Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
SW and FM are good, MW sensitivity very poor
on February 27, 2015
My main intention of purchasing the R9700DX was to possibly replace an aging Sony SW-20 that I've owned for nearly 30 years. As with the R9700DX, the Sony is also dual conversion analog and the R9700DX is about the only choice in this day and age that offers dual conversion with analog tuning. There are distinct advantages of having these features over digital units, primarily low noise floors and better dynamic range due to little or no internally generated noise from flashy digital read-outs or CPU chips. Battery consumption is also very low not having to power many components other than the radio function itself. The SW-20 excels at both of these in addition to its superior sensitivity and selectivity on MW, SW and FM using just the tiny telescopic whip and internal ferrite bar. Truly a marvel of miniaturization and Japanese engineering.
The R9700DX is nearly 3 times the size of the SW-20 and shares the same case and dimensions of the Tecsun PL-600. I knew this at the outset and the paperback book size of the R9700DX is still plenty small and portable enough. Construction is high quality and solid. Tuning is smooth from the top to the bottom of the dial with no backlash but the dial calibration is grossly inaccurate compared to the SW-20. The supplied case is very durable. Dial lighting, while primarily a novelty, is superb and brings back memories of tuning tube radios from years ago. The R9700DX covers considerably more of the SW spectrum that was omitted on the SW-20, most notably the 75, 60 and 22 meter bands. Sensitivity on SW is above average and using anything more than the telescopic whip tends to overload the R9700DX including the supplied longwire. Strong signals bleed up and down frequencies on SW, the SW-20 suffers from this as well but not nearly as much as the R9700DX. Being dual conversion selectivity is very good but the tuning slopes are much narrower on the R9700DX which can make zeroing in on a station tricky sometimes. FM sensitivity is great, on par with the Tecsun PL-380 with much fuller audio fidelity from the internal speaker. Although not as warm sounding as the PL-600, the R9700DX falls somewhere between it and the PL-380. Certainly not unpleasant for both music and voice.
So why the 3 star rating? MW sensitivity is well below average. Only the strongest of stations can be received during daylight hours and in the evening/night when the band is open the R9700DX needs the help of a passive loop to grab decent signals of powerhouse broadcasters that can be picked up on much lesser and inferior radios like the Sony ICF-S10MK2. It's really disappointing, the selectivity is there but having to use an external loop to bring the R9700DX up to the level of a $12 pocket portable in terms of sensitivity on MW is just unacceptable. And I need to add that MW performance was the primary criteria of purchasing this radio, SW second, FM dead last.
With all the other offerings available the R9700DX is still a strong contender among them if your interests only include SW and FM. I challenge you to find another analog multi-band dual conversion receiver without having to buy something used that's 20+ years old or at a hamfest...because you won't. For this the R9700DX is the only game in town that I'm aware of. I really had high hopes for the R9700DX giving the SW-20 a run for its money, but it falls incredibly short in MW performance when it obviously shouldn't.