Radio anticipation

I ordered a Tecsun R9702 radio a week or so ago and I’m anxiously awaiting its delivery. I have over 100 radios, most of them shortwave models, but none has a particular feature set that I’m interested in:

  • Dual conversion
  • Analog tuning
  • Digital frequency readout

Why these features? Dual conversion usually means improved selectivity (rejection of adjacent stations) and freedom from images (stations appearing where they don’t belong). Digital readout lets one precisely tune the radio and know the exact frequency of a found station. Analog tuning is just something I like, continuously variable and not in discrete steps.

It seems that higher-end radios have dual conversion and digital frequency readout, but synthesized digital tuning (like the Tecsun PL-660). Less expensive radios like the Grundig G1100 have analog tuning and digital readout, but are not dual conversion. Some older models have dual conversion and analog tuning, but no digital frequency display.

Finally, after quite a bit of searching I came upon the Tecsun R9702 that has all three. I had to consult several sources to verify the radio met my criteria. The R9702 I ordered has (based on product photos) Chinese labeling; however, a manual in English is on the Internet. It’s a pretty simple radio anyway with just 10 buttons: 4 for selecting the band, 4 setting the time and alarm, the display light button and the off-on button. Add volume control and tuning knobs.

Based on the specifications, this radio should do well on AM, but not world class on FM and Shortwave. Its shortwave sensitivity is 30 µV compared to 20 µV on the Tecsun PL-660 and their DSP models. FM sensitivity is particularly weak at 10 µV compared to 3 µV on my good FM radios. I have plenty of FM radios, so that’s not an issue for me.

I’ve had fairly good luck with Tecsun radios except one DR-920 where the internal earphone switch went bad leaving the speaker inoperable.

The radio finally arrived and I’ll share some first impressions.

It comes with plush carry bag, a manual in Chinese, ear buds and a clip-on external antenna. Mine is the black model. The screened labels on the radio are in Chinese, but the molded labels (Volume, Tuning, DC 3v) are in English as is the simple LCD display.


My first impression was that the radio was a bare-bones model of less than the best quality. I based that primarily on the time set buttons that were flimsy and slightly crooked. The tuning knob is very stiff and the push buttons in general were stiff, hard to press and made a clacking noise. The dial light, illuminating from one side, was weak and uneven.

Cosmetics and ergonomics aside, the radio performed well on all bands. I’ll do more side-by-side tests, but it held up well against my Tecsun PL-380 DSP radio. One downside is that the frequency display is only 4 digits, so you cannot resolve an odd-numbered shortwave frequency, such as 11.975. Another annoyance is that the radio always turns on set to the FM band, no matter where it was set when the radio was turned off, so if you were listening to AM, the next time you turn on the radio you may be greeted to the hiss of an unused FM channel. Drift is a significant problem — I had to retune the radio every few minutes.

On a positive note, the internal speaker sounded crisper than the Tecsun PL380.

Model Tecsun R9702
Frequency coverage (numbers are the published ones. My radio tunes outside these values.) FM 87 – 108 MHz
AM 525 – 1610 KHz
SW1 5.95 – 9.90 MHz
SW2 11.6 – 17.9 MHz
FM Stereo No
Memories n/a
Sensitivity FM 10 μV
AM 1 mV/m
SW 30 μV
Selectivity >= 20 dB
Technology Analog Dual Conversion
Battery 2 AA
External DC 3v Center (-)
External antenna jack No
Tuning Analog
Tuning step Continuous
Display Digital
Volume Analog
Signal strength indicator No
Whip antenna length 19”
Local/Distance switch No
Bandwidth switch Yes
Tone control No
Dial light Yes
Clock Time, Alarm
On/off Button
Control lock No
Stereo/mono switch No
Attached battery door No
Size 117 x 77 x 30 mm
Weight without batteries 180 g
Carrying Wrist strap
Accessories included Ear buds, external antenna, pouch
Price (including shipping) $33.39 from DinoDirect

About Kevin

Just an old guy with opinions that I like to bounce off other people.
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