Tag Archives: PL-990

Tecsun PL-990 in stock again

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jack Dully, who notes that the Tecsun PL-990X is back in stock at Anon-Co. Click here to check out their ordering page.

In addition, Tecsun Radios Australia is offering free shipping today (Friday 13, 2020).

If you’ve been considering purchasing the PL-990 or PL-990x, I’d encourage you to check out the following posts and reviews:

Spread the radio love

John’s Tecsun PL-990 Hidden Features Quick Reference Sheet

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, John Hoad, who shares the following:

I took delivery of my Tecsun PL-990x yesterday from Anon. I thought this hidden features list might be of interest.

Click here to download (PDF).

Thank you for sharing this sheet, John! Well done!

Spread the radio love

Matt compares the Tecsun PL-990 and Sangean ATS-909X sharing an external antenna

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Matt Blaze, who shares the following comparison of the new Tecsun PL-990x and the original Sangean ATS-909X communications receivers.

Like Matt’s recent comparison of the Tecsun PL-990x to the Icom IC-R9500, this review is in audio form and brilliantly narrated by Matt. I highly recommend listening with headphones or, at least, an audio device with separate left/right channels as his comparison takes advantage of this.

Enjoy:

Yet another superb presentation, Matt! Thank you so much for taking the time to make these audio comparison tests.

Spread the radio love

Matt compares the Tecsun PL-990 to the Icom IC-R9500 on an external antenna and the results are surprising

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Matt Blaze, who shares the following comparison of the new Tecsun PL-990x and the benchmark Icom IC-R9500 communications receiver.

Matt’s excellent comparison  is in audio form. I highly recommend listening with headphones or, at least, an audio device with separate left/right channels as his comparison takes advantage of this.

I love not only how he set up this comparison with both radios sharing an identical antenna, but his evaluation also explores how well the PL-990 handles a proper external antenna via its external antenna jack.

Click below to listen to Matt’s piece, or right click here to download the audio:

Thanks for sharing this, Matt. You’ve inspired me to do similar narrated audio comparisons!

Spread the radio love

Tecsun PL-990 Hidden Feature: Toggling ferrite bar and telescopic whip antenna on MW & LW bands

Many thanks to Anna at Anon-Co who recently shared an interesting “hidden feature” of the Tecsun PL-990 which allows the user to toggle between the internal ferrite antenna and telescoping whip antenna while on either the mediumwave or logwave bands.

Procedure:

1) Turn on the radio and then select either the MW or LW frequency band.

2) Press and hold the [ 3 ] key for about 2 seconds.

When the display shows “CH-5” (actually an “S” which stands for shortwave telescopic antenna) the radio is now set to MW/LW reception using the telescopic whip antenna.

The display will show MW (or LW) and SW on the left side of the screen.

3) Press and hold the [ 3 ] key for about 2 seconds.

When the display shows “CH-A” (“A” stands for “AM”) the radio is now set to MW/LW reception using the internal ferrite antenna once again.

The display will also show only MW (or LW) on the left side of the screen.

Pressing and holding the [ 3] key essentially toggles between these two antenna settings.

I’ve actually found that, indoors, using the whip antenna on mediumwave has been more effective at mitigating RFI with strong local stations. The ferrite bar antenna has more gain, of course, but for locals it’s not necessarily needed.

Many thanks, Anna, for sharing this tip!

Spread the radio love

Anyone sorted out how to calibrate the Tecsun PL-990?

I mentioned in a previous post that one of the “hidden features” of the PL-990 series is the ability to calibrate the radio so that the frequency display is correct when say, you zero-beat an AM broadcaster/carrier in SSB mode.

For normal AM broadcast listening, you’d never notice the frequency discrepancy on the display. When I used the PL-990 in ECSS mode, though, my frequency display is a few Hertz off pretty consistently across the spectrum.

Our friend Gilles Letourneau (at the Official SWL Channel) recently told me that after a couple hours of tinkering with his PL-990 last weekend, he was able to calibrate it but was so deep into the process, he wasn’t able to document exactly how he achieved it. Of course, now that it’s accurate, he doesn’t want to inadvertently harm the calibration. I don’t blame him.

Big news is he’s confirmed that it’s possible.

I’m curious if any PL-990 or PL-990x owners have successfully calibrated their receiver. If so, please consider sharing your procedure with us!

UPDATE

Gilles comments…

“Tune a strong signal in AM .. like WWV then use LSB USB modes to fine tune the receiver as close to zero beat as possible. Then simply press and hold the USB key until display light flashes two times … you will be all set and calibration will work !”

Spread the radio love

Tecsun PL-990x vs. PL-880: Comparing SSB audio characteristics and pre-production/production PL-990 models

A number of SWLing Post readers have been asking about SSB audio characteristics on the new Tecsun PL-990.

Earlier this week, I took a moment while visiting family to make a few quick comparison videos with the PL-880 outdoors and away from RFI.

As I mention in the videos, there are a lot of cicadas singing in the background and you can also hear a bit of road noise–not ideal for audio, but I had to take advantage of a break in the weather!

You should also note that this isn’t a sensitivity comparison. The radios were pretty close together–if measuring sensitivity, I would have spaced them much further apart. Rather, I hope these videos give you an idea of the audio characteristics in SSB (both CW narrow and voice) and one comparison in AM. If you’re curious about sensitivity and how the PL-990x compares, check out Dan Robinsons initial evaluation.

CW Audio: .5 kHz filter on the 80 meter band

CW Audio: .5 kHz filter on the 30 meter band

SSB audio: 75 meter band

AM Audio: 5 kHz filter WWV 10 MHz

My thoughts

While these videos are far from ideal, they should give you a real-word impression of audio characteristics.

Personally, I think the PL-990x is a much better performer in single sideband. The noise floor is lower, but I think that may have more to do with better filter implementation. I’ve always felt that the PL-880 audio sounds “wider” than the selected filter in the more narrow SSB selections.

In addition, the PL-990x exhibits better SSB stability that’s especially noticeable in CW. The PL-880, at times, almost sounds garbled in comparison.

I also mentioned in the last video that the audio sounds better on the PL-880. I should have qualified that statement a bit better.

In general, yes, the PL-880 audio sounds better because its built-in speaker has slightly better audio fidelity that’s most noticeable when listening to music on the FM band, or a strong local AM station. On shortwave, I feel like I actually prefer the PL-990 audio for all but the strongest stations although I do wish the PL-990 filter could be widened to 9 kHz like the PL-880.

PL-990x (pre-production) vs. PL-990 (production model)

Tecsun Radios Australia reached out and kindly sent me one of their PL-990 production model radios to compare with the PL-990x pre-production model from Anon-Co we’ve been testing up to this point. This has been incredibly helpful as I put together my PL-990 review for the 2021 World Radio TV Handbook.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I feel it can be problematic using a pre-production model radio for review only because there can be differences in quality control when a small number of pre-production units are manufactured compared with a proper first production run (remember this case?).

I’ve only had the production model PL-990 for a few days and most of that time we’ve been dealing with the remnants of hurricane Sally moving through our area dumping torrential rains.

Last night, however, a massive tree fell across our road knocking out power for the better part of 5 hours. This gave me a perfect excuse to start my comparison indoors while rain continued outside.

Based on my comparisons last night, it appears performance is nearly identical between the production and pre-production models. I’ve still more testing to do, but my initial impressions are most positive. Very happy quality appears to be consistent.

Many thanks again to Tecsun Radios Australia for making this comparison possible.

Spread the radio love