SDS100 vs BCD436HP

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NikonFE2

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Hello All,
I am studying to get my first HAM ticket. I've decided it would be good to have a scanner. Please keep in mind that the last time I used a scanner was in college, and that was a Bearcat 220. (Am I dating myself?) I live in two areas of Ohio, one somewhat rural in the eastern part of the state, and the other in a large metro area in the west. I've been investigating these two scanners. I remember when "trunking" came into being and my neighbour who worked for the electric company and was very knowlegable in electronics purchased a new trunking scanner. It seemed to be very confusing at the time. (Before scanners were programable with computers.) Now there is "simulcast" which is very new to me. I realise this question has been asked before and I've seen a few comments of past threads. I've also read reviews on Amazon and some websites that specialise in radio. I have indeed read very negative reviews about the SDS100, compared side by side witht the 436. I watched a video on youtube where the 436 actually picked up signals that the 100 missed. (Now I am not interested in listening to most law enforcement in the big city, but I am in the rural area.) I am intersted in fire depts and other emergency depts., utility companies, etc. Also, airports that are near me. Other interests would be national forest service and the like. Some of these agencies are still on traditional analog but many agencies in Ohio (including universities) are on MARCS which I believe is P25. I also know there is a big price difference between the two radios. Some of you must have experinece with both radios. So what advice can you give me? Thanks in advance for information. (ps- Being a Mac person, I've just purchased a used HP PC laptop becasue I know that radio software is moslty PC.)
 

belvdr

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I can tell you the 436 won’t do well in SW Ohio on MARCS, where there’s simulcast. I’ve had no issues with my 100.
 

K1TSL

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I've owned both and I live in an area that is primarily analog trunking, conventional without much of a simulcast issue. I find the SDS100's audio to be really unpleasant. So much so that I haven't used it in a while and instead went back to my old BR330 since I sold my 436 to fund the SD100. Fire tones make it rattle and sound much louder than voice transmissions. I don't have that issue on the 330. It's also not a defect as I've had access to other SDS100 units for comparison. They are over-trebled as far as my ear is concerned

If simulcast is not a concern, I'd go with the 436. The 100 sounds too much like audio coming out of the bottom of a coffee can. Not all will have this opinion but out of all the scanners I've owned (over a dozen) the SDS 100's audio fidelity sounds the worst to me.

I will probably go back to a 436 at some point.
 

NikonFE2

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I've owned both and I live in an area that is primarily analog trunking, conventional without much of a simulcast issue. I find the SDS100's audio to be really unpleasant. So much so that I haven't used it in a while and instead went back to my old BR330 since I sold my 436 to fund the SD100. Fire tones make it rattle and sound much louder than voice transmissions. I don't have that issue on the 330. It's also not a defect as I've had access to other SDS100 units for comparison. They are over-trebled as far as my ear is concerned

If simulcast is not a concern, I'd go with the 436. The 100 sounds too much like audio coming out of the bottom of a coffee can. Not all will have this opinion but out of all the scanners I've owned (over a dozen) the SDS 100's audio fidelity sounds the worst to me.

I will probably go back to a 436 at some point.
I've read similar opinions about the audio speaker. I'm all for advancements in technology but honestly, sometimes I think older is better. I don't have cable or satellite TV, just a pair of digital rabbit ears behind the TV set. If the digital signal is interrupted the screen is pixelated and no sound. At least in the old days you could still hear the sound even if the picture was fuzzy.
 

maus92

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Get the SDS100. No contest. The 436 performs poorly on simulcast systems, and audio performance is about the same. Audio produced from digital systems sounds different from audio from analog systems, and takes a while to get used to the way it sounds, but it's not a big deal. Note that all public safety systems in my state are simulcast, and only a few are still analog, so I have a lot of experience listening to these systems. And I sold my 436 because it performed poorly on digital simulcast.
 
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K1TSL

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I've read similar opinions about the audio speaker. I'm all for advancements in technology but honestly, sometimes I think older is better. I don't have cable or satellite TV, just a pair of digital rabbit ears behind the TV set. If the digital signal is interrupted the screen is pixelated and no sound. At least in the old days you could still hear the sound even if the picture was fuzzy.
I know a lot of people don't mind the audio but after I replied to your post I searched for SDS100 audio complaints and there are plenty out there. Like anything else, your ears will decide for you. I think the scanner itself is great and packed full of features but are meaningless to me if not comfortable to listen to. I shouldn't have to start wearing headphones or attach more hardware to get it to sound better. In my experience, digital sounds just as treble/hissy as analog on the 100. I listened to both side by side when I first got it and still parted with the 436 because I convinced myself I'd adjust. I didn't.

That said, if the 436 can't hear what you need it to, it won't matter what the audio quality is. Decide what agencies you want to listen to and make your decision based on that. In my area, everything that is trunked is also available on conventional non-trunked so going back to a 436 won't impact my listening habits.

It's all about the lesser of the evils these days.

Good luck!
 

trentbob

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If you do a little research you will see similar threads like this one and they will sound pretty much the same.

Everybody's pretty much on the money regarding their specific complaint or compliment. The audio on the SDS 100 varies but can be pretty tinny, so bad that they returned the radio and exchanged it getting a new radio that sounded better. The problem has also been solved by external speakers especially Uniden Amplified speakers that are more compatible with the SDS 100. Many people notice the sound is different but like it and it makes no difference to them.

The bottom line is these radios are expensive and the SDS is more expensive, No Doubt, you want the best possible performance at home and on the move. On certain simulcast systems there is just no question about it, one radio will work great and the other you will be disappointed and not achieve optimal results and that radio will be the radio that was introduced in 2014, not the radio introduced in 2018 specifically made to receive simulcast systems.

Always be comfortable with the vendors return policy. If you go with the cheaper older radio and it just doesn't work for you, you can return it or exchange it for the radio that is going to work for you. If you're not satisfied with the sds100 you return it or exchange it within the allotted time allowed by the vendor.

If you've got the money these are the kind of decisions that are fun to have.
 
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belvdr

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Do you have a third party antenna?
Yes. It doesn’t make a difference on simulcast, unless you get a yagi and there is only one simulcast towers in the path of your antenna.

Just get the 100 and scan on.
 

maus92

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Yes. It doesn’t make a difference on simulcast, unless you get a yagi and there is only one simulcast towers in the path of your antenna.

Just get the 100 and scan on.
Not necessarily true - depends on the system parameters and the monitoring location(s). Every situation is unique, but in general, a Remtronics 800MHz antenna is a good idea for monitoring 800Mhz systems, and works adequately for 700Mhz and lower frequencies. But if you are monitoring from within the service footprint of a well engineered simulcast system, then the stock antenna should perform satisfactorily. The issue is that some jurisdictions go with a less optimal system design to save money.
 

belvdr

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Not necessarily true - depends on the system parameters and the monitoring location(s). Every situation is unique, but in general, a Remtronics 800MHz antenna is a good idea for monitoring 800Mhz systems, and works adequately for 700Mhz and lower frequencies. But if you are monitoring from within the service footprint of a well engineered simulcast system, then the stock antenna should perform satisfactorily.
On a 436? Nothing I did made the 436 scan MARCS well.
 

maus92

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On a 436? Nothing I did made the 436 scan MARCS well.
Not sure if the OP was referencing only a 436 when he asked the antenna question since you said you own both a SDS100 and a 436. When I owned a SDS100, the first thing I did was to add a Remtronics antenna since almost every public safety system in my state is in the 700/800 band, thus I did not need the stock wideband antenna capability. One local P25P2 system is spec'ed for portable on-street on-hip coverage using a half-wave antenna, and the Remtronics is a good approximation. My old 436 was equipped with a 3dB gain SMA antenna, but it did not perform well on the same system not because of antennas, but because of the radio's inability to deal with simulcast distortion / multipathing - similar to your experience with your 436 on MARCS.
 

RandyKuff

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I've had a 436, now the SDS100...
Where I am at I never really had simulcast issue's (About 4.5 miles line of site to the Marcs tower)... I had them both side by side and what I heard on one I heard on the other... But that is my location... Yours could be different...
As far as sound goes... The 436 does have a little more depth to it... But the SDS100 still sounds just fine to me, short of Life Care Amb...
They are NXDN and just don't sound good at all...
I don't have an NXDN key for the 436 to compare it... So I don't know if it's the radio or there end...
 

RT48

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My SDS100 running side-by-side with my 436 picks up significantly more traffic on both MARCS and GCRCN in the Cleveland area. Both running with a Remtronics anntenna.
 

RandyKuff

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I would imagine being in the Cleveland area you would have more of an issue with simulcast...
So the SDS100 would perform better...
 

jonwienke

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If you don't like the sound of the SDS100 internal speaker, an external speaker or headphones will solve that problem. The speaker is small and a little tinny sounding (size limitations and waterproofing), but the audio amp feeding the speaker is good quality.
 

RandyKuff

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That's what I do when using it indoors... But as I said in my previous post...
I don't think it really sounds that bad... At least on my SDS100 it doesn't... Only my opinion...
 
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