Re: 2019 Shootout?

Gary DeBock

On Thu, Jan 23, 2020 at 07:25 PM, Paul Blundell wrote:
As a side note, I am a big fan of the Digitech AR-1733 which can be easily found in Jaycar stores locally.

The Digitech AR-1733 (and the identical Japanese market Elpa ER-C57WR) are actually predecessors to the C.Crane Skywave model (which was introduced late in 2014), made by the Redsun company in China. C.Crane used it as a starting point for the completely redesigned Skywave, since Redsun had already been C.Crane's manufacturer in China for an extended period. The CC Skywave does have some improvements over these earlier Redsun-manufactured models, as explained by Mike Schuster in his excellent review posted on Amazon, which is pasted below. Mike's Skywave review was written about a month before my own Skywave review in the 2015 Ultralight Radio Shootout.

Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)

Pasted from Mike's review of the CC Skywave on Amazon (December 2014) :
I'm surprised that, after all the buzz about this radio on hobbyist websites and blogs, nobody has posted about it here. So I'm giving a quick overview as I await my second Skywave Radio (having ordered the first one directly from CCrane and decided that this one is "keeper")

This is the official update to the well-regarded CCrane shortwave portable (SWP) which is still for sale; both having been sourced from Redsun in China. It is also a re-work of an intermediate Redsun model not sold in the US, but known in Australia as the Digitech AR-1733 and in Japan as the Elpa ER-C57WR.

The radio covers MW/SW/FM and the aircraft band (omitting LW that previous models covered). It appears to use DSP (digital signal processing) technology like many newer models sourced from Tecsun in China and sold under various brands including Kaito, Grundig, etc. Such radios achieve pretty exceptional performance using a minimum of electrical components because the SiLabs DSP chip does most of the traditional RF stuff right inside. However, all have suffered from various design or performance compromises including uneven sensitivity, unwanted noises, and the implementation of the SiLab chips "soft mute function" which enraged DXers because, rather than amplifying weak MW/SW signals actually does the opposite; making them "fall off the cliff" once signal strength goes below a cutoff.

The Ccrane SWP was a more traditional PLL/superhet design that was well conceived except for an occasional annoying design flaw: a digital up/down volume adjustment in lieu of a traditional knob; it powered up too loud, had steps that were too coarse to get the volume right, and you could not lower the volume enough to make for comfortable listening through headphones. The AR-1733 which is the immediate predecessor to this model, has serious performance issues on MW.

The designers of Skywave appear to have taken all of this in; perhaps that is why the release of the radio was delayed so many times. In using it side by side with older models, all the good points stand out. Sensitivity is remarkably good, especially on MW where strong AGC action and excellent useable sensitivity gives great volume even from daytime fringe stations - comparable to larger sets like the PL-660 for instance. Volume control is once again handled using a traditional analog knob. All 5 of the SiLabs "virtual filter" bandwidth settings are implemented (6 - 4 - 3 - 2 -1 KHz) and work very well. The odd tones and artifacts of previous DSP designs are mostly gone. I cannot detect any evidence of "soft-mute" being activated. In fact, the overall "feel" and sound of the Skywave reminds one of all the best points of PLL/superhet sets of a few years back (e.g. Tecsun PL-200/Eton E100, etc). Also for me, where many radios suffer bleed-through of strong MW signals all over the place, the front-end selectivity of this radio is admirably good.

Compared to Tecsun DSP sets some differences stand out. There is no digital signal strength display, only a bar graph. The sound from the speaker is rather tinny (even with the "hidden" audio tone control set to "music"). There is no direct control over the dial light. A nice feature that the AR-1733 had (ability to lock the tuning wheel - only) is not carried over. Also many have criticized the lack of SSB capability; not an issue of size really (ages ago, the even smaller Sony ICF-SW100 implemented SSB as well as synchronous AM) but perhaps cost and the capabilities of the available DSP chips.
224 people found this helpful
toggle quoted messageShow quoted text

Join to automatically receive all group messages.