Tecsun PL 660: specifications and reviews
The Tecsun PL-660 radio is a logical continuation of the PL-600 and the earlier (and significantly different) PL-550, sharing the same body size and style. Its value in online stores is 85 USD plus shipping. Characteristics of the device are similar to those of the 600th model with a very significant addition of synchronous detection. This is a typical full-featured radio.
Tecsun PL-660 provides reception on the following frequency bands:
- FM: 87–108 MHz (Japan), 76–108 MHz (Germany), 87.5–108 MHz (North America).
- The SV: 522–1620 kHz (Asia – Africa – Europe) or 520–1 710 kHz (North America).
- DV: 100– 519 kHz. If desired, the range can be turned off.
- KV: 1711-29999 kHz.
- Avia: 118–137 MHz.
- Double frequency conversion.
- Two intermediate frequencies with indication on the display.
- Single band reception with a choice of lower or upper sideband and fine tuning of the local oscillator.
- Detection in synchronization modes of the upper and lower sideband.
- External antenna connector for HF / FM (not functioning on CB).
- DC power connector voltage of 6 V.
- Rechargeable (NiMH battery pack included).
- Sensitivity switch for AM / FM / KV.
- High / Low Tone Switch
- Fast, slow and automatic tuning.
- Auto scan and memorize up to 2000 radio stations.
- Two timers with alarm function, short sleep and snooze.
- Lock mode to prevent accidental key presses.
- Dimensions: 187x114x33 mm.
- Tecsun PL-660 package: user manual, power supply 120–240 / 6 V, external antenna, 4 AA AA batteries, headphones, plastic case.
Although modern radios have many features that require mandatory familiarization with the user manual to study all the nuances, this model is much simpler, mainly because complex code combinations are a thing of the past. Instead, some buttons on the keyboard received a second assignment, the name of which is inscribed on the front panel of the receiver.Functions marked in red work when the radio is turned off, and this makes the setup easy and intuitive. These include:
- FM Set - select one of three frequency modulation bands.
- LW On / Off - enable and disable long waves.
- 9/10 kHz - change of tuning step for medium waves.
- Light Set - automatic backlight control.
- Battery - enable or disable the battery charging function.
Previously, it was necessary to enter a special code setting mode and enter numerical values to adjust these parameters. Direct input has greatly improved the usability of the radio.
The basic operation of Tecsun PL-660 is very simple. After the power is turned on, the timer automatically starts for 30 minutes, after which the radio turns off. Alternatively, you can keep the button pressed for a second and dial the off time within 1–120 minutes or turn off the timer. This time becomes the new default value - this is how much the receiver will work after switching on, unless the user decides to change this setting. Pretty standard and simple.
To select a range, just press the FM, AM or SW buttons (the short waves are divided into 14 bands). The Step button allows you to set a fast, slow or automatic scanning step.Tuning can be made using the knob or in any mode (FM, AM, SW, AIR) directly enter the frequency. For example, to set the frequency 15210 MHz, you need to enter the numbers 1, 5, 2, 1, 0. There is no need to press the enter key or the band neither before nor after that, which is very convenient.
The automatic tuning and memorization function of ATS stations works as it should, but there are some interesting nuances. For example, you can monitor its progress and accept or reject its proposed options, or enter the review mode and record any individual result into memory. The function works well, there are few false alarms and missed signals.
According to user feedback, the backlight is implemented a bit unusual. It is active only for 3 seconds after pressing any button or turning the dial, but if you press Light, then its operation time will last up to 30 seconds. If desired, the backlight can be turned off. The instruction incorrectly states that it can be turned on all the time.
The tone control is useful, and on all bands except AIR, you can choose one of three sensitivity levels:
- DX - high.
- NORMAL - medium.
- LOCAL - low.
Users note that the Tecsun PL-660 doesn’t have charging time settings, as with most similar radios. It can be assumed that it uses smart technologies, thanks to which the device is able to independently evaluate the capacity and charge level of the batteries and automatically adjust to these parameters, but since four AA batteries are installed, it is definitely impossible to measure the data of each of them separately, as do the best chargers.
The main competitors of the model in terms of size and price are the radio receivers Eton E5, Degen DE-1103 and DE-1106, Grundig G3 and G5, Tecsun PL-600. The PL-660 model performed very well in many respects, but it has a slightly increased noise level in the range of long and medium waves. Each particular device may be slightly different, but user reviews agree that the manufacturer has created an excellent model, controlling the quality of each piece produced.
At short wavelengths, the Tecsun PL-660 receiver is surprisingly sensitive and selective. With a connected antenna attached, it is able to receive any signal, like other similar devices.Connecting an additional standard 7-meter wire greatly increases the quality of reception and allows you to reach the limit of its capacity indoors. At the same time, at some stations, even during the day, when HF signals are weakest, a three-position sensitivity switch must be used to reduce it. According to user feedback, the two reception bandwidths are well chosen and efficient. They provide greater clarity for strong signals and selectivity in areas crowded with radio stations. Fortunately, excellent synchronous detection, as a rule, allows you to remain in broadband mode even on densely populated short waves.
Tecsun PL-660: Synchronous Detection Overview
This feature helps to improve reception quality in the presence of interference caused by strong adjacent signals. Compared to the G3 and the DE-1106, the PL-660 synchronous detector works amazingly. It captures almost any signal, even the weakest, and even if it disappears, there are no extraneous sounds during the loss and recovery of capture. The function also works perfectly in fast mode or with direct frequency input,but in general, the Tecsun PL-660 setup is recommended by user reviews with synchronous detection turned off, including it only as needed. The synchronous detector not only very effectively eliminates interference from the side frequencies of neighboring stations, which significantly improves the selectivity compared to similar devices lacking this capability, but also drastically improves the quality of marginal signals, significantly enhancing their sound against the background of noise. Users note that this feature works a little better in the mode of the upper USB sideband and a little worse at the bottom. This is usually a problem of alignment, and probably other owners may have quite the opposite. For portable radios, this is not a big disadvantage. For example, the same can be observed in the Sony 7600GR, but in general, synchronization improves weak signals on the PL-660 much better. In addition, the radio station remains synchronized even if the tuning is changed to 1 kHz, which the Degen and Grundig receivers do not allow - they have to specify the frequency of the radio station to trigger the capture, so in this case Tecsun shows little progress.
Signal reception on one sideband is very good. Choosing the top or bottom modes and using the fine tuning knob, you can easily get the natural sound of steady and reliable quality.
The reception of ultrashort waves with frequency modulation is very sensitive and selective. Users note the possibility of detecting a variety of adjacent signals without interference from neighboring and even distant stations. The radio is not inferior to competitors, mostly working on a par with them, sometimes better, and sometimes not so good. This is typical for the operation of portable devices in VHF and can be attributed to differences in the combination of sensitivity, selectivity and other characteristics. But the bottom line is that the Tecsun PL-660 FM band accepts perfectly. Stereo through headphones has a perfectly full sound with good channel separation.
The reception of signals with amplitude modulation (LW and SW), unfortunately, was a little disappointing. Compared to competitors, the noise level of the Tecsun PL-660 is too high, like that of its predecessor, the PL-600. Weak radio stations are received fairly well, but the level of interference does not decrease as quickly as the signal level increases.as we would like, so even medium-power suburban stations are accompanied by noises that are not audible on most other devices. On the other hand, almost no digital noise or spurious noise, like most new portable receivers, no. The PL-660 also responds well to a small loop antenna, but it is a pity that the antenna connector in this range does not work.
The user can select fast, slow or automatic search speed, which greatly improves the frequency range scanning and fine tuning. Owners, however, would like to be able to change the scan rate more quickly. In the automatic mode, the frequency sweep is slow until the tuning knob speed is increased. The radio switches to accelerated search mode. When the user stops rotating the knob continuously, the scan slows down again to produce a more accurate search. Unfortunately, sometimes it is impossible to switch to accelerated mode as quickly as we would like. At the same time you have to constantly rotate the dial. The idea is beautiful, but its implementation was not perfect.Of course, you can always disable the automatic selection function and set the speed yourself.
Removal will void the warranty, as this will have to break the two seals in the battery compartment in order to gain access to the two screws that hold the case together with the other four around the rear panel's perimeter. Reassembly is difficult. There is a small plastic clutch that supports the settings section, and it is rather difficult to install it correctly. You should also take care of the correct combination of buttons in the upper left corner with the corresponding actuators on the front panel, otherwise they will become harder to press. Therefore, if there are no serious reasons to disassemble the radio, then it is better not to do it.
The hopes of users who purchased this model were justified. Compared to the previous one, the major changes in the Tecsun PL-660 — the revision of the control command input system and the appearance of a synchronous decoder — made setting up much easier and improved reception quality. Detection of signals with a sideband is simple and accurate.The PL-660 became the first modern Chinese portable device with simultaneous detection, which helps more than it hurts. But radio amateurs who are fond of receiving in the long and mid-wave range, disappointed with the work of the tuner. Its high sensitivity, which makes it possible to receive weak radio stations, and the absence of digital noise are excellent, but the inability to provide the best signal-to-noise ratio with increasing signal level is a great disadvantage.
Thus, PL-660 is an excellent option for receiving FM and short waves, but lovers of the DV and CB bands can find better options.