SWLing Post reader, Pete Jernakoff (K3KMS), writes:
“I purchased two PL-880 radios from Amazon about a year ago and before the soft muting issue became a hot topic. Both of my radios (8819 firmware version) suffered from this most annoying problem but it wasn’t until I started reading your excellent blog that I learned of the cause.
About two weeks ago, I called Kaito Electronics USA and asked if they could upgrade the firmware on my two radios to the 8820 version. The person I spoke to said (paraphrasing) “Sure! Send them to us any we’ll perform the upgrade for free. All you do is pay for the return shipping.”
So off the radios went to Kaito. About 10 days later I had them back with the new firmware installed. The return shipping was $10. Weak MW and SW signals are now easy to listen to: no soft muting issues at all. Kudos to Kaito for agreeing to perform the upgrade for me. My dealings with them were thoroughly pleasurable.”
Thanks for sharing that great experience, Pete! You’re right–the 8820 upgrade is certainly worth the shipping costs and I’m happy to hear Kaito makes the process so easy.
Many on the PL-880 Yahoo Group have been reporting “soft mute” or “noise gate” audio jumps that are heard when the PL-880 is tuned to a weak SSB signal.
SWLing Post reader, Tim, has a Tecsun PL-880 with firmware version 8819 (mine is 8820) that exhibits this soft mute behavior. Check out the following video where he uses the built-in attenuator to force the PL-880 to engage the soft mute. Tim notes that the sound quality of his $30 camera phone is poor, but I can still easily hear what’s happening:
There have even been confirmed reports of SSB soft muting in PL-880s with 8820 firmware. With that said, I have now spent hours trying to force my PL-880 to engage soft muting in SSB, but to no avail. My SSB copy is solid, regardless of signal strength, noise level, or adjacent signals (at 5, 10 or 15 kHz and much closer)–no muting at all in SSB.
While I’m very pleased with my PL-880, I would encourage many readers to consider waiting a couple of months before making the purchase. Many of the PL-880 early adopters have felt a bit like Beta testers–admittedly, I’ve felt this way as well–but with time, I imagine many of the 880 quirks will be ironed-out by Tecsun.
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