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Technical Topics => Equipment => Topic started by: Kate on February 05, 2019, 1443 UTC

Title: Advice on Tecsun vs Sony
Post by: Kate on February 05, 2019, 1443 UTC
I picked up a Tecsun PL-380 recently to get back into SWL, especially pirate stations, but was disappointed at its performance. I'm returning it but was wondering if I should get a Tecsun PL-660 or 880 instead (I've heard the 880 has problems?), or if I should just get a Sony ICF-7600A. I had a very similar Sony back in the 90s with a longwire antenna and was really happy with it. I wish I still had it. I don't have a lot of money to spend and I prefer a portable anyway. Any advice would be very welcome!

Apologies if this is in the wrong place. It's my first post here although I've been lurking for a few weeks! I wish I'd kept all my pirate QSLs from the 90s too. It looks like folks have mostly moved to eQSLs these days, which I'm sure is a lot easier for everyone involved, but opening my mailbox and finding a QSL card was always really exciting. :)
Title: Re: Advice on Tecsun vs Sony
Post by: IZS4 on February 05, 2019, 1829 UTC
Cant comment much on the 880, but I know a ton of 660's have been sold over the years and a lot of people seem to be happy with them. I miss getting QSL cards in the mail too. I manged to keep about 50 between moves etc. If it has been several years since you have been active you will definitely notice propagation is way down and there aren't near as many active stations on. However this is still plenty of interesting things to find while tuning the dial. I would recommend you get an external antenna for whichever model you go with and set up outdoors whenever possible. This website is very informative. I was so happy to find it about 8 months ago when I became radio active again.
Title: Re: Advice on Tecsun vs Sony
Post by: Josh on February 05, 2019, 1856 UTC
I had two 660s and they both had a spur every few kilohertz wich kinda ruined them for me. The 880 is kinda an upgraded 660 so I fear it may have the same issue. I got to use a 7600 for a time and found it to be a lovely portable.

Here's a link to some reviews of various radios;
The best way to use these reviews is to look not at the 5 star ratings but at the 1s and 2s and see if the same issue crops up over and over, if it does, that may indicate the rig has design issues you can avoid. Many swl sites also have reviews so check them out too.

Title: Re: Advice on Tecsun vs Sony
Post by: Ray Lalleu on February 05, 2019, 2018 UTC
The place and the antenna are much more important than the model of receiver.
Nowadays, the main problem is to get rid of RFI in your home.
Title: Re: Advice on Tecsun vs Sony
Post by: moof on February 05, 2019, 2229 UTC
I have both the Sony 7600 and the Tecsun 880.  I never listen to the Sony anymore.  Tecsun hears better, tunes easier especially ssb no comparison.  Rechargeable battery via usb which hardly ever needs charging.  Why do I have that damn Sony sitting around still?  I guess for trips and stuff where if it was stolen I wouldn't really care.
Title: Re: Advice on Tecsun vs Sony
Post by: Treehouse SWL on February 05, 2019, 2256 UTC
I also have an old Sony ICF-SW7600G that's in good condition (just missing its speaker grille; if somebody has a spare grille, I'm in the market!) and it's decently good when hooked up to my longwire antenna.

I came back to shortwave listening last summer and, after doing A LOT of research on what I could get for $100 that would bring in stations, I ended up with an Eton Satellit that I got via a Canadian site. I've been pretty happy with it, and that's the one I use every day instead of the Sony.

I also hear good things about the Tecsun PL-310, which I'm seriously thinking about picking up as a traveling radio, but it doesn't have SSB.
Title: Re: Advice on Tecsun vs Sony
Post by: Kate on February 06, 2019, 1848 UTC
Thanks, these are all helpful replies! I'll start looking around for a good used 880, or the Satellit looks pretty good too.
Title: Re: Advice on Tecsun vs Sony
Post by: Sealord on February 06, 2019, 2028 UTC
I have both the 660 & 880 (8820 firmware), purchased within the last 6 months.  At first I got the 660 due to the mixed reviews on the 880, but it's hidden menu features with the latest firmware would correct some of the issues from earlier releases.  Being able to turn off the dynamic noise reduction & muting threshold combined with it's better audio and filter choices makes it my favorite of the two.  The 660 may have the advantage in sensitivity on sw, but the ability to tweak the 880's dsp options made the difference for me.  One more thing; I'm not really an AM dxing guy, but my 880 does run circles around the 660 in that area.
Title: Re: Advice on Tecsun vs Sony
Post by: pinto vortando on February 06, 2019, 2100 UTC
Welcome back to SWLing.
Have a PL-600 here, have been quite happy with it. 
IMHO, a lot of radio for the money.
What ever you finally decide upon, make sure that it can receive SSB and has provision for
connecting an external antenna (usually a 1/8" antenna jack on the portables). 
Let us know what you finally get and how it works out.
Title: Re: Advice on Tecsun vs Sony
Post by: Retops on February 13, 2019, 2153 UTC
I have a PL-880 that I am very pleased with.  Last night I was listening to a weak signal on my Icom and just for fun tuned it on my PL-880.  The signal was perfect copy with the built in telescopic antenna.  SSB reception is great.  It definitely beats the Sony 7600 I used to have.
Title: Re: Advice on Tecsun vs Sony
Post by: East Troy Don on February 14, 2019, 0140 UTC
FYI, there are plenty of used 880's  for sale on EBAY
Title: Re: Advice on Tecsun vs Sony
Post by: BoomboxDX on March 19, 2019, 1632 UTC
Maybe the problem wasn't the radio but it was the propagation. There are evenings SW is mostly dead in my location, except maybe Radio Havana. Since 2014-2015 SW has been mostly varying levels of thdddddt.
Title: Re: Advice on Tecsun vs Sony
Post by: shadypyro on April 01, 2019, 0557 UTC
I have a tecsun pl-600 and depending on propagation conditions I can pick up stations from Asia and down in the states, so it is a great radio in my opinion! As for qsl cards, can't remember how many I have now getting closer to 100 now I think..
Title: Re: Advice on Tecsun vs Sony
Post by: i_hear_you on May 02, 2019, 1753 UTC

Though I don't have much to compare my (recently acquired) PL-880 against, the last month of operating it has exceeded my expectations and I consider it money well spent.  The FM is excellent, AM isn't so bad and now that I've built a milk crate tuned loop to supplement it is fantastic, and on shortwave it seems sensitive enough.  The autoscanning is handy, though I find it overlooks a bunch of stations and I've taken to spinning the dial.  People complain about the sync function:  I've never used sync before the PL-880, and while I've found it provides some bogus glitchy output on very unstable transmissions, it has made listening more comfortable for those signals with medium-strength and a bit of noise.  The SSB is easy to use as well. 

My other two radios prior to acquiring the PL-880 are a KX3 and GP-5 SSB.  Once I started into SWL in earnest, I found the GP-5 was easier to use but easily overloaded, whereas the KX3 allows for top-tier control (EQ, filtering, noise blanker and noise reduction) but isn't quite as ergonomic to carry around and stick to the end of a wire.  And it doesn't have FM, or built-in AM antenna, or any antenna for that matter.  Also, the speakers on both are not very good for enjoyable listening. 

I find the PL-880 fits a niche between them both, and am impressed with the fidelity from the speaker.

The major complaint I've seen from others and agree with is the exceedingly slow attack time on the AGC.  While it doesn't bother me so much on AM SW, listening to SSB chatter becomes a chore with the constant jackhammering at the beginning of sentences.

Since I've received the PL-880 I've found the magic of radio I've been missing since my 80's childhood, and have been staying up later than I should to DX AM and scan the SW bands.  I unreservedly recommend it.