Mini Review of the Sony XDR-S10HDiP Radio

Sony XDR-SD

Sony XDR-S10HDiP radio

I added a Sony XDR-S10HDiP radio to my shack on April 27.  The radio, which is no longer in production and was purchased used off of eBay, is identical in terms of performance to the Sony XDR-F1HD radio.

This radio will, for the most part, serve as my new go-to radio for dial scanning, since it has built-in speakers.  My other two main radios, the Sony XDR-F1HD and the Denon TU-1500RD, have their audio outputs connected to my computer.  Since the S10 has speakers, I can now easily check reception conditions without disturbing unattended recordings from the computer-connected radios.  All three radios will be actively DXed during future tropo and Sporadic E reception.

The Sony XDR-S10HDiP radio, seen on the top left, is a new addition to my DX shack.

The Sony XDR-S10HDiP radio, seen on the top left, is a new addition to my DX shack.

The radio will also serve as my new travel radio.  Until recently, I often brought my XDR-F1HD with me on DXing trips so I could utilize the HD and RDS capabilities of the radio.  While the radio was a powerhouse on many trips, I grew more cautious of bringing it with me, since the F1HD is fragile and very susceptible to scratches, dents, etc.  Another factor which made me weary of packing the F1HD is that it is becoming increasingly rare, often fetching more than $299 used on eBay (the original price of the F1HD was $50 in 2008).  I also have an Insignia NS-HD01 radio which serves its purpose on trips, however, its selectivity and sensitivity are no match for the F1HD radio.

I found the S10HDiP radio on eBay in near mint condition for less than $50 used.  It is a much more robust radio in terms of construction (and size) than the F1HD.  I’ve found the F1HD screen to be very thin and malleable–something that makes it very unsuitable for portable DXing.  The S10HDiP’s screen is thick and more like what would be found on a boombox.  The speaker grille is of a spandex-like material and it stays put with normal handling.

As mentioned, the tuner portion of the S10HDiP radio is identical to what is found in the XDR-F1HD.  In other words, I cannot tell either radio apart in terms of performance, both with regard to sensitivity and selectivity.  Both radios are phenomenal.  Everything I said in my 2008 review of the XDR-F1HD radio applies to the S10HDiP.

The audio quality of the S10HDiP, with bass boost and surround sound enabled, is exceptional and fitting for everyday listening.

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RDS screenshots from the Sony XDR-F1HD (left) and Sony XDR-S10HDiP (right)

A clear benefit for RDS reception on the S10HDiP radio is the addition of an additional line of radiotext, compared to one line on the F1HD.  It appears the top line text is the RDS PS text (seen on both radios), while the middle line is the PT text.  Having an extra line on the S10HDiP is handy as some stations only identify in the PT text.

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HD Radio screenshots from the Sony XDR-F1HD (left) and Sony XDR-S10HDiP (right)

For the most part, HD decodes on both radios seem to be about identical in terms of what is seen.  The font on the S10HDiP is bigger and easier to read, but it looks neater on the F1HD with more spacing around the letters.  Only a few Washington, DC-area HD signals use the top line of text in their IBOC signal as seen in the above RDS screenshot.

The radio, however, has some downsides.  There’s no carrying handle and care does have to be taken to not scratch the radio screen or damage the speaker grilles.  The radio has a fairly large ‘wall wart’-type cord, which when traveling can become cumbersome.  This is made more frustrating since the cord cannot be detached or unplugged from the back of the S10.

Perhaps most disappointing is that the S10HDiP does not have any audio output or headphone jack–you are forced to listen to the device via its speakers.  This can be a dealbreaker if one wants to record audio or DX in private.  I plan on using a voice recorder for audio in the event I am using the radio during a strong DX event.

Overall, the S10HDiP is a welcome addition to my DX shack.  It will be nice having two fully-capable HD radios–something which my shack has been lacking.  I recommend DXers purchase an S10HDiP radio for a huge discount (on eBay, at least) on what is essentially the XDR-F1HD radio with speakers.  Sure, the S10HDiP has its downsides, but I believe the pluses outweigh the minuses.

Read more about other equipment in my DX shack.

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