Alinco DJ-X11 Review

svenmarbles

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Jun 7, 2014
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102
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Chicago
After some diligent shopping of handheld general coverage receivers, I came to the conclusion that the DJ-X11 is the best option. It’s the only unit in the nearby price point that offers full functionality. For more money you can have the R30 with digital modes, which I almost went for, until I found out that for virtually any practical need that I would use the digital modes for the R30 can’t do it. P25, but not phase 2, and no DMR. Having digital modes that are of no use to you is the same as not having digital modes, so why pay for them?...

So what we are left with is everything else.

Construction: The DJ-X11 has the beefy polycarbonate construction of industrial grade radios. Plus they’ve even added quite robust rubber edging around the bottom corners. Not that I ever would (because I’m very delicate and picky with my gear), but you could very confidently drop the radio, have it sustain impact, etc, and be very confident in how it will hold up. I believe it even has a water rating. Paired with the optional ESC-50, you really get the feel that the unit is impervious to abuse (not recommended).

Controls: I’ve cyclically owned AOR 8200 series radios over the past 20 years, and even still, my confidence in being able to operate it independently of the manual is pretty shaky. This radio employs menu logic that is fairly intuitive. To get started you will need to reference the manual at first, but after some time, you begin to recognize the layout logic. The dual rotatable knobs with the press down make for a very simple control method. After only a short time of ownership, I can competently pick it up and dig into the settings and modes.

Performance: Outstanding. Using the included whip, I was impressed with the reception I received from a police dispatch frequently that is a couple of towns over. I typically CAN receive this frequency with most VHF/UHF radios that I own, but the difference was the quality. Normally it’s scratchy, voice level barely above the noise floor, and often unintelligible. SOMEHOW the reception on this receiver is full quieting, hard P’s T’s and B’s. Very very very listenable. On the flip side, the power level of the speaker is low. You’re going to want to be in a low noise environment while listening, because optimal volume level seems to be about #15-17 out of 30. On HF, it works. It actually works well. Here is a video of a quick tune across the shortwave bands (
). The problem is ergonomics and sound. With shortwave listening, distortion and fade come with the territory, and if you don’t have a nice big nice sounding speaker it can be a chore to listen. This speaker is definitely going to fatigue you. I didn’t find any helpful filtering options, aside from a high cut and low cut audio option. I believe that the passband is completely static and the filtering is being done with audio tricks, because the cutting does nothing for selectivity. Also, one quirk that I found is with the SSB tuning. On most modern, even inexpensive SW portables, you tune to a frequency, say 3300khz CHU, and if you want to listen to the USB portion you simply select USB on your radio and it does it. On the DJ-X11 I attempted to do this but it was off. 3300khz USB sounded how SSB sounds when you’re off. After some slight tuning I got it dialed in and sounding correctly at 3301.3khz USB. Hmmm..... “this radio is off calibration” I thought.... Well no,.. After some further research I figured out what this is. 3301.3khz is actually WHERE 3300khz USB is.... Think of how old BFO tuned SSB radios worked. You would center on the desired frequency, then slide the passband left or right with the BFO to encapsulate the SSB signal respectively. In this case the passband on this radio is static. So when you put the radio in SSB modes, it doesn’t do the auto shift, it just enters the filtered mode, and you have to center the passband over it, and the center of the passband will be reflective as it ACTUALLY is centered on the readout... It’s just an odd quirk, dare I even say a little bit lazy.. But, it works, and as long as you understand this principle and know that it’s not a defect, it’s actually not that bothersome.

Dual receivers is a great feature as well. Surprisingly, I get a lot of good use of it. You can scan on one, be static on a frequency on the other. Scan both. Have HF on one and UHF on the other,... Truly no limitations, and one side doesn’t effect the other at all. Both audio levels play through the same speaker simultaneously. Super nice feature!

Bug searching is,..... interesting lol. I’ve been out of witness protection for a while now so I don’t really have any practical way of testing it. Perhaps this might be something to try on a trip to China or Russia in your hotel room...

F tune works, tested keying up some HTs and it locks on. Frequency counter works as well.

Other features of this radio include computer control and IQ output for computer end decoding from software. I used the computer controls and found it to be very limited. 3rd party development of software for these functions are badly needed. The Alinco provided stuff really only seems to have been made for a proof of concept with the hopes that 3rd parties would really open this up. If that ever happened I believe the possibilities would be very high.

As an analog multiband receiver it’s a performer. It’s high level hobby/pro grade equipment.

The biggest downside to this radio that I find is that it just really seems like not very many people outside of Japan are buying it. Online groups/support are nil. There’s almost nobody on the internet to bounce things off of with this radio. Which is a shame because my findings show to me that this might be the very best option for a general coverage handheld. More people should get involved with it.
 

icemantim8

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Joined
Jan 9, 2004
Messages
72
Location
Colorado
Thank you for a great review. I have actually thinned down my radio collection considerably. I have owned the R-30 and it is/was a great receiver. But....just more than what I needed and for my simple brain, even with the software I purchased, it was out of my league. I just may look into the DJ-X11 in the not too distant future when my $ level out. Thank you again.
 
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