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August 29, 2009

Comments

Gary

In which orientation of the Horizon Solo is the ferrite bar horizontal? This is the orientation that should give the best mediumwave AM reception.

Take any portable and turn the radio so that the ferrite bar orientation changes from horizontal to vertical, and you'll notice that the signal strength is greatly reduced.

Jeffrey McMahon

I thought of that, but the AM is lousy either way. Great FM, great speaker, but forget AM horizontal or vertical.

Gary

The ferrite bar must change orientation with the display bezel. If so, the bar must be pretty short, which would partially explain the poor AM reception.

Jeffrey McMahon

It's probably 3 to 3.5 inches. I only put up with 8 now.

Mike W

One of the reasons I chose a Solo over the Sangean WR-2 was that the Solo has a real MW antenna input that detaches the internal antenna.

I have (briefly) tried a CCrane twin coil ferrite antenna hard-wired to the Solo. While it did improve some stations, it made for an awkward set up and had only temporary novelty value for me. The TCF went back on my Satellit 800, where it belongs.

I stick mostly to FM with the Solo now, and for that purpose it really is outstanding.

The five radios you've selected are all sensible choices, Jeff.

Jeffrey McMahon

Hopefully the PR-D9 will compel me to revise the list.

Mike W

You know, I was going to make a smart-alecky remark about the "Best of 2009' list being incomplete before the PR-D9 came out, but let it slide.

I have nothing against the other radios in the PR-D? series, but from a simple statistical point of view, the nine is unlikely to beat the five on MW. If it does (or even if it matches the five on MW but looks a little more sensible), I suppose we'll both end up buying one.

Jeffrey McMahon

If my blog accomplishes anything, I hope it makes 200mm the standard for AM antennas. Let all radios at least match the PR-D5 in AM performance. That should be a minimum standard. I'm naive.

Dennis

A previous review of the Sangean (Almost a Year with the Sangean PR-D5: A Report Card) says:

"The PR-D5 has the biggest ferrite AM antenna you can get at 200 mm. It has no AM filter however so if you get AM overload, the PR-D5 isn't for you. For me, though, AM overload is no problem. The PR-D5 gets me my best AM".

The sentence "It has no AM filter however so if you get AM overload, the PR-D5 isn't for you" makes no sense whatsoever. Get AM overload on what; other radios? "No AM filter". Does that mean it has only one bandwidth? I'm considering getting one but I have three low power (1 KW or less) AM's a little over a mile away so overload is a major issue. Most of my radios do fairly well near those frequencies. I picked up a Grundig G8 recently and am very pleased with it.

"Helpful tip: Turn FM from stereo to mono mode and you'll avoid static". A weak signal and static are not the same thing. "Static" on AM can be caused by lightning or emmissions from equipment such as computers, dimmer switches and those "touch on" lamps. You don't get "static" on FM.

I do not mean to be disrespectful but the person who wrote this does not know how to explain the features and shortcomings of this radio.

Scooby214

As far as the orientation of the ferrite rod in the Solo, the Recepter has its ferrite rod running from front to back. It is almost as long as the radio is deep. If the Solo also has its ferrite rod running from front to back, it will always be horizontal, no matter if the radio is in its vertical or horizontal position.

Jeffrey McMahon

Dennis, if "overload" and "static" aren't the correct terms, please give us some viable options.

Dennis

I know what overload is. How close does this person live to the transmitter site?

The unpleasant sound on FM is almost always caused by a weak signal, and switching to mono may help.

FM is transmitted line of sight. If you're driving some distance away from the transmitter site any obstructions (tall buildings, mountains, etc.) can cause the signal to get weaker. When you get back out in the clear the signal usually comes back.

FM was invented specifically to fix the problem of static on AM signals caused mainly by lightning. As we all know another benefit is that the audio quality is far superior.

Have a look at "FM radio" at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Howard_Armstrong

Part of it says "FM radio broadcasts delivered a much clearer sound, free of static, than the AM radio dominant at the time".

If you're near a thunderstorm with lightning each time there's a bolt of lightning you'll hear a crash sort of sound on AM, especially on unused frequencies. The duration of that sound is the same duration as the lightning bolt. FM is completely unaffected by lightning.

Jeffrey McMahon

Dennis, weak FM stations sound really bad. Most people use the term "static," whether it's correct term or not. There's understanding about what it means. What term would you like us to use?

Jeffrey McMahon

Scooby, I had a Recepter for 2 years before selling it and my impression was that its fit and finish and overall build quality were better than the Solo's. The Recepter doesn't have a headphone jack though and that killed it for me.

Scooby214

Dennis, I agree that the AM we hear from most stations nowadays is low fidelity, as they usually are broadcasting at a rather narrow bandwidth. Add to that the dreaded IBOC hiss found on some stations that are broadcasting a digital AM signal, and many AM stations can sound quite poor. AM can be made to sound quite good, with almost the fidelity of FM. I have a couple of AM transmitters that actually sound quite good (when using a quality AM receiver). My SSTran transmitter, a kit that I assembled, puts out a good sound. I use it to rebroadcast an FM station to my vintage sets. With my Blaupunkt Granada, it nearly sounds like FM. My homebrew tube transmitter has even better sound quality, though it has a shorter range than the SSTran.

In order for me to take advantage of the fidelity of the AM transmitters, I have to use one of my better tube radios or a modern radio with selectable bandwidths. Radios such as the Recepter and the WR-2 may have good AM reception, but they don't sound nearly as good on AM as a vintage set.

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