be checked as well.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mangosman, who shares the following review:
DAB+ digital audio/FM receiver and Bluetooth Audio Player with 2.4 inch LCD Display
Digital Audio Broadcasting with improved audio compression and error correction is called DAB+. I have had this radiofor a few years.
Retail in Australia DAB+/FM radios are generally double the price and more. There has only been one model of DAB+/FM/AM radios which is now no longer trading.
This is a size comparison, the sound is very clear and is surprisingly good on music as well, despite having such a small speaker. Even at maximum volume there is no audible noise or distortion. The stereo program HE AAC compressed and FM and Bluetooth and is available on cabled headphones. Such a small speaker cannot produce much in the way of bass, but it is present on headphones. Since DAB+ is a pure digital system, there is, full stereo, no noise as the radiated signal deteriorates, until the receiver mutes when error correction fails. The radio has a 400 mm long telescopic antenna.
On FM this receiver will decode Radio Data System data, I have had more sensitive FM reception.
This is the most sensitive DAB+ receiver I have owned. I am also currently also using two BUSH clock radios. I also have used older headphone radios, but push buttons and headphone sockets haven’t been very reliable.
This screen shows a full colour album cover which can fill the screen and title. Smooth FM is the broadcaster’s name because it is simulcast in some other cities on FM and DAB+. The indicators on this screen are level of battery change, muting, stereo indicator, when decoded and the signal strength. Continue reading →
AM bandwidth confusion: IF Filters today vs. yesterday
Whether or not a radio is a joy to listen to, or apt for difficult DX is decided to a large part by the last IF filter stage. Most radios of the past didn’t come with many IF filters to begin with, their quality varied a lot and harsh compromises had to be made in multi-purpose radios. With the advent of digital filtering and inexpensive DSP portables, we got spoiled by a rich choice of selectivity settings that came with an idiosyncrasy I had to wrap my head around first, namely a shift in how some (digital) filters are labeled now.
Before we get into specifics, two things are worth mentioning right off:
I was asked if I would be interested in reviewing this radio by our fearless shortwave listening leader, Thomas, and the copy I have was provided to me at no cost by Radioddity directly. (I have no other affiliation with them, but have recently purchased a GMRS mobile radio from them which I am looking forward to using when I finish my review of the RF75A.)
This is, as you will see from the photos I am including, a pocket radio, not to be confused with a tabletop radio or a small portable radio such as the CCRadio Skywave or similar radio. I mention this because invariably there will be folks who expect tabletop or portable quality from a radio about the size of a playing card. It is not going to happen!
Having those thoughts out of the way, the quick and dirty answer as to the quality of the radio is, I am impressed. For those who have not read anything related to my past experience with radios, I have been a shortwave listener since I was about 10 years old, and now in my early sixties. So, I have seen a fair number of radios in my time (speaking as an old codger, or is that curmudgeon?) and have even moved with the times to incorporate SDRs into my radio arsenal.
Each style of radio has its place, and a pocket radio is designed to be the ultimate in portability and space savings. As light as this shirt pocket radio is, it still manages to feel reasonably solid, and of course, it could be packed into anything one was taking along for a trip.
The radio measures 2.5″ x 3.5″ x 1″. Playing card and cell phone battery for comparison.
Here are some specs from the manufacturer’s website (saving you my long-winded descriptions!):
APP Control SW Radio: Thanks to the app intelligent remote control and Bluetooth 5.0 features, you can enjoy the convenience of RF75A. With its intuitive user interface and powerful wireless capabilities, you can easily control your radio from your devices (support iOS, Android, and HarmonyOS systems).
Wider Reception Range: Listen to FM, VHF, AM, SW, and WB, and stay up-to-date with your favorite radio shows and music with this powerful multi-band receiver. RF75A has a wider range of shortwave frequencies compared to the RF750.
Automatic Scan and Manual Storage: You can save up to 396 stations, so you can easily access your favorite stations. Experience powerful sound and crystal-clear reception with its 9.85′ wire antenna.
Personal Music Player: Boost your music experience with this all-in-one outdoor audio system. With Bluetooth 5.0 feature, a 3.5mm earphone socket, and a TF card socket, you can easily connect to your personal audio devices and connect to your computer as a speaker.
Outdoor Companion: This one-of-a-kind radio is designed to be small and lightweight, making it ideal for travel and outdoor activities. Use the flashlight and SOS for emergencies.
What’s in the box?
1 x Raddy RF75A
1 x Storage bag
1 x Lanyard
1 x Wire antenna
1 x Type-C charging cable
1 x Earphone
I always like to start a radio review by either listening to AM stations first, or WWV time stations for checking out shortwave reception. In this instance I started listening to AM stations in the daytime to see what I could hear on a typical day (no storms nearby, early spring, etc.).
Living in a fairly remote area I was surprised it captured as many stations as it did, making me think the ferrite bar inside must designed well for such a small radio. Evening and nighttime listening brought in many of the usual stations with which we are familiar, particularly the so-called Clear Channel stations. What was more impressive were the many small stations I was able to pick up, not only at night, but early in the morning around 8 a.m.
Surprisingly effective Ferrite Bar
Side vide showing the magnetic wire wrap
One in particular caught my attention as I am quite certain I have never captured them before, was WHKY 1290, Hickory North Carolina. That’s a distance of about 285 miles, received in the morning. I am only about 50 miles from Cincinnati and cannot receive some of their smaller stations on any radio! Color me impressed!
Nighttime brought stations in from several thousand miles, as you would expect, yet I was likewise impressed with this little radio’s capabilities on AM.
I confess to not being much of an FM listener, but I did tune around the band for FM stations to test its ability to “lock on” to signals (as indicated by a tiny red light) and to pick up stations from quite a good distance away with clarity and good sound.
This might be a good time to mention the quality of sound from the small 3 Watt(!) speaker and bass boost from the back. Again, this is not my Sangean 909 X2 with a large speaker, nor my CC Radio EP, but it has rather amazing clarity and volume capability for such a small radio. I cranked the volume up quite high with no distortion, and even though the speaker is small, the bass boost seems to round out the sound quite nicely, avoiding some of tinny sounding speakers common in such a small radio.
The radio has coverage of the NOAA weather radio stations and it surprised me with being able to receive 4-5 stations, more than I have gotten with most other radios. All but one of the signals were crystal clear, with the fifth having some noise, but still quite intelligible.
This radio includes the air band frequencies and amateur 2-meter frequencies (30.000-199.975 MHZ). I am usually able to receive some signals, but I am quite far away from any local airports or repeaters, so my main reception is from CVG, Greater Cincinnati Airport. While the radio scans the air band frequencies, like any other radio, it is best to find local frequencies you want to hear and program them into memory so you are not wasting a lot of time scanning dead air (these are country specific). Likewise amateur repeaters or GMRS, marine, or public service channels would be best used in memory channels except when scanning for new frequencies.
Shortwave listening is very respectable, with frequency ranges between 4.750-21.850 MHz (it does not have SSB capability). Tuning can be accomplished by pressing and holding one of the directional tuning keys for about 2 seconds, a long press scans faster. A single press of either directional button will move the frequency increment based on the band/mode chosen.
The radio also features something I have come to really like: a pause button which works not only in music mode, but also when receiving regular radio signals, activated by a quick press of the power button. The frequency is held while pause is active, and then releasing the pause with a second quick press of the power button resumes with all your setting still active.
When comparing this with another radio it was particularly useful instead of having to turn the volume down like most radios. This feature is also nice for answering a call or other interruption, and you resume right where you left off.
Sound Effects, TF Card, Audio in, Bluetooth Usage and other Errata
I have not covered these features as they do not impact radio reception, but I mention them just for completeness. All of these features are available and can be read about in the user’s manual. I will mention the flashlight feature and the emergency siren features, as these are useful for portable operation. The light is quite bright, and the siren will hurt your ears if you trip it accidentally, especially more than once. Ask me how I know!
There is a sleep timer as well as an alarm clock function, with the sleep timer adjustable by default starting at 90 minutes. Most buttons have multiple functions depending on the mode employed, so reading the manual is important for some of these features. I was able to get up and running without reading the manual initially, but some features were functional only in certain modes, so eventually you will need the manual which can be downloaded from the Radioddity site.
A bit of a novelty in this size and type of radio is the Apple/Android app available to control radio functions remotely through Bluetooth connectivity. I have to say, on Android at least, the app is beautiful and I wish more apps used such a clear color scheme and large controls. Your mileage may vary based on your preferences, but I like it!
The free Phone app on an Android phone. I like the crisp, clear layout and colors, and the intuitive design.
As to function, the app gives you more information than the radio screen, such as the Bandwidth, SNR, received signal strength and the volume setting in one display. As a side note, the radio can still be adjusted at the radio, and then changes are reflected in the app almost instantaneously.
Of course, the main use for the app is to operate remotely, and the controls are easy to use, including, most importantly, direct keyboard entry of frequencies! This is always the biggest drawback to small radios without a keypad. There are instructions for using the app, but for the most part the app is laid out so well you can control the radio pretty much intuitively.
Yep, there are a few. When tuning with a single press each time there is some soft muting – fortunately it does not last long, but it is there. The buttons also make a clicking sound, not too loud, but it is there. If something like that annoys you, be aware all the buttons make a mechanical click.
I have noticed on several occasions that the band/mode button may stick slightly and take you past where you want to go. Not a big problem, but it does happen now and again. Of course, this could just be my unit.
Also, naturally, the buttons are small. And while I did not have much of an issue even with fairly large fingers, there were times when I pressed the desired button but also hit the one below it. Not a problem for me, but again, if you have very large fingers you may find the radio a bit tricky to navigate in some places. (This only happened on the front buttons for me, the tuning buttons are adequately spaced for most anyone I think.)
The telescoping antenna is probably the weakest point on the radio – similar to most radios, really. It is thin and could be bent easily. I had no difficulties, but I always took care to raise it gently and watched where I was moving the radio around. Then again, I do that will all my radios with telescoping antennas. Just a heads-up to be careful.
I like this little radio, and will probably keep it in my car for those times when I might want to listen to the radio out and about, check the NOAA weather forecast, use the flashlight, or (hopefully never need) to use the siren. The battery seems to last a long time on a charge when using the radio – I cannot speak to the MP3 drain or a prolonged flashlight/siren drain, but under normal use it seems excellent. It uses a USB-C connection like my phone, so charging is not an issue for me. It will almost fully charge in an hour; the instructions say 2 hours.
Pocket radios certainly have their niche, and I think this one does quite well in that role. If you are in the market for such a radio, I think you will be pleased, especially for the price and the addition of the free remote-control app. 73!