Comparison Between Portable Shortwave Radios and the RTL-SDR

YouTube user mutezone has uploaded a video showing a comparison between several portable shortwave radios and the RTL-SDR. His results show that the portable radios performed better than the RTL-SDR dongle at shortwave-dxing, however we are unsure of what method he used (direct sampling or upconverter) to get access to the shortwave bands on the RTL-SDR.

Shortwave Performance test: Portable Radios vs RTL-SDR

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Well I get far, far better results than that on HF with my RTL dongle and a simple 612-based, 125 mhz IF upconverter with a PA0RDT miniwhip, all for less than 20 UKP all-in. In fact it hears everything my dedicated (if ageing) communications receiver does and much more besides. A test with a reasonable antenna and careful tuning and tweaking of SDR# would tell a very different story, I’m sure. And let’s face it, a portable receiver with DSP, all modes, tunes from DC to 1.5 Ghz, that’s going to set you back a few bucks. The RTL dongle rules, for me.

Marty Wittrock (KN0CK)

I can see from the video that he is using Quadrature tuning which (no doubt) uses an HF Upconverting design. However, he doesn’t even have SDR# tuned correctly, hasn’t de-spread the specturm to optimize on the signal of interest, hasn’t decreased the audio bandwidth to center and optimize the signal to be on par with the other radios and achieve better selectivity, etc. Clearly, this is an ‘ad-hoc’ test, subjective at best, and not a good representation or comparison of the RTL-SDR when SDR# isn’t properly operated.


From the description….

“All were connected to a Sony AN-12 antenna in the same position outdoors, & tuned to Radio New Zealand International on 9765 kHz . The only difference was the RTL-SDR in which I used a signal booster to try & get a better reception since without it can be a bit low.”

In the comments, he indicates that he was using an upconverter…