Narrowing down but still torn...

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corbintechboy

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I have been investigating a radio for about a month. I have read everything there is to read that I can find and whenever I think I made up my mind, another question props up.

My interests are MWDX, hf utility and possibly DRM. There is no radio that gets this all.

The Palstar R30a gets the nob for MW, but the lack of precise tuning makes me think this might not be the one.

The R75 will be a workhorse, but MW is lacking without mods and I would have to wait until my warranty runs out to have them done (if I was smart).

The R8T is a good bargain, but MW is what it is and I don't think it will be up to par with the Palstar (or even close). Seems like for casual use it does ok on MW, but I am not casual so no dice.

SDR seems like a confusing mass of blah. Pre amps and whatnot. But I know on am will also amplify noise so I don't really know if this is an option.

Drakes (R8X series) make the top of the list for MWDX. But, after reading more about the Drakes, they are starting to show age. Caps going bad and whatnot and I don't want to buy someone elses nightmare.

My thought was (and I am leaning) towards the Palstar. I watched a bunch of videos on it and the sound is astounding. I like the fact MWDXers say the the audio is good enough to take a really weak signal and make it readable.

I lowered my budget some since radios are somewhat scarce, $1300 is my tops and these are my options. Any opinions from my fellow radio gurus on this?
 

Token

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SDR seems like a confusing mass of blah. Pre amps and whatnot. But I know on am will also amplify noise so I don't really know if this is an option.
Not sure why you say the above. The natural and man made noise floor in the MW section of the band makes a pre-amp not really useful for any of the major SDRs on the market. I don't even think the QS-1R would benefit from the addition of an amp here.

Both my WinRadio Excalibur and my Perseus SDRs outperform my Icom R75 on MW, and I use no preamps. Both typically outperform all of my other radios on MW, come to think of it. Maybe my Hammarlund SP-600 or my Hallicrafters SX-28 sound better and are more "fun" on MW, but I cannot truly say they "perform" better.

With SDRs you have to take into account the speaker/audio amp system. Attach them to basic laptop built in speakers and the audio is generally not to good. Get a decent set of speakers with good amplifier and it can improve things quite a bit.

For HF Utility and DRM it is hard to beat an SDR. The waterfall display helps you locate short duration transient utility signals quickly and even if you are not tuned to them. The 30 or 50 MHz wide WideBand display of the Excalibur means you can watch, zoom in, and store history for the entire HF spectrum at one time.

For DRM or other digital modes the disadvantage of the SDR can be that with some combinations of sound card and applications you require a 3rd software, a virtual sound card or virtual audio cable, to get the audio to the right application. I have been lucky enough to never need one, but I know others that struggled with this.

T!
 

E-Man

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I would consider a AM antenna for your E1 if that is your main target, maybe something like:

c crane am antenna | eBay

or:

select a tenna | eBay

The C Crane claims:

"It can improve radios that are placed in a bad reception location of your house or building like normally found in brick, stucco, or metal-sided homes"

I would pass on the Palstar because it has no key pad.

Once you go SDR, you never go back. It allows you to be most productive in finding signals. Just make sure your computer meets the min. specs.
 

corbintechboy

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Thanks for the replies.

I have been doing research (accused of doing to much by my wife) and I stumbled on this:

Arctic DX: Sensitivity Measurements - Bjarne's Receivers

I have been thinking about this for the absolutely awesome reviews:

RADIO PLUS

Looking at the comparisons of the radios above it looks like the E1 can be a very powerful MW rig (found this today).

I am thinking with the QX above with its +30db gain, I would really be able to bring any SDR to the same or close to the same sensitivity of the E1. Ajustable Q would help with overloading and gain, and of course it would not be hooked up at all times.

Thanks for the replies, looks like I am back to looking at SDRs. Just seems everywhere I looked they were talking about amps. I have a balanced longwire and it works really well on the E1 (CPU noise is my main reason for not being happy with the E1, although I love the E1 it is a love hate relashionship).

Thanks again.
 

mitaux8030

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SDRs are something I've never had any experience with, so I can't comment on them, but having read the above, its something that I must look into...

What about these thoughts:
Second hand R75 that you can safely mod, or buy second hand already modded? Or find an outlet that might sell you an R75 with mods already installed by them, and backed with warranty by them?

If you're really serious about MW DX, why not go for a quality tube receiver? Yeah, I know, you have no option but to buy second hand, its 'yesterdays technology'... but once you hear a receiver without phase noise, you'll wonder how you lived with noisy PLL receivers before. That assumes you're in a quiet setting though! Any advantage of no phase noise is completely wiped out by noise from the urban jungle. Also bear in mind that tube front ends cope better with strong signals. When a semiconductor front end gets into its non-linear part of the curve with overload, nasty mixing products happen... not on a tube front end! Admittedly, modern day very high quality designed PLLs can achieve almost negligible phase noise, with the result that they're almost as good as a tube design. Almost. Similarly modern day front ends are good, but in the face of huge rock-crushing signals (perhaps you're living within 10 miles of a MW station for example) nothing beats the 'soft' overload of a good tube receiver.

Last comment: no matter what radio you do eventually go for, definitely get a high quality external speaker. Or a very good set of cans. Its amazing the difference it makes to your listening.
 

corbintechboy

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SDRs are something I've never had any experience with, so I can't comment on them, but having read the above, its something that I must look into...

What about these thoughts:
Second hand R75 that you can safely mod, or buy second hand already modded? Or find an outlet that might sell you an R75 with mods already installed by them, and backed with warranty by them?

If you're really serious about MW DX, why not go for a quality tube receiver? Yeah, I know, you have no option but to buy second hand, its 'yesterdays technology'... but once you hear a receiver without phase noise, you'll wonder how you lived with noisy PLL receivers before. That assumes you're in a quiet setting though! Any advantage of no phase noise is completely wiped out by noise from the urban jungle. Also bear in mind that tube front ends cope better with strong signals. When a semiconductor front end gets into its non-linear part of the curve with overload, nasty mixing products happen... not on a tube front end! Admittedly, modern day very high quality designed PLLs can achieve almost negligible phase noise, with the result that they're almost as good as a tube design. Almost. Similarly modern day front ends are good, but in the face of huge rock-crushing signals (perhaps you're living within 10 miles of a MW station for example) nothing beats the 'soft' overload of a good tube receiver.

Last comment: no matter what radio you do eventually go for, definitely get a high quality external speaker. Or a very good set of cans. Its amazing the difference it makes to your listening.
Thanks for the reply.

I am a bit afraid of a tube radio. Tubes are only becoming harder to find and I would like to get something to work a good long time. Besides, my furnace works great :D.

I have thought about the used R75. The only thing I really hate about buying used is you never know what the radio has been through. I have bought used with no issues but one never knows. Not to mention, the R75 seems to hold value really well and used does not end up being much cheaper then new. If we only talk $100 I would almost always rather just spring for new.

Some considerations for sure.
 

Token

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Thanks for the replies.

I have been doing research (accused of doing to much by my wife) and I stumbled on this:

Arctic DX: Sensitivity Measurements - Bjarne's Receivers
While sensitivity is not the only measure of a radios performance I have measured most of my radios and generally agree with Bjarnes findings (within a small margin) on the Perseus and SDR-IQ in AM mode. I find the WinRadio Excalibur to be more sensitive than the Perseus. Still short of things like the 525, but not by much. And once you go to SSB or CW the SDRs start to close the gap considerably, as in unit to unit variations can make it go away totally.

The other advantages of the SDRs, tighter filter skirts, completely adjustable filter widths, etc make them quite good when trying to pick a sub 1 kW station out of adjacent channel noise from a 50 kW flame-thrower. And the ability to record the entire MW band at the top of the hour means you can catch a lot more callsigns from multiple stations instead of having to set on each freq for that time.

Unless you are in a very, very, low noise location I personally would not weight the raw sensitivity of any radio too heavily. Yes it counts, but less than most people realize once you get to a certain point. I consider my location in the Mojave Desert to be low noise, and I find in my use that for MW (although admittedly I am not MW centric in my listening) the Perseus and WinRadio are about the best radios in my shack.

T!
 

ww7y

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I've been doing this for a long time, and had almost every HF rcvr available. I use a WinRadio Excalibur almost exclusively at this point. The ability to see signals come and go on the waterfall across a wide spectrum of HFand tune instantly to them makes all the differenece. If I only could of had this ability in the hayday of Shortwave when I spent HOURS tuning the bands for that elusive signal. Oh, the stuff I missed! Pair the Excalibur with 2 or 3 good antennas (like the Wellbrook ALA100 for MW) and you can hear almost everything that can be heard with conditions and your local noise levels.

I totally agree with Token!
 
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corbintechboy

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I do think I am leaning toward the SDR.

I do have a question however, I live in a rental place (for now) and I have about 100 feet of wire going outside (balanced by a balun). This is all I can do at the moment as I cannot drill holes or anything. I will probably end up with the MW antenna above (the reviews are just to good to ignore, and the developer is a MWDXer himself). Will this create a problem? I know it is not ideal but it is really all I can do.
 
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Turbo68

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Hi Corbintechboy any of the radios u mentioned will do an excellent job with the right antenna otherwise u are not going to get anywhere regardless what radio u get..

Regards Lino..

HF ANTENNAS
WELLBROOK-ALA1530
WELLBROOK-ALA1530AL-1
WELLBROOK-ALA1530L
WELLBROOK-330S
 

majoco

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My WinRadio G303e - although out of date now - will do all that you ask including DRM without having to buy a licence. It is just as sensitive as my JRC NRD 515 on MW and HF. Just think of it as a normal radio with a software front panel!
 

ridgescan

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I agree with carmelof on this one-and the r75 IMO does very well on MW with no special mods. My experience here (with a good reliable 100' wire up 40') is straight AM (no AM-sync) preamps off and both wide and narrow filters off so I can work the PBTs if needed, brings forth great MW DX.
 

kilokat7

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I do think I am leaning toward the SDR.
I will probably end up with the MW antenna above (the reviews are just to good to ignore, and the developer is a MWDXer himself). Will this create a problem? I know it is not ideal but it is really all I can do.
In regards to the Quantum Loop: I do a lot of medium wave DXing and own a Quantum Loop that I purchased for my old DX-440. It's a great antenna and works perfectly with this radio. I've pulled in some great MW DX using this combination. But, it doesn't play nice with my Perseus SDR. If you're leaning towards an SDR then you're going to want a broadband antenna and not something like the Quantum Loop which requires re-tuning every time you change MW frequencies on your radio.
 

corbintechboy

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Thanks for the replies.

I agree with carmelof on this one-and the r75 IMO does very well on MW with no special mods. My experience here (with a good reliable 100' wire up 40') is straight AM (no AM-sync) preamps off and both wide and narrow filters off so I can work the PBTs if needed, brings forth great MW DX.
The R75 has a "pad" that needs to be removed to increase use on MW. The R30a has no restrictions on MW and with a modded R75, DXers say with preamp one on the R75 equals the sensitivity of the R30a (with preamp two IMD is introduced but sensitivity is also increased beating the R30a).

Are preamp one and two operational on MW?

50 ohm pi or whatever, I am just starting to understand db.

Heres the link to the mod:

Icom R75


In regards to the Quantum Loop: I do a lot of medium wave DXing and own a Quantum Loop that I purchased for my old DX-440. It's a great antenna and works perfectly with this radio. I've pulled in some great MW DX using this combination. But, it doesn't play nice with my Perseus SDR. If you're leaning towards an SDR then you're going to want a broadband antenna and not something like the Quantum Loop which requires re-tuning every time you change MW frequencies on your radio.
I was actually worried about this. Seems it would be hard to "look" at many channels with an antenna tuned to a specific frequency. Since I don't/can't have room for a proper beverage antenna, it may be better to be a nob turner. Or I could just use my wire and when the going gets tough use an antenna switch to get the job done with the Quantum.

The key to MWDX is nulls. I have no way to use a big loop with a rotator to have proper nulls. I have to depend on the Quantum for nulls and I know from the reviews and praises, it nulls rather well.


The R75 is a radio I have wanted forever. It is a true workhorse. I remember looking at the R75 years ago and going "Wow I wish I can afford that". Now when I can afford it I am at a point where I don't really know if it is the right tool for the job.

Since I am a primary Linux user, I run into the problem of any SDR being a pain in the rear. The QS1R does have native support for Linux, thats also where the talks about preamps and whatever have come from.

I should be able to purchase this next week and I am coming to the conclusion that anything I pick will work.
 

ridgescan

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I shot a short vid of sample MWDXs in a pinch. The video shows 3 things:
-yes, preamps do work in MW.
-the r75 brings forth quite nice audio and seemingly no "restrictive" tendencies that would make me want to do that mod.
-again, if you apply a reliable, well RF-grounded antenna to the r75 you will be very happy. Imagine what I could dig up if I sat here and stalked some frequencies (no patience lol)
(be sure to read the description section in the video for the list of copied stations in video and their distances)


Icom R-75, MW DXing Sample - YouTube

That's why I agreed with carmelof, because if your antenna system is so-so, your reception on MW will be so-so. On any radio. I personally like the r75 because it is a staunchly reliable and precise rig. Especially for what you pay for it.

I hope this further helps your decision:)
 
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corbintechboy

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I shot a short vid of sample MWDXs in a pinch. The video shows 3 things:
-yes, preamps do work in MW.
-the r75 brings forth quite nice audio and seemingly no "restrictive" tendencies that would make me want to do that mod.
-again, if you apply a reliable, well RF-grounded antenna to the r75 you will be very happy. Imagine what I could dig up if I sat here and stalked some frequencies (no patience lol)
(be sure to read the description section in the video for the list of copied stations in video and their distances)


Icom R-75, MW DXing Sample - YouTube

That's why I agreed with carmelof, because if your antenna system is so-so, your reception on MW will be so-so. On any radio. I personally like the r75 because it is a staunchly reliable and precise rig. Especially for what you pay for it.

I hope this further helps your decision:)
Thank you for that.

All I can say is wow, it sounded good and seemed to do rather well. I can just imagine what it would do with the Quatum loop. I was really impressed.

I do think I will get the R75. You closed the deal :D.

I have even heard the R75 is sensitive enough off 20 feet of wire to work really well, so my 100 feet of balanced wire should work really well on the hf bands.

Thank you very much.
 

Jim41

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Thank you for that.

All I can say is wow, it sounded good and seemed to do rather well. I can just imagine what it would do with the Quatum loop. I was really impressed.

I do think I will get the R75. You closed the deal :D.

I have even heard the R75 is sensitive enough off 20 feet of wire to work really well, so my 100 feet of balanced wire should work really well on the hf bands.

Thank you very much.
Please give us an update on what you buy and how well it performs for you.

Jim41
 

ridgescan

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Thank you for that.

All I can say is wow, it sounded good and seemed to do rather well. I can just imagine what it would do with the Quatum loop. I was really impressed.

I do think I will get the R75. You closed the deal :D.

I have even heard the R75 is sensitive enough off 20 feet of wire to work really well, so my 100 feet of balanced wire should work really well on the hf bands.

Thank you very much.
Not sure if you got a look at the e-ham reviews in studying the r75 so here's that link with 70 more opinions for you
ICOM IC-R75 Product Reviews

glad to help you.
My 100' wire is neither tuned nor balanced but well grounded, and you can see the quiet reliable performance I get here. I also want to mention two things; I have also an r71a at the desk, and an old Hallicrafters there too that both do very well off that antenna which again shows that it's very good that you have that antenna system in place there-my whole point in your thread was to show that the r75 was not "restricted" on MW. Sure there are rigs out there that may rival the r75 in MW but it rivals a bunch of rigs there too-just the nature of radios.
The r75 is at the bedside for a reason-it is such a good MW performer to me, and I use MW DX every night as an "escape" to sleep:) local MW stations NEVER get listened to here-always distant ones.
 

corbintechboy

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Not sure if you got a look at the e-ham reviews in studying the r75 so here's that link with 70 more opinions for you
ICOM IC-R75 Product Reviews

glad to help you.
My 100' wire is neither tuned nor balanced but well grounded, and you can see the quiet reliable performance I get here. I also want to mention two things; I have also an r71a at the desk, and an old Hallicrafters there too that both do very well off that antenna which again shows that it's very good that you have that antenna system in place there-my whole point in your thread was to show that the r75 was not "restricted" on MW. Sure there are rigs out there that may rival the r75 in MW but it rivals a bunch of rigs there too-just the nature of radios.
The r75 is at the bedside for a reason-it is such a good MW performer to me, and I use MW DX every night as an "escape" to sleep:) local MW stations NEVER get listened to here-always distant ones.
Thanks for the response.

I know the R75 is a real workhorse from years of reading about it. I was just worried about the MW aspect of the radio. The cool thing about the R75 is that many people have said that there is not another radio that will "hear" more on hf, this actually says alot when you look at the price and the fact it has been compared to some really top notch rigs.

Another thing I really like about the idea of the R75 is I know when I do move out of here (this year buying a house I hope) that anything I throw at it that it will handle it, so I can really go antenna crazy with it without issue.

One downfall I have here is ground. With my E1 I ground the outter coax with my electrical box (metal box with grounded chasis) and if the furnace goes to kick on or something, I get some noise. I really have no other option and that really bums me out. The ground does however improve reception greatly.

I had an R8 and without that radio grounded, the noise floor was really low (like S1 across all the bands), maybe I will get lucky here.

I do have a Softrock and when I got it I had some fun. It sits here collecting dust, I just actually like a proper knob. There is something about turning a knob and just finding the weakest station I can hear and messing with settings to make it more hearable, this cannot really be replicated on any SDR. I fear with any SDR I will have the same issue. I do like the recording feature of an SDR however and that would be priceless. I could get the R75 and an SDR-IQ and kinda have the best of both worlds, this is an option I may look into.

Thanks again for the replies.
 
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