You know how when people disagree in review threads about whether or not The Object is any good, they so often end up getting vicious and personal about it? I was going to do a review like that with Past Bill and Future Bill ending up going to war over whether the Tecsun PL-660 was any good or not. I’ll spare you and say the replacement unit I got is far better than the original, although still flawed.
The new PL-660 seems to be hot on SW and acceptable on MW. MW stations that are usable signals but less than perfect on my other radios come in acceptably on the new PL-660. It picks up the weak and unusable ones well enough to make out what they are. This is not top quality DXing performance but it’s good enough.
The strong false signal on 980 KHz is still there on this one, but I guess I can do without one frequency. The false signal does not repeat itself up the shortwave spectrum as one fellow on You Tube reported.
There are still some annoyances. The radio definitely wants to be tuned one KHz high on MW (tuning to 1231 KHz sounds a lot better than tuning to 1230 for example). I did not notice this on SW. The radio has the feature, common to so many Chinese shortwave portables, that when you rest it on its back the telescoping antenna cannot be made to point straight up. This makes it more likely you’ll walk into the antenna and break it, or knock the radio off the table. They do include a plug in wire antenna; it might be good to use that, in this situation.
The ergonomics and convenience features of the radio are nice, and I consider its sound to be better than my Sony ICF-7600gr. The sync seems to work better too.
I don’t have any particular interest in the air band, but it’s cool that it’s there.
One feature of the radio I haven’t seen mentioned is that there is a little wire bracket at the lower rear edge that pulls out, to make the radio stand more securely on its narrow lower side. That does allow you to extend the telescoping antenna directly upward, of course, at the price of balancing the radio on its narrow edge instead of the broad, stable back, but for something like a windowsill, where you’re not likely to bump into it from behind, that is useful.
It has two alarms, many memories, a light you can turn on and keep on if you want, and the Automatic Tune System that scans the bands and puts signals into memory.
As for that automatic tuning system, I don’t find it quite as spiffy as that on the PL-390. The PL-660 seems to go by signal strength, so it picks up strong noise and remembers that, while failing to notice anything that isn’t particularly strong. Perhaps because the PL-390 is based on one of those digital signal processing radio chips, it seems to be able to tell what is strong noise, rejecting that, while recognizing weak signals and accepting them. Still, the automatic scan is very nice and will give you a few hours’ strong signals to listen to, no problem. I like it.
The replacement PL-660 is a worthy radio. I’m going to keep it despite its imperfections. After all, compared to the old analog radios I started with, where you were lucky to be able to tell where you were within 40 or 50 KHz, being 1 KHz off is no big deal.
Just don’t talk about my mother running out from under the porch to bite you because my particular example of this radio is not as good, or not as bad, as the one you got. Sample variation would seem to be a problem with this model, based on my experience. Getting a lemon doesn’t mean you’re a bad person!