Alinco DX-SR9 Hybrid SDR Transceiver Review
Build Quality and Ergonomics
The DX-SR9 at around 9 pounds does give the impression of being a pretty sturdy radio. The DX-SR9 outer casing appears to be about standard for most amateur radio gear. The front panel appears to be made of a heavy plastic material. The front panel can be separated from the radio body by removing a couple of screws. When used with the EDS-17 separation kit ($60) which includes a 16 1/2 foot cable, you can remotely mount the faceplate in your vehicle or save some space on your ham shack desk. However, the DX-SR9 is a relatively small radio at 9.45’’(w) X 3.94”(h) X 11.54”(d). The front panel is dominated by a bright high contrast dimmable LCD display that is viewable at almost any angle. The text is a very crisp and legible on a black on white display. The frequency setting is shown in a very large font. This is nice, for viewing across the room. The lower section of the display is dedicated to showing the S meter. Other settings such as VFO, AGC, Mode, Power, and RF gain are shown in the to section. The DX-SR9 uses a bright led that indicates green if in receive and red if in transmit mode. The DX-SR9’s buttons and text are trimmed in orange giving the radio a very attractive appearance. The two larger knobs on the front panel control squelch and volume, while the two smaller knobs control the Rit and IF Shift features. There is a large dimpled VFO tuning knob which seems to be nicely weighted and spins freely. The buttons and knobs are cover with a rubber coating providing a pretty grippy surface. There is also the obligatory mic jack that can be used with the included Alinco EMS-64 microphone. The mic is pretty basic and only features a mic lock button and two top mounted up and down buttons. The headphone and external speaker 3.5 mm jacks are also located on the front panel. The flip down bail allows you to tilt the DX-SR9 upwards for a better viewing angle if necessary. The back panel includes the antenna jack, power connector (included), Relay jack, ALC jack, CW key, External Antenna Tuner jack, Clone jack (used for cloning and computer control), MOD jack (input jack for SDR and digital modes), IQ signal output, GND connector.
Ok, thats pretty much the general layout and look and feel of the DX-SR9. Let’s dig in a little deeper on a couple of things. First the buttons. There is some good news and some slightly bad news. The button are arranged around the right side of the rig and the VFO in an upside down L pattern. The buttons have a very positive feel and respond with a beep (which thank goodness can be turned off) when pressed. The frequently used buttons are slightly larger and located along the edges of the L shape. Most of the buttons do double duty in conjunction with the Function buttons which mean most of the buttons have two labels. The numeric keyboard is made up of slightly smaller buttons. The bad news for you with pudgy fingers is that you may find it difficult to access the smaller buttons without bumping into the VFO knob and knocking it off the selected frequency. Not really a big deal for most and not an issue at all when using the DX-SR9 under computer control. Just worth noting.
The front firing speaker is small but mighty. The audio is actually pretty decent coming from this speaker and very listenable for long periods. The volume can also be turned up to painfully ear splitting levels without much noticeable distortion. The external speaker jack can drive larger speakers equally well. Nice job on that 2 watt audio amplifier Alinco! Yes, the external speaker jack is on the front panel rather than the back. This is actually has been quite convenient. The headphone jack also provides plenty of audio to a couple of generic headphones that were tested. Ok here is a little quirk. When the volume is on the DX-SR9 is turned completely down there is still some noticeable audio coming from the speaker. While not a huge problem, but it is pretty noticeable in a very quite environment.
Getting around in the DX-SR9’s environment is usually accomplished by single presses of keys on the keypad or a combination of pressing the FUNC button and a key on the keypad. Actually, getting around on the DX-SR9 is not too bad compared to some modern rigs. Most of the frequently used features are only one button away while the least used are buried in the Setting Mode menu. The user manual is pretty well written and easy to understand with examples given for the most the basic operations. Overall, the DX-SR9 is pretty user friendly.
The receiver in the DX-SR9 range goes from 135kHz – 29.99999 MHz. The available modes are AM, FM, SSB, CW, CWU, CWU, and SDR. Tuning is achieved by either the front VFO knob, band shortcuts by pressing the 1 through 0 keys on the keyboard, or direct entry via the keypad. Additionally the up and down arrow keys can be used in conjunction with the M/KHz key to quickly change the MHz or KHz setting of the VFO to larger increments. Also, the up and down keys step sizes can be tweaked in the Parameter Setting Menu of the DX-SR9. Frankly, the easiest way to tune the DX-SR9’s VFO is to use direct entry to get in the ballpark and then use the VFO knob for fine tuning. The DX-SR9 also has a VFOA and a VFOB that can be toggled back and forth by pressing Func and the 1 key.