New Comparison Videos from Leif SM5BSZ: Airspy vs SDRplay vs Several Other SDRs

Over on YouTube Leif SM5BSZ has uploaded two new videos. The first video shows a set up that compares the Airspy and the SDRplay RSP on several lab tests that test for dynamic range performance at various frequency offsets. The Airspy definitely shows better results, but Leif notes that the differences are fairly small. The Airspy and SDRplay are two SDRs that compete in the mid range SDR price bracket.

Smaller is better, where each value represents the amount of attenuation required before saturation
Smaller is better. Each value represents the amount of attenuation used (in dBm) that causes a 3dB loss from reciprocal mixing

As lab tests can only approximate real world performance, in the next video Leif does a HF reception comparison on a real world antenna. In this video he compares our V3 in the special direct sampling HF mode, a Funcube Pro+, SDRplay RSP, Airspy+Sypverter, Afedri Net, and an FDM-S1. The test injects an artificial signal and combines signals from a real antenna via an adjustable attenuator. Leif adjusts the attenuator to increase the antenna signals until the test signal strength is degraded by 3dB from reciprocal mixing/overload. That attenuation setting is then recorded.

The results for the daytime and nighttime results results rank the SDR’s in order from best to worst: FSM-S1 ($400 + shipping), Afedri ($259 + shipping), Airspy+Spyverter ($218 + shipping/$149 + shipping (mini)), SDRplay ($129 + shipping), Funcube Pro+ ($155 + shipping), V3 direct sampling ($20 incl shipping). Interestingly the performance seems to correlate nicely with the unit cost. Of course the V3 in direct sampling mode can be significantly improved by using filtering on the front end, or just by using an upconverter and quadrature mode instead.

At the end of the video Leif also shows a final ranking of the HF performance of all radios tested in his previous videos.

Night time reception SDR ranking
Night time reception SDR ranking
Daytime reception SDR ranking
Daytime reception SDR ranking
Final Ranking
Final Ranking


  1. YB1AQV

    I am using RACAL1772 Military Receiver with very strong front end with SDRlay at the First IF on 35.4 MHz,with LINRAD…working very well !!! I am using DELL Venue Tablet upgraded to WIN10…

    • YB1AQV

      LINRAD is working very good…on one USB 2.0 Port with a HUB,I am using RTL Dongle,External Monitor,Mouse and Keyboard…no problems !!!

  2. DB Gain

    I’m guessing the difference in dynamic range between Airspy and SDRPlay is due front end filtering as well as sensitivity, they both use a 12bit chip as dac so should have very similar dynamic ranges. The more sensitive a rx is, the less dynamic range it may have, all else being equal, so being “deaf” can be an asset more or less if one is looking at increasing dynamic range.

    • Adam

      They have been set for the same N.F. hence the same sensitivity. Some radios are better some not, regarding the BDR. Beside the A/D they are using different front ends (different tuners). Now when we have all the figures it is easy to decide what to buy depending on what you want to do with the receiver and where it is going to be used.

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