Click here to learn how to display your PL-880’s firmware version.
It seems that there are some important differences emerging between PL-880 firmware versions.
You may have noted that the PL-880 I reviewed yesterday has a firmware version of 8820. I purchased my PL-880 through eBay seller, Anon-Co. As far as I can tell, most, if not all of the units Anon-Co has sold have the same (i.e. latest) firmware version: 8820.
Several readers have contacted me with concern about units they’ve purchased from Kaito Electronics and from their Amazon.com vendor account Electronnix which have firmware version 8819. (Not sure what firmware version you have? Click here to discover.)
It seems that firmware version 8819 lacks a few features that I mentioned in the review I posted yesterday:
- The muting threshold cannot be properly adjusted as I describe in this post. To be clear, this would lead to a very annoying and constant shift in audio level while listening to all but the strongest of AM/SW signals. I would recommend returning your PL-880 if the muting threshold cannot be adjusted.
- Bandwidth cannot be adjusted using the tuning or fine tuning controls. You can only cycle through filters by continuously press the AM BW button.
It also seems that Kaito’s PL-880s are not shipping with the same carrying case Anon-Co ships.
On a side note, I don’t think Kaito is to blame for this as they probably had no idea there were different versions of the PL-880 firmware. I’m sure they will work with their customers to correct this.
If we found that the PL-880 firmware could be updated by users it would eliminate this problem. So far, I have not heard that this is the case.
Please comment if you notice other differences in firmware versions and I will amend the list above.
You can follow all Tecsun PL-880 updates by bookmarking/checking this link.
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Reviews For: Tecsun PL-880
|Bad SSB Distortion.||Time Owned: more than 12 months.|
|EDIT: 16th November 2020|
I sold the PL-880 and S-8800 and got the PL-680 istead, boy what a difference, the audio is just so good, no harsh white noise in the audio and no distorted SSB and no warble souning audio listening to SSB on SW or MW, zerobeating on LW/MW/SW is just so good on the PL-680, if there's an interfearing source close by hitting USB/LSB can in most cases greatly reduce or completely eliminate this interference.
The SYNC is also decent against mild fading but it can growl and squeal when conditions get challenging but it's at least useful compared to the 880, oh wait, it doesn't even have SYNC, ok, it does but it's in a hidden menu because it works so bad Tecsun tried to hide it out of embarrassment which they should.
I would avoid the PL-880 and S-8800 DSP only ruins the performance and audio especially on SSB.
Another piece of advice, do not connect a Ham radio style wire antenna to this or most portable radios, they overload badly unless you use some serious attenuation.
I use a Bonito MA305 whip with the Tecsun radios and it outputs just the right amount of signal and changing the atenuation to local or medium setting takes care of any overloading and with this Bonito MA305 ( mounted outdoors up in a tree using H-155 coax gorunded ) I can hear much more signals at night than my Ham radio antenna because the MA-305 isn't overloading the radio. The Performance of this antenna has to be heard to be believed for such a small antenna.
|Bad for SSB||Time Owned: more than 12 months.|
|My opinion is that it's a bad radio, with leading edge distotion on usb/lsb and a useless "sync". It's a very expensive-very good FM radio.I have one and I am very disappointed.|
|Excellent Performer With Great Speaker and Controls||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.|
|I bought this radio to replace my aging Degen 1102. I had heard of the problems with the SSB AGC on the early PL-880's, and I was concerned that the problems had not been addressed adequately on currently-produced units. I need not have worried. While there are still quality control mishaps possible (my first PL-880 had to be returned due to an off-center tuning knob that didn't rotate smoothly), the 2nd unit is a stellar performer that looks and sounds wonderful. |
This is a very attractive radio, with a somewhat retro, classy look. There are separate knobs for volume, tuning and fine-tuning, all of which feel solid and have the right "feel" in turning - just the right amount of resistance.
My PL-880 is very sensitive and selective on all bands, with none of the tuning "chuffing" heard on my 1102. The controls are also more intuitive on the PL-880, with setting memories and getting into SSB being particularly easy. You have to be careful not to press and hold buttons on this radio unless you are sure of the result - because there are "hidden" features that are activated by pressing and holding various buttons. I find the radio a pleasure to operate and tune. You have a wide selection of tuning bandwidths appropriate for each band - although the narrower bandwidth choices can produce a muting effect on some bands, as on other portables. The attractive amber backlight turns on when any button or knob is pushed/turned, and it can be set to stay on all the time or left on the default setting to turn off after five seconds.
The clock is easy to set, and although I have not used the alarm features, they appear easy to set also. The lithium-ion cell used to power the radio operates the radio for a long time - I have yet to recharge it. And the 18650 cell that comes with the radio is not a high-capacity cell compared to alternatives available for under $10 that will power the radio even longer, if you decide to go that route.
I do not detect on my radio the AGC kick-in delay or "wobbly" sound on SSB that were reported on some earlier units in online revivews - everything sounds great to my ears. And the speaker is really astoundingly nice for a radio of this size and price point. This is a huge improvement over any other portable I've had - I'm happy I finally bought one.
As more and more people are beginning to receive their Tecsun PL-880s, I’m receiving emails and noticing comments regarding an “audio level problem.”
Here’s the symptom: when you tune your brand new PL-880 to a relatively weak station on AM or shortwave, the audio level jumps from low to high in what seems like a random pattern. It’s very annoying. Like me, many assume they have received a faulty unit–some have even sent their new PL-880 back for refund.
In reality, the PL-880 is simply following a default muting threshold level and the audio is responding accordingly. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for this–you won’t find it in your owner’s manual, but you will find it in one of the first PL-880 posts I published:
Hidden feature: Adjusting the Tecsun PL-880 muting threshold
I hope Tecsun will start shipping their PL-880s with the threshold set to “00” or off. It would certainly lead to less confusion and frustration.
You can follow all Tecsun PL-880 updates by bookmarking/checking this link.
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Tecsun PL880 Reception Problems
I don't have a PL-880, but from reading up on the radio it seems it has two features that may affect AM reception: there is apparently an antenna sensitivity switch on the side of the radio (DX-local, which should be turned to 'DX'), and there also is a 'mute' setting feature (I have no idea how to change that if it's set to high muting -- but here's a link that may help:
It's possible one of those may be affecting your radio's ability to pull in AM band stations.
RE: Powerlines: they can cause a lot of interference, which usually sounds like a buzzing noise. However, the presence of powerlines doesn't necessarily guarantee a buzz on your AM radio, unless they're high tension lines (the massive ones supported by tall steel towers). I have powerlines out in front of my house (the regular telephone pole kind) and they never interfere with the AM band at my house. Sometimes a bit of electrical buzz will occur on the SW band, though -- possibly from a pole a bit farther away.
And if you had powerline noise, you would undoubtely hear it on your Sony.
880 tecsun problems pl
I picked up a broken Tecsun PL-880 from a customer who no longer wanted the radio. Here is the story and result.
The radio was owned by a ham radio operator who used it as a bedside companion. He said that it fell off the nightstand one day and crashed on the floor while a Tecsun AN-48X antenna was connected at the time of the crash. It damaged the connector and possibly some other components. He attempted to repair the antenna jack using a home brew method and said the radio never worked right afterwards. He reported that AM and Shortwave band reception was flaky and the tuning encoder wasn't working well either.
Here are some screen caps of a video he made about the repair.
The radio arrived a week later and I put a fresh 18650 in. Powered up and tuned FM stations just fine. Switched to AM and shortwave - it was completely deaf. Normally the strongest AM station in town is able to come through on a crystal radio set, but not the Tecsun. The tuning knob was erratic and seemed to jump two steps or not do anything at all while tuning. Touching the tuning knob increased static to the radio.
A few ideas crossed my mind at this point.
- The radio suffered cracked solder joints.
- Misalignment occurred from the crash.
- Something was shorted to ground.
- The front end transistors were blown or the repair failed.
My first look inside the radio. Notice the compressed brown wire next to the screw hole. There was a nick in the insulation from the screw. (The back of the radio case has a metal shield and pad to ground the radio to the PCB shield.) Also noticed several missing screws.
I removed the home brew connection and the broken antenna connector, then installed a temporary jumper across the external antenna switch pads. Also cleaned up the solder flux and excess solder. I wanted to see if this was a simple fix.
I powered up the radio and it was still deaf on AM and shortwave bands, but the tuning encoder works great now (suspect ground short from previous owner's repair).
Time to figure out the radio circuitry and trace/test components. I used my DMM, signal generator, and scope to make my way through the receiver. Immediately, I found a cracked diode in the protection circuit next to the antenna jack, I replaced it with a 1N4148.
No other broken traces or failed transistors in the front end until I made my way to the mixer circuit and the signal died. I found a broken inductor on the board at L9. L9 is a .47uH fixed inductor that couples L6 to the mixer input for AM/SW. I cannibalized another receiver and replaced the component. Now the signal tracer was making it to Q7 and Q8!
I powered up the radio and tuned WWVH on shortwave. The radio came alive! Tested AM and it was very weak. Time to go back to the AM input circuit. Q26 tested fine, but the ferrite antenna leads needed to be reflowed as well as a broken wire repair at AM1.
Tested the radio and AM came back to life! Now on to the external antenna jack. I ordered replacement jacks and soldered one in.
Now the radio is as good as new! External and internal antennas work. I did not need to perform an alignment on the radio as it checks out fine. (The RF shields need to be desoldered to perform a full alignment).
When it reached the markets, the PL-880 made a splash. A pocket receiver with several selectable DSP-bandwidths, DSP-demodulation, synchronous detector and some other interesting and hidden features. All this resulted in a lot of interesting debates and food for thought in the internet forums. Mainly, people puzzled over the hidden and undocumented functions. Because I cannot buy every receiver, I depend on friendly people, who put the PL-880 at my disposal. After some searching, I found someone. Harald Denzel loaned me his PL-880 and a big thank you to him!
The PL-880 had predecessor models, which were very much talked about, e.g., PL-600, PL-660 and now the new PL-880. The preceding models were all analogue radios and were real assets to the market. In the PL-880, digital signal processing is used. Demodulation and filter band widths are achieved with DSP.
Die wichtigsten Eckdaten:
|Basic parameters:-- Frequency coverage: 100kHz-30MHz and 64MHZ-108MHz, configurable-- Modes of operation: AM, AM synchronous, LSB, USB and WFM for FM-- Band widths for AM: 2.3kHz, 3.5kHz, 5.0kHz, 9kHz-- Band widths for SSB: 0.5kHz, 1.2kHz, 2.3kHz, 3.0kHz, 4.0kHz-- Band width for FM: ca. 200kHz-- Tuning steps long-, medium-, shortwave: 10Hz, 50Hz, 5kHz, 9kHz, 10kHz (depends on the mode)-- Tuning steps FM: 10kHz, 100kHz-- Synchronous detector with selectable sidebands, but no DSB-- Attenuator in three selectable steps: (Local - Normal - DX)-- Memories: 3050, divided in 25 memory banks-- 3.7V Li-ion Accu-- USB connector Scope of delivery:-- PL-800-- Protective bag (brown imitation leather)-- 3.7V Li-ion Accumulator-- USB charging cable|
For the power supply of the PL-800, Tecsun came upon an unconventional solution. The radio has only a mini USB connector which also charges the 3.7V Li-ion accumulator. Unfortunately, the accu does not have standard size and so you cannot use standard size batteries. This is very disadvantageous when your accumulators run out of power and you have no opportunity of recharging them. If you want to use the radio with an external power supply, you have a serious problem! You can only connect the receiver to a PC or to 5V switching power supply. And you can imagine the consequences! Receiving long- medium- and shortwave does not get along very well with switching power supplies and computers because reception is heavily interfered with. If you want to listen to long-, medium-, and shortwave seriously, you can only operate the PL-880 with accumulators.
A signal strength indicator that shows the values in dBµ and dB is very unusual for radios in this price range. These values do not mean a thing to the normal radio listener. Only with the help of tables and some special knowledge, these values can be converted into the usual S-meter values. dBµ and dB is mainly used for professional receivers.
Here a small conversion table from dBµ* to S-values (dBµ is dBµV = voltage)*
The dB- value stands for the S/N, which equals the SNR = signal/noise ratio. The higher the value, the better the intelligibility. In theory, anyway.
The constructional quality of the PL-800 is high. The controls are placed conveniently and allow for easy operation of the receiver. A novelty for a pocket receiver are the two tuning knobs. One is for coarse tuning, the other, the smaller one, is for fine tuning to at least 10Hz. Thus you can stop conveniently at the desired station without changing the tuning steps and then do the fine tuning. A good solution! Tuning on long-, medium-, and shortwave is without signal drop-outs and provides an absolutely analogous feeling. The PL-800 has an antenna connector for shortwave, but unfortunately, not for long- and medium wave. There is also a line- out and a stereo headphones connector. As a fully-fledged world receiver, the PL-800 can also receive FM in stereo with headphones. When tuning the FM-band, you will notice signal drop-outs, which are kept to a limit, though. Additionally, there are other functions like alarm clock, automatic memory function etc., which I will not discuss.
How does it play?
I tested the PL-880 for some weeks and examined it thoroughly. As reference I used the Sony ICF-SW7600GR. The PL800's reception is rather noise-free and has a very good, almost bass-like audio. Crackling noises and hissing were less noticeable with the PL-800 than with the ICF-SW7600GR. I really was surprised at the good reception of long- and medium wave. So far, most radios made in China had been rather deaf in this range, but this cannot be said about the PL-880. Here, the Tecsun clearly beat the Sony. Sensitivity, noise and last but not least the DSP-selectivity helped the PL-880 to a very good reception. But there is a downside, nonetheless. The legendary synchronous detector of the PL-880 could not convince me. Neither in the case of weak nor strong stations, could the synchronous detector improve reception. The detector "bubbled" and lost synchronization rather quickly. It was just useless. Maybe the detector will be improved with new firmware at a later date. Anyway, the synchronous detector of the Sony was much better.
The good reception quality of the PL-880 could also be noticed on shortwave. The noise-free and pleasant reception was convincing and receiving stations with the built-in telescopic antenna was never subject to criticism. And there were no overloads, either. The Sony, on the other hand, showed some flaws in this respect. Sometimes you could hear "ghost stations" below busy broadcast bands.
At the time of testing, I had the indoor antennas Reuter RLA3A and the Grahn GS5-SE/ML3 at hand and I took the opportunity to operate the Tecsun with these antennas. The PL-880 worked very well with the Grahn antenna. Reception was improved considerably and there were no overloads. It didn't go to well with the Reuter antenna, though. The receiving level was better, but at the expense of the signal/noise ratio and there were overloads at times.
SSB-reception was good, but the Sony sounded clearly better. The audio of the Pl-880 has a scratchy sound which is due to a suboptimal AGC. And the audio was muffled, too. But tuning with the two knobs was superb! When turning the small knob slowly, tuning was in 10Hz steps. When turning faster, the flywheel effect is activated and the steps are 50Hz.
There is no criticism as far as FM reception is concerned. Pleasant audio, excellent selectivity and good strong signal performance convinced me right away. Too bad though that there is only one band width. With such a high-tech radio, RDS would have been good, too. The Sony was the loser in the FM reception category. There were some overloads and it did not reach the audio quality of the Tecsun.
Unfortunately, it was impossible to find out, why Tecsun is hiding the following functions or did not activate them. Some functions are certainly useful; others do not seem to be fully developed. The hidden functions can be activated by pushing some of the buttons. Presently, I know the following features:
|With the radio switched on (These functions were found on the internet)Warning: When using the following functions, you do so at your own risk! Your radio may be damaged! Synchronous detector:--press the USB or LSB button for three seconds Noise reduction while tuning:--Press button "9" for three seconds and select the value with the rotary knob. Press button "9" again to save the setting. Noise reduction during reception:--Press button "6"for three seconds for switching on/off Changing De-Emphasis for FM--Press button "5" for three seconds and select either 50 or 75. 50µs is for Europe, 75µs for USA. This only works in the FM mode. Frequency calibration for long- and shortwave--Select a strong station and switch to USB or LSB. Then fine-tune with the small tuning knob until reaching Zero Beat. Press the "Snooze" button for three seconds and wait for the correction in the display. Press "Snooze" again to save the value. With the radio switched off Display control, firmware number and date of manufacture--For control of the display keep the button "AM BW" depressed. Release the button and press again for firmware number. Press once again for date of manufacture. Line-out level--Press button "7" for three seconds and select a value with the rotary knob. Press the button again to save the setting. Activation of the display of seconds--Press button "8"for three seconds and wait for the display to light up. Shutdown threshold for weak batteries --Press button "4"for three seconds and select the value with the rotary knob. My recommendation: 3.5V. Operating time since last charging the accumulators--Press button "VF/VM for three seconds Sorting the memories--Press button "M" for three seconds.|
For its reasonable price and its DSP- technology, the Tecsun PL-880 is a superb pocket receiver. It outshines almost all of its competing products. But SSB-reception and the synchronous detector were disappointing, the detector was unable to improve reception in any given situation, it even made it worse. In AM, the audio of the PL-880 is excellent and makes the synchronous detector superfluous. FM reception is sophisticated.
The PL-880 still has some minor flaws, which can be remedied by later firmware updates. Whether this can be done via the USB connector, I do not know.
The hidden functions left me with some mixed impressions. Either you make them available without many lengthy searches or you deactivate them…
A recommendable receiver!
posted at October 18, 2014
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To take a nap. After washing in the shower, she wanted to go through to get dressed, but the chef seemed to be waiting for this, said: Walk like that. It's always warm here, but I like you that way. Damn, theres a lover of a womans body, now walk naked in front of him, sparkle with your boobs, and he will lie on the couch and contemplate, thought Olga and, in revenge sticking out her tongue, showed it to the dozing boss.