Comparing radios

I post lots of articles comparing radios and recently I came up with a list of particular radios I’m calling my “Keepers.” I briefly thought I might compare them side by side. How many comparisons would that be? The old math major in me immediately pulled out the formula for the number of combinations of n things (in this case 17) taken r at a time (where r = 2 for side-by-side comparison).

C(n, r) =  n! / ((n-r)!r!)
Thanks to Mathplanet.com for a nice picture

C(17, 2) = 163. If I throw out the less serious entries, the list becomes 12 long, and I’m still left with 66 combinations for these radios:

  1. Eton Elite Executive *
  2. HanRongDa HRD-757
  3. LiJiANi Rd239
  4. Qodosen DX-286
  5. Raddy RF75A
  6. Sangean ATS-405
  7. Sihuadon R-108
  8. Tecsun PL-330 *
  9. Tecsun PL-660 *
  10. Tecsun PL-990 *
  11. XHDATA D-109WB
  12. XHDATA D-808 *

(*) Radio has SSB

Divide and conquer

I could divide the radios into two groups: those with single sideband (5) and those without (7) and compare only within groups. Comparisons now are down to C(5,2) + C(7,2) = 31, but that wouldn’t be useful for the international shortwave broadcast enthusiast who doesn’t care about SSB.

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Keepers: The Saga Continues

It’s time to downsize — again. I’ve talked about having too many radios before under the topic, “Sharing the love.” Gilles Letourneau over at the OfficialSWLChannel on YouTube gets out an old radio from time to time and renews the relationship for a couple of weeks. I can see the value of that, but I have radios that really don’t aren’t worth it. It’s time to go through things and pick out what’s good. What’s not good will likely end up at the local Goodwill store or on eBay.

I visited this topic a couple of years ago in another article called “Keepers.” The original keepers list was:

  • Panasonic RF-085
  • Lextronix E1100 (rebranded Tecsun DR-920)
  • Tecsun PL-380
  • Tecsun PL-330
  • Tecsun PL-660
  • Zhiwhis ZWS-603
  • Degen DE15
  • Kaito WRX911
  • Kaito KA29

Of that list the E1100 died and was replaced with a similar Tecsun DR-920C and the PL-380 was sold in the Great Downsizing. The Tecsun PL-660 was far and away the best of show.

Read more: Keepers: The Saga Continues

To be on the Keepers list, a radio has to have something special that might lead me to actually get it out and use for something, rather than just occupy shelf space.

The Continuing Keepers

  • Panasonic RF-085: Nostalgia and my only all-analog.
  • Tecsun PL-330: Great for travel and has SSB
  • Tecsun PL-660: Very good radio, and probably best SSB performance
  • Zhiwhis ZWS-603: Good speaker, mainly for its record capability
  • Degen DE15: Very compact, attractive, and has good FM performance.

I refer the reader back to my original Keepers article for descriptions of these radios and why they were original keepers.

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Incoming Radio: HanRongDa HRD-757

In a moment of weakness, I ordered a HanRongDa HRD-757 (aka Raddy RF757) from AliExpress for around $72 including tax and shipping. Note: my Incoming Radio posts often change until the radio is received.

HanRongDa HRD-757 (Product Photo)

I expect a good bit of similarity between this and my shirt pocket Raddy RF75A (aka HanRongDa HRD-787) with its record capability and app control (same app).

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Old v New: MW on Panasonic RF-085 and Qodosen DX-286 — with Antenna

The oldest working radio I have is a Panasonic RF-085 that is almost 50 years old. Panasonic radios are known for their superb MW performance. Now, in addition, I have a Qodosen DX-286, another radio that has made a splash for MW use. I thought I would take some time to compare the two.

Old: Panasonic RF-085

I made a video a year ago showing the performance of the RF-085 on WHBG in Harrisonburg, VA, demonstrating the effectiveness of an antenna with ground on this radio.

Antenna + Ground with Panasonic RF-085
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FM Radio Shootout: Part 2

For the start of this tale, see FM Radio Shootout: Part 1.

Junior League

Update:

Raddy RF74A

I received a strongly-worded challenge from the International Little Radio League (ILRL) over my selection of contestants. They contended that the Mesqool CR1015 was oversized, and took me to task for omitting another very qualified candidate, the Raddy RF75A. Mea culpa.

It’s a really interesting radio with Bluetooth, MP3, App control, weather alerts and VHF. I’ll update the material below to include some of the points of this radio.

The main story

As temperatures climb outside, I’ve gotten interested in the junior league, prompted in part by the receipt of my latest radio, a Tecsun Q3 Pocket Radio Recorder/Digital Audio Player. It’s upper left in the Junior League contestants photo:

Top Row: Tecsun Q3, Tecsun PL-118
Bottom: Mesqool CR-1015, Degen DE15, Degen DE28, HanRongDa HRD-701

Comparison table:

FeatureCR1015DE15DE28HRD-701PL-118Q3RF75A
MWYYYYY
SWYYYYY
WeatherYYY
VHFY
MP3YYYY
RecordYYY
ATS2351500297YY396
AUX inYY
TuningButtonButtonKnobKnobButtonDirectButton
ClockYYYY
BluetoothYY
AppY
Radio feature comparisons
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Qodosen DX-286 vs LiJiANi Rd239

I bought the LiJiANi Rd239 in November of 2023 because of long list of features and a blow-out Black Friday price on Amazon. My article, LiJiANi Rd239: A different radio, reviewed the radio. Since then it’s been the radio I keep in my car, and in that role it’s not used much and tends to get overlooked when comparing things. Other articles about it include:

The new kid on the block, the Qodosen DX-286, has caused a lot of excitement in the SWL community because of its outstanding FM performance and a mountain of options. I bought the early version, the SR-286 in February of 2024, and wrote several articles, including, The Burning Question: is the Qodosen SR-286 worth it? At that time the price was somewhat high, but has come down for the mass market DX-286 modedl (essentially the same radio but with some firmware changes). Other articles:

Qodosen SR-286 / DDX-286 (Vendor Photo)
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FM Radio Shootout: Part 1

I’ve been having a lot of fun lately with my new Qodosen SR-286 radio that is reported to be outstanding on FM, and indeed it is. But how outstanding? RadioJayAllen gave it 5.5 out of 5 stars.

Serious reviewers, like Gilles Letourneau in Montreal, Canada, have benchmark stations they look for; he has one, WVPS in Burlington, Vermont. I thought I would try to pick my own benchmark station, and so I got out my Qodosen DX-286 (same as SR-286) and found a station I could barely pick up unless I held the radio just right. It was a rock station on 96.9 MHz, one of three FM stations on that frequency in Virginia. I finally identified it by comparing the radio to the online streaming content. The station is a 3 kW station in Bowling Green, Virginia. Here’s its coverage map:

I live 54 miles away and well outside the estimated fringe listening area of WWUZ.

For a first pass, I took out two more small portable radios, a Tecsun PL-330 that will be familiar to many folks, and a lesser-known LiJiANi Rd239 that I’ve found to have good results on FM.

The three radios were held in my hand in close to the same position, horizontal, roughly in a north-south direction.

WWUZ FM 54 miles away on 3 radios
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