Due to unstable reception on FM for both my Sangean DT-180 and Sangean DT-400 portable radios, I had been thinking of getting an upgrade. And then I read Jay Allen’s excellent review of the Sangean DT-160. Here is a portable radio for under $40 with DSP-enhancing FM reception. I was not disappointed. The radio is a keeper overall with a couple of annoyances.
The radio takes two AA batteries. So far so good. The battery compartment is easy to open and close.
Now the annoyance: The toggle tuning wheel on the radio’s right side. You hold it to set the time. You wait for the hour number to flash, then set with preset 1. You do the same for the minute. You have to click downwards to scroll through the numbers. The toggle feel is awkward.
You use the same toggle for tuning, and here I really dislike the tune/set jog wheel because it’s impossible to scroll through the stations without prompting the set button to flash. It’s like my wife doesn’t like me brushing my teeth in the shower. Don’t mix the tuning with the time set. They belong in separate chambers, so to speak.
Once you get your presets (5 for 2 FM bands and another 5 for one AM band), you’re done with this tuning nonsense. Make sure you change batteries when they’re low on the indicator light so you don’t have to use this annoying jog wheel.
The volume is not a wheel. It’s buttons.
Now the good news: FM Reception
While my aforementioned DT-180 and DT-400 are unstable on FM and while they bleed adjoining stations so you will too often get two FM stations on one signal, the DT-160’s DSP really improves FM in terms of stability, selectivity, and overall reception. This is evident here where I live in Torrance where KPCC 89.3 from Pasadena can be problematic. Not so with the DT-160. KPCC comes in loud and clear.
While I heard AM could be a problem due to a small ferrite, I had no problems with AM. It seems as strong on my DT-180 as my other portable radios.
Another annoyance are the earbuds. They’re like giant coin-sized buds, slightly smaller in circumference than a nickel, and are way too big for my small ear canals.
I threw them away and chose properly-fitting buds.
All in all, my DT-160 improves FM and allows me to listen to the FM stations I enjoy, so it’s a keeper.
Released in 1973 and rare enough to fetch $202 on eBay, the Panasonic RF-888 arrived in mint condition today and is a spectacular radio worthy of sending shivers up the spine of any radio lover. The sound is big, bigger than my Sony ICF-5900. AM and FM reception on the two radios is equal, which is to say outstanding. I prefer the louder, in-your-face sound of the 888.
Also my 888, unlike my 5900, has an accurate tuning dial. While I love the look of both radios, I prefer the big speaker on the 888. It reminds of of a mag wheel that would go on a sports car.
If you don't need SW and want a strong performer, you will definitely enjoy the powerful Panasonic RF-888.