Sangean PR-D8 recorder on AM: Crude review

The Sangean PR-D8 is a two band portable radio for Medium Wave (MW) and FM. The radio is designed to easily record radio broadcasts, wherever one may roam. The test unit was purchased from Amazon dot com. Carriage took two weeks via USPS First Class International postage.

How does recording work?

Press the ‘Rec’ button for five seconds on the unit and the tuned station is recorded to an SD card. The end product is a relatively high resolution 192 kbps MP3 file that can be immediately shared via the internet. Modern computers typically furnish SD card readers as a standard feature. For older computers, USB ‘all-in-one’ card readers can be purchased (for next to nothing) to access the recordings encoded to the SD card.

Recording screen including dual VU meters - Sangean PR-D8

ADVANTAGES

Excellent recording fidelity at 192 kbps bitrate. Digital artifacts may be audible if the 128 kbps encoding quality is chosen.
Accurate recording level meter suits both radio and line-in recordings.
Fully customizable timer recording and alarm functions. May be used as an alarm clock.
Tuning stations is user-friendly. Easy to navigate, review and delete clips.
Well designed instruction manual which is readable & written with satisfactory grammar.
Excellent build quality. Strong likelihood of maintaining value in the secondary market.
Compatible with modern SD cards, including smaller breeds via an adapter. A 32 gigabyte HC Class 10 card was used in test.
Satisfactory sensitivity on MW. The 20 kW broadcast Premiere (1ère) 666 kHz Noumea is received with this radio on a daily basis at 920 miles. As is the 50 kW broadcast Radio New Zealand National 567 kHz Wellington, at a distance of 1,565 miles. Antenna is a 11.5 x 100 mm ferrite bar inside the unit.
Satisfactory sensitivity on FM. 4JJJ 99.3 MHz Biggenden was received on a daily basis at 143 miles. Antenna is a telescoping antenna, sited directly above the MP3 recorder.
Tuning increments can be selected to suit the listener’s region.
Includes quality AC power supply for indoor use. Satisfactory battery life whilst recording (up to 10 hours).
Full suite of features. Twin (stereo) microphones suit outdoor recordings. Line level audio output is provided in addition to the standard Headphone output.
Reasonable FM sensitivity when connected to an external antenna.

 

DISADVANTAGES

NOT recommended for portable FM recordings. Please refer to the detailed discussion in the body of the article.
Wide filters are NOT suitable for separating all FM stations 200 kHz apart. The FM selectivity may be improved by a simple ceramic filter mod. Such a project voids the warranty & requires a conventional front end design.
Expensive purchase price relative to offerings made by the group that produces the Degen/Tecsun portable radios.
No provision for external antenna, but this can be circumvented with minimal effort.
No signal meter although a stereo indicator is included.
The inclusion of the 64 kbps bitrate recording option seems superfluous. Those recordings exhibit significant compression artifacts, to the point of the clips NOT being usable.

Love AM? This may be the radio for you

The author of this review has a bias towards FM. With that disclosure out of the way, the most fundamental flaw of the design is not catering for FM recording enthusiasts. Why make the MW section virtually immune to interference when encoding recordings, whilst not doing the same for FM? It seems bizarre for Sangean to pursue such a strategy. Did (former) Prime Minister Kevin Rudd or Opposition Leader Tony Abbott (now Prime Minister) help design this ill conceived recording radio? And why can’t Turnbull (Communications Minister) can fix it?

MW enthusiasts vastly outnumber FM enthusiasts. Effectively FM listeners ‘lose out’ since the manufacturer seems to have designed a recording radio to satisfy the largest segment of consumers.

Recording mode & Backlight - Sangean PR-D8

According to C. Crane:

Traditionally AM radio is very difficult to record into MP3 format because of unwanted noise generated by the digital components inside the radio. The PR-D8 overcomes this problem by using good circuit craftsmanship techniques.

This radio does cause some interference when recording weak MW signals from an external tuner, even in ‘Recording Pause’ mode. This symptom seems to be easily solved by moving the component’s passive indoor MW loop well away from the recording radio, using a higher gain loop (especially an amplified variety) or an outdoor antenna.

For those seeking to purchase this radio for the sole intention of MW recording, this receiver performs admirably and would be recommended primarily for this purpose.

Samples of MW recordings

873 kHz talk: interstate fringe signal

1242 kHz music: fringe signal

1368 KHz music: interstate fringe signal

Recording mode & Backlight - Sangean PR-D8

 

Further reading

Enthusiast Review – Herculodge blog

Customer Reviews – Amazon & C.Crane

The author acknowledges the assistance of David in the composition of this review. Photos of the Sangean PR-D8 may be reused under a Creative Commons license. Simply link to this blog or attribute the blog in a photograph mouse hover or caption. Medium Wave distance calculations calculated using coordinates from Asia Waves.

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June-July wrap

On the east coast of Andy Murray‘s United Kingdom (Murray is technically a Scot), the summer of long distance FM reception is rolling along beautifully. G1VVP writes in praise of the ‘propagation gods’:

Personally, this has been the best sporadic E season I have known on the FM broadcast band… The main factor has been the almost daily occurrence of E skip reaching 88 MHz and above.

In stark contrast, on the east coast of the United States, things are not quite right. David writes:

Except for an 8-minute opening with a MUF of 90.7 FM on June 7, there has been no FM Es observed in Northern Virginia since June 1. Other regional DXers and those elsewhere in the US have had FM Es in the past week and a half, so I’m sure I’m due for a good opening any time now. European FM DXers have received 144 MHz MUF openings seemingly most days this month, of which me and many other US DXers have been envious of.

Equivalent of Racket & Balls © 2013 FMradioDX at WordPress

It’s been a busy month for this little blogger, whose vacation was such a disaster it has been dubbed ‘hell’. It was an expensive waste of time, courtesy of accommodation booking problems and troubles with multiple cars which may take weeks to resolve. A day trip to Nightcap National Park and Mullumbimby was one of the few highlights.

On a more optimistic note a new television and abdominal bench were purchased which take some time to learn to use. Guilt has already set in about these purchases. Fortunately a new laptop has also made life easier in the last month, although setting up operating systems and software is always tedious and time consuming. Surely anti-virus software must be the most time consuming software of all time!

Since it is winter, there has been a sporting feast to devour in the last few months. These have included the French Open, Wimbledon,  British Irish Lions Tour and State of Origin Series.  In addition, some mildly entertaining soccer qualifiers were played.  Soccer is the football code played by this blogger for over a decade but it is rarely consumed in large quantities, except when at a venue. Even the final day of a golf tournament tends to have more thrills. Whoops, I’m joking…

When watching live tennis there are typically two options to choose from to preserve one’s sanity.

  • Suffer lack of sleep and watch the games live at home or in a bar; or
  • Ensure there is adequate hard drive space on the PVR. Try to anticipate how many sets (and accordingly the number of hours) each match will go for. It is difficult sometimes.

Lisicki & Stosur at Wimbledon © 2011 Carine06

Regardless of trying to manage the time differences, Wimbledon was exhilarating viewing this year. The ‘upsets’ meant that many of the more egotistical players were absent. With success comes ego, but some sportspeople take this too far and become a source of irritation for spectators rather than a source of potential idolization.

The mens and ladies finals were riveting, but sadly one-sided affairs. This blogger’s pick for the match of the tournament was the nail-biting semi final featuring Sabine Lisicki (Germany) versus Agnieska Radwanska (Poland). Please click on the photo below to see Mike Grice’s detailed photos. It is always refreshing to see new faces succeed in any sport.

Wimbledon - Independence Day 2013 - ladies semi finals day

Congratulations to relative newcomer Marion Bartoli who was unstoppable and Murray for tenaciously silencing his critics. Notably, the sportsmanship at the Championships was first class throughout.

Shortly, there is a little historical tour called the Ashes to be played where the participants are obviously trying to play baseball on a lawn balls ground… but got confused! But the most significant entry on any lazy fat bastard’s sporting calendar is the much anticipated Origin Decider in Sydney. It shall be magnificent.

For all your sporting news

Arm Chair Selector

Disclosure: a friend writes for this great site.

Go Andy Murray! For the Men’s Final, such a bold prediction is foolish. I’m not certain seeing I backed Sabine in the ladies. Sadly she was thoroughly outclassed by her French competitor.

Nonetheless, if ‘Murray’s Mound’ cannot lift Andy to great heights I am not sure what will.

Andy Murray against Janko Tipsarević in the 20...

Andy Murray against Janko Tipsarević in the 2009 French Open third round (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Katoomba on the radar

It is with great pleasure to announce that IT professional Daniel has commenced blogging.

Logo © 2013 Daniel Warren

Dan is an FM radio enthusiast blogging from Katoomba.

Three Sisters © 2005 Alex Rist of Hamburg, Germany

Dan’s radio blog can be found here.

His website can be found here.