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TECSUN
R-9700DX
12 Band Portable Radio

Their Home Pages
www.tecsun.com.cn
English Page

 


NOTE: click on all photos to enlarge

Review by HongKongRadioer

The Tescun R-9700DX is a new model manufactured by Tecsun Radio company that appeared in the Chinese domestic market in December 2002. Tecsun is the largest radio manufacturer in China and is the OEM company for many Grundig radio models including Satellit 800, YB-300 PE; S350 Super Radio, FR200 SOS Emergency Radio, etc.

After lauching product R-9700, a dual conversion radio in 1997, Tecsun claims the the R-9700DX is the product after much research and experiment, like refining one's sword in the five years in between. It is claimed that the R-9700DX will bravely meet the challenges of both domestic and international radios of the same class during the last half century! Whether this claim is true or exaggerated, I hope that you will find the answer after reading this review.

Specifications of R-9700DX

Size: 7 x 4.5 x 1.25 inch / 181 x 116 x 31 mm approximately

Weight: About 14 oz. / 400 grams, without battery

Wave band: FM: 87.0 -108.0 MHz

MW: 525 - 1610 KHz

SW: 3.90 -21.85 MHz ( divides into ten wave bands, frequencies non-continous)

Power: Four penlight AA batteries or 6V. direct current source

Enclosures
Apart from the radio itself, the enclosures are as follows:

An exquisitely made protection bag.

 

A "DC-06" power adapter, a "AN-03" reel antenna box , a stereo earphone, and a manual printed in Chinese.


Merit
Attractive packaging

With a stylish look, there are two body colors to choose from: Silver Gray and Iron Gray.

The protection bag is not only good looking, but rather innovative. When the bag is opened, there is a time/frequency chart of major shortwave stations, making listening to foreign shortwave stations very convenient and a great pleasure!


This radios uses 4 pieces of IC: TA7358AP,LA1260, TA7343AP, and CXA1622MP, FET components are also used.

 

Synchronous tuning is used in the dual conversion in shortwave, thus greatly enhancing the selectivity of the radio when listening to shortwave frequencies.

 

The dial panel window is wide and large, tuning to radio stations is convenient and easy.

The tuning feel is smooth and comfortable.

The whip antenna is rather long at 33 inch / 840 mm

With aerial socket for use in shortwave and FM.

With Local and DX switch, this is actually an aerial attenuator.

The radios uses 10 pieces of oscillation crystals which helps to improve frequency accuracy and a better drifting index.

When using the AC power adaptor, the rechargeable batteries inside the radio will be charged automatically, slowly and safely.

The power on mode, tune in mode and FM stereo mode are indicated by three different LEDs.


Comes with stereo and mono switch for better FM DXing.

FM stereo programs can be heard by using the stereo earphone (provided).

 

Consists of a automatic lights on/off switch to be pressed once for about 20 seconds illumination, and a sliding switch which would leave the light on until the switch is switched off again

 

 

There are three yellowish pilot lamps for easier tuning in the dark.

When the lights of the radio is on in the dark, the radio looks very attractive in the night time atmosphere.

The design and finish of the radio body is good, showing improvements to other Tecsun radio sets manufactured previously.

This radio uses better quality parts and components.

 

Uses a 3 inch medium sized loudspeaker, with a well balanced sound quality; there is also a tone control to meet different users' tastes.

This radio is rich in sound. I turned on the volume of the R9700DX very loudly in a room of about 500 sq. ft. / 50 sq. m., the sound of the radio could be heard in every corner of the room easily and clearly. There was no vibration or shaking of sound found in the radio.

 

Comparisons
Tecsun claims that this radio, which is like a sword refined for five years, would challenge all radios of the same class produced in the last 25 years. Since the 9700DX is an analog radio without any digital display, I took some similar radios of its class to a house in the countryside near Guangzhou, south China for comparison purpose. These were: Sony SW-11, Sony SW-22, and in addition, a radio with appearance very similar to the R-9700DX, but has stop production now, the Sony ICF-7601. Tecsun's previous model R-9700 was also bought along.

Sony SW-11

Sony SW-22

Sony ICF-7601

Tecsun R-9700

Tecsun R-9700DX


The comparisons were conducted outdoors using the whip antenna of each radio to its full extent. There was a weak FM station 100.50 Mhz. Huadu station in between two stronger FM stations: the 100.20 Jiangmen station and the 100.80 Dongguan station. Usually, I make use of the weak 100.50 Huadu station to test the sensitivity and selectivity of FM reception of different radios. In the test, only the R-9700DX could listen to this station with a bit of difficulty, with interference from the adjacent 100.20 Dongguan station. All the other four radios could not pick up the 100.50 signal!

To continue, I chose the Shenzhen FM station on 97.10 MHz. for comparison. The signal strength of this station was of medium level. All five machines could receive this station clearly in the open air. I moved all the radios inside the room, to the position of about 5.5 ft. / 1.8 m. from the open door. R-9700 DX could receive this station clearly but with a little bit of background noise, 7601 too could also listen to, but the noise was heavier than R-9700DX. The other three radios at this position could not receive this station, all could be heard were noises.

After comparing these 5 radios by listening to 100.50 Huadu station and 97.10 Shenzhen station. I came to the conclusion that of these two comparisons, I would rank these five radios in respect of FM reception as follows: R-9700DX > 7601 > SW-11 = SW-22 = 9700;

It was then 10:30 p.m. , the comparisons turned to shortwave. Still using the whip antenna on each set, I tuned to 17.790 MHz. to receive a rather weak station: Radio Romania (Chinese program). Outdoors every set could listen to the broadcast of Radio Romania clearly. As the signal of Radio Romanio was very weak, this station was transmitted from eastern Europe to Asia without any relay station, it helps to prove that the area where I usually conduct these tests is very ideal for shortwave Dxing, radio tests and comparisons.

Again, I moved all the radios indoors to the sitting room, which was about 11.5 ft. / 3.5 meters away from outdoors, it was very obvious that the R-9700DX outperformed the other radios, with the strongest signal yet the least noise. SW-22 was not too bad, the signal received was not as strong as the R-9700DX, but the background noise was acceptable. The signal received by the SW-11 was relatively weak too, but the noise was a little louder than SW-22; the signal received by the R-9700 and the SW-11 were similar, but the noise level of R-9700 was higher than SW-11; as for 7601, it could only receive very slight sound which were overlaid by noise! The I tuned to 7.125 MHz. VOA English still at the same indoor position, the performances of all these 5 radios were more or less similar to the comparisons of the Radio Romania session, with the performance of SW-22 closer to the R-9700DX, and the performance of the 7601 improved a bit, closer to the performance of R-9700.

The impression that I got from these two comparisons was that performances of both the R-9700DX and SW-22 were very close, with R-9700DX leading at a very little margin. The ranking would be as follows: 9700DX = SW-22 > SW-11 > 9700 > 7601!

After the comparisons of the 5 radios in the shortwave bands, I was planning to compare in the MW band. However, taking into account that MW reception in the evening was not very stable and fading was serious, I may not be able to have a fair comparison and got reliable results, so I decided the comparisons of these radios in the medium wave band be left to the next morning.

On the next day I continue with my comparisons in the MW band. The SW-22 could receive 22 stations altogether while the other four could only receive 19 stations.

Same as previous comparisons, I moved the radios indoors to the sitting room, which was about 13 ft. / 4 meters from outdoors. I tuned to the moderate signal strength 738 KHz. Radio Macao. SW-22 could receive this station clearly with relatively low noise. The 7601, R-9700DX and 9700 though still could receive this station but with relatively more noise than SW-22. The tone quality of these 3 radios were different, but the SNR of these radios were very close; as to SW-11, it could receive nothing but noise at this indoor position.

After the comparisons in the MW band, I found that the sensitivity and SNR of the SW-22 in MW band was very good, and that the background noise of SW-11 was high . So in the comparisons of medium wave of these radios, my rankings were SW-22 > 7601 = 9700DX = 9700 > SW-11!

It is worth noting that although the Sony SW-22 is very small in size, the perfomance of its MW reception is very impressive. It received 65 MW stations at night, and the next closest radio received only 48. But, as I pointed out previously, reception of MW bands in the evening fluctuates a lot, but at least this would give us a hint on how well the SW-22 performs in MW, just for reference sake.


Shortcomings
1. Occasionally whistle sound while tuning;

2. No fine tuning;

3. No digital display of frequencies;

4. A round tuning knob would provide more convenient and comfort tuning than the plane knob now in use;

5. The band switch display window is too small, there is no direct link between the band switch display window and the dial panel.

6. Since the selected band in not shown on the dial panel, users have to look up and down to see which band is selected; the markings of SW1, SW2, SW3.....SW10 on the dial panel is too congested and complicated, it would be better just to show 1, 2, 3, ….10, etc. ; also there are ten repetitions of "MHz" at the bottom of the dial panel which could be simplified by just one line: "Short Wave - MHz."

7. Better still, swap the positions of the 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. with the line "Short Wave - MHz. ", i.e. the line of "Short Wave - MHz." to appear on top of the dial panel, while the 1, 2, 3, 4, ….10 to appear at the bottom of the dial panel. As the band switch window and the 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. are both at the bottom and are nearer, it would be easier to see. The eyes need not rotate from head to foot finding which band has been selected.

8. When the radio is resting on its supporting rack, the whip antenna could not be stretched upwards vertically at right angle.

9. When using the AC adaptor, it is a good idea that the rechargeable batteries inside the radio will be charged. But if the AC adaptor is not properly plugged into the mains, the flow of electricity from the batteries to the AC adaptor will occur, lighting up the LED of the AC adaptor.

10. The illumination of the radio in uneven, because all the 3 pilot lamps are from above;

11. It is OK to listen to shortwave using the reel antenna "AN-03" provided. But if an outdoor antenna is use and connected the the antenna socket, overload of signals may happen.

12. The reel antenna "AN-03" has a problem in rolling its wire back to the antenna box smoothly after use. Compared with products of the same type, the operation of Sony reel antenna is more comfortable to use. There may be some problem perhaps in the mechanical design of the "AN-03"!

Conclusion
To avoid deviation, I use new battery of the same type and brand for all radio sets. Though spending money, this can avoid unfairness in the comparisons due to power supply. Because all the radios are hand held portables, the whip antenna on the radio are used to conduct the comparisons. Radio with longer or better whip antenna may gain a slight advantage in picking weak signals. The above-mentioned five radios were bought new with the exception of the Sony 7601 which was bought second hand; whether its performance is below the brand-new ones is not too certain , as I do not know its maintenance history . Generally speaking, the Tecsun R-9700DX is a good radio, FM reception is the best of these five radios in comparison. In shortwave, its performance is good, very close to the Sony 7600GR but of course without SSB, digital, memory, etc. As for medium wave, it is not too bad!

Through these comparisons, I consider that the more expensive Sony models of SW-11, SW-22 or 7601 are no match for R-9700DX. Compared with it blood brother R-9700, the R-9700DX outperforms in SW and FM, except in MW where there is not much difference between the two brothers. The SW-22 which is about 250% more expensive than the R-9700DX, is not any better than the R-9700DX. However, as SW-22 is very small and actually belongs to the pocket radio category, there are no 75 m, 60 m and 21 m short wave bands on it. The R-9700DX may have some points to gain in this respect!

If challenging upwards, compared with 7600GR which is six times more expensive than the R-9700DX, the 7600GR outperforms the R-9700DX both in function and in performance, especially in the sensitivity and selectivity in FM reception. The revolution has not succeeded yet, Tecsun still needs to make greater efforts!

After reviewing this radio, I think that I can accept Tecsun's claims that the R-9700DX is like a sword refined in the past 5 years, which has bravely met the challenges of both domestic and international radios of the same class during the last half century!

Author & Pictures : HongKongRadioer@radiointel.com / ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2003

 


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