Receivers

AM Receivers I Have Used

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Sangean PR-D15

My current radio of choice for DXing AM with an internal antenna. The PR-D15 is the successor to my previous favourite, the PR-D5,  with useful improvements and no disadvantages that I can find. Like the PR-D5, its 200 mm ferrite rod provides its excellent Sensitivity.

Sensitivity should not be confused with Audio Amplification. Presumably for Legal Liability reasons (Hearing damage), the volume cannot be turned up high enough to hear very weak signals. Because of the Low Noise Floor in the Audio circuitry, an external amplifier can be added, such as the CCrane amplified pillow speaker, which can be plugged into the headphone jack.

Reviews rate the CCRadio-2E slightly better for DX on AM, which may be true for quiet locations, but for areas like mine with a half dozen nearby 50,000 watt AM transmitters, CCrane radios overload, resulting in bleed of local stations to adjacent frequencies, and mixing products where, for example, stations on 700 and 800 KHz mix together on 900 KHz.  None of the Sangeans that I have tested have these problems.

Sangean HDR-18

On a par with the CC Radio-2E: lack of portability more than made up by HD (IBOC) capabilities on both AM and FM, plus RDS in FM.

On AM, the HDR-18 handles HD at three levels, shown below based on increasing levels of signal strength and consistency of signal strength:

  1. Detection – HD1 is displayed whenever IBOC is detected
  2. Data – call letters displayed
  3. Digital audio – switches to HD audio

The default settings include Loudness ON which is better for DX but should be turned off when recording Airchecks.

CC Radio-2E

My second choice for DX. Significantly better for AM DX than the CC Radio-EP or CC Skywave.

CC Radio-EP

To the best of my knowledge, the only currently available portable radio that allows both AM and FM internal antennas to be disconnected when external antennas are used. A necessity in my previous location, three miles East of CFRN’s 50,000 watt AM transmitter.

Here is what I had to do to record an Aircheck of semi-Local 10,000 watt CKJR-1440 without hearing CFRN-1260 in the background:

  1. Connect an external AM antenna, such as the TERK Advantage unamplified tuned loop;
  2. Set the Antenna Selection switch to External;
  3. Tune the radio to 1440 KHz;
  4. Tune the loop to 1440 KHz;
  5. Position the loop for maximum signal strength from CKJR;
  6. Slowly tune the loop above 1440 until all traces of CFRN have disappeared from the background of CKJR’s audio, being sure that a strong signal is still being received from CKJR;
  7. If this approach does not work, repeat Step 6 with different positions of the loop until one is found that maintains a clear signal from CKJR with no trace of CFRN.

The next challenge was eliminating RFI from the recording device.

CC Skywave

Late one evening I set the CC Skywave and the CC Radio-EP side by side, on the same frequency, where two radio stations were present. Rotating each radio, to the strongest reception of each station, I was surprised to note that each radio received one of the stations more clearly than the other radio. Conclusion: each radio has a different design, each of which has its advantages and disadvantages over the other.

SPARC SHD-TX2

My first HD radio.

Sony ICF-S10MK2

Still being sold by Sony, but missing 1610-1710 KHz on the AM band. Other than that, arguably provides the best AM reception you will find in a $13 radio.

Panasonic SA-HE100

A nice Stereo Receiver, but surprised me when I discovered that the AM tuner has “no bass”, presumably in an attempt to reduce noise.

Lafayette HA-230

In about 1967, I bought the last new Lafayette HA-230 left in Vancouver for, thanks to my father’s haggling, just over $100. It was, at the time, generally considered the best radio for AM DX at that price point. With it, and a 3′ home-made loop antenna, Trans-Pacific and South American DX was suddenly a reality on most Winter Sunday nights after midnight.

I was reminded of this tube-based communications receiver when I first DXed on the CC Radio-EP, and suspect that they are roughly equivalent in sensitivity and selectivity on AM.