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69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shortwave DX-ing on a Budget
While the Kaito KA-321 may lack a few refinements (no bandspread or SSB), it more than makes up for it in strong performance and a very modest price tag. The radio is physically small (it will literally fit in a shirt pocket) and requires only two AA batteries for operation, includes a telescoping antenna (which DOES rotate 360 degrees, despite the Amazon description to...
Published on September 28, 2012 by Chris Haywood

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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It has good and bad points
Small, cheap and built without much thought, the KA321 is a mixed bag. The white on black scales are easy to read, however the alternating black on dark grey are almost invisible except under bright lights. On my sample the dial indicator wire sat at an angle until I opened it up and straightened it. Between the wire and the poorly designed battery compartment (there...
Published 23 months ago by Mark_42


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69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shortwave DX-ing on a Budget, September 28, 2012
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This review is from: Kaito KA321 Pocket-size 10-Band AM/FM Shortwave Radio with DSP (Digital Signal Processing), Black (Electronics)
While the Kaito KA-321 may lack a few refinements (no bandspread or SSB), it more than makes up for it in strong performance and a very modest price tag. The radio is physically small (it will literally fit in a shirt pocket) and requires only two AA batteries for operation, includes a telescoping antenna (which DOES rotate 360 degrees, despite the Amazon description to the contrary) and sports DSP (Digital Signal Processing) to enhance reception. Personally, I was amazed by just how well this little radio receives broadcasts from all over the world.

I should note that shortwave radio is a delicate medium. Little things like time of day, the sunspot cycle, weather and atmospheric issues can play the devil with reception. But once the sun goes down, the shortwave bands come alive with music, news, propaganda and even some pirate radio stations. The Kaito KA-321 can tune in on all of these broadcasters with little trouble. I would have liked a slightly smoother tuning mechanism, but cannot really complain about a radio that can do everything else so well and costs under $20.

If you're new to shortwave listening, getting back into it after a long absence or just looking for a pocket-sized unit for travel, you could do much, much worse. My first couple of sessions of use easily yielded broadcasts from North America (WWV on 10 MHz and a few private missionary broadcasts), Europe (Russia and Romania) and South America (multiple countries). My little Kaito delivered each new find without a struggle -- and with amazing clarity from its built-in speaker. However, I did notice that it's easier to discriminate between adjacent signals if you're wearing earphones; so although the speaker sounds great, you'll probably have a better shortwave listening experience if you pick up a pair.

Before concluding, I should mention that AM and FM reception are also good on the little Kaito. FM reception is strong and stable, thanks to DSP, and the local AM stations come in as expected. In fact, the only thing that falls short of high quality and fine performance about the Kaito KA-321 is in its user manual, which barely qualifies as being written in English (pretty much the same story with any product import these days). But I didn't buy the Kaito for its manual; I bought it for shortwave reception -- and the Kaito really delivers!
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kaito KA321, August 13, 2012
This review is from: Kaito KA321 Pocket-size 10-Band AM/FM Shortwave Radio with DSP (Digital Signal Processing), Black (Electronics)
I received my Kaito KA321 in a week from Amazon sold by Electronnix. This radio is very compact and fits comfortably in a shirt pocket. It feels very sturdy and everything fits tightly, not like the old transistor radios from a few years ago. The feature that attracted me to this radio was the DSP (digital signal processor) that once was available only on the most expensive communications receivers costing $800. Wow, what it has done to the pocket radio! Find your station and there is no drift. The FM receiver portion on this radio is very good and with earphones is in stereo. The sound from the speaker is larger and fuller in depth than anyone would expect from a radio of this size. The SW is unexpectedly good for a radio that only has an 18" antenna when extended. Here in the Detroit area it doesn't need to extend for most stations. The AM/MW is very good on all the area stations and I have can rely on receiving AM 700 WLW from Cincinnati, OH. after dark when the AM stations are at their best. That's more than 400 miles south of where I live north of Detroit. Very deft tuning will pick out the New York, Boston, Chicago, Des Moines, IA., and a Richmond, VA. stations, faintly, but clearly at night. This deft, but precise tuning on this small dial took me about a week to become comfortable with. For $20 you can't go wrong.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Radio, November 10, 2012
This review is from: Kaito KA321 Pocket-size 10-Band AM/FM Shortwave Radio with DSP (Digital Signal Processing), Black (Electronics)
I used this radio during Hurricane Sandy and it was a life saver. I was without electricity for 5 days and the radio was constantly on, especially when my other devices ran out of power. Never had to change the batteries, the reception was excellent and the radio was compact and easy to carry around. I was grateful to have a reliable source of information and entertainment during a stressful time.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It has good and bad points, December 10, 2012
By 
Mark_42 (New Jersey, USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Kaito KA321 Pocket-size 10-Band AM/FM Shortwave Radio with DSP (Digital Signal Processing), Black (Electronics)
Small, cheap and built without much thought, the KA321 is a mixed bag. The white on black scales are easy to read, however the alternating black on dark grey are almost invisible except under bright lights. On my sample the dial indicator wire sat at an angle until I opened it up and straightened it. Between the wire and the poorly designed battery compartment (there isn't even a piece of foam in there) it rattles like a castanet. It even misses every standard time frequency with the exception of 10 MHz.

That being said, the KA321 is quite an interesting radio. While there are many radios that are analog tuned but have a digital display, this is the opposite, a digitally tuned radio with an analog display. Sensitivity and selectivity are surprisingly good (for a radio of this size and price) due to the radio having been based on a DSP. The tuning, while inherently inaccurate, is precise because it tunes in steps rather than continuously, and there is little backlash in the mechanism. This radio is far easier to tune than the similarly priced WRX911. While I wouldn't call this a DX receiver, it is decent for what it is. Unfortunately there is a problem with weak signal reception. There seems to be a built in squelch circuit that prevents really weak signals from being heard. This is particularly annoying while listening to a signal that is fading in and out because during deep fades the signal will disappear completely and then pop back in at a fairly loud volume.

I'd say that it's a decent travel portable for the non-DXer. Its performance on all bands is quite respectable for a $20 radio, and I think that this is the best AM/FM/SW radio in this class.

EDIT:

The more I use this radio the more I like it. It's cheap enough to buy a second or a third for different rooms, and it's even decent enough as an SW starter for someone who might be interested in the hobby. Incidentally I bought a second and it doesn't rattle as much as the first, though the frequency display is even further off. It is, after all, a cheapie. It's still an interesting radio though, I opened it up an no IF cans that I could see.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like It a Lot, June 17, 2013
By 
JNieporte (Ohio, United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Kaito KA321 Pocket-size 10-Band AM/FM Shortwave Radio with DSP (Digital Signal Processing), Black (Electronics)
I was a bit hesitant to buy a shortwave radio that costs $20. Is this going to be a dollar store piece of junk? I know Kaito is a well-known brand, and have always been satisfied with their products, so I was eager to see how this performed. If you are familiar with the brand Degen, the Kaito KA321 is the same radio as the Degen DE321.

The KA321 is a small radio. It's 4-3/4" long and 2-3/4" high, and is 5/8" thick. It weighs 3.7 ounces with the batteries inserted. Inside the box are the radio itself, an instruction sheet, product registration sheet, and a wrist strap. The KA321 is constructed rather well for a radio of this cost. Sure, it's hard plastic, but it feels sturdy. Two AA batteries are required to operate the radio; batteries aren't included. Another reviewer mentioned the KA321 as coming with rechargeable lithium batteries, but this isn't listed in the product description, nor were there any in the package. With fresh Rayovac alkalines, I got just under 170 hours of use. That's pretty good.

The front of the radio has the speaker, which is 1-3/4" in diameter. It sounds great for a speaker of this size and price! Also on the front is the frequency display. It's a non-LCD, and not backlit. The top of the display shows which band you're tuned into. There's FM1 (87MHz - 108MHz), FM2 (64MHz - 87MHz), AM (522KHz - 1710KHz), and eight shortwave bands (SW1, SW2, etc.) that go from 5700KHz to 21950KHz. The band is shown with a simple red dot that's painted on the slide and shows through a square on the display. Simple, but effective. The frequency display itself is basic; black and grey background with numbers on it. The numbers are easy to read, but the plastic screen does put out a lot of glare. When tuning, the metal bar moves up or down to indicate the frequency you're on.

The left side of the KA321 has four things: the wrist strap attachment, the power adapter jack, the on / off switch, and the headphone jack. The wrist strap attachment is just that; a slot to attach the wrist strap to. The wrist strap comes unattached, and is grey nylon about 8" long. The power adapter jack is a 5 volt DC input connector (150ma, center pin positive). No external power source or cable is included. Under this is the on / off switch, which is clearly labeled and is just a slide switch. It's stiff enough to not move accidentally. Under that is the headphone jack. It works as advertised, and is in stereo.

On the top of the KA321 is the antenna, which is 17-3/4" long when fully extended. It folds onto the top of the radio and is slightly recessed so it doesn't snag on things, and rotates 360 degrees. It's surprisingly well-made and sturdy. Also on the top is the band selector, which is a ridged, sliding switch. It has a soft "click" as it goes into each band. It's the same piece as the small red painted dot that indicates the band.

The back of the radio has the antenna (see above), the stand, and the battery compartment. The stand is just a piece of plastic that swivels to allow the radio to be set at a better-than-flat angle for viewing. It also lists the bands available. The battery compartment is on the bottom in the back. The battery door is just a removable piece of formed plastic, and is removed easily. Two AA batteries are needed for the radio to work, and this is labeled inside the battery compartment. A piece of nylon is there to help remove the batteries.

The underside of the radio has two small ridges to help it stand up if you want it to, but there's nothing else on the bottom.

The right side of the KA321 features the tuning and volume controls. They're just ridged dials, but they do their jobs. The volume can get really loud on this radio, which is pretty surprising for such a cheap thing. I did notice some distortion when getting really loud, but in all honesty, you won't use it that loud anyway. The tuning dial is a bit stiff, but I found that this helped not lose a channel once it was "locked in" with the DSP.

As far as reception, the KA321 is a mixed bag. The two FM bands come in very clear. The AM band is iffy, and often wouldn't pull in the same frequencies as other similar-sized radios that were inches away. The shortwave bands all work. I live in Ohio, and the frequencies I like picking up are on the other side of the world. This means that when it's daytime and I'm awake, there's nothing to listen to because it's night there. This isn't the radio's fault; if nobody is broadcasting, there's just static. I was able to pick up some stations that I couldn't even find on my Radio Shack shortwave, but a few of the local shortwave stations were better on the Radio Shack unit.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the KA321. It's small enough to fit in the back pocket of your pants and gets nice reception. My only reservation about getting it is if you want it for AM stations. Show me a better $20 radio that gets AM, FM, and shortwave.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kaito KA321 so so, November 19, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Kaito KA321 Pocket-size 10-Band AM/FM Shortwave Radio with DSP (Digital Signal Processing), Black (Electronics)
This radio gets you what you pay for it. For the price, you get a radio that picks up most local stations and many shortwave stations. It it light weight, small and easy to carry. It is not, however, easy to tune. You must carefully and slowly tune it by moving the thumbwheel, which is located just above the volume wheel. Since the dial is analog, with a moving needle, you can only get an approximate idea of what station you are tuned to. The alternating light/dark bands on the dial are hard to read in normal light. It would benefit from a bright background and a black needle.
However, for an emergency radio for informational purposes, it will serve.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely great little SW, October 2, 2012
By 
John (Asheville, NC, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Kaito KA321 Pocket-size 10-Band AM/FM Shortwave Radio with DSP (Digital Signal Processing), Black (Electronics)
Most new listeners to Shortwave radio will dabble in the lower end market buys before they decide on something more expensive. I purchased a Coby WB12 a few months back, and I almost lost my interest in SW (Shortwave). The channels bled over each other and the construction was poorly made. I was planning on sticking to a Sony or buying a vintage Grundig, but something about this little KA321 caught my eye. First, it's got a traditional analog tuner with DSP - which really makes a difference in picking up very remote stations. The FM is solid, the AM is beyond what I expected, even in the middle of the day. What was surprising was actually picking up a Chinese radio station on SW, then later a British correspondent in the Middle East, something that was hard to do with my other shortwave. All this and right out of the box during the middle of the day. At night, it's a little monster sucking in AM signals from across the country. This is a true, compact pocket shortwave that delivers on it's performance and does more than expected for the price. This particular model, unlike the first one mentioned, takes all AA batteries, including the more beefy NiMH rechargables. I look forward to my SSB buy, but for right now, this little guy kept me interested in Shortwave.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing quality for the price!, April 7, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Kaito KA321 Pocket-size 10-Band AM/FM Shortwave Radio with DSP (Digital Signal Processing), Black (Electronics)
My favorite FM stations are often at the bottom of the dial, in frequencies where many higher-priced radios falter. This radio nails them all, in two markets where I have used it in the past three weeks, so I never miss a broadcast I'm looking for. I have had three small Grundigs (two older) and two small Sonys, all of which have some challenges with some of those stations, This one is smaller. truly shirt-pocket size and, with earbuds, fully acceptable sound --as other reviewers have noted, the small speaker is audible and intelligible but lacks the deeper timbre that even inexpensive earbuds provide. The radio is light on batteries, as well. While I don't usually listen to short wave except while traveling, I have scanned a couple of bands and there also find excellent reception. Yes, the build is less firm than more expensive units (I have no children in the house to toss it around or abuse it) and there is no electronic tuning. But the tuning is surprisingly easy and accurate, and it is really phenomenal for an inexpensive radio that I won't feel heartbroken over if I accidentally leave it in a hotel room or drop it onto a tile floor.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive little S/W radio, August 31, 2012
By 
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This review is from: Kaito KA321 Pocket-size 10-Band AM/FM Shortwave Radio with DSP (Digital Signal Processing), Black (Electronics)
I don't write too many reviews, but felt I had to add one for the Kaito KA321. Short and sweet: this radio, though a bit "cheap" feeling (construction wise), offers very good reception capabilities. Honestly, there's not much difference between this $20 gem and my TECSUN PL660 Portable Radio FM/LW/MW/SW/SSB/AIRBAND PLL World Band Synthesized Receiver, LCD Display, Dual Conversion in terms of reaching out and locking onto a signal -- for FM, AM, and SW. Not knocking the TECSUN PL660 -- it's a great mid-range handheld SW radio, especially considering it has SSB -- but to be able to pick up the signals I'm getting with the Kaito KA321, side by side with the PL660, that's darn impressive. For this price, buy two and keep one in a Faraday cage just in case. (Yeah, I just read One Second After, and it opened my eyes.)

Cheers.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great little radio!!, November 25, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Kaito KA321 Pocket-size 10-Band AM/FM Shortwave Radio with DSP (Digital Signal Processing), Black (Electronics)
Pro:
It is amazing how small, powerful and stylish it is.
I can get overseas stations very clear through the Short Wave (SW)
channels. Also like the fact that it uses two AA batteries and fits on my shirt pocket.

Cons:
The tuning dial its a little hard (tight) to turn and it makes it difficult to turn the wheel to those bands
that are very narrow.
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