Review of the Tecsun PL-380 AM/FM/Shortwave Receiver
I am a technological person. As such, I was fascinated by new
technology in radio equipment. Looking at other reviews and
cost factors, I decided to purchase the PL-380.
Features and specifications:
AM (MW) and FM broadcast band. (9 and 10 kHz spacing)
LW 153-513 Khz
Shortwave: 2300 to 21950 kHz (AM only)
Digital Signal Processor (DSP)
Backlit multifunction LCD display
AM IF bandwidth : 1, 2, 3, 4, 6kHz.
Easy Tuning mode and Auto tuning storage finds and stores active
Clock, alarm and sleep timer.
Signal strength indicator.
Built-in battery charging system for rechargeable batteries.
Ease of Operation
You can direct enter a frequenciy in all modes. Also, you
can use the tuning wheel on the side to move through frequencies.
A single press of the ETM button will scan through all frequencies
and store them in temporary memory. After the scan is
complete, you can then scroll through the stored frequencies.
These frequencies stay stored until overwritten. The ATS
function works in similar fashion; but stores frequencies in a
memory which can be manually edited, either additions or deletions
from a "permanent" set of memory channels.
The signal strength display shows signal in microvolts, as well as
Signal to noise ratio.
The radio has a USB port to charge rechargeable batteries. It
is a smart charger that turns off after a full charge. You
know to charge when the battery level displayed on screen gets low.
I find the radio very simple to operate. In some cases,
consulting the manual is needed; but it seems less complicated than
many radios I have used.
How does it actually work?
AM and FM reception in local areas is very good. Naturally,
the small speaker won't get you high fidelity sound; but it is very
good for the speaker size. There is a stereo headphone jack
and included earbuds, which will allow you to listen to FM stereo
and help listen to noisy far away AM and SW stations.
On distant AM station reception it isn't bad. It is not
great. Certainly not up to par with a Superradio or other
radio designed for AM performance. The ferrite rod antenna is
small, and this takes away from performance.
On shortwave, the built in antenna is fair. Strong stations
are easily picked up. You won't get the rare stations.
There is no external antenna jack. The radio comes with a wire
antenna that attaches to the built in antenna. This improves
This radio does NOT have single-sideband (SSB), and there it is not
full coverage as indicated in the specifications above. As a
result, you will not be able to monitor ham radio, as well as a lot
of utility stations. This is not unexpected for a radio in
this price point. This radio does not have synch detection
that compensates for signal fading.
The DSP chip has some control of an automatic gain control that
helps with some signal fading. The DSP will not eliminate
noise; but it minimizes it to a degree. The IF bandwidth is
controlled by the DSP and is VERY useful for distant stations.
Fidelity is reduced the narrower you go; but noise is reduced, as
well as an improvement in readability.
I consider this radio very good for travel and casual use. As
an ultralight receiver it is a good performer relatively
speaking. It is, however, by no means a hard-core "DXers"
radio. Audio quality is good, and received stations can be
This radio is classified as an "ultralight" by shortwave
enthusiasts. Shipped, the radio cost me about $50. This
radio performs well for what it was designed for. It has a
good "cool factor" with the latest digital signal processing
technology. 10 years ago the performance levels versus price
would not have been possible in a radio this size. Hard core
listeners may stay away from it; but casual SW and MW dxers will
have fun with it.
I like it.