Monday, November 30, 2015

Avion AV-DR-1401 first impressions

Here is a taste of a user's first impression of the Avion. This comes to us from our colleague Philip in Newfoundland, Canada. He writes:

I am playing with an Avion DRM receiver now. I received it Friday (three days ago). 

I suspect that in an environment like India, where there are (comparatively) a lot of not-too-distant DRM signals to be received, it will work fairly well.  It is not a dx-ers radio and it works less well than other sets in my environment (Eastern North America, near the most easterly point of Newfoundland).

When the Avion receives DRM it seems to do so well, with DRM-quality audio.  On this set, I have heard only  All-India Radio in DRM mode and AIR's audio is somewhat compressed and clipped anyway.  Because I have not heard a better-quality DRM signal (like RRI's broader audio range), I don't know if some DRM signals are better than what AIR produces on the Avion;  I expect they would be. 

The Avion has tiny speakers so the sound coming from the set is not especially good.  With a patch cord to better speakers (even my computer speakers are better), its FM sound is quite good.  Medium-wave sound is not improved much by external speakers.

The radio, as a radio, has two problems. One is its general insensitivity (which can be overcome on shortwave by adding an antenna, though I haven't figured out how to improve things on FM and medium wave). The other is its tuning.  It does have direct access tuning via a remote, replete with 41 buttons, but its tuning knob is compromised by the fact that it does not register a frequency (and thus receive its audio) until you stop for a few seconds, even in AM mode. When it gives the audio, the tuning knob becomes a volume knob again which means you have to push it in again to bring it back to being a tuning knob. That takes two hands and a lot patience.  It's complicated.

Its signal processing in AM mode is less sophisticated than that of the MorphyRichards 27024 which I am comparing it with.  The MR produces audio that is very pleasant and -- except for the digital squawks it periodically produces when signals dip too low -- produces very few noises extraneous to the audio (hisses, hets, etc.). Such noises do come through on the Avion.   I have not heard the MR's digital sqawks on the Avion;  I suspect that is because it does not have (the same) DSP at the detector stage.

I am still learning how to use the radio.  I suspect I will have some different opinions in a few weeks, and especially if Avion comes up with a firmware upgrade for some aspects of the operation.

Thanks Philip for his insight. DRMNA will gladly post more details as your (or other Avion users) experience dictates!