Hamspirit.de Airspy Review

Over on the hamspirit.de blog, author January has posted his review of the Airspy software defined radio (in German, use Google translate). The Airspy is a software defined radio with specifications that include a 12-bit ADC, 24 MHz to 1800 MHz tuning range and up to 10 MHz or bandwidth. It currently sells for $199 USD shipped from China or the local US distributor, or for £160 GBP from the new Airspy UK distributor

Januaries review discusses the Airspy specifications, the unboxing, ease of use and reception results. The review is generally positive and he writes that in the coming weeks he hopes to do some comparisons between the RTL-SDR and Airspy.

The Airspy receiving TETRA
The Airspy receiving TETRA
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Ham Sandwich

At $200 why not just spend a bit more and get a HackRF?


The main selling point of these receivers is the higher blocking dynamic range. Most amateurs won’t ever need it anyway.

Glenn Quagmire

i would rather spend $15 than $250 for 24 MHz to 1800 MHz..unless it has good filtering from FM broadcast.


The guy seems to say that Airspy behaves much better than the RTL dongles in presence of strong blockers like FM BC and Pagers.


Thats right. Airspy offers more realtime bandwidth, better dynamic range, higher frequency stability and less noise.
RTL-SDR have a great value for the money and one could argue, if the Airspy delivers as much advantages as it should regarding its price. But this is a really old discussion. Is an highend HF-rig so much better than the entry level transceivers? Could you work as much more stations as it’s 10 times the price? I don’t think so, but of course it offers better performance.

RTL-SDR are great, but they aren’t really good receivers at all conditions.

Tim R. Havens

For my needs the 10MHz Clock input to the Airspy as well as the HackRF using a GPSDO (like the Jackson Labs “Fury” in my case) was worth every penny over the use of and RTL. I’ve used RTL’s for 4-5 years now in all sorts of projects and configurations. I’ve used the HackRF as well. I bought an Airspy about a month ago and using a GPSDO to clock it, and it’s so rock solid now stability-wise that I can no longer detect any drift! I use my airspy in a DDC configuration as a “pan adapter” to a Yaesu FTDX-5000 off it’s 9 MHz IF output. In CW mode (which is most what I operate) having a highly stable setup is important. Off by 50-100hz and with tight filters I can’t heard the DX. The Airspy is QUITE Good, and the best of the bunch in my humble opinion so far.

However, if all you’re doing is general purpose RX then a simple RTL is likely just fine 90% of the time and you probably won’t notice much aside from getting overloaded from time to time.

They all pretty much require band pass filtering of some sort. SO thinking that you won’t need real filters with any of them is just wrong thinking. Choose high quality filters or notches that suite your needs. Skimping here will only cause you grief. OR Build your own. It’s not that difficult, and there are ways to use RTL’s and things like a HamitUP as a noise source to insure your home built filters are working the way you’d like. Google “RTL characterizing filters” for examples on how to do this.

I’m very happy with RTL’s, Airspy and HackRF’s here. But you need to choose the best one that suites your requirements at the best price-point. They’re all good for various jobs, but it’s important to understand their unique advantages and disadvantages as well.