has come out with two winners recently, the DE1101 and DE1102 - so
there has been a fair amount of anticipation surrounding the 1103.
The 1103 is a digital PLL dual conversion radio (FM/MWSW/LW). It has
a display that provides you both a digital readout along with a simulation
of the old-fashioned analog dial. The DE1103 comes with a 220v AC
adapter, rechargeable NiMH batteries, earbuds, external antenna wire
and instruction pamphlet (in Chinese).
radio measures 6.5"(w) x 4" (h) x 1" (d) and weighs
approximately 1 lb. with 4 AA cells loaded. Size wise, it is somewhat
smaller than the Sony 7600g but larger than the Degen DE1102.
the DE1103 has ten shortwave band segments identified, the coverage
is indeed continuous. The radio is capable of receiving single sideband
on LW, MW and SW.
DE1103 can be tuned several ways:
Direct frequency entry. Using this method, you enter the frequency
from the "keypad" (a single horizontal row of buttons, 0
. 9) and then hit the Bands+/AM button unless you are on FM,
where you use the Band-/FM button.
Automatic scanning. This can be accomplished by holding the Band+
or Band- button down for a few seconds. The radio will scan until
a strong station is found. It will pause for 3 seconds and then continue.
In auto-scan mode, the tuning increments are 1 kHz for MW/LW, 5 kHz
for SW and 100 kHz on FM.
Manual tuning. The radio can be tuned manually with the tuning knob.
It tunes in increments of 1 kHz on SW/MW/LW and 25 kHz on FM.
One way that the 1103 cannot be tuned is from up/down buttons. These
are not provided in this radio.
I'm trapped in a band segment! The 1103 has "carved"
out ten shortwave band segments. One example would be the 41 meter
band from 6500-7500 kHz. An annoying feature of the radio, is
that once you are in a band segment, you can't manually tune out
of it. Example - you are tuning in the upper range of the 41 meter
band as you use the knob and move past 7500, you are returned
to the low end of that band segment at 6500. The only way to get
to 7501 is to punch in 7-5-0-1 and hit the Band+/AM button (or
get there with a memory pre-set button). Not very convenient.
It operates this way in auto-scan, which I can understand.
couple of general notes. The wide-narrow filter on the DE1103 is very
effective. It does a really good job of whacking back adjacent channel
interference. Listeners will be impressed with both selectivity and
DE1103 is a good performer on MW. Selectivity seems to be the strong
point of the radio on MW. It did a pretty good job of reducing the
sidebands of my local MW pest station. Sensitivity on MW was average
to above average. You can really see the effectiveness of the narrow
filter on MW.
on FM is above average. Stereo reception is possible by using headphones.
It does a pretty good job of detecting weak stations. The DE1103 allows
you to switch between mono and stereo.
DE1103 performs very well on shortwave. I can copy the major shortwave
broadcasters easily. As mentioned earlier, the narrow filter setting
is quite effective. To test its ability to copy weak signals, I gave
it a good workout in the amateur 80, 40 and 20 meter bands. Both sideband
and cw signals were easily copied. The 1 kHz tuning increment and
the fine tuning (BFO) control works well to copy sideband. Often times,
shortwave portables fall short higher in frequency. I checked up in
the CB 11 meter band and got good copy up there.
isn't much to listen to in my part of the world, but I was able to
copy a few beacons here.
3" speaker provides enough audio when the 1103 pulls in a station
that is strong enough to hear. As you would expect, better audio is
obtained by listening through headphones.
Layout Front Upper left corner has three buttons. From left to right, M/F (memory
select), Store (memory store) and Volume (this is the one you push
and then use the main tuning dial to adjust volume). When the radio
is off, the three buttons function as Alarm 1, Alarm 2 and Internal
Charger (for supplied NiMH cells).
is on the left side of the radio. The large display window is on the
right side. The top part of the display is the digital frequency read-out
(or clock when the radio is off). The majority of the display area
is for the fake analog tuning area. Twelve band segments are represented
here (FM, MW and 10 SW bands).
the display window is a horizontal row of number buttons (1 through
0). Below the buttons are 6 buttons. From left to right. Power On/Off
(also used to control the Sleep Countdown along with the tuning knob),
Hold, Time (when radio is off, this button adjusts time along with
the tuning knob), SSB (it functions as mono-stereo on FM), Band- (how
you move to the next lowest band on the display also it functions
as the enter button for FM), Band+ (how you move to the next highest
band on the display also it functions as the enter button for
LW/SW/MW). Band+ and Band- engage the auto-scan of the band segments
when held down for a second or so. A small reset button is located
between the Power and Hold button. A small LED is located under the
SSB button - it illuminates when sideband is turned on.
Top to Bottom:
External antenna jack for SW/MW
DC power jack
Top to Bottom:
Tuning knob (which has many uses on the 1103)
Narrow-Wide filter (News-Music on FM)
Fine tuning (BFO) for sideband
Line Out jack
The light on/off switch is located next to the line out jack.
stand and battery hatch.
whip antenna for FM and SW.
is the radio's weakness. Let's start with the whole display concept
of the 1103. This is a digital radio with a simulated analog dial
in the 12 marked band segments (FM, MW and the 10 SW segments). As
you tune across a band segment, the digital display tells you what
precise frequency you are on. A digital pointer "sweeps"
across the fake analog dial and approximates your position there.
The pointer does not move continuously however. Example, you have
to tune 30 kHz on MW before the pointer moves. So, the pointer points
to 670 as you tune to that frequency. It stays there until you reach
700 when it jumps up. The marker jumps with every 25 kHz of tuning
on shortwave. The analog simulation seems entirely unnecessary to
me. It is like having a wristwatch with the traditional hour/minute
hands and then a digital display to go along with it. Why? This analog
simulation takes up a lot of space on the 1103, is usually not accurate
and you will need to grab the bifocals to read the teeny numbers on
the simulated dial.
Where is the volume control, where is the knob? Degen has turned the
most basic of operations into an engineering exercise. To adjust the
volume, you push a volume button and then turn the tuning knob. Now
that is not intuitive. I believe this was a poor design decision.
To add insult to injury, once you have set your volume setting, you
have to wait a few seconds for the volume icon to stop blinking. If
you try to tune before it stops, all you do is readjust the volume
I do not care for the single row of number buttons. We have all gotten
used to the basic keypad or something very close. Unfortunately, so
much space was used on the 1103 for the analog simulation, that there
is no space for a standard keypad.
The backlight is quite effective in dark conditions. With the
backlight on, all the buttons and display light up when you use
any button or the main tuning dial. The downside to this, is that
you have to make some kind of change (by pressing a button or
moving the tuning knob) to get the lights to come on.
ON and OFF Display
With the radio on, the display shows the frequency, sleep (if selected),
memory position and a relative strength meter. The strength meter
shows 9 "bars" - however, it is really just a four position
setting as it moves between 2-4-6-9 bars shown. With the radio off,
the clock time shows along with any alarms set.
1103 provides 256 available memories. They are named in 16 groups
of 16 presets.
reception is via the internal ferrite loopstick. FM and SW are received
off the 36" telescoping whip antenna. There is an antenna jack
provided to connect an external antenna for SW and MW.
1103 runs on 4 AA cells. My test of the radio was not long enough
to ascertain battery life. The radio comes equipped with 1300 mAh
rechargeable NiMH cells. These provided batteries can be recharged
right in the radio with its internal recharger. The radio can also
be powered via AC. The DE1103 comes with a 220 volt AC adapter, so
obtaining a 110 volt step down transformer-adapter is a must.
1103 provides a 24 hour clock which is visible on the display when
the radio is off. You can also view it by pressing the "time"
button when the radio is on. The radio provides two alarms. Each alarm
can be set to turn the radio on to a preset frequency at a defined
volume level. There is no "beep" alarm option on the 1103.
The radio does have a sleep/countdown feature which is adjustable
up to 99 minutes.
features provided by the DE1103 include: a lock switch, DX/local sensitivity
switch, power jack, line output jack, carrying strap and flip stand.
(see radio layout section for location of controls, etc.)
1103 reminds me of some trips I have taken. The final destination
can be a nice place to be, but the trip was not very fun. In the end,
you wonder if it was "worth the trip."
performance of the radio is quite good. Certainly, the frequency coverage
is comprehensive. As mentioned earlier, the narrow filter provided
is extremely effective. Both the selectivity and sensitivity are both
impressive and generally, you are going to be able to hear what you
want to on the 1103.
ergonomics/layout behind the 1103 takes a lot of the fun out of the
DX-ing experience. The volume control design does drive me batty.
If I were to own one of these, I would go set the volume up pretty
high and then use an in-line volume control with headphones. I think
those should be standard equipment with the 1103. I will also admit
that I "don't get" the analog simulation. I believe that
display space could have been much better used.
got a lot of things right with the 1103. Now if they can marry the
best features of the 1101, 1102 and the 1103 together - that's going
to be one heck of a radio!