Wednesday, April 18, 2012

CDNSE Newstar DR111 Review (part 4)

Here is a nice picture of Allen at the Continental NAB 2012 booth holding the Newstar DR111. More DRM NAB photos here.

On the right side is the 1/8th inch, 50 Ohm antenna connection. As you know from my previous review post, I have tried the DE31 Active antenna and a cheap reel antenna with great success

Next on my list of things to try was my Select-a-tenna. I have two models, one with an external 8th inch jack and one without. I connected the one with the jack via a short cable to the DR111 and began to play with MW. I tried 1070 KNX in Los Angeles and 810 KGO in San Francisco (I'm located in the state of Oregon).

Results were as expected. I had immediate improvement in reception over the internal antenna (which is quite good, all things considered). Due to the action of the DSP, I had to tune and rotate the Select-a-tenna very slowly. There is no DRM in North America on MW so I was only testing on analogue signals. I'm sure it would have done well to improve DRM based on the improvement to analogue signal strengths.

I also know that the antenna connector works for FM band too. Using my ham radio vertical, FM really comes to life. FM signal strength seems good for most local stations using the whip.

The only band I'm unable to test is LW (no broadcasts here), although I hear a difference when I plug in the external antenna. The radio only covers 150-288 kHz in LW. We do have NAVTEX broadcasts from Astoria OR on 518 kHz but the radio won't tune there (and currently doesn't have SBB functionality). Both continuous tuning from 150 kHz through 27000 kHz and SSB would be nice additions to the DR111.

My opinion is that the internal whip antenna is very sensitive. The antenna jack is a great addition and helps pull many signals over the threshold to allow DRM decode. I have been using a reel antenna for bedside use and listen to RNZI DRM each evening, over two different frequencies with very few dropouts.

Without having performed a complete A to B comparison, it is my feeling that the Newstar using an external antenna does nearly the job my Pappradio SDRdoes with DReaM on my PC. I have to saw that this sensitivity is the most impressive feature of the Newstar. I have yet to copy any DRM broadcasts not targeted to North America however (such as VOR, AIR, etc.)

CDNSE Newstar DR111 pre-production units are available for $120 plus shipping and handling directly from CDNSE. Their order form is here.