Alinco DX-SR9 Hybrid SDR Transceiver Review

Introduction
If Alinco’s DX-R8  receiver and the DX-SR8 had a child, it would be the DX-SR9. The DX-SR9 inherits the brains of the DX-R8 and the brawn of the DX-SR8 to create the DX-SR9 hybrid amateur radio transceiver. Hybrid SDRs are generally a standard radio receiver with buttons and knobs that feature an IQ output to allow its use with SDR software programs. This gives you the best of best worlds. You get a radio with standard buttons and knobs that you can quickly use when you don’t feel like firing up the shack computer for SDR. The Hybrid SDR also allows you to use it in situations where you would like to not have to fool with the computer like in the field or mobile. Unlike the black box SDR radios, you are not always tied to a computer for operation. The Hybrids also offer a more friendly introduction to SDR for new users. They can plug the rig in and use it immediately and come to grips with the SDR part later. When SDR software is added, then the radio gains some of the features of far more expensive radios such as panoramic displays and additional filtering. What’s the downside? IQ based SDR radios don’t offer some of the perks of direct sampling SDR radios such as larger bandwidth and better signal processing. IQ based SDR radios can sometimes take a little more fiddling to get setup and running well. Hopefully more amateur radio manufacturers will consider offering more Hybrids in the future. The Alinco DX-SR9 retails for $799 with a street price of around $699 to $775. The nearest competitors to the 100 Watt Alinco DX-SR9 as of this writing is the 10 Watt Elecraft KX3 SDR hybrid at $899 (kit) and $995 (assembled). If you want to add the 100 watt power amp, that will be another $699 (kit) or $749 (assembled).  For the price of the KX3 and amp, you could buy the DX-SR9 and have money left over for a very nice shack computer. However, with that said, Elecraft does make excellent radio gear. The only other sort of close competitor is the 5 watt Flex 1500 black box IQ based SDR transceiver for $699. Having used and tested the Flex 1550, this is an excellent little QRP SDR transceiver. So, basically at this point it is fair to say that Alinco as no real competition in the 100 Watt SDR radio category in the $799 price range or frankly the $1500 and up range. The next step up would probably be the older 100 Watt Flex 3000 black box SDR at $1749.  Now to be fair, once you cross the $1500 range in SDR radios, it gets to be more of an “apples” to “oranges” comparison. The point is that the DX-SR9 presents a very attractive value for amateur radio users looking for an entry level radio and would like to experiment with SDR. The DX-SR9 was released earlier this year, so it is a relatively new product. The observations in this review are based on the current shipping firmware.

Note* The DX-SR9 does not cover 6 meters as most of the above mentioned radios do, however it does include FM modulation.

Features

  • Coverage of All short-wave and HF amateur bands
    Covers the 160m to 10m amateur bands including 5.3MHz in SSB, CW, AM ,FM and IQ output modes. Output power is 100W SSB/CW and FM, 40W in AM with low and super-low power settings for QRP operation. In addition, the general coverage receiver covers 135KHz to 30MHz in all modes. (The RX sensitivity and selectivity are not guaranteed out side of the ham bands.)
  • Internal VOX
    Eliminates optional interface box for PC connection to operate data modes like PSK31.
  • Detachable front control panel
    Completely detachable front control panel with large LCD display lets you install the radio with greater flexibility whether in your car, boat or your shack. (Optional EDS-17 cable required)
  • Direct DATA entry via the key pads
    While the main dial tunes at the default 10Hz/resolution (adjustable in set mode), the numerical key pads can be used for fast direct frequency input, band selection and more.
  • Fight QRM with these STANDARD features
    Reject unwanted signals with the IF shift. Choose a narrow filter(AM 2.4KHz/SSB 1KHz, CW 0.5KHz audio-filtering), a noise-blanker or use RIT/TXIT to stay out of QRM.
  • Emphasis on CW Operation
    An electronic keyer unit is standard. You can receive CW using either upper or lower side of the carrier frequency. Choice of side tone pitch, FULL (QSK), Semi or Auto break-in, split, narrow filter, AGC and RF gain.
  • World-class transmit audio quality
    A dynamic microphone (T/E models) and a speech compressor come standard for sharp, clear and powerful transmitting audio.
  • Enhanced scan modes
    A variety of scan modes are available including Priority, Search, Busy, Timed, Memory and Programmed search. Timed scan setting does not require squelch-mute so you are able to monitor data-modes and broadcasts simultaneously with memory search scan.
  • Additional convenient features include
    RF Attenuator and Pre-amplifier selectable in 4 steps, / 3 TX power output levels with a Super-Low setting (QRP 0.1W~2W variable) / Dual VFO / 600ch memories in 3 banks / Connections for Auto-antenna tuner and Liner amplifier ALC output / Fully independent AF level, squelch, RIT and IF shift knobs / Dial lock and key lock / TX-RX lamp / Alphanumeric display / Auto-power-off / CTCSS encode for 10m FM repeater accesses / Microphone, Headphone and External speaker jacks on the front panel / Large, temperature-controlled internal cooling fan with anti-overheat output power limiter/ High-SWR protection and more!

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20 Responses to Alinco DX-SR9 Hybrid SDR Transceiver Review

  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?

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