Saturday, April 14, 2012

CDNSE Newstar DR111 Review (part 2)

Saturday, I had my first opportunity to listen to Disco Palace from Montsinery on 17875 kHz.
I started out on the front porch of the house with the whip. I got the ID but no audio. I went back in the house and connected up the ham radio vertical. Immediately I got audio with only minor dropouts.

Right away I noticed minimal if any stereo effect on the Newstar. I did a comparison on the Pappradio into DReaM. There was noticeable difference between both delivered audio frequencies and stereo separation. The Newstar audio seems quite compressed, both through the speakers and headphone jack. I must say, this has been the biggest surprise and disappointment so far. That to say that although very listenable, DReaM software delivers twice the fidelity the Newstar does. Here are 2 samples, recorded the same way (via analogue cable) into Audacity. They are both 5 second, stereo WAV files. Listen to the Newstar audio sample. Listen to the DReaM audio sample.

I know Allen and CDNSE are devoted to making the receiver the best they can given the target price range. I must also remind readers that the unit I have is PRE-PRODUCTION and Allen has mentioned their desire for feedback to improve their product. I'm guessing that a number of these perceived shortcomings can be addressed via a firmware upgrade.

Another issue I noted was the transition from signal capture to silence. There isn't the echo/reverb feture offered in DReaM. This unfortunately results in minor clicks and pops when the signal is nominal in level and varies. Last night listening to RNZI while drifting to sleep (using the variable sleep timer) this signal varying created annoying click-pop transition noises.

Toward the end of the hour I noticed the signal level was significantly improved. Back out to the porch, I noticed full signal and excellent decode with no drop-outs. The Newstar seems very reliable provided it has a signal to work with. The higher bitrate used by Disco Palace makes it an even more difficult proposition. North America (and the few DRM broadcasts and weaker signals) is going to give any DRM receiver a run for their money. The DR111 pulled through with flying colors as the band improved!