Airspy vs SDRPlay: Two New Comparison Videos

Over on YouTube two new videos comparing the reception on the SDRplay and Airspy have been uploaded. The first is by Mile Kokotov and he compares the reception on a very weak broadcast FM station, with several strong signals surrounding it. He writes:

In this video I am presenting Airspy+SDR# vs SDRplay+SDRuno in the real world, receiving very weak FM broadcast station in the terrible conditions, with very strong signals around.
The Weak signal was in the lower edge of the FM broadcast spectrum, with very strong local signals close to the weak one, in the upper frequencies of the FM broadcast spectrum.
The antenna for the both SDR receivers was the same – Vertical Dipole for FM BC band.

Both SDR receivers were tuned to maximum possible signal to noise ratio (SNR) of the weak FM broadcast signal.

In SDRuno RSP control panel (for SDRplay receiver) ZERO IF and 0.3/0.6 bandwidth were chosen, and the weak signal of interest was placed on the right edge of IF filter, so that the strong signals from other FM broadcast radio stations were placed right from the weak one in order to minimized the negative influence to the our weak signal.
LNA was switched off. When the LNA was on, there where high distortion level because LNA was overloaded from the strong signals, and SNR was deteriorated regardless of gain reduction.
The best results were achieved with gain reduction set to “0”, without LNA.

In SDR# software (for Airspy SDR receiver) 10 MSPS and Decimation was used.
From the version 1480, in SDR#, when decimation is choosed, there is tracking filter which allow better selectivity, so you can use more gain, increasing the SNR to maximum possible level depending of concrete situation.

The overall receiving conditions was extremely bad. The signals from local FM radio stations were too strong so the weak signal from this video can not be received at all, with many expensive FM tuners which I tried: Pioneer VSX 527, Denon AVR-1802, Marantz SR6300. I was tried RTL-SDR just for fun, but it can not receive weak signal too :-), not because SDR-RTL is not sensitive enough, but because its dynamic range is not so high and it is overloaded by too strong local signals.

The very sensitive receiver is not problem to design and produce. Much more difficult is to design a high dynamic range receiver. which will be able to receive very weak and very strong signals at the same time without overloading.

Overloaded receiver front end means that it is not linear any more, and produces many signals by itself, increasing its noise level.
Very strong signals at the receiver front end makes Desensitization of the receiver, so it could not receive weak signals any more.
We should not forget that the receiver front end “looks” all signals from the wide frequency range even if we want to receive only one signal at the time. The more wideband the receiver is, the higher dynamic range it has to be, for not been overloaded…

In the second video Leif sm5bsz compares the Airspy+SpyVerter with the SDRplay RSP on HF reception. He concludes that the difference between the two radios on HF is small. However, Youssef from Airspy has contested the result, noticing that Leif ran the Airspy at 2.5 MSPS, resulting is significantly less decimation being used. In response Leif updated his video adding an A/B comparison on HF with the Airspy correctly running at 10 MSPS in the last 8 minutes of the video. The results seem to show that the SDRPlay and Airspy+Spyverter have similar HF performance, but when comparing maximum decimation on the Airspy and the smallest bandwidth the SDRplay to obtain similar bandwidth’s, the results seem to show that the Airspy+SpyVerter is about 5 dB more sensitive at receiving weak signals.

6 comments

  1. JJ

    Wouldn’t the comparison be more meaningful if the same software was used for each receiver?
    After all, SDR is the abbreviation of Software Defined Radio.

    • Bertie

      On paper that sounds great. The issue is that you would have to use generic third party software with no optimisations, and that would not be the reality. It would be a disservice to both pieces of hardware. It is optimal to use the software recommended (and optimised) by the vendors. You could have the very best hardware on the planet but with generic software it would just appear OK.

      It would be like going, well the Airspy has no front end filters, and the SDRplay has no tracking filter, so to make the comparison totally fair, bypass the eight front end filters on the SDRplay and also bypass the tracking filter in the Airspy. It might make the comparison fair, but it is not the reality of normal use.

  2. Bertie

    The Airspy+SDR# test by Mile Kokotov is not using the “IF Noise Reduction” or the “Audio Noise Reduction”, which is ignoring a great feature which would improve the sound quality even more.

    • Designated

      Oi vey, (((Airspy Sales Staff)))!
      These two Plugins won’t work if you chose to use a SDRPlay!
      ((((((SDR#))) Developers))) are also ignoring the great effects of (((noise reduction))) on other receivers!

      • Bertie

        I do not work for Airspy, but I do own one. And I’ve been using SDR# for a long time, but for some odd reason I can’t use my Airspy with SDRuno, it appears that those developers have decided to fully locked out all Airspy hardware.

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