Friday, April 13, 2012

CDNSE Newstar DR111 Review (part 1)

I am really enjoying the CDNSE Newstar DR111. The physical measurements are roughly 11" x 5" x 4". The unit is made of a fairly hard but light plastic construction. Buttons have an audible click when pressed. The LCD display 2.5 x .75 inches and back light with a bright green. The light times out after an interval and is reactivated by any button press. The whip antenna is 42 inches and pulls very smoothly. This is a table radio, operating on 5V DC from a wall wart. No battery compartment.

Anecdotaly, the unit is quite sensitive. RNZI evenings at 17675kHz and 13730kHz can be received various places within my house with only the internal whip. REE at 9630kHz using an external ham vertical antenna was similar copy on Pappradio (with a slight edge given to the Pappradio.)

DRM Audio while adequate, seems narrow and compressed in comparison to DReaM on my PC. I verified this by switching A to B between the Newstar and the Pappradio with DReaM using my JBL headphones. I'm beginning to wonder if the DRM audio is being processed by the DSP, just like the analogue audio. The DSP in analogue is a tad too aggressive. A real bonus in analogue is the adjustable bandwidth (1-6kHz) however. That and the DSP make analogue quite enjoyable even in the crowded 49M (6MHz) band. I have been listening to BBC on 5875kHz in the early AM with armchair copy and great audio using only the whip (throughout the house).

The jog shuttle knob is multi-fuction. It is a volume when in normal use and by a quick press, becomes a VFO. Problem is, it silences the speakers in this mode. Pressing again turns it back to volume. Below it is a AFS - fast/slow which adjusts the speed at which the VFO works. It is a proportional increment knob. The faster you turn, the larger the change in frequency. It takes some getting used to. There are other ways to change the frequency - by buttons but there is no direct entry. There is also a scan in all bands and it works fairly well.

In analogue it has a stingy 5 step S-Meter. I have only ever seen 4 bars, and that is WWV on 10000 kHz. The WWV tones act oddly coming through the DSP and hence not very enjoyable. CHU on 7850 kHz sounds better with its pips.

More review to come so stay-tuned!