S-8800

Review of the Tecsun S-8800

by Garry Cratt VK2YBX

The S-8800 High Performance AM/FM Radio is the latest radio to be released by Tecsun, and we think it has been worth the wait. The Tecsun S-8800 High Performance AM/FM Radio has been designed to provide maximum performance on the AM (MW) bands, allowing listeners to receive fringe AM radio stations with unmatched audio clarity. Being the authorised distributor for Australia and the Pacific, we obtained a handmade sample for evaluation and gave it to our radio expert Garry Cratt (VK2YBX) for evaluation. Read on for Garry’s review.

General features

Like many other models, the unit is battery operated, but in this case the batteries are 2 x 18650 lithium cells, which are charged via the USB socket on the side of the receiver. This ensures adequate DC power to sustain long periods of listening at good audio level. Users may recall that both the Tecsun BCL-3000 and the Tecsun S2000 use expensive C or D cells, and obviously customer feedback has led to this change to lithium cells.

The receiver even has a built in battery tester, in the form of two LEDs recessed into the battery compartment. If the LED does not illuminate, replace and recharge the offending cell. There is also a battery indicator as part of the front panel LDC display.

The second most obvious new feature of the Tecsun S-8800 is the inclusion of an infrared remote control. No other Tecsun model has this feature which allows the receiver to be controlled without having to touch it. This is an advantage when receiving AM stations , where the receiver has been physically oriented for best reception.

All the Tecsun S-8800’s features can be controlled using the remote control, including power, display (changing between frequency or time), memory (store or recall frequencies), tuning, VF/VM modes, scanning, mode (AM, FM (mono or stereo) USB or LSB, bands (AM, FM or shortwave, 9/10kHz setting for MW, AM bandwidth, and a keypad to allow direct entry of frequencies.

Fortunately, or perhaps part of the good overall design, the remote control operates from regular AAA batteries. Some of the receivers I have tested use special button batteries that are expensive to replace.

AM features

Ever since the demise of the Tecsun BCL-3000, and prior to that the Tecsun BCL-2000, there has been a need for a receiver capable of providing good fringe reception of AM broadcast band signals.

Other desirable features that go hand in hand with good AM sensitivity are frequency stability and those features which affect the tonal quality of sound. The Tecsun S-8800 fills this requirement by having separate volume, bass, treble and bandwidth controls. It also has the advantage of a 120mm speaker rated at two watts output, which provides superior sound, even when compared to the Tecsun PL-880 portable which has been used by many as a benchmark.

The Tecsun S-8800 has provision for the connection of an external AM antenna via the commonly encountered push button “speaker connectors”. This is a high impedance connection, so you can connect your longwire antenna directly.

However, most listeners will appreciate that an external antenna, which includes a matching balun and fed with shielded coaxial cable helps eliminate the effect of interference caused by many household items. The low impedance external BNC antenna connections can also be used for shortwave reception. One great feature that has been included is AM bandwidth selection. The only other model Tecsun receiver with this feature is the Tecsun PL-310ET, and it makes a world of difference. When an AM signal is noisy, being able to adjust the bandwidth from 6kHz down to 3 or even 2.3kHz means the difference between annoying noise and an intelligible signal, even if it does mean some loss in fidelity. This is of no consequence when most of the programming is “talkback”.

Although the frequency range is stated as 520-1620kHz (when the receiver is set to 9kHz spacing), it can be extended by setting the receiver to 10kHz spacing and then it will be possible to tune 520-1710kHz. By using slow tuning steps (1kHz), and station can be tuned.

FM features

Like previous Tecsun models the S-8800 allows the user to select between 64-108MHz, 76-108MHz and 88-108MHz frequency coverage.

There is also provision for connection to an external FM antenna, and many users already know the trick of connection to their household TV antenna to improve reception. Forcing the receiver into the FM mono mode will also improve weak signals.

Shortwave (SW) Features

SSB (single sideband) is used by what shortwave listeners call “utility” services. This can include amateur radio operators, aircraft, marine weather, 4WD clubs, The Flying Doctor (in Australia), as well as being used by mining camps, police etc for regular outback communications.

The Tecsun S-8800 allows independent selection of USB or LSB, and facilitates either 1kHz or 10Hz tuning steps in this mode.

The receiver covers 100-519kHz (LW), 520-1710kHz (AM using 10kHz channel spacing), 1711-29999kHz (SW).

Other features

There are a myriad of other features offered by the Tecsun S-8800 including those found in most models such as clock, timer, snooze and alarms. In total 650 stations can be stored in memory across all bands (there are limits for each band) and recalled in real time or at some time in the future. There are also the usual store, recall and delete memory functions as well as auto sort (handy for removing duplicate frequencies.

The receiver offers frequency “browsing”, similar to the ETM function found on smaller portables like the Tecsun PL-310ET and Tecsun PL-365, as well as semi-automatic storage (the receiver stops when it finds a signal and you have 4 seconds to store it), and ATS (Auto Tuning Storage) where the receiver stores every signal it discovers. It is these operations where the use of the remote control makes the process much easier.

To prevent signal overload, the receiver has “DX/Local” switch.

Like all computer driven receivers, things do sometimes get confused between operator and machine. To remedy this, there is a reset switch hidden under the main tuning knob. Pulling the knob off the shaft reveals this. A small pointed device is required, most uses find a paper clip is suitable.

Initial testing:

Testing so far has centred around fringe AM reception. My test site is 200Km from Sydney and I have found 2UE (954kHz) to be the weakest Sydney station. They transmit 5kW using an omnidirectional antenna.

For the test I decided to compare the Tecsun PL-660, Tecsun PL-880, Tecsun S2000 and Tecsun S-8800. Each receiver was placed in the same position on a test bench, located in an open area, and operating from batteries.

Using the 954kHz reference frequency, I compared all receivers. The Tecsun S-8800 performed better than all the others. I was very surprised that it performed better than the Tecsun S2000 which has a much larger ferrite rod antenna.

Tecsun PL-660 results: signal barely discernible

Tecsun PL-880 results: noisy but intelligible (using reduced bandwidth).

Tecsun S2000 results: signal discernible

Tecsun S-8800 results: entertainment quality signal (using reduced bandwidth)

Further testing on all bands will be performed in coming weeks and the results added to this review.

The Tecsun S-8800 is due to arrive at the Tecsun Radios Australia Sydney warehouse in mid-March (date TBC) with an initial batch of 20. It is available to pre-order now on the Tecsun website – eleven have sold already, so get in quick for the best chance of securing yours!

PL365

The Tecsun PL365 was recently reviewed by Radio Jay on his blog.

Here are just a few of the things he had to say about the PL365

“The ETM has its own, temporary 100 station memory which is perfect for travelling to new areas where you can quickly populate that memory bank with receivable signals in that location leaving all your other 450 presets untouched…very convenient.”

“Tecsun has done an incredible job of making SSB tuning as precise and easy as can be”

“Its overall performance is excellent for the size and price”

“Its layout and design were carefully considered and well executed”

“The general shape and layout of the radio make one-handed tuning as easy as possible”

We’ve had a bit of a play around with the Tecsun PL365 today too!

PL365PL365

Thanks to Radio Jay for this review very detailed review. Read the full review here.

Garry VK2YBX has prepared some great tips and tricks for using the Tecsun PL365. You can read them here.

Treat yourself to a great new radio today. Buy the PL365 now.

pl880

Radio reviewer Gary Ryan VK2ZKT has put together this great list of top tips for using the Tecsun AN100 Loop Antenna to help get the best AM reception with your radio.

AN100 Loop Antenna being tuned with the PL880 Radio

AN100 Loop Antenna being tuned with the PL880 Radio

Tecsun AN100 Loop Antenna Top Tips by Gary Ryan:

  • Place the radio and loop outside the house if possible on your veranda or outdoor entertaining area.
  • If used inside always switch off all light dimmers.
  • Switch off energy saving lamps; these produce all kinds of noise.
  • Keep the loop as far as possible away from home entertainment systems like DVD players, LCD and Plasma TVs, set top boxes and the like, as the majority all use switch mode power supplies.
  • Start by keeping the loop as close as possible to the radio, within 30mm. The distance will vary, depending upon the size of the ferrite rod antenna inside your receiver, so determine the optimum distance by observing the signal strength.
  • Keep mobile phones away from the loop.
  • Place the radio for optimum signal by rotating it on a flat surface. Best reception should be obtained when the radio is facing 90 degrees from the direction of the transmitter.
  • First tune the receiver to the  frequency of interest, then tune the loop for best reception.
  • Try different locations in your home; remember you may have insulation that is backed with foil in your walls and or ceiling. This greatly attenuates the signals on the AM broadcast band.
  • Always rotate both the radio and loop to gain the best-received signal strength along with the best noise reduction.
  • Keep iPods and other MP3 players away from your radio and loop, the RF hash they generate even when switched off is huge.
AN100 Loop Antenna being tuned with the PL880 Radio

AN100 Loop Antenna being tuned with the PL880 Radio

Thanks to Gary Ryan VK2ZKT for this excellent list of top tips. Gary has also written a review of the AN100 Loop Antenna. Read his review here: AN100 Loop Antenna Review

Radio Reviewer Gary Ryan VK2ZKT wrote a AN100 Loop Antenna review

Here are just a few of the things he had to say in his AN100 Loop Antenna review

“Being a keen AM Broadcast Band listener the opportunity to purchase a loop antenna for AM reception cannot be overlooked.”

“The AN100 Loop Antenna … looks like a piece of artwork … the finish is first grade.”

“By far the best performance was with the loop”

“The AN100 Loop Antenna is a pleasure to use”

“Excellent value and makes a big difference to your listening pleasure to AM radio.”

Read the full AN100 Loop Antenna Review by Gary Ryan VK2ZKT

Being a keen AM Broadcast Band listener the opportunity to purchase the Tecsun AN100 loop antenna for AM reception cannot be overlooked.

I recently purchased the Tecsun AN100 Loop Antenna from Sydney-based Tecsun Radios Australia. The Tecsun loop, unlike other loop antennas on the market, actually works so well and also looks like a piece of artwork. This is important if you want to use the loop in your lounge room or kitchen table. The finish is first grade. The antenna is self-supporting and only has one control, a simple calibrated tuning knob to cover the broadcast band.

What’s in the box?

You get the AN100 loop antenna, interconnecting cable for receivers with external antenna connection and a single sheet of comprehensive yet simple to understand instructions. The instructions are actually quite good and describe the operation of the loop, suggested mounting arrangements and some basic information on AM reception. It should be noted that the loop antenna is designed for the AM Broadcast band only.

AN100 Loop Antenna Review

AN100 Loop Antenna being tuned with the PL880 Radio

Performance and use

The performance was checked during the day and night. First I checked the frequency coverage of the loop. To do this I used my RF Dip Meter and Frequency counter. Frequency coverage was measured at 515 KHz to 1.85 Mhz. Tuning was smooth and quite stable once a frequency was tuned.

I set the loop up to sit at a right angle to my radio and checked out the performance during daylight hours on a number of local stations. The loop made a considerable difference and improved the signal to noise ratio of the received signal. Tuning across the band in between the stations and peaking the “loop tuning control” peaked the reception across the band.

Next night time performance was checked. The performance at night was excellent with the ability to both peak and null out stations allowing the best possible reception available. By far the best performance was with the AN100 loop antenna as shown in the photo below.

AN100 Loop Antenna Review

Best AN100 Loop Antenna configuration with the PL880 radio

Conclusion

I found the AN100 Loop Antenna a pleasure to use. It does not look out of place in the lounge room and I am sure it will be a talking point amongst your friends when they come over. The price is excellent value and makes a big difference to your listening pleasure to AM radio both day and night.

It is also nice to see a local family business importing products like these for the enjoyment of everyone and to enhance their AM reception experience. Plus you get to talk to and have access to local knowledge and support as well. The loop antenna is available from Tecsun Radios Australia.

Thanks to Gary Ryan VK2ZKT for the excellent AN100 Loop Antenna Review. Read Gary’s AN100 Loop Antenna Top Tips here!

AN100 Loop Antenna Review

Michael and Garry DXing with the AN100 Loop Antenna

AN100 Loop Antenna Review

Michael and Garry DXing with the AN100 Loop Antenna

tecsun pl880 radio firmware 2

Checking your Tecsun PL880 Radio Firmware

1/ The radio should be turned off. Press and hold ‘AM BW’. The display panel will turn on and display all functions.

tecsun pl880 radio firmware

2/ Press and hold ‘AM BW’ again. Your Tecsun PL880 Radio firmware will display as a 4-digit number.

tecsun pl880 radio firmware 2

The latest firmware version is 8820. All of our Tecsun PL880 Radios come installed with the latest firmware.

This hidden feature is one of many that can be read about here in the Tecsun PL880 Hidden Features post.

amateur radio clubs

CQ VK Amateur radio clubs!

With over 15,000 members of the Australian amateur radio clubs and societies, we believe that it’s important to support these amateur radio clubs and societies which bring welcome and together hobbyists, amateurs and licensed amateurs. Best of all, these amateur radio clubs introduce the interest to new members of the community creating great friendships and sharing knowledge.

amateur radio clubs

We regularly offer group-buy discounts and inform clubs and their members first of any upcoming sales before the general public.

If you or your club would like to find out more about how Tecsun Radios Australia can support your amateur radio club and its members, please contact us using the form below. Our friendly team will get in contact with you shortly after.