Alinco DX-SR9 Hybrid SDR Transceiver Review

Amateur Radio Projects and Software Defined Radio

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.

Alinco DX-SR9 Front Panel

Alinco DX-SR9 Front Panel

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.

Receiver

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.

 

22 Responses

  1. AE5YJ says:

    Great review! Thanks for going so in-depth with this rig. 73

  2. George says:

    Excellent review! Nice to see a semi-major manufacturer embracing the improvements SDR offers and including it in their rigs.

  3. DL8YJ says:

    Thanks a lot for the review and the Omnirig.ini. It works well with SDR-Radio.
    Is there any (more or less official) list of the Alinco commands?

    73, Uwe

    • HRS Staff says:

      Check the Alinco Forum on this site. There is a list of DX-SR8 commands that seem to be pretty much compatible with the DX-SR9

  4. N4OZ says:

    If only it included 6 meters this would be a slam dunk. I think the KX3 still has the edge, even at 90 watts less power.

  5. AE5YJ says:

    Just curious which brands of usb adapters worked and which didn’t. I just ordered a sabrent 7.1 usb card with line in, stereo mic input, etc..

    • HRS Staff says:

      Actually one of the problem devices was the Sabrient SND8. The inputs were reversed. Even though they could be switched in the software for it, the setting wouldn’t always work correctly. The easy work around was to just swap the input cables around. The best performer by far was the Soundblaster SBX external box.

      • AE5YJ says:

        Thanks for the heads up, I will keep that in mind when it comes in. I just got it because it was economical and I am impatient, lol. I will also check on the soundblaster box, I noticed in the videos of the Tokyo Ham Fair that they were running the soundblaster unit.

  6. AE5YJ says:

    When you say swap the cables around, do you mean use a stereo to mono splitter and use the stereo mic input?

    • HRS Staff says:

      It would just me a matter of connecting the Left output to the Right input and the Right output to the Left input by using an adapter or by rewiring a 3.55 stereo cable so the inputs would be reversed.

  7. AE5YJ says:

    Sorry to keep making requests, but could you possibly post a youtube video of the SDR in action in a real receive/transmit environment? Counting down the days until my soundcard gets here lol

  8. AE5YJ says:

    I replaced my first faulty ERW-7 cable and now I have everything working in SDR mode thanks to the information here on this review and in the comments. I run SDR exclusively with this rig, and it works ok. Interesting note is that the I/Q imbalance is symmetrical in my unit, gain dropoff is severe and noticeable at both ends of the panadapter/waterfall. Annoying, yes but much easier to live with when symmetrical. Here is a YT video of the SDR in action:

    http://youtu.be/uaHAQCEwQck

    73 de AE5YJ

  9. kostas says:

    hello, I have not found the settings transmit filter

  10. Michael Mc Donald says:

    Hi there just set my dx-dr9e radio up with the erw-7 cable along with two 3.5mm audio cable one into line in and one into speaker output.Is there a certain mic I require for use on my pc ? 3.5mm into mic juck or would a usb version work I have tried a basic electric mic but when I key I get a high pitched squeal I then get a notification up on screen saying out of range using a cheap electret mic pluged into my mic jack on pc.Also is there another similar software which will work with the alnico? apart from kgtrx ? thx

  11. Michael Mc Donald says:

    Quick update radio with kgtx working well apart from the tx side when I click on tx I get a nasty squeal and a message saying out of range

    • Dub Campbell says:

      From what I understand the mic jack requires a mono plug and a dynamic mic. An electret mic cannot be used as a direct substitute for a dynamic mic without making some wiring or circuitry changes. The electret mic uses phantom power like a condenser mic and if you plug it into a jack that’s intended for a dynamic mic you’ll have a squealing problem or worse.
      Just plug in a simple, unbalanced dynamic mic and you should be good to go. That is, unless the voltage from the electret mic has caused some damage…but I think damage is unlikely with a low voltage electret. Good luck!
      Dub, k4dub

  12. Urmas says:

    How on earth you program memory channels? If you do what manual says it seems that frequency doesn’t save. Really seem to be overly complicated.

    Mainly now we talk cb-frequencies(receive/transmit same frequency)Mars-mod done to unit.

  13. Mentioned soon after introduction of the DX-SR9T Transceiver was the availability of an optional plug-in “filter board” (Part# EJ-59U) that is still available from ALINCO/REMTRONIX–but has not been mentioned in “factory literature” for well over the last year (2015 & 16). This “filter board” allows the substitution of up to three Eight-Pole COLLINS Mechanical Filters in place of the “stock” Four-Pole MURATA Ceramic Filters. Though not bad to begin with–the improvement in Selectivity is remarkable!! Refer to KZ4B’s comments regarding the DX-SR9T under EHAM.net for much more detail regarding this valuable option.

  14. Chris says:

    Hi. Where can I find now file: DX-SR9_Beta.ini?
    I need this emergency. May be somebody have it?

  15. DF1FN says:

    What a great review, actually it made me purchasing the transceiver. And what can I say? I’m very impressed, what Alinco offers with the DX-SR9, especially considering the relatively low price compared to other TRXs that dont’t offer as many functions, for example FM and the SDR option.

    What I like about the Alinco is the clear and simple design.
    I even don’t mind the three solid power output levels. Where’s the problem? You get a high, low and super-low setting with the possibility to fine-adjust everything on the circuit-board or to limit the high setting to 50 W by soldering a jumper. Working digital modes I set to the “high” level and adjust the output power with the sound level of the PC.

    Ok, what annoys me a bit are the many multifunction buttons at the front, but tell me a similar device that doesn’t have them.

    The KG-TRX software works relatively well but I had to update the TRX to a newer or special firmware to make it work correctly. Otherwise there always was a offset in the waterfall when I changed between LSB/USB/CW mode. I reported to the Alinco online customer service which could help me immediately.

    The Software itself is very basic and clear, what I like very much, because with more options it would tend to be overloaded I guess. Everything works including TX and CW TX.
    The 48 khz is wide enough for me. Ok, there is this signal ghosting but it can be reduced by a high quality soundcard.

    Would I recommend the Alinco? Yes!

    vy 73 DF1FN

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