Re: Sangean HDR-14 UL HD AM/FM Radio - What do you think?

Michael Schuster

As somewhat a collector of IBOC ("HD Radio") sets I purchased this upon its release. A miniaturized version of the HDR-14, crammed into the cabinet used for the Sangean DPR-65 FM/DAB+ portable, there had to be some design compromises. Your intended comparison sets should prove to be an interesting exercise as the others are really aimed at different market segments - apples and oranges. The HDR-14 is not a DX rig but aimed at the casual program listener who has HD stations nearby and wants to take advantage. Frankly if you're outside of North America I can't see any reason to buy it over other postabls unless you are a collector .... but then, many of us are!

When this model was introduced I posted to the SWL blog a quick comparison with its direct competitor - the NiceTex ("SPARC" "Audiovox") SHD-TX2. In the end the NiceTex is marginally a better performer on RF and has much better audio from the speaker due to its passive radiator design. It was never well distributed though and unfortunately seems to have been silently discontinued along with the majority of their private label portables.

The HDR-14 is quite competent on FM which is probably true of most portables designed in the last few years. Its HD capture is really good, which does require very good sensitivity. AM performance is hampered by a small ferrite antenna and rather wide selectivity - again reflecting the design choices made in its market position and re-using a cabinet that did not even have AM section in its original configuration. There are quite a few birdies on AM which may or may not matter depending on whether you have stations which overlap those frequencies. I live in an area in which one of the last remaining AM-HD stations is still on the air, and it does handle it very well. I even snagged AM-HD Dx occasionally from a station ~75 miles away or so.

It is somewhat of a battery hog though, and true to Sangean's design philosophy of beating existing circuit designs to death, still sports the best LCD display technology that the 1990's can offer.

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