• Effective immediately we will be deleting, without notice, any negative threads or posts that deal with the use of encryption and streaming of scanner audio.

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    https://forums.radioreference.com/rants/224104-official-thread-live-audio-feeds-scanners-wait-encryption.html

Scanner or Communications Receiver?

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eorange

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I personally think this is all marketing and completely arbitrary, but here goes anyway.

Why are some radios classified as "communications receivers", not "scanners"? Case in point: more than a few posts over the years (not necessarily here) have strongly indicated that the VR-500 is NOT a scanner. It's a communications receiver.

Despite the fact that "communications receiver" is silkscreened on the display...it still has memories, alpha tags, memory banks, lockout, multiple receive modes, and can scan and search. Is it not a scanner?

If there IS a defining characteristic of one vs the other, then I'd genuinely like to know. But technically speaking, I can't see the difference. Perhaps it's the wideband receive capability, but how does that knock it out of the scanner class?
 

n3ncn

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What's a communications receiver? A communications receiver is basically a radio that allows you to pick up different frequencies. There are digital receivers as well as analog ones where everything is manual (just like your old radio).

A scanner is a radio receiver that automatically tunes, or scans, two or more discrete frequencies. Generally, scanners cover the non-broadcast radio bands between 30 and 950 MHz using FM, although there are models that cover more of the radio spectrum and use other modulation types

I would say reading both of those bits of info that it maybe the coverage as you said
 
N

N_Jay

Guest
Historical.

Communications receivers started out as receivers typically with specification similar to the receive side of a commercial TX/RX unit, although typically tunable.

Gradually they got lots of features added to the point where they do everything a scanner does.

Scanners started out as consumer receivers to monitor multiple specific channels, typically 4 or more,, crystal controlled.

Gradually they got to be synthesized (tunable) and in general the specifications improved with more modern electronics.

Today they have become very similar. Without the historical reference, one might be confused.
 

prcguy

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My opinion is a “Communications Receiver” will usually have a tuning knob to step continuously (or via pre set increments) through the band of interest. A Communications Receiver will also generally receive additional modes like SSB and CW compared to the default FM and AM that a Scanner is limited to. A Communications Receiver can scan, but that does not pigeon hole it into the Scanner category. Just my 2c.
prcguy
 

KT4HX

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The definitions of the two were quite distinct in the beginning as others have pointed out. With increasing technological advances, that line has become very blurry. Typically though, to many, communications receivers were considered those that cover the frequency ranges for Long Wave (LW), Medium Wave (MW) and Short Wave (SW), or basically 100 KHz to 30 MHz, or some portion of that range (with a few exceptions). They also tended to have the SSB and CW modes (and maybe even RTTY) on them, as these modes were employed in the shortwave range by various services allocated space. As you have noted, increasingly, manufacturers have been moving the frequency coverage upwards in these receivers, sometimes as high as 3+ GHz, turning them into a new category named "wideband receiver".

Typically, scanners were considered receivers that covered 30 MHz and above, either continuously or in specific ranges. They tended to have memories (channels) allocated in banks (unless they were crytalized) and used mainly to scan these memories. Communications receivers as defined above, were not origianlly designed with memories and were primarily meant to tune continuously through their range rather than scan channels.

So as you can see, manufacturers have now blurred the line separating so called communications receivers from scanners. Nowadays, communications receivers, even if they only cover the LW, MW and SW range usually have memories which you can scan, and some have alpha-tagging. However, they do tend not to have nearly as good of scanning capability as traditional scanners. They tend to scan slower and have fewer memory channels, though I'm sure there are some exceptions to this rule.

The new breed of wideband receivers tend to exhibit weaknesses in performance, usually in the lower frequency ranges of their coverage. It is difficul to design a small radio (particularly handheld) to cover say 100 KHz to 3 GHz and not make compromises. It is going to work well in some areas and not as well in others. I am sure that some of the high-end widebands have been drastically improved since they first appeared on the market. In almost any case that I can think of, a radio designed and dedicated to a specific spectrum range will outperform one that is designed as an all in one. Therefore, I have always been a proponent of having a dedicated LW/MW/SW receiver for anything under 30 MHz and a scanner for anything over it. I feel the performance is so much better when you have dedicated radios, as you get the strengths of each without the compromise of trying to make one work in frequency ranges they just weren't optimally designed for. That being said, some of the high-end desktop widebands may have achieved some measure of good shortwave performance. But at a significant cost to the buyer because of the inclusion of higher quality filtering circuits.

So in reality, they are all communications receivers. They all pick up communications - right? I think it is a matter of semantics, that really is irrelevant in today's market.
 
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The line is indeed getting hazy. Scanners are getting better in the receiver department and actual communication receivers are becoming very good scanners.

It's a combination of modes, coverage, step size flexability, option and most importantily perfomance.

I think it may be one of those cases where "I know it when I see it".
 

dangitdoug

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Time to settle this!!

A scanner is a scanner!!

A communications receiver is defined as a pro football position player who catches the ball while continuing to talk smack (Terrell Owens)

SETTLED!!
 

eorange

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Declared_Hostile said:
I think it may be one of those cases where "I know it when I see it".
Exactly. Unfortunately the term introduces misinformation. Like I said, I've seen posts where people say (and I can't cite any now), "Remember, it's NOT a scanner". If you know the features you want, it won't matter.

Thanks for the good discussion.
 

kb2vxa

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Hi guys,

This;
"My opinion is..."
pretty much says it all, you're giving opinions, not definitions.

By today's standards (never mind the historical value) it depends on frequency coverage and primary function. A communications receiver primarily covers HF although some may have additional VHF and UHF capability and the primary function is continuous tuning with a rotary dial, memory channels are an extra. The scanner's coverage and functions are entirely reversed, primarily VHF and UHF using channelized memory slots. Oh, did I mention scanning? No, use your head, that's what it's there for.

Ah those kids, (sigh) always guessing at what they don't know and have no experience with, like trying to catch a black cat in a coal mine at midnight. (;->)

"If you know the features you want, it won't matter."
Now there's somebody who knows what a head is for. It's mind over matter, if you don't mind, it doesn't matter. Maybe that's what separates the hams from the boys, we TALK and you LISTEN (to us), we are your masters, you WILL obey. (I see that smile on your face Christa!)
 
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