Tecsun DR-920 - A Review 5 Years Later

Stephen Ponder <stephen_ponder@...>

I was digging around in my "radio vault" (the closet) and found my
Tecsun DR-920.  For those of you who may remember, I did a quick
"mini-review" of the DR-920 back in December 2005 when I first
received it.  I dug around on Bing and found that review.  I cannot
believe it was so positive!  Chalk it up to inexperience, the Christmas
spirit, and never having actually used it in a DX session, I guess.

Here are the radio's physical details from my "mini-review" for those
who are not familiar with the radio ...

The DR-920 is an analogue radio with a digital
> frequency counter display.The right side of the
radio has a "real" tuning knob (one that twists
instead of rolling up/down) and a slide switch
that allows the user to switch between a buzzer
and the radio for the alarm function.
The left side of the radio has a volume knob
(the "up/down" rolling type), a 3.5 mm mono
headphone jack, and a 3VDC jack in case you
wanted to use one of those "wall-warts."
The bands covered by the DR-920 are:
MW - 525 to 1640 kHz (1 kHz steps)
FM - 76.0 to 108.0 MHz (100 kHz steps)
SW - 3.90 to 21.85 MHz (5 kHz steps)
The SW coverage is not continuous.  Instead, it is divided into 10 bands.
> The bandswitch is a slide switch that takes you through FM, MW, and
> SW1-SW10.
Here are the SW bands:
SW1 - 3.90 to 4.00 MHz (75 Metre Band)
SW2 - 4.75 to 5.06 MHz (60 Metre Band)
SW3 - 5.95 to 6.20 MHz (49 Metre Band)
SW4 - 7.10 to 7.30 MHz (41 Metre Band)
SW5 - 9.50 to 9.90 MHz (31 Metre Band)
SW6 - 11.65 to 12.05 MHz (25 Metre Band)
SW7 - 13.60 to 13.80 MHz (22 Metre Band)
SW8 - 15.10 to 15.60 MHz (19 Metre Band)
SW9 - 17.55 to 17.90 MHz (16 Metre Band)
SW10 - 21.45 to 21.85 MHz (13 Metre Band)
The DR-920 does not have SSB capability,
but for a less-than-$20 USD radio, it does
a pretty good job.
It's approximately the same size as the
Tecsun DR-910 (a.k.a. Grundig G1000A),
which is 74 x 116 x 28 mm, and weighs
approximately 200 grams.
The DR-920 uses 2 AA batteries and has
a detachable battery cover on the back
of the radio.  The flip-stand, also on
the back, has the SW bands printed on it.

In that first review, I forgot to mention that the DR-920 has a sleep timer,
which is a "plus" for any radio that I purchase.  Also, the dial backlight
briefly illuminates whenever you turn the tuning knob.  That way it doesn't
draw down the batteries by staying on all the time, but allows you to see
which frequency you're on.

Now to my "5 Years Later" review ...

Mediumwave - Since the DR-920 is an analogue radio with a digital display,
it just doesn't compare to the newer DSP Ultralights.  One thing in its favor,
though, is that the tuning knob is fairly stiff, so once you tune to a frequency,
the radio tends to stay there.  The MW band does not cover the entire X-band,
so that's a bummer.  The upper limit is "around" 1640 kHz.

The DR-920's selectivity is fairly broad, which, to me, is a disappointment,
because I've gotten spoiled by the newer PL-310 with the variable bandwidth.
Sensitivity is poor.  Semi-local KLVI-560 in Beaumont, TX, which puts out a
booming signal on almost every radio I own, could barely be heard on the DR-920.
Can you say, "epic failure?"

FM - Once again, the tight tuning knob helps, but the selectivity is poor, which
means the local stations come in loud and clear, but cover several MHz of the
display.  No "in-between" stations on this radio!

Shortwave - The good thing is that the SW coverage includes the 75 and 60 metre
bands, which many newer radios ignore.  The bad thing is that those bands, along
with the rest of the SW bands, are pretty deaf.  Cuba's Radio Rebelde on 5025 kHz
puts out a smoking signal at night to my QTH.  Just like the KLVI issue on MW, it
could barely be heard on the DR-920.  The afternoon (local time) soccer matches
on Radio Nacional Amazonia from Brasil on 11780 kHz are usually an easy catch
on my Grundig Mini-World 200 analogue radio (see David Reeder's review on
RadioIntel, http://www.radiointel.com/review-grundig200.htm), but I can barely hear
them on the DR-920.

Let me give my DR-920 the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe I got a bad radio in sore
need of an alignment.  It's interesting, though, that when I did my search in Bing,
I didn't find very many reviews of the radio.  Hmmm ...

As with all reviews and reviewers, your mileage may vary.

73 and Great DX!
Stephen H. Ponder, N5WBI
Houston, Texas, USA - EL29kn

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