Alinco DX-SR9 Hybrid SDR Transceiver Review

Amateur Radio Projects and Software Defined Radio

Alinco DX-SR9 Hybrid SDR Transceiver Review

The best way to describe the DX-SR9’s receiver is very “hot”. There appears to be plenty of sensitivity. There was no problems picking up plenty of signals even with a modest antenna. There is also a 10dB preamplifier that can be activated by pressing the RF key. The RF key also controls a 10dB attenuator and a 20dB attenuator. The default setting for the RF switch is 0dB which turns off both the attenuator and preamp. In use the 0dB setting seemed to the best general setting. Activating the 10dB preamp will increase the signal level, but if you are in a noisy RF area, it will increase the RF noise floor also. If you are in a noisy RF area, the attenuators do a good job of reducing the noise floor with out giving up much in regards to the signal level. Front end filtering seems to be extremely good. The front end rejected strong signals near the center frequency very well. The only exceptions was when the 10dB preamp was in use when two very exceptionally strong signals were very close. Turning off the preamp will fix that. Even in those cases, the interference was minimal. The receiver front end did not experience any overloading with the 20M meter dipole that was used for testing. How ever, your mileage may very depending on the antenna in use.

DX-SR9 Back Panel and Connections

DX-SR9 Back Panel and Connections

There is an AGC mode that by default is set to auto. The AGC is automatically set to fast for CW and slow SSB and AM. The AGC can be set to manual through the Function menu so you can set AGC-F or AGC-S to your tastes. You can adjust the AGC on the fly, but the Auto-mode will return the AGC to it’s default settings when the radio is powered off and back on.

The DX-SR9 only has a few additional interference fighting tools available. First of all, there are no Digital Signal Processing modes to be found anywhere. not even a notch filter. However, these can be added when used in SDR mode by the SDR software. The only other noise fighting tools besides the attenuator is the Noise Blanker and IF shift. The Noise Blanker is probably more geared for reducing pulse type noises such from automobile ignition systems. The other feature is the IF shift knob that allows you to separate to very very close signals with a little loss in audio quality. The IF shift on the DX-SR9 was very effective of removing interference from signals a few kilohertz away.

Overall, the DX-SR9 has a very competent and pleasant receiver section. You aren’t giving up too much to more expensive rigs considering that the DX-SR9 is a budget transceiver.

Transmit

The power output levels can be set by pressing the FUNC and 0 key to three settings, High 100 Watts, Low  10 Watts, and S-Low 1 Watt for the SSB, CW, and FM modes. The AM mode can be set to High 40 Watts, Low 4 Watts, and S-Low 0.4 Watts. So the DX-SR9 can fill in for those who like working QRP, with the bonus of an adjustable internal pot that can be used to adjust the power down to 0.1 Watts.  There are other internal pots that allow you to adjust the microphone gain, beep volume, and side tone volume.

Transmit audio using the included microphone is pretty much standard for this level of transceiver, which is pretty decent. However, when used in SDR mode the  DX-SR9 can be a audio tweakers dream. When in SDR mode the DX-SR9’s from panel and controls are pretty much disabled. This also includes the front microphone jack. All transmit audio is routed to the rear MOD jack from the PC’s sound card. You can use anything from a good quality USB headphone and microphone set to a professional level audio interface to connect studio mics. You also will be able to adjust audio equalization and compression through the use of 3rd party audio processing software if you wish.

The DX-SR9 also offers VOX and a speech compressor internally, but thats about it.

Other Notable Features

The DX-SR9 has a few other features that are worth mentioning:

Memory and Scanning
The  DX-SR9 offers 3 memory banks of 200 channels that can be programmed and recalled. The memory will retain information about the channel such as splits, mode, filter, AGC, NB, Tone, Output power, and Skip. These memories can be labeled with a 6 character alphanumeric label, which is pretty handy. However, at this writing there is no specific software to help program these memory slots for the DX-SR9 from Alinco.  So manual entry of these memories and labels could be a time consuming process. The DX-SR9 can perform several scanning functions using these channels or a frequency range such as band, programmed. search, memory, and priority. These scan features are fairly common to most recent HF transceivers.

HF FM Repeater Operation
The DX-SR9 allows you to easily work HF FM repeaters. You can program the repeaters frequency and offset into the DX-SR9 and store the information in a memory slot. The DX-SR9 also supports the use of CTCSS tones if they are being used on the repeater.

Easy Setup for Digital Modes
The DX-SR9 allows you to quickly get operational on the digital modes such as PSK-31 without having to invest in an external interface. You can simply run a 3.5 mm cable between your audio cards line input and the DX-SR9’s  front mounted speaker jack.  Connect an additional 3.5 mm stereo cable from your soundcard’s line out or speaker out to the rear mounted Mod jack. Setup your PSK-31 software audio settings for audio input and output. Keying is by enabling a feature called DVOX on the DX-SR9 through the Setting Mode Parameters submenu. DVOX is simply a vox circuit tied to the MOD jack. This will place the DX-SR9 into transmit mode whenever audio is heard on the MOD jack. This is about as simple as it gets. The only thing to keep in mind is that you may want to be sure that you turn of all Windows notifications sounds. If not you will probably sharing them with the world.

 

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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