Tecsun Review of the new Tecsun H501

Direwolf131

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This is lifted from an off-shore review of the H501x, its quite instructive and it indicates, to me, my radio is not a one off damaged unit, but rather the condition is endemic to the specific DSP chip used in the series, keep this in mind if you are thinking of buying this radio, if just for program listening you'll likely never even know this issue exists, if you're a MW/utility DX'er this indicates, exactly as I have found, that you really cannot zero-beat(calibrate)the radio on the SSB's across frequencies. That means if you zero beat the radio on the MW it will largely be zeroed on the MW, but not in SW, or vice versa.....

When I first received the H501X, the 25-meter band from medium wave to short wave seemed to be very accurate.Further tests showed that: it is necessary to recalibrate the frequency, but the deviation of the 19-meter band from medium wave to short wave is not as obvious as I saw on the PL990X. Re-calibration at the center frequency of the 25-meter shortwave band seems to be a great midpoint for calibration. However, it is inevitable that the frequency calibration of the short-wave band will cause the mid-wave frequency to deviate a bit.
 

Direwolf131

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If there are any folks still out there a word on battery consumption with the H501x series is in order, specifically in running my sample these last three weeks or so, I have used my PL-880 as the benchmark for testing the H501x. In that time, I have had to strip out, and replace the included Tecsun 2600 mah 18650's, a set of Olight 2600 mah's, and a pair of AW 2200 mah battery's literally two dozen times! By way of comparison, my benchmark radio, the little PL-880 is still on its first battery and still showing three bars of charge, which is just further evidence of how excellent the PL-880 truly is.

There is a reason why they manufactured a dual battery compartment, the H501x is a battery eating machine, the likes of which I have never seen before, its that excessive in its consumption, don't believe me, just tune in one of Tom Stiles, or Gilles numerous youtube videos regarding the H501x, you'll see one constant in those videos, the battery is constantly flashing away its low warning! You are gonna want an adapter to operate this radio off current and use the battery's only for an evening outdoors.

Another thing, Gilles has in my opinion substantially mis-characterized the H501x as a SW boom box, this is simply not accurate, its not that big at all, not nearly in the realm of a boom box, in fact a larger radio such as the Sangean 803A is approximately 15-20% larger overall than the H501x, and the H501x does not push its speakers that well, in fact to my ears the smaller PL-880 both sounds better and pushes its speaker louder than the H501x does its pair of them! So keep in mind the radio is NOT a SW boom box, its nicely sized and has decent sound(unless you turn up volume and swiftly deplete battery)for its size, but its actually out matched to my ears by the PL-880!

So, the H501x is a battery eating machine, which compared to the PL-880 simple does not match up(cannot speak for 990x)in power consumption, and its nowhere near a boom box in size, battery performance, or sound!
 

VK3RX

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I’ve had a H501x for a week now, and have done fairly extensive testing and a number of charge cycles. I’m not experiencing the battery issues you are.

I loaded the Tecsun-supplied batteries as received i.e. I did not initially charge them. I’ve found that listening at a normal volume level and with typical tuning around, a battery lasts 15-18 hours before the battery icon starts flashing, and then it usually runs for another 2-3 hours before the radio shuts down.

Batteries are recharged in the H501x using the supplied cable and wall wart. I have found that external chargers do not always charge unusual batteries at the same rate and specifications as their intended device’s internal charging circuit. In fact after being charged in the radio, a battery ran for a few hours longer than originally when first put in the radio. Recharging a single battery took about 4.5 hours.

Calibration is retained over power down and battery discharge and recharge. There is some difference – up to 30Hz depending on the band - when frequency calibration was carried out on an AM station in the MW band and the result checked in SW bands. As stated in a review elsewhere, if calibration is done in (say) the 25 meter band it seems to be a good mid-range choice, but if you are fussed about precise dial accuracy then calibration in band is quick and easy, including with SSB stations of known accuracy.

With its performance and facilities the H501x is a cut above other portables I have owned, including Grundig, Tecsun and Sangean models, and I am very happy with it.
 

Direwolf131

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I haven't gotten anything close to 15-18 hours on the included Tecsun 2600 mah's, they degrade immediately upon upping volume, or activating the DSP, or using the synch circuitry! Interestingly, I am getting much better power consumption using a set of AW 3100 mahs in the radio, even the 2200 mah AW's perform better than the included Tecsun set, though other Tecsun 18650's, such as the one sent two years back with purchase of PL-880 continue to perform superbly. As for calibrating zero, I am finding the results to be more positive with the 3100 mah AW's, and far less so with the Tecsun set, it would seem the radio is sensitive to power requirement in successful;y performing such!
 

VK3RX

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The currently selected battery in my H501x has clocked up 21 hours elapsed time since charged, and the unit is still running fine and the battery icon is yet to start flashing though the lower usage segment went off a couple of hours ago.

Re DSP which I think you mean DNR, mine is on all the time. I find that with SSB it takes the sharp edge off band noise.

I'm still wondering as others have said that you have a unit with a fault. I have not seen any reviews reporting the same power issues as you, though none I've read have commented on battery longevity.
 

Direwolf131

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The currently selected battery in my H501x has clocked up 21 hours elapsed time since charged, and the unit is still running fine and the battery icon is yet to start flashing though the lower usage segment went off a couple of hours ago.

Re DSP which I think you mean DNR, mine is on all the time. I find that with SSB it takes the sharp edge off band noise.

I'm still wondering as others have said that you have a unit with a fault. I have not seen any reviews reporting the same power issues as you, though none I've read have commented on battery longevity.
There are just not that many H501x's stateside at this time, I have seen two video reviews and in both the battery low alert was almost constantly flashing, so it will take some time to get a real feel for the radio's performance. Also, my bad, I meant the DNR and its ultra annoying auto bandwidth feature, which contributes to battery bleed.

I am still seeing to wide a variable in SSB after calibration on my sample, which is not a problem on the PL-880, Tom Stiles produced short video where he referred to my observation as drift, which was not present on his radio. Its not drift that I alerted him to, once you tune a SSB station, or MW station in SSB and just leave it on that frequency it behaves just fine, the problem is after tuning elsewhere then returning, or after powering the radio down after zero beating it to that station, or other strong frequency, then upon powering unit back up discovering the SSB is off by anywhere from a few hz to over 200!

Most will probably never notice this as most don't use the SSB, they program listen, but utility DX'ers will if its an issue across units.....
 

VK3RX

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<snip>
the problem is after tuning elsewhere then returning, or after powering the radio down after zero beating it to that station, or other strong frequency, then upon powering unit back up discovering the SSB is off by anywhere from a few hz to over 200!
<snip>
Interesting; I'm not seeing that.

My H501x retains the calibration through power off and complete battery discharge tests.
 

Direwolf131

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Interesting; I'm not seeing that.

My H501x retains the calibration through power off and complete battery discharge tests.
It could prove I just got a bad unit, nonetheless what I am seeing is real, its behaving exactly like a bfo, a nice especially narrow tuning bfo, but a bfo nonetheless. If you get around to checking your sample, zero beat it to a nice strong frequency, in both USB/LSB, and on MW, then try tuning about in all of them and see what you get! Once zeroed it should be zeroed across frequency, or very nearly so, my sample does not! Regardless, its a very nice little radio, though I think it would have been wiser of Tecsun to engineer it around use of 21700 cells as opposed to 18650's....
 

VK3RX

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If you get around to checking your sample, zero beat it to a nice strong frequency, in both USB/LSB, and on MW, then try tuning about in all of them and see what you get! Once zeroed it should be zeroed across frequency, or very nearly so
Have done. Depending on the SW band, the variation can be nil to up to 40Hz or so.

Examples: USB & LSB calibrated on MW is:
  • nil Hz off on LSB 40M band
  • about 20Hz off on 9.700MHz
  • about 30Hz off on 11.700Mhz
  • about 30Hz off on 13.840MHz
  • about 30Hz off on 15.100MHz
  • about 40Hz off on 17.490Mhz
No signals ATM on CB or 10m amateur to check.

If LSB & USB is calibrated on 15.100MHz, LSB on the 40M band is about 40Hz off.

If LSB & USB is calibrated on the 40M amateur band, 9.700 is about 10Hz off, 11.700 about the same, and 15.100 20Hz off.

So with mine at least, calibration on the selected band would be required if fussy about the display being "right".

I guess it needs to be bourne in mind that this is a portable - a very good one - not a communications receiver.
 

Direwolf131

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Have done. Depending on the SW band, the variation can be nil to up to 40Hz or so.

Examples: USB & LSB calibrated on MW is:
  • nil Hz off on LSB 40M band
  • about 20Hz off on 9.700MHz
  • about 30Hz off on 11.700Mhz
  • about 30Hz off on 13.840MHz
  • about 30Hz off on 15.100MHz
  • about 40Hz off on 17.490Mhz
No signals ATM on CB or 10m amateur to check.

If LSB & USB is calibrated on 15.100MHz, LSB on the 40M band is about 40Hz off.

If LSB & USB is calibrated on the 40M amateur band, 9.700 is about 10Hz off, 11.700 about the same, and 15.100 20Hz off.

So with mine at least, calibration on the selected band would be required if fussy about the display being "right".

I guess it needs to be bourne in mind that this is a portable - a very good one - not a communications receiver.
Yes a portable, but it tunes SSB down to 10hz, and the PL-880 I have does not exhibit same quirk. Thanks for checking, it seems that my radio may not be a one off after all, though its simple enough to correct the quirk via manual fine tuning. It is a very nice radio in general...
 

Direwolf131

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I have arrived at the conclusion this radio is a no-go, its battery consumption is abnormally high, actually its above even that, it has now been established with other folks who landed themselves a H501x that the issues I encountered are not one offs, but rather systemic. However I see most of these issues being directly related to the speedy battery consumption of the radio, for instance the loss of ssb zero after calibration is greatly accelerated as power drains from cells, which is quickly to say the least! Also, the radio bleeds down the B-side cell 18650 even when its switched to the A-side!

Two days ago I watched in awe as the radio drained an 18650 from fully charged to 1 bar after just an hour tuned to a strong signal captured via ecss and volume set at around 12-15%, this is not an acceptable level of battery depletion, its an effect that occurs in all batteries run in the radio, in fact its akin to very powerful LED torches that routinely suck 3-4 18650's dry in about 1.5 hours time, this level of drain represents a potential expense as these cells are not expected to keep taking reliable charge following two or three hundred cycles, I have never gotten a set to survive the claimed 500 cycles.

This is a dramatically steep drop in performance from the PL-880, and I presume the 990X, just for an extra speaker set, and it is definitely a fatal flaw, you can see this in virtually every review on youtube by Gilles and Tom Stiles, just look at the constantly flashing battery level indicator, in point of fact Gilles mentions(sort of)that the radio can last a day on a battery charge, which to my mind is abnormally below standards, yet I am not getting anything close to a full day out of any batteries I run through radio, more like 2-4 hours, and that is a deal killer in a radio that can only be powered via expensive 18650 cells!

I would not purchase this radio again.....
 

Direwolf131

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Where did you see these reports? I've been thinking about this radio, and bouncing between this and the Belka.....
I bought a H501x from Anon-co, and I am now hearing from others in my contact zone of same issues... Its a nice radio, it has some nifty features, and it has a fatal flaw in that it eats 18650's on down in almost exact same manner as a high octane LED torch eats them down.

Importantly this bleed down is not seemingly regulated as it is with powerful LED torches, as the batteries drain, functions degrade on down with the power source. Tecsun makes some great radios, the PL-880 is one of them, its battery can run the radio for months on a single charge, you will not be getting that out of the H501x, 2-4 hours, maybe 6 if you really keep the functions and volume to the absolute minimum and no back light use.

It also has an MP3 player which I have no interest in, I would imagine cranking volume on that would swiftly drain your battery down, and when drains down far enough, and it will, the radio shuts down! Also, sound is to my ears, nothing special, with the treble and bass really delivering up not much beyond excessive vibration which will result in radio light flickering on, and station tuning up or down on its own, the little PL-880 sounds much nicer, and has far greater balls than the much larger H501x does, that is quite disappointing as the extra speakers add nothing but consumption to the device, if I was you I'd go with either the S8800 or the 990X.....
 

ka3jjz

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Your 'contact zone' is rather vague and not at all helpful. Do you have a reflector, Facebook, Twitter, etc. that talks about this? Others that might be considering this radio would appreciate some better info, not just me.

Did anyone think about comparing serial numbers or similar to these other 'defective' radios? That can sometimes tell you something. Defective batches can and do happen

Mike
 

Direwolf131

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I'm sorry, go buy radio and find out for self, I have tried to pass along valuable info of this radio only to repeatedly be poked at, my circle is my circle, this radio is in tiny US distribution at this time, I have several other utility DX'rs I know who purchased radio who are experiencing same exact issues, you'd likely not believe them either, so go find out for yourself. You can even buy my radio, its listed right on this sites classified section for $70.00 less than what you'll cough up to Anon-co, my sample is now exactly 4-weeks old, you can buy my sample, or go buy one from anon-co and in two weeks you'll believe every word of warning I attempted to pass along the food chain....

Good luck....
 

VK3RX

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With my H501x I do not see the battery issues you have reported. I consistently get 18-20 hours from a single battery, from full charge to radio finally shutting down.

As regards what you term draw down, my unit has been switched off with fully charged batteries unused for the past week, and after just checking they are both still fully charged.

I'm not disputing what you are seeing with your particular unit, just reporting my experience with mine.

I suspect there is a fault with your particular unit. I've not read elsewhere in any reviews of the battery problems you have been having.

Have you contacted Anon-Co and advised the problem?

Edit to add pix: this suggests mine seems to be serial 005 of May 2021.
 

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GK20

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Hello all, I'm a new member from Long Island, New York. I became an avid SW listener around 50 years ago when I got a cheap SW radio for Christmas when I was 11. I accumulated many QSLs etc. and eventually after marriage, kids , work, life and other interests I just stopped DXing . I decided last year to return to my old hobby so I purchased an Eton Elite Field Radio online which got me started again but the receiver , even though it had many cool features like bluetooth, I could tell it was not really a high end product. The Field radio I had turned out to be a lemon and sputtered to it's death about 10 months in. I got my money back and decided I was going to purchase another more sturdy receiver, something more akin to my old Reallistic DX-440. After spending hours across the net, I zeroed in on the Tecsun 501-X which looks like it might be the real deal. I'm looking for a decent SWL receiver that will bring me back to my old memories of listening to international stations and I'd like to hear some high quality bluetooth from my phone to the receiver when I'm not DXing. I'm not really into monitoring amateur radio, though I guess I could delve into with decent equipment. This looks like what I'm after, but I see from this thread there is some debate about the quality of the product. I've watched all the videos mentioned above, so before I take the leap, I'd like to ask anyone here if they'd like to offer their final judgement on this thing. Thanks in advance.
 

ka3jjz

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It's rare that a new radio as the H501X is would ever have a 'final judgement'. Certainly QC (and not to also mention the possibility of getting the radio knocked around en route) are always going to be issues. If you buy this radio, run don't walk to the Anon-Co website


)Yes, as soon as I can clear my credit card, I'm doing this too...). They have a very good rep and it's growing. Secure PayPal, too.

I don't think this radio has Bluetooth (I could be wrong here), but there are lots of Bluetooth adapters out there for next to nothing, so to me that's a moot point.

Mike
 

Direwolf131

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With my H501x I do not see the battery issues you have reported. I consistently get 18-20 hours from a single battery, from full charge to radio finally shutting down.

As regards what you term draw down, my unit has been switched off with fully charged batteries unused for the past week, and after just checking they are both still fully charged.

I'm not disputing what you are seeing with your particular unit, just reporting my experience with mine.

I suspect there is a fault with your particular unit. I've not read elsewhere in any reviews of the battery problems you have been having.

Have you contacted Anon-Co and advised the problem?

Edit to add pix: this suggests mine seems to be serial 005 of May 2021.
Thats remarkable, because the three radios I, and my friends have, all new in last 5 weeks or so, manage to fully drain battery down in about 4-6 hours time, and they all demonstrate battery bleed within the A or B cell when either or are switched off. The battery drain is the major issue, from that I do believe all other issues emerge. I just checked again last night, running a fully charged AW 3100 mah cell and watched it degrade down to powerless in just under four hours time, and that with all features switched off, no dnr, no back light other than momentary, and volume at about 10-12%.

I think some folks see this as bashing their brand or something, but every manufacturer of sophisticated SW radios produces their share of bombs, or issue plagued units, such as the late great e1, which when it was working was raved about, myself included, right on up until the screen went dark. I would hang onto your sample if you're getting 18-20 hours per battery, that is radically beyond performance from mine and my friends samples. I think the smart play is just for folks to play with the radio upon receiving it for a solid month and then report their individual experiences here in this forum from time to time, I am confident many will see the issues I have seen. Keep in mind that this radio is still quite rare in the US at this time and it may take six months to a year for many of the issues I am seeing to be more fully documented in other units.

I would not buy this radio again at this time, like the Sangean 909X when it was first released, its a radio I really really want to like, but its flaws are at least to myself, overwhelming at this time. That is not hating on Tecsun, I have the PL-660/680 and two PL-880's, the latter of which runs for months on a single charged 18650 cell, I consider all of them to be superb, particularly the PL-880, the H501x is not winning me over...
 
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