Best SDR Radios of 2015 and 2016 (so far)
Looking back over some SDR Radio products that were reviewed here and some that were not. Here is our picks of the litter so far:
Best “Dirt Cheap” SDR – $25
RTL Dongle – The venerable old RTL Dongles are still hard to beat for the price. The dongles are still one of the best ways to get your feet wet in SDR for a pittance. With free software, a wide VHF/UHF coverage range, a decent sized sample rate, and tons of projects based around them, what’s not to like. However, once you do get your feet pretty wet, you will probably be ready to move up.
Best “Bang For the Buck” – SDRPlay – $149
The recently reviewed SDRPlay is the perfect step up from the RTL-Dongles. Matter of fact if you decide to skip the dongle phase you may want to go straight to this one. With very wide coverage from 0.1MHz to 2GHz you can listen to just about anything. The very wide bandwidth up to 8MHz will you to view large swaths of frequencies at once in the SDR software client or even set up multiple VFO’s to monitor several frequencies at once. Easy to set up with free SDR software such as HDSDR, SDR-Console, and CubicSDR. Great support from the SDRPlay team is included. This one is a winner.
Best “Step Up SDRs” – Anan 10E – $969 , Elad FDM Duo – $1149, and Icom 7300
When you are ready to step up your game with SDR radio, these are two direct sampling HF transceiver entries you should consider for under $1500:
The 14 bit Anan 10E offers a lot of features for the money. HRS reviewed this product a few months back. The feature set was pretty impressive at this price range. HF and 6M coverage, dual slice receivers, 15-20 Watts out, 3 antenna outputs, and excellent receiver and transmit quality. Thats just getting started. The Anan 10E is mainly powered by an open source version of Power SDR. Nearly everything is tweakable. It’s bandwidth isn’t the highest around at 384kHz, but the dual receivers help to make up for it.
The diminutive 16Bit FDM-Duo is a little powerhouse. The FDM-Duo can be used as a completely standalone HF – 6M transceiver with 5 watts output. When connected to a computer and Elad’s FDM-S2 SDR software it becomes an SDR powerhouse. With it’s 6 MHz sampling rate the FDM-Duo becomes extremely flexible offering up to 9 simultaneous receivers ( 1 on center frequency stand alone, 4 FDM-SW2 in fist 192kHz channel and 4 in the second 192kHz channel). You can also have two independent. Much like the Anan you can have two independent 384 kHz receivers. The FDM-S2 also offers a wide variety of features and flexibility in audio routing. The FDM-Duo is a bit like the Flex 6000 series in that most of the processing is done in the box and the computer mainly acts as a client to add additional features and processing. HRS has a FDM-Duo under review right now, so keep checking back.
Icom 7300 – $1500
The Icom IC-7300 is the first low cost all in one direct sampling 100 Watt HF SDR transceiver available for an affordable price.
Overall Winner Tie – Elad FDM-DUO and Icom IC-7300
If forced to chose one it would have to be between the IC-7300 and Elad-FDM Duo. These are both excellent HF SDR transceivers, but the IC-7300 is a better standalone SDR receiver. However, the Elad FDM-DUO is a better traditional software driven SDR since the IC-7300 doesn’t currently offer this feature. So, it’s a tie between IC-7300 and FDM-DUO.