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.

The New Keepers

And so onto the meat of the article, why these new radios join the dear ones — for now.

Tecsun DR-920C

This is a replacement for the Lextronix E1100. I keep it for the remembrance of an old friend.

Tecsun DR-920C (photo by the author)

It’s a single-conversion superheterodyne radio, with MW, SW and 10 shortwave bands. It has a digital frequency readout to let the operator know what frequency is tuned. It suffers from images, like all single-conversion superhets, but if one likes to tune around with an all-analog unit and still have an exact frequency readout, this is it.

Why it’s a keeper: Sentiment, plus the only example of single-conversion with digital frequency readout.

Tecsun PL-990

This one really belongs on top. It’s my best radio.

Tecsun PL-990 (photo by the author)

The PL-990 is a dream receiver. It feels professional. The controls are convenient. It’s superb on all bands. It of course has a very good SSB implementation with SYNC detection as well. It covers LW/MW/FM/SW. The speaker is the best I have. Click here for my articles tagged PL-990. That makes 4 Tecsun models on the Keepers list.

Why it’s a keeper: Best radio I have.

Qodosen DX-286

This radio created a big splash when it appeared with great performance and a good price. It uses a car radio DSP chip (TEF 6686) and the result is a model with dynamite performance on LW/MW/FM that is no slouch on shortwave either. It and it’s similar sibling, the SR-286 have been the subject of many articles at Blog or Die! Click for articles on the DX-286 and SR-286. The tricky problem is what to do with the surplus, since I have two DX-286s and one SR-286.

Qodosen SR-286 (photo by the author)

Why it’s a keeper: Superior LW/MW/FM performance, compact size, good audio and operational convenience.

XHDATA D-109WB

XHDATA D-109WB (top) and D-109 (bottom)

The D-109WB adds the weather band to the D-109, so it should be the keeper. It also fixes an issue with certain SD cards that gave the D-109 trouble. I actually have two D-109s to pass on, one I bought and one XHDATA sent me because of a design flaw in the first one.

It’s just a nice radio with a good speaker. It’s mostly easy to use except for the variable speed tuning. It supports Bluetooth and can play MP3 files. It supposedly overloads easily, but I don’t live near any radio stations. For articles see D-109 and D-109WB.

Why it’s a keeper: Good speaker, convenient operation, sensitivity, Bluetooth/MP3.

Eton Elite Executive

This is the first “good radio” I’d bought since the Tecsun PL-660. It’s a DSP model with quality look and feel. It was my first radio since the Great Purge with FM RDS.

Eton Elite Executive (photo by the author)

For more about this radio, check my articles here.

Why it’s a keeper: Elegant radio, SSB, ease of operation.

HanRongDa HRD-701

The HRD-701 is just a fun little radio. It performs well except for lots of display noise. It plays MP3 and has Bluetooth. The speaker is remarkable for its size. It’s also a weather alert radio.

HanRongDa HRD-701 AM/FM/Shortwave/Weather radio with MP3 player

Check out my articles that include this radio here.

Why it’s a keeper: Necessity for National Yellow Radio Day, great speaker.

LiJiANi Rd239

This is an inexpensive radio with a ton of functionality, including MW / FM / SW / AIR / Weather / VHF. It has MP3 and Bluetooth, plus recording. It has a flashlight and reading light. It’s really a Swiss army knife radio. It’s quite a good radio with outstanding performance on FM. The speaker is surprisingly good.

Check out my articles about the Rd239 here.

Check out my other articles on the RF75A here.

Sangean ATS-405

The ATS-405 is my only experience with Sangean and it’s not one of their high end units. I like the display. FM performance is good. Shortwave needs a little help from an antenna (clip on) for best performance. It’s interesting for its options, such as AGC delay and the ability to turn off various kinds of muting and it has a Squelch.

Sangean ATS-405 (photo by author)

For other articles about this radio, click here.

Why it’s a keeper: Attractive radio, highly readable display, options to play with.

HanRongDa HRD-757

Since the HRD-757 hasn’t arrived yet, I could hardly get rid of it. It will be the only radio I have with UHF, so that qualifies it as a Keeper. Beyond that, it is another Swiss Army Knife radio with record capability, weather alerts and a flashlight. It reportedly is a good radio.

HanRongDa HRD-757 (Product Photo)

Why it’s a keeper: Readable display, Swiss Army Knife functionality plus UHF.

XHDATA D-808

I got this one in March of 2023. I bought it because I hoped it would be better than the radios I already had (this was before the Tecsun PL-990). I’m keeping it because so many others use this radio and it’s useful for comparisons. It performs well, but I don’t like how the controls work and I don’t like the memory system. It’s not my best in any category.

XHDATA D-808 Radio

For other articles about this radio, click here.

Why it’s a keeper: A common radio to compare to others, SSB.

XHDATA D-219

This is perhaps a surprising Keeper, a $10 analog dial DSP radio. I comes in a couple of versions, one for North America with its extended MW band and one for the rest of the world. Both share the name model number, but they can be distinguished by the printing on the front panel. The MW scale on the US model is 520 – 1710 and the other pictured below is 522 – 1620. I’ve had both, but now just the North American one.

XHDATA D-219 non-American version (photo by author)

The tuning calibration is off a little on mine, the reason I don’t like analog tuning.

For other articles about this radio, click here.

Why it’s a keeper: Indestructible, works OK.

Sihuadon R-108

Sihuadon R-108 receiver

I’ve been impressed with the feel of this radio. It’s solid. Sensitivity is good and it has AIR band. It has some similarities with the XHDATA D-808 in operation, with that same freaking FREQ button that refixes frequency entries, but simpler memory organization — one large block rather than division into pages.

For other articles about this radio, click here.

Why it’s a keeper: Compact, works very well. Good feel.

Raddy RF75A

This is my other app-controlled radio. It’s tiny; in fact I went on a trip with it in pants pocked and never knew it was there until accidentally turned on. It has broad coverage for SW, MW, FM, VHF, AIR and Weather. The speaker is no slouch either. It plays MP3 files, has Bluetooth and records. Oh, and a flashlight.

Why it’s a keeper: Very compact size, recording capability and weather alerts.

Summary

There are 18 portable shortwave radios on the keeper list, only twice as many as the last one. It was a good exercise to sort out what I have a reason to keep, and what I don’t.

Here is the list:

  1. Degen DE15
  2. Eton Elite Executive
  3. HanRongDa HRD-701
  4. HanRongDa HRD-757
  5. LiJiANi Rd239
  6. Panasonic RF-085
  7. Qodosen DX-286
  8. Raddy RF75A
  9. Sangean ATS-405
  10. Sihuadon R-108
  11. Tecsun DR-920C
  12. Tecsun PL-330
  13. Tecsun PL-660
  14. Tecsun PL-990
  15. XHDATA D-109WB
  16. XHDATA D-219
  17. XHDATA D-808
  18. Zhiwhis ZWS-603

About Kevin

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