Review of the Airspy R2 SDR Radio

Could there be a radio better than the Sony XDR-F1HD?  My answer would have been a resounding “no,” that is, until I came across the Airspy R2.

The Airspy R2, which retails at $169 as of the time of publication, is a software-defined radio, or SDR.  A “mini” version with a few less bells and whistles retails for $99.  With an SMA to Coax adapter, $5 on Amazon, the supplied USB wire, and free SDR tuning programs (more on that below), you have all you ever need for Continue reading

Review of the Insignia NS-HDRAD2 radio

Insignia NS-HDRAD2. Click to enlarge.

My beloved Sony XDR-F1HD radio recently developed a problem where its audio output became garbled with a hum, rendering it useless for DX.  As I often used the F1HD on airplane trips where bringing my larger radios were impractical, I have been on the search for a replacement radio with HD Radio capabilities.  I found the Insignia NS-HDRAD2, which at the time of writing, is $49.99 at Best Buy, but is cheaper on eBay.

I’ve been eyeing this radio for some time, but shied away from purchasing it due to a less-than-stellar review from a friend who bought it and returned it to Best Buy last year.  Given its cheap price, I thought I would give it a chance.  I’m glad I did.

This isn’t the first Insignia HD Radio I’ve used–I’ve owned the Continue reading

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 Continue reading

An honest review of the RTL-SDR USB tuner

Local 103.5 WTOP and 104.1 WPRS tuned in via the RTL-SDR.  Note the HD Radio digital signals surrounding both signals.

Local 103.5 WTOP and 104.1 WPRS tuned in via the RTL-SDR in the HDSDR program. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

There have been a lot of recent buzz in the DXing community about software-defined radios, otherwise known as SDRs.  These radios, typically housed in a small USB thumbdrive-like units or small external hard drive-like enclosures without screens, can connect to your computer and can be used to DX multiple radio bands.

Recently Jim H., a DXer who lives in Stanardsville, VA, introduced me to the RTL-SDR USB dongle, which costs a whopping $9.95 on Amazon.com.  I’ll admit, I was highly skeptical of this device’s capabilities due to its price and relatively unknown manufacturer.  Coming from powerhouse DXing radios such as the Sony XDR-F1HD and Denon TU-1500RD, I was expected to be let down.

Unfortunately, I was kind of let down, although the novelty of having a computer-based tuner did amaze me.

SET UP

There was a slight learning curve with using the RTL-SDR dongle.  The device came with no software or instructions.  It also came with a Continue reading

UPDATED Review: Insignia NS-HD01 Portable HD Radio

Click to see full-size image

Click to see full-size image

Editors note: After having this radio for about two years, I decided to write an update to my original review, which was posted on 4/10/13.  My new review content is below, while the original review, untouched, is underneath my update.

Update 3/14/15: I can say that after two years of usage, I completely recommend this radio to all DXers, however, there’s a few things to note.

It is a powerhouse DXing radio.  While in Los Angeles, CA last year in a third-floor hotel room, the radio received signals up to 133 miles; 119 miles with HD Radio decodes using only the headphone wire as an antenna.  Therefore, for all future DXing trips, the NS-HD01 will be my go-to radio unless I also have a rental car whose radio I can use.  In some instances on recent trips, the NS-HD01 performed better than a Continue reading

Sony XDR-F1HD Radio Review

xdr

For a while I have been debating if I should add an HD Radio to my setup, as there are many additional DXing abilities to be had with an HD Radio that are impossible to get with an analog radio. Up until recently, one of the only respectable DX radios that had HD capability was the Sangean HDT-1 radio. I considered getting this radio, but the $199.99-249.99 price (depending on if you get the HDT-1 or HDT-1X) seemed to be a little too expensive, especially since I already had a fairly good primary radio (the Denon TU-1500RD, afterwards referred to as “Denon.”) In the past few weeks I started to hear about the Sony XDR-F1HD radio (afterwards referred to as “Sony.”) on the TVFMDX email list. A review from Brian Beezley on the Sony radio shortly Continue reading