Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

FM receiver discussion
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John Faulkner, Skegness
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Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by John Faulkner, Skegness » 10 Sep 2016 13:35

I was driving over the Wolds near Candlesby Hill earlier in the weeek. There was a bit of tropo around and I did my usual thing of tuning the car radio to 90.4 to see how well Egem was coming in. To my surprise I heard pop music coming out of the speakers. It was BBC 3 Counties Radio from Epping Green. The signal was solid and there was no trace of Egem. I pulled over into a layby I sometimes use for MW DXing in the winter. The radio suddenly changed station. I presumed there was some overload as I wasn't far away from the radio mast which carries the local DAB multiplex, among other things. A few seconds later and it was back to 3 Counties. Then back again, etc. The second station was in fact Klara from Egem, but the rate at which these two were swapping over was so instantaneous, it was as if somebody was throwing a switch!

OK, that's a long-winded JF kind of way of describing the stunning capture ratio on the Citroen car radio. This isn't a new story and I've had the pleasure of using this radio for almost two years. I have written previously about how sensitive and selective it is and how superbly it handles strong signals. Remember my comparisons between this and the XDR when parked a few miles within sight of the Belmont transmitter? This car radio either equals or outperforms my Sony XDR-F1HD. It's nothing short of excellent!

There is one downside, however. It only has manual tuning. This is achieved via the touch sensitive screen which controls the radio. The touch sensitive screen also controls many other features of the car, depending on which menu is selected. You have to go three levels into sub menus to get to the frequency keypad. You have to enter the frequency to two decimal places, so 107.0 has to be entered as 107.00. It is only possible to select the last half a dozen keyed frequencies, but it forgets these in no time. It's annoying. It's a highly computerised car. I hate modern cars for all their unnecessary computerised nonsense. Bring back the Ford Cortina!

After all this time, you'd think I would have made some inroads into finding out who makes this car radio. Well, I think it's VDO who have their badge on it, but I'm not 100% certain. Frankly, I haven't bothered contacting Citroen as I feel sure I won't find the right person or the information I am trying to obtain is not publicly available. I've been down this route before. If we could only find out what chipset is used in this car radio and have somebody re-exploit it for DX purposes, maybe we could go some way to finding readily available and inexpensive car radios which will be suitable for DX purposes. Maybe somebody knows a way of finding out this information, because this car radio is nothing short of exceptional as a DX machine. Give it manual tuning and you have the ultimate band 2 DX receiver that's not an SDR.

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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by Alex Cator » 11 Sep 2016 11:37

The radios in my parents' Fords are also very good, well, the one in the Focus is the better out of the two and it must be nearly as good as your Citroen radio, if not the same.

I've been impressed by the capture radio in my Dad's Focus, i.e. the way it switched between Egem and Tac on 101.5 once really quickly in Lowestoft when there was a fair tropo. What was slightly annoying was that it tuned to MNM for a second when I first tuned it into 101.5, and then Classic FM came booming in with RDS, which happened every time I tuned it to 101.5. The same happens when I use my iTrip on 102.4 (freq of Heart SHC) when I'm in Norwich.
Home: Sony ST-SB920 (modified), Sony XDR-S10HDiP, Onkyo T-4970, Ford 5000 RDS, horizontal Triax FM3
Mobile: Ford Fiesta (Style, 2013) and Ford Focus (2012) car radios
Portable: Tecsun PL-390, Grundig G5 (2 x 110kHz), Etón G8

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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by KPC850 » 07 Nov 2016 20:42

few seconds later and it was back to 3 Counties. Then back again, etc. The second station was in fact Klara from Egem, but the rate at which these two were swapping over was so instantaneous, it was as if somebody was throwing a switch
Does your car use a rear window antenna ?

In that case often there are two separate window antenna for FM . The car selects which one has the best signal. The rapid change of co-channel station in a stationary car could be due to the car radio switching between one antenna and the other not being able to make up its mind what to use. (with one antenna capturing one station and the other, the other station from another direction so actually is the throwing of a switch.

Terrible hearing its manual tuning is so user unfriendly, in sharp contrast to that in many Volkswagen etc cars

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John Faulkner, Skegness
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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by John Faulkner, Skegness » 07 Nov 2016 22:05

No, just a standard helically wound whip antenna.

I didn't know some cars had two antennas like that. Interesting.

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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by KPC850 » 29 Nov 2016 15:04

I didn't know some cars had two antennas like that. Interesting.
A link in another thread (VW reception problem) in this section illustrates this:

http://www.my-gti.com/1389/aerial-infor ... wagen-golf

the diagrams show 2 lines going from top to bottom on the rear window, which are two separate FM aerials
You have to enter the frequency to two decimal places, so 107.0 has to be entered as 107.00
That's really bad design indeed considering FM frequencies are allocated in 0.1 steps in Europe anyway (bar a couple of exceptions in Italy) . I have an old YB400 which allows direct frequency entry but you only have to go to 2 decimal places if actually entering a non standard 0.05MHz offset FM frequency. And if the frequency ends in .0, you just have to enter the decimal point and thats enough ( for example you can enter 107. for 107.0)

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John Faulkner, Skegness
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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by John Faulkner, Skegness » 29 Nov 2016 18:05

If only things were that simple in our car.

I wonder if Citroen have deliberately designed the tuning to be different so people don't use it while driving. The presets are slightly more straight forward, but still buried in the display.

I *will* do a video of all this, one day. ;)

Thanks for the info.

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mediterraneandxer
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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by mediterraneandxer » 13 Sep 2017 20:29

I remember in the old days American car radios were tops for A. M. (MW) DXing
ICOM R75, R8500 | Lowe HF~225
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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by Nick Gilly » 13 Sep 2017 20:57

The way the capture ratio is described on that car radio is the same on the RBRX Encore receiver. It has a tendency to flip back and forth between two contesting signals which can be a bit disconcerting if there is noise/QRM on the channel. It's certainly sharper than the XDR. Maybe it has the same chipset?
Good DX.

Nick, Whitchurch, Hampshire.

BW Broadcast RBRX Encore, Kenwood L-1000T, Yamaha T-2, Denon TU-800L, Kenwood KT-1100SD (modified), Yamaha T-85, Sony XDR-F1HD tuners, horizontal Körner 9.2 beam (Antennenland version), Yaesu G-450C rotator

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John Faulkner, Skegness
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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by John Faulkner, Skegness » 13 Sep 2017 21:10

Unfortunately I won't be doing a more detailed video review of that car radio as I don't have the car anymore.

The radio in the old Focus I have now does not come into the running order.

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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by zach_m » 13 Sep 2017 22:25

I've read somewhere, I don't remember exactly where it was, that the same Sony XDR chipsets were used in a car radios. Perhaps they are still in manufacture?

Although I successfully improved sensitivity of my Sony SA3ES by adding a distribution amp and boosting the stignal, after splitting etc. however, I am very close to jump onto an SDR bandagon.

Looking forward to good tropo conditions, so I can test the Sony.

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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by Julius63 » 03 Feb 2018 15:58

This is very interesting discussion. My Opel car has a very good and sensitive FM radio as well. And above all: it is selective! Selectivity is very important for me. I live in the border region Holland/Germany, so my FM-band is crowded (to make an understatement). For instance I live in the target area of 3 WDR transmittersites, each broadcasting 5 programmes.
My Grundig satellit 650 at home is very good and directional. For instance on 87,6 : the antennadirection decides whether I hear Brabant, Joy radio or kerkradio. My carradio has a non-directional mix of all 3, depending conditions. But the Grundig has problems with all the strong stations. For instance there is a German station on 99,7 locally, my carradio is still able to pick up signals on 99,6 and 99,8. The Grundig has splatters all the way on 99,6 and 99,8.
I could built-in a filter but I am not technically. Im quite interested to investigate which carradio it is and try to obtain it for home-use.
talking on this subject: Which FM-receivers do you rate as selective (and ofcourse sensitive) or do you have to built in filters anyway?
Receivers:
General: Grundig satellit 650, Lowe HF-225, Tecsun PL660
FM; Degen De1103
DAB: Akai ADB10(2x), Nikkei ADB10, Technisat.
All with telescope antenna. I use a home-built(not by myself, :D ) Loopantenna on the satellit for mediumwave

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zach_m
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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by zach_m » 03 Feb 2018 21:01

Hi Julius,

If we're talking about conventional FM tuners, I believe nothing has changed in the last few years? Sony XDR series is probably still on top regarding selectivity. I can't speak about portables though. If you need maximum selectivity I would strongly advise a car stereo or an SDR, unless you can afford tuners from the famous XDR series.

Another option is BW re-broadcast receiver, just like Nick pointed above. The later use the same NXP tuners (chip) as in XDR series. Yet again, this is a more expensive option.

The cheapest option, however, is still a car stereo. Head units from VW group (VW, Skoda, Seat), Toyota, BMW or Nissan have used NXP chips in their stereo. I understand these are rather bulky to use indoors. Below is the NXP group slide from 2013. You can see from the screen which companies using their chips.

https://s14.postimg.org/pm8lmnfwh/2018_ ... enshot.png

I am 100% sure that car stereo from VW group (model RCD-310) have NXP tuner. Have a look on the bandscan performed by this unit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKcg8H4G4g4

Another decent car stereo, which is in my opinion very close if not the same to famous XDR is JVC Kenwood. In 2013 JVC Kenwood purchased NXP’s SAF3561 DAB processor, which has been widely used in KDC-BT73DAB stereo.

If you check details for this head unit you'll notice that FM Usable Sensitivity is rated at 0.63μV/75ohm (S/N 30dBf). That's excellent, well exceeding conventional FM tuner. The only car stereo with a better sensitivity that came to mind is Matsushita Panasonic.

The same chip (SAF3561) was also used in another Kenwood multimedia stereo such DNX7250DAB. Selectivity in this unit is over 80dB (±400kHz). The famous Sony XDR-F1HD has 82dB selectivity rating.

To demonstrate how selective this car stereo is, please check this video on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3q0l0V5vEwc (German bandscan)

I would say this stereo would rival Sony XDR easily. I even considered buying one for myself, but I already have Pioneer DEH-4700MP car stereo, which is great. Ahh, and BTW, Kenwood is more sensitive and selective than my Pioneer.

I've done some test with Pioneer recently. Here are my videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jfNn6WN-F0&t
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQ1uXwU0SCc

And finally, the unrivalled selectivity winner is an SDR I am afraid. I think this is the future of FM DX. You won't get the same fidelity, but you are getting a lot more from SDR then any other tuner.

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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by pe1etr » 03 Feb 2018 21:29

Don't forget the very cheap small radios/mp3 players that I have been testing.

https://youtu.be/yb7aiqKCZqA

Peter
Las Palmas GC

Nick Gilly
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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by Nick Gilly » 03 Feb 2018 22:36

zach_m wrote:
03 Feb 2018 21:01
Another option is BW re-broadcast receiver, just like Nick pointed above. The later use the same NXP tuners (chip) as in XDR series. Yet again, this is a more expensive option.
Hi Zach.

The older RBRX1/RX1 receivers used the same NXP chipsets as the Sony XDR-F1HD but the RBRX Encore uses a different one as the previous ones were unavailable. I don't know the specifics though.

When I said "Maybe it has the same chipset" I was referring to John's car radio.
Good DX.

Nick, Whitchurch, Hampshire.

BW Broadcast RBRX Encore, Kenwood L-1000T, Yamaha T-2, Denon TU-800L, Kenwood KT-1100SD (modified), Yamaha T-85, Sony XDR-F1HD tuners, horizontal Körner 9.2 beam (Antennenland version), Yaesu G-450C rotator

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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by zach_m » 03 Feb 2018 22:45

Hi Nick,

I am fairly sure that RBRX Encore uses NXP chipset. It might be a newer one, but it certainly NXP.
NXP dynamic digital filtering, Sony's patented noise reduction technology and BW Broadcast's audio processing deliver analog FM stereo separation. BW Broadcast has added second tuner compatibility to the unit, offering full diversity reception from its two antenna inputs. The company also added options for AM allowing the RBRX Encore to be used as an AM to FM gap-filler/translator solution. There are also options available for HD, DAB and DAB+ reception.
Source: http://www.radiomagonline.com/misc/0082 ... core/27662
Source 2 http://www.radioworld.com/headlines/004 ... ore/332885

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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by Nick Gilly » 04 Feb 2018 12:08

It may be an NXP chipset Zach but it is not the same as the one in the XDR. I was told this by an engineer I spoke to at BW Broadcast not long before I bought the RBRX Encore. He said that they couldn't use the XDR NXP chipsets for the Encore as they weren't available any more. The capture ratio is superior to the XDR anyway, which is what made me wonder if it was related to the chipset in John's Citroen.
Good DX.

Nick, Whitchurch, Hampshire.

BW Broadcast RBRX Encore, Kenwood L-1000T, Yamaha T-2, Denon TU-800L, Kenwood KT-1100SD (modified), Yamaha T-85, Sony XDR-F1HD tuners, horizontal Körner 9.2 beam (Antennenland version), Yaesu G-450C rotator

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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by Julius63 » 04 Feb 2018 22:04

Thanks very much all, lots of study to do for me. Thank you,
Receivers:
General: Grundig satellit 650, Lowe HF-225, Tecsun PL660
FM; Degen De1103
DAB: Akai ADB10(2x), Nikkei ADB10, Technisat.
All with telescope antenna. I use a home-built(not by myself, :D ) Loopantenna on the satellit for mediumwave

Julius63
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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by Julius63 » 04 Feb 2018 22:26

Thanks peter, I just found the Sandan on Ebay for 15 euros incl P&P! so, that never can be a miss.

pe1etr wrote:
03 Feb 2018 21:29
Don't forget the very cheap small radios/mp3 players that I have been testing.

https://youtu.be/yb7aiqKCZqA

Peter
Las Palmas GC
Receivers:
General: Grundig satellit 650, Lowe HF-225, Tecsun PL660
FM; Degen De1103
DAB: Akai ADB10(2x), Nikkei ADB10, Technisat.
All with telescope antenna. I use a home-built(not by myself, :D ) Loopantenna on the satellit for mediumwave

pe1etr
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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by pe1etr » 04 Feb 2018 22:36

Julius63 wrote:
04 Feb 2018 22:26
Thanks peter, I just found the Sandan on Ebay for 15 euros incl P&P! so, that never can be a miss.

pe1etr wrote:
03 Feb 2018 21:29
Don't forget the very cheap small radios/mp3 players that I have been testing.

https://youtu.be/yb7aiqKCZqA

Peter
Las Palmas GC
You're welcome Julius. I presume you mean Sanda? Mine cost €10.50 from a shop here in Las Palmas.

Peter

Julius63
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Re: Could this be the next "Must Have" FM DX receiver?

Post by Julius63 » 06 Feb 2018 20:49

Very interesting zach, the kenwood carradio is widely avalaible in Holland for 199 euros. But I am now looking into SDR, which seems quite simple if you look at all the instruction videos on YouTube, hi
Receivers:
General: Grundig satellit 650, Lowe HF-225, Tecsun PL660
FM; Degen De1103
DAB: Akai ADB10(2x), Nikkei ADB10, Technisat.
All with telescope antenna. I use a home-built(not by myself, :D ) Loopantenna on the satellit for mediumwave

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