Re: G8 vs CR-1100 preliminary AM BCB report-FARMERIK

Gary DeBock

Hello Farmerik,
All of the radios you mentioned (G8, PL-380, CR-1110 and PL-600) are on hand here, in this overcrowded shack.
The CR-1110 is a rather odd bird that has far better AM sensitivity on the high frequencies (especially the X band) than on the middle and low band. It was tested extensively against an aligned Sony ICF-S5W on all frequencies from 530-1700 kHz, and was found inferior in sensitivity to that classic model on most AM frequencies, but clearly superior on the X band. It also did not suffer from the ICF-S5W's severe image reception issue, of course.
I did a mini-review of the CR-1100 back in June, which may be of interest to you. Some of the information is dated (such as the praise of the PL-300WT, the only DSP model available at the time), but the rest should give you detailed impressions on the model. Hope you enjoy it!
73 and Have Fun,  Gary  
Hello All,

Very impressed with the performance of the new Tecsun PL-300WT DSP-enhanced
 Ultralight radio on medium-wave, it was a natural decision to place an
order  with for the new full-sized Tecsun CR-1100 AM-FM portable,
which uses  the same innovative Si430/31 DSP chip from Silicon Labs. Today my
new  CR-1100 portable arrived from Kaito Electronics after a 4-day delay,
and payment  of $69.99 plus $13.00 shipping (by USPS Priority Mail).

The CR-1100 is strictly a Chinese-market portable, to the extent that all
of the controls are labeled only in Chinese. Despite this, Kaito has
provided a  very basic (and poorly translated) English manual, as well as the
standard and  far more thorough Chinese manual. The AM frequency steps have also
been  reprogrammed to 10 kHz, matching the North American market.

Immediately after arrival, the radio's out-of-the-box AM performance was
tested against a fully aligned Sony ICF-S5W portable (which has had the
frequency coverage extended to 1700 kHz). The comparison of these two radios
proved to be very interesting, and showed that while the CR-1100 has  some
good DXing potential on AM, it also has some puzzling  shortcomings.

In comparison to the PL-300WT's sharp DSP-enhanced selectivity, the CR-1100
 had a tough time going up against the ICF-S5W, with its common 455 kHz
Murata filter.  Local slop on the CR-1100 was more troublesome than on the
PL-300WT, making it seem like Tecsun programmed the DSP chip to provide a
wider  selectivity setting on this music-oriented receiver. The ICF-S5W was able
to  weakly receive KPQ-560 in the null of semi-local KVI-570 in the early
afternoon,  while the CR-1100 could only produce KVI splatter. Low-band
sensitivity on the  CR-1100 was very good, but not quite up to the class-leading
ICF-S5W  standard. Although the CR-1100's low-band sensitivity will match
that of  the PL-300WT, unlike the PL-300WT, the CR-1100 cannot tune in 1 kHz
steps,  making it impossible to chase TP's on the 9 kHz splits.

The CR-1100 versus ICF-S5W contest became much more competitive on the high
 band, however, and on the X-band the new Tecsun was clearly far more
sensitive than the classic Sony portable. In fact, the CR-1100 sets a new
standard for X-band sensitivity among portables, having weak signal performance
never experienced in extensive testing here. Weak fringe stations that were
barely audible on the ICF-S5W had solid audio on the Tecsun.

Also notable in the CR-1100 was the complete freedom from image reception
of local stations, a major shortcoming of the classic ICF-S5W. The Sony's
image  reception detracts greatly from its otherwise stellar performance, but
the  Tecsun DSP chip appears to have solved the problem entirely.

After the out-of-the-box performance test, the CR-1100 was disassembled to
check the loopstick construction, and the possibility of alignment. Both
the  PL-300WT and CR-1100 were designed to have a "no alignment" RF system, in 
which  the DSP chip ensures maximum performance without loopstick peaking,
or  adjustment of a 1400 kHz trimmer. In the CR-1100, there is a 4.25" x 
.36"  single-coil loopstick in the middle of the cabinet, which seems rather
odd  because of the extensive cabinet space on both sides which would allow
placement of a much longer ferrite bar, if desired. Alignment was attempted
by shifting the coil, but this had no effect on the CR-1100's sensitivity on
any  AM frequency. Apparently DXers will need to accept the CR-1100's
sensitivity as delivered, unless they wish to transplant a larger ferrite bar
with a coil of equal inductance (which is certainly possible with all the
extra  cabinet space).

The CR-1100 also has a sensitive FM section, although again, for some
unknown reason it seemed slightly less sensitive than that of the PL-300WT.
Perhaps there is a greater impedance mismatch with the CR-1100's short whip
antenna, but in any case the PL-300WT Ultralight can receive more weak FM
fringe  stations here than the CR-1100.

The CR-1100 has a large music-oriented speaker and excellent audio,  with
analog tone and volume control knobs. The 8-ohm speaker has a 1-watt  rated
output. The radio also has 300 memories, and various digital tuning
capabilities. It operates on 4 "D" batteries, and comes in an attractive
black-brown cabinet. It is available from (via Kaito  Electronics) for
$69.99 plus $13.00 shipping.

So after the full evaluation, what would be the CR-1100 verdict for a
dedicated medium-wave DXer? If you are a domestic DXer that concentrates on  the
upper frequencies (especially the X-Band), the new CR-1100 would be  tough
to beat. Its upper-band sensitivity (and generally good  selectivity) is
likely to set a new standard for contemporary portables. Urban  DXers will
appreciate the complete freedom from image reception, and general  freedom from
spurious products. Hobbyists who enjoy music reception will not be
disappointed in the CR-1100's audio qualities. However, if you wish to  chase
transoceanic DX, or wish to experience the maximum potential of the  exciting new
Silicon Labs DSP chip, my recommendation would be to pass on the  CR-1100--
and go for the new PL-300WT Ultralight model. Its 1 kHz tuning ability  and
stellar selectivity (plus superior FM sensitivity) make it the obvious
choice for most medium-wave DXers.

73 and Best Wishes,

Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA)


OK, now I get it. Sort of like the audio version of the screen break-up on digital video. I can see why it would be a problem for really weak signal DXing, however on my G8 I don't think I will miss any station strong enough to actually listen to.
Both the G8 and CR-1100 hear weak stations with less noise and interference than my analog radios, but miss all the really weak signals entirely. The CR-1100 is significantly more sensitive and has less noise on its weak stations though. Anyone have a PL-380 AND a CR-1100 to compare? My new PL-600 seems MUCH more sensitive than the CR-1100. - FARMERIK

--- In, Richard Berler > wrote:
> The soft mute occurs when tuned exactly on frequency on weak signals that vary between s/n's of 0, and s/n's that rise above zero...instead of a smooth rise or fall in the audible signal, the signal sounds like it is flickering. The set, if soft mute is the default mode (as it is on the G8 and PL-310), will semi mute the signal of a station that falls below (or rises above) a certain threshold of signal strength, resulting in the flickering of the audible signal.
> Heatwave
> --- On Sat, 1/2/10, farmerik .> wrote:
> From: farmerik .>
> Subject: [ultralightdx] Re: G8 vs CR-1100 preliminary AM BCB report-FARMERIK
> To:
> Date: Saturday, January 2, 2010, 9:49 AM
> I used to use WICC as a test for a good radio in the daytime. It is much closer to Westport than I am in the Northeast of CT, while Westport and Naugatuck [WICC] are in the Southwest part of the state. Since you used to live in the area, I'll mention some call letters next time.
> Maybe I need some help understanding exactly what the dreaded soft mute sounds like. Is it only a problem when tuned one or two Kc. off? Or is it the mute which happens before you couple an external loop, and you have to change frequency, and come back after the loop is in place? Maybe something else entirely? - FARMERIK
> --- In ultralightdx@ yahoogroups. com, Richard Berler wrote:
> >
> > Thanks!
> >  
> > Also, check to see if there is a pumping on marginal-weak daytime signals (the dreaded soft mute).
> >  
> > I used to live in Westport, CT. From there, I needed a good radio to get WBZ and WPRO during the daytime, and to get WCAU, KYW, and WFIL?(560) from Philly.
> >  
> > Heatwave
> > Streets of Laredo, TX!
> >  
> > --- On Fri, 1/1/10, farmerik wrote:
> >
> >
> > From: farmerik
> > Subject: [ultralightdx] Re: G8 vs CR-1100 preliminary AM BCB report-FARMERIK
> > To: ultralightdx@ yahoogroups. com
> > Date: Friday, January 1, 2010, 7:21 PM
> >
> >
> >  
> >
> >
> >
> > I'll see what I can do. I usually don't listen in the daytime.- FARMERIK
> >
> > --- In ultralightdx@ yahoogroups. com, Richard Berler wrote:
> > >
> > > Happy New Year!
> > >  
> > > Can you do some mid-day testing, and post your observations?
> > >  
> > > Thanks!
> > >  
> > > Heatwave
> > >
> > > --- On Thu, 12/31/09, farmerik wrote:
> > >
> > >
> > > From: farmerik
> > > Subject: [ultralightdx] G8 vs CR-1100 preliminary AM BCB report-FARMERIK
> > > To: ultralightdx@ yahoogroups. com
> > > Date: Thursday, December 31, 2009, 11:31 PM
> > >
> > >
> > >  
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > I've had the G8 for a couple months, since joining here, but just got my CR-1100 today. Both have the same DSP chip I believe. The CR only tunes in 10 Kc. steps on the AM BCB, but I believe it can be programed for 9 Kc. steps too.[You can not 'slope tune' it off a Kc. or two to escape an adjacent much stronger station.]
> > >
> > > The CR-1100 is rated by Tecsun at 0.5mv/M with its larger ferrite and the G8 is listed as 1mv/M. The CR-1100 is not really so much different than a modified DSP ULR with larger ferrite, but I don't think it qualifies for competition.
> > >
> > > I placed the two radios side by side, facing the same direction, running both on good alkaline batteries. I tuned three ten 'channel' bands, 700-790, 1000-1090 and 1500-1590, and took notes on each station I heard. I'll summarize here. The CR is noticeably better on about 50% of the frequencies, and about 1/3rd of those are substantial improvements. I got stations on all but 6 of the 30 frequencies on both radios, so it is a good night here in Connecticut.
> > >
> > > As expected, the audio bandwidth on the CR sounds noticeably wider, but what I didn't expect is that when ever there is back round noise, or a second weak station is also heard, it is much quieter on the CR. I expected wider selectivity to hear more noise and other stations not less. The narrower G8 bandwidth seems to hurt, NOT help with interference.
> > >
> > > Also, I looked at the meters for dBa and s/n. Both numbers scrolled all the time on strong and weak stations. The CR had +5 to +10 more units on the dBu scale on average, and sometimes the differences were much greater. The G8 ran +10 to +15 units on the s/n read out. I don't know what to make of that, but probably they are not 'calibrated' or 'standardized' , so it does not mean a thing. If anyone can explain it, I'm all ears.
> > >
> > > I tried the TERK with both radios, and as before with the G8, it can lower back round noise,but it does not seem to ever dig a weak station out of noise like it does on a cheap portable.
> > >
> > >
> >


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