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July 23, 2010

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Kevin S

I've got one on order from the eBay seller "anon-co" who has been very good to work with in the past. There are pictures of the internals on the Yahoo Ultralight group: the ferrite is much longer (4-5/8") than that of the PL-380 family, so I am optimistic that it will be sensitive, to go along with the 5 DSP selectivity choices. This appears to be the first radio with this type of DSP chip that has a bigger ferrite and which takes advantage of all the filtering options: the CR1100 (4.25" ferrite) only has one filtering choice. I am also curious to hear how it works as an mp3 ampifier, especially through audiophile-grade headphones.

With the twin speakers and big Light/Snooze button, it appears to be marketed as a very capable clock-radio rather than a hobbyist/DX radio?

Kevin S

I spoke too soon - in record time, my black Tecsun PL-390 arrived from Joyce at Ebayer "Anon-co" today. Quickly unwrapping it and running it through its initial paces, I am quite pleased indeed!

On AM, as indicated by the pictures of the longer ferrite (posted on the Yahoo Ultralight group), it is quite a bit more sensitive than the PL-310. Stations that are intelligible on the 390 are but mumbles on the 310. All 5 DSP bandwidths are there for selectivity. A quick series of checks show that the sensitivity is essentially that of my trusty Sony 7600GR! It's short of the sensitivity of my treasured Sony Sony S5W, but not by as much as I thought it would be. And yes, the PL-390 has just the touch of audio soft-mute like the PL-380, not the 12-15 dB of the PL-310.

On FM, the whip antenna is 35" long, compared to the 22" whip on the 310. As a result, low-band FM is noticeably better. Even in the upper band, where I had to shorten the 390's whip to resonate near the proper frequency, the 390 still has a readability edge. With the DSP FM section, it is probably the best FM portable on the marker right now!

On Shortwave, it's very sensitive, easily better than the PL-310, PL-380 and Sony 7600GR on the few stations I checked.

On Longwave, it's not up to the 7600GR on sensitivity, but substantially better than the PL-310. Plus, it doesn't have the horrible soup of images from local MW stations to contend with, as does the 7600GR.

Ergonomically, the two stereo speakers sound much better, as would be expected. The buttons have a much smoother action to them (on my 310 and 380, I have to work at it more to get the buttons to work). Plugging my mp3 player into the AUX IN jack, the audio is quite good: not up to my specialized PA2V2 headphone amp, but still allows Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto #2 to be at good volume levels on my power-hungry Grado headpones. The PL-390 has a big orange button for "Light/Snooze", meaning it is much more usable as a clock/radio. The manual is in English.

In sum, this appears to be a very well-rounded radio in all aspects. I would definitely recommend it!

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