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.

RTL-820T Dongle from NooElec. One of the good ones!

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.
SDRPlay Website

SDRplay

SDRPlay Wideband SDR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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:

Anan 10E
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.
Apache Labs

T500_1044_ANAN-10 2

Apache Labs Anan 10E

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elad FDM-Duo
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.
Elad USA

Elad FDM-Duo

Elad FDM-Duo

 

 

 

 

 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.
Icom 7300

Icom 7300

Icom 7300

 

 

 

 

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.
.

17 Responses to Best SDR Radios of 2015 and 2016 (so far)

  1. Peter says:

    Sorry,

    But isn’t this a bit like a Miss World 2015 contest with only 3 misses on stage? 😉

    What about Airspy or RFSpace, or Afedri and others?

    Peter

    • Adrian says:

      ….. and don’t forget the Persius which has long been considered a great performer for the Shortwaves with its excellent filters.

  2. Mario says:

    After four years am still using one of those “dirt cheap” RTL-SDR dongles and a Nooelec upconverter and am very satisfied. Best bang for the buck.

    Very nice summary of SDR receivers, thanks!

  3. Scott says:

    A wide coverage SDR that has been flying under the radar for quite some time is the NetSDR. I bought one from RFSpace and they included the VHF/UHF downconverter for me long before they released the NetSDR+ which comes with said converter.

    This receiver is an exceptional “DC to Daylight” option but definitely a lot more pricey. I also have an Airspy and SDRPlay, both great SDR’s in their own right.

  4. Frank Perdew says:

    RE: IC-7300. Recent info on Yahoo Icom-7300 forum:
    yesterday icom release the new Official Info for the EU Market.

    http://www.hamshop.nl/media/downloads/Diverse/Brochure_IC-7300.pdf

    it looks like the spectrum waterfall can be observed with the RS-BA1 software.

    text: Optional RS-BA1 IP remote control software (the spectrum scope with the waterfall can be observed)…… yes.. that’s what i am

  5. sdrcurious says:

    Im sorry but this article is like a roundup of 2 apples, 3 oranges with the result that the author likes tomatos best. Randomly picking some wideband gear, missing out on the really wideband gear and declaring something HF the winner in the category “I have no idea what I’m doing here”.

  6. I’ve tested the fdm-duo, and the side of my flex-1500, leaves much to be desired, the duo has a intermodulation very strong, which will only be removed with the selector switch of the same brand, the flex does not have one, hopefully dui remedy this anomaly.

  7. Frank K2NCC says:

    It’s hard to properly review, let alone state “BEST OF”, if you haven’t even touched the rigs. In all fairness, that would take a lot of $$$ or generous loaners. Article is fine, but the lack of thoroughness doesn’t meet the bold title. Lots of great contenders not invited to the match.

  8. ąllmighty says:

    Best SDR radio so far is LimeSDR USB3.0.
    Continuous frequency range: 100 kHz – 3.8 GHz
    Bandwidth: 61.44 MHz
    Multiplexing: 2×2 MIMO
    Samples: 12 bits

    All of this for $299

    They are crowdfunding https://www.crowdsupply.com/lime-micro/limesdr

  9. Jon Hudson says:

    Many SDR radios are reviewed by real users on eHam.

    Take a look at http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/12358 or http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/11917 for example (SDRplay and ELAD examples)

  10. Tom Lau N8TL says:

    We seem to be forgetting about the Genesis line of SDR’s?????

    Of course…these are kits.

  11. DH says:

    Well, the first paragraph of this article does say “…..Here is our picks of the litter so far:….”

    So I read that to mean that this is NOT meant to be an exhaustive review of all things SDR, but rather a roundup of certain units favored by HRS.

    It does also say that some were reviewed by Ham Radio Science and some were not.

    Please people, read and pay more attention.

  12. Dave French says:

    As a long-term ICOM owner, I am really looking forward to the release of the new IC-R8600.

    ICOM say they have no firm details so far about timescale and pricing, but the pre-release leaflet looks good!

    It is now on the ‘wish-list’ – As long as it is not too pricey (like the IC-R9500)!

  13. pssaini says:

    I am very Happy with SDRPlay.I am a HF / Sw listener.It almost compares to my Drake R8B.Sound quality with SDR console is great.Able to copy weak signals good.FM stereo is excellent with SDR console.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.