Tag Archives: Videos

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.

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Nick compares the Icom R9000, Harris 590, WJ 8711, and Racal 6790

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Nick Booras, who shares the following video and notes:

As a SW listener and radio collector I have enjoyed many hours perusing your blog and reviews. I recently started posting YouTube videos of some of my collection and thought you and your viewers might find them interesting. Please take a look at my youtube channel – dieselten01

My most recent vid included some pretty cool older surveillance type receivers.

Those are fabulous receivers! Thank you for sharing your video, Nick! Click here to check out Nick’s YouTube channel.

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Rob Sherwood’s presentation: “Transceiver performance for the HF/DX operator”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul, who shares the following video of a recent presentation by Rob Sherwood (NC0B) for Ham Holiday Oklahoma.

I love Rob’s presentations because not only is he an authority on testing receivers and transceivers, but he also has a very pragmatic approach to operating radios. Rob speaks to the importance of using pre amps, attenuators and adjusting your receiver for band conditions. I’ve been with lifelong ham radio operators and SWLs who never use pre amplification, attenuation, or adjust their RF gain control–these are very powerful tools, especially during the noisy summer months.

If you’ve never seen one of Rob’s presentations before, I highly recommend checking out this one:

Thanks again for the tip, Paul!

Click here to check out Rob Sherwood’s home page and receiver test data table.

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Video: When “Tomorrow’s World” demonstrated digital radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jason W, who writes:

You might be interested in this episode of the BBC series tomorrow’s world from 17th Feb 1993 on YouTube:

10:23 to 14:50 has a introduction and demonstration of digital radio in the UK and concluding with “the experts say we will be fully digital by 2020 it’s a long wait” (referring to the switch from fm to digital radio in the UK which is yet to happen).

I thought it might be interesting to highlight this on the blog in 2020.

We can forgive the bit where she suggests digital radio will operate alongside analogue FM in the same frequency band. This Wikipedia on the history of digital broadcasting in the UK shows the UK adopted the DAB Eureka 147 standard in a SFN (single frequency network) from the start of test transmissions in 1990.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_radio_in_the_United_Kingdom

The same episode has a later piece on wide-screen digital television. (20:18 to 23:41) ending with the line “like digital radio, it is a few years away” 🙂

This is fantastic! I love watching vintage Tomorrow’s World episodes. It’s great to see how well they predicted the future and what they considered to be meaningful future innovations at the time. Thank you for sharing, Jason!

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Video: Josh takes us on a tour of the lab599 Discovery TX-500 QRP transceiver

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Josh (KI6NAZ), who shares a link to his YouTube channel where he takes us on a tour of the lab599 TX-500 Discovery:

Click here to check out Josh’s channel, Ham Radio Crash Course on YouTube.

Thanks for sharing this, Josh! The TX-500 is certainly a unicorn in the world of field-portable QRP radios since it’s designed to be weather-proof.

lab599 has confirmed that they will dispatch a TX-500 loaner unit for my upcoming review.  I’m looking forward to see how it plays in the field and might compare with other QRP rigs in my arsenal!

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Videos: RTL-SDR/YouLoop combo and exploring SDRs

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Rob, who writes:

I recently made another video on the AirSpy YouLoop – this time paired in a configuration that shouldn’t really work. I used it with an RTL-SDR v3 dongle in direct sampling mode, and signals still came in. This was somewhat of a surprise given the RTL-SDR v3 isn’t primarily designed for HF.

It may be interesting to readers of the SWLing blog.

I have also started a 2020 SDR Guide that may also have some relevance. Episode 1 looked at some of the things that are possible using Software Defined Radios, and Episode 2 which was released yesterday was an introduction to accessing over 500 online SDRs through 4 different platforms. I focused mainly on HF, and although I didn’t specifically mention the broadcast bands, gace a demo of each platform (KiwiSDR, WebSDR, SpyServer & SDR Console).

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