Degen DE32 AM/FM/SW radio/MP3 player

imageThis is an interesting little shirt-pocket radio available on eBay for under $30. It has a few nice features and some drawbacks too.

The radio covers the US FM radio band as well as the low FM band (64-87 MHz) used in some parts of the world. It covers AM (MW), and shortwave in 8 bands from 5.6 – 22 MHz. The tuning and display is analog.

Sensitivity is not stellar. Because of the radio’s size, the internal AM antenna is small and not very effective. The telescoping whip antenna only reaches 13 inches, again limiting sensitivity. The dial is very tiny, making it difficult to tune precisely and there is considerably play in the tuning wheel, which means it’s hard to position precisely. If you tune just a touch past a station, you have to turn back a lot to find it again. One inexcusably bad design point is that it is extremely difficult to tell which band the radio is switched to by looking at it unless the radio is lit dead on. The indicator is down in a hole.

There are also some nice things to note with this radio. First, it uses a digital signal processor for improved selectivity. In fact one finds clear separation of stations, and stations tend to snap into tune as one turns the dial. There is an effective LED tuning indicator also. Another feature of the radio is that it doubles as an MP3 player with a slot to plug in a Micro SD card. With headphones, I was extremely pleased with the sound of MP3 playback with the only complaint being no booming bass. The sound of FM, however, was a little tinny, and no one would want to listen to anything on the internal speaker.

Other nice features include:

  • Flashlight (although no dial light)
  • The tuning knob is accessible from both the top and the side of the radio
  • Built in rechargeable battery (supplied). It uses the Nokia BL-5C battery that can be replaced for under $10.
  • Battery charges from mini USB cable (supplied)
  • Stable, and does not tip over easily

If you want to combine a shortwave radio and an MP3 player in one, then this is a good low-cost option. If you don’t need the MP3 player, then you can get the Degen DE321 with some rechargeable batteries (which you have to charge externally) for $10 less . The DE321 has a bigger dial and the same digital signal processing feature.

About Kevin

Just an old guy with opinions that I like to bounce off other people.
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2 Responses to Degen DE32 AM/FM/SW radio/MP3 player

  1. Kevin says:

    Yes, Jim, you need a Micro SD card. The radio has no internal memory. You must plug your Micro SD card directly into your computer to copy files to it. You cannot use the USB charging cable connected to the radio.

    There are arrow keys on the back of the radio by which which you can advance to the song you want. I’m guessing that the songs play in the order that you copy them onto the SD Card, but I don’t know for sure.

    It’s pretty primitive.

  2. JimG says:


    A family member bought this (Degen DE32) for me as a gift. The instructions are in Chinese, but I do not know how to that read Chinese, unfortunately. I’m hoping that someone here can help me with some (hopefully) simple questions. I’m not sure how to upload an Mp3 onto this player. I tried plugging it into a computer port. It lit up, but it didn’t show up as a device when I attempted to upload an Mp3. Do I need a Micro SD card to do that? Once you upload a few Mp3 recordings, is there a way to go to a specific one, or to control the order? Also: what are the two round rolling buttons on the back of the unit? Help!

    Thanks in advance,


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