AOR AR-DV1 "Digital
The very unique AOR AR-DV1 "Digital Voice
Receiver" (Made in Japan) Decent supplement "Stand Alone"
receiver for the ICOM IC-R8600 to cover the digital voice modes it
lacks (like DMR). There is no other "Stand Alone" receiver on the market that can decode
as many digital voice modes as does the AR-DV1. Has many bugs in the pudding with it's mediocre RF performance
and MW / HF audio quality in our testing. This is NOT a scanner !! (N9EWO Photo)
Review : AOR AR-DV1 "Digital Voice Receiver". You will see comparisons
made in this report to the Icom IC-R8600 (our review located here) .
Important Note : We will be looking at this receiver more on the "Short Wave" HF side of the fence below 30 MHz.
Model : AOR AR-DV1
Manufacture : Japan
Included SWITCHING power supply (SRP1201500P, 12 volts 1500ma) : China
Versions Tested : v1803A, v1801A, v1710C (most testing with v1801A and v1803A)
Number of Test Sample (PC Board Rev 2) : 0956017x
Accessories Tested :
Astron RS-7A Regulated
Linear Power Supply [Made in USA]
3.5 to 30 Mhz "Band Pass Filter" [Made in China]
Test Antenna's :
Comet DS150S Discone Antenna (30 ft height)
RF Systems MLBA-MK2 long wire (55 ft length - 24 ft height at peak)
Comet H-422 Dipole (24 ft height - Straight Configuration)
Software Tested (no software is available from AOR) :
DV1 Manager [Free]
espyonard - AOR AR-DV-1 Computer
Control [about $ 55. USD]
- A True 'Software Defined - Direct Sampling"
to 18 Mhz (is not another one of the so called superhet SDR sets).
Above 18 Mhz is a Hybrid SDR design just like with the Icom IC-R8600
- Small Solid Attractive "White" metal cabinet with
Excellent Front Riser Feet (see Con)
- Decodes Most (but not all) of the most Popular Digital Voice
Modes used By Public Service Communications and Amateur Radio
- Excellent sensitivity across it's tested frequency
range. Comparable to most other Communications Receiver / Scanners
- Excellent selectivity (see Con). 15 kHz setting also works on
HF / SW when conditions warrant
- Good Performing 3 setting AGC that also includes a useful RF-G
mode (Turns the Squelch Control into a manual RF Gain Control)
- Above average audio "voice" recovery (see Con)
- FM Broadcast has 100 and 200 kHz bandwidth settings
- 2 VFO's plus one called Z which is also used for tuning memory
channels (just hit ENT when on a Memory Chanel)
- Above average "Bar Graph" S-Meter that also gives a very useful
- Provided LCD even if small, has an excellent LED backlight
and the single step dimmer is at a perfect level for most indoor
use (See Con)
- 24 hour clock with seconds
- Two Search Modes (Between VFO A to B and 40
Pre-programmed Frequency Limits)
- 2000 Total Memory Channels (40 Banks / 50 Channels Per Bank)
- Built in SD Card Audio Recorder that works well even if only
one quality setting provided (can be toggled with the squelch) (See Con)
- One Event timer (also can be be used for timed SD card
recording) / Up to a 120 minute Sleep Timer
- Useful "NR" Noise Reduction Feature (above average)
- Excellent Auto Notch Filter
- Standard CTCSS / DCS / Voice Squelch Built in
- Keypad tactile adequate and can be Backlit if Desired (see Con)
- Rear AUX Jack can be used to feed Unfiltered Audio into a Host
Computer for Other External Decoding / Programs
- Local MW and FM Broadcast Station Breakthrough
into SW Coverage (common). May need the addition of a "Band Pass
Filter" in the antenna line (location dependent).
Limited HF Dynamic Range, after any MW/FM Breakthrough issues
are taken care of. Adding 20 db of EXTERNAL attenuation at the antenna
connector cleared this issue up 100%.
Tiring audio quality when listening to MW and SW
broadcast stations (external speakers NOT helping to improve it, it
also has no tone control) / FM Broadcast etc. audio pars better (no
tone controls are provided)
- Bandwidth choices are limited
and dependent on mode
- No traditional antenna attenuator provided (internal automatic
one works differently)
- SLOW scanning and searching modes (even worse when dealing with
- Unacceptable Sync Detection Performance (which
also includes 2 Totally useless Too Narrow Bandwidth selections)
LOUD disconcerting "POP" at power up and again at power down
- Typical AOR Sour Ergonomics. Lots of button pushing to archive
- Test sample included a noisy switching type power supply, 12
volt DC at 1500ma current rating (earlier production included a
unregulated linear supply)
- Test sample included a 8 GB MICRO SD card with a micro to
standard SD Card adapter (earlier production came with 4 GB "standard
size" card, more preferable)
- Receiver drop outs on NSQ setting (cured by selecting LSQ squelch setting even
if set at zero)
- When in digital voice modes, lacks audio punch / No Audio AGC for Digital Signals
(audio level is all over the place).
- Volume when receiving digital signals requires MUCH higher
setting over analog Broadcast stations
- Digital decode quality is generally mediocre and not 100 % reliable when
scanning some digital signals (even when strong)
- FM Broadcast in Mono only
- Slightly wobbly volume / squelch / tuning knob encoders. Tuning
knob also has a low cost feeling when rotated
- Warm to Hot operation (heat greatly depends on ambient room
temperature and mode used)
- Large and ugly FCC Part 15 sticker on bottom (US Domestic Version, this almost falls
off in use when the cabinet gets warm enough) The sticker is
printed on low cost paper / adhesive
- LCD Multi-Plex noise (minor)
Test sample's frequency display off approx 300 hz (low) at 15 MHz (no
customer way to correct this unlike the Icom IC-R8600 which
- Keypad lighting only useful in TOTAL darkness, otherwise It
- Lacks Digital Decode of NXDN 9600 (12.5 kHz) and Yaesu Fusion
VW (Voice Wide) mode (P25 Phase 2 Conventional Mode is Planned)
Has a tendency to slide around in use, more so when using the front flip
up feet (especially with when turning off as more force Is required)
Very finicky on what SD Cards it will work with
Cabinet / Knobs / LCD
Display Multi-Plex Noise / Manual
First item that hits you with the
AR-DV1 on its box and front panel is it says “Digital Voice Receiver”.
This is NOT a scanner type receiver and how it works is different. It
is indeed “Made in Japan” which is becoming more and more rare
Cabinet is in a very attractive solid
metal shell and is WHITE in color with light blue accents on the plastic front
bezel. One can see the tiny panel markings well too (no black cabinet
with GRAY lettering on this receiver to have to struggle with).
One can backlight the keys in a
number of different colors (LCD Backlight is a only one color). But we
found if not in TOTAL darkness, this is a hindrance and actually makes
it hard to see (here it’s better with it off). All buttons have a good
tactile response (just slightly mushy in our view).
Two flip down front feet are provided
and work well. If these were not there would have made the receiver
very hard to use. Downside is that the cabinet tends to slide around
when turning the receiver on / off with the flip down feet in use (you
need to push on the volume control to do that and takes some force).
There are 4 excellent rubber like feet on the bottom (2 rear ones are
only in use with the flip down feet).
The hard plastic Volume / Squelch and
Main Tuning Knob (click encoders) work adequately. However they all
have slight wobble / rotational play and the un-weighted tuning knob
feels low cost when rotated (we assume this is a mechanical type
encoder being used here?). They all have detents, with the tuning knob
one being of the soft type, so no annoying CLACK – CLACK – CLACK as
Speaking of the Squelch control, we
found that ONLY using the LSQ (Level Squelch) mode works properly. NSQ
(Noise Squelch, default) makes the receiver cut in and out even if the
squelch control is set at ZERO. This is set by pushing and holding the
Squelch control in for a second. There is also a separate Voice Squelch
mode (not tested).
Connection to a PC is provided on the
front panel via MICRO USB port. Default baud rate is 115200. There is a
AUX 1/8 inch mono phone jack on the rear panel for alternative low
level that can also be used for connection to external decoders (say to
The LCD is small and has a limited
viewing angle. But it has a good "even" backlight and includes a one step
dimmer selection. This dimmer is greatly appreciated too as with full
brightness will make for some major eye pain (is way too bright).
In testing we detected minor LCD
display “Multi-Plexing”. That is one will see a scanning dark haze in
operation (more detectable with darker contrast settings). This is
normal and not a fault.
Frequencies are displayed in kHz up
to 3000 KHz (3 Mhz) in LARGE digits. Mhz after this, with all digits
becoming smaller and the last 5 becoming thin and more difficult too
see for tried old eyes. Not sure the point is with this weird scheme ?
Included 68-page English manual while
being helpful for proper operation sorely lacks in others leaving the
owner in the dark on many topics (if covered at all).
Adapter / Astron RS-7A To The Rescue / LARGE FCC Part 15 Sticker on
With the test sample “US Consumer”
version (800 MHz blocked segments), a 12 volt 1500 ma SWITCHING type
power supply was included. Originally an unregulated 800ma linear
transformer supply was included. Those tended to run extremely hot and
the reason why is the actual closer “tested” current draw is more like
ONE ampere (1000 ma) at 12 volts (digital reception while scanning with
loud volume). Is this included switching supply RF noisy at all on the
HF bands ?? If you are using the included whip antenna, you bet it is !
With an outdoor external antenna it pars better, but why even deal with
a noisy switching supply at all when receiving HF signals, indoor or
Operating the receiver with an Astron
RS-7A linear regulated power supply worked perfectly (no added noise
ZERO), and its rear sink was very touchable even after a number of
hours in digital modes while scanning.
The power input socket is of a
standard DC “round” type and is 2.1 ID x 5.5 OD mm size (+ positive
While operating the receiver with any
digital decode modes and scanning creates the maximum amount of current
consumption and the maximum amount of cabinet heat. Depending on
ambient room temperature, it can operate very warm if not near hot. So
the usual stuff here, don’t stack anything on top or near the cabinet.
It has NO internal cooling fans thank goodness.
On the bottom of the cabinet with the
test sample USA Domestic Version, there is a large and ugly FCC Part 15
sticker. It covers a good part of the bottom side. Printed on very low
cost paper / adhesive and with a warm cabinet it nearly falls off on
“POP Goes the
As indicated in the owner’s manual
(is normal and not a defect), while the receiver is being powered up
and also when being powered down a very LOUD and disconcerting POP is
heard in the speaker. One does not want to have a pair of headphones in
use while powering the set up or down.
Other than with this bug, the audio
is loud and hiss free. Small fine “electronic” volume adjustments allow
for good nighttime listening (say at a bed side).
Sensitivity / Excellent MW - SW AGC and RF-G Mode / MAJOR Difference
Between Analog and Digital Volume Levels
Talk about sensitivity. It certainly
has lots of it across its tested “Wide Band” tuning range. In fact
maybe just a bit too much (see the Dynamic Range paragraph later in
this report). Its antenna jack is one lone BNC female connector on the
rear for all bands.
In side by side testing with the Icom IC-R8600 that in some situations,
the AR-DV1 actually received extremely "weak" HF/SW signals better
(including the audio recovery). We are splitting hairs mind you, but
this was a real surprise ! The better performing AGC with the AOR also
helped here. But in general it was a pretty close horse race. Downside
is with the shrill-sharp audio quality on MW / SW bands (more on this
AGC with the AOR AR-DV1 is a stellar
performer with MW / SW signals that are all over the place. Not just
because it has 3 selections (Fast-Medium-Slow), but generally excellent
all around performance. If one places the AGC selection in RF-G mode
then the squelch control becomes a RF Gain control. Again we found the AGC performance actually
performs a bit better over the Icom IC-R8600 in our testing.
The nasty is with Digital signals,
there appears to be is NO "Audio" AGC here so the volume is all over the place.
Also the volume between MW / SW and other analog signals is greatly
LOWER over Digital Decoded ones. So one needs to be careful not to
stress the audio amplifier and or the speaker when switching back and
forth (say from VFO / Memory Channels etc).
Modes / Digital
Decode Bliss / Decode Quality So-So and Sometimes not 100% / Lacks NXDN
9600 (12.5 kHz)
“Non-Digital” modes include
- SAH (Synchronous
- SAL (Synchronous
When it comes to voice digital modes
the AOR AR-DV1 versatility is unbeatable in a "standalone" receiver (at
the time this report was compiled). Not that it covers all of the
popular modes, but pretty close.
- Digital Auto Mode
- Tetra (No Auto
- DMR / MOTOTRBO
(Tier I and II, it will decode Tier III but no data-as tested)
- Alinco Digital
- Yaesu Fusion (DN
- D-CR / NXDN (4800
- P25 Phase 1
- P25 Phase 2
Major Digital Modes lacking is NXDN
12.5 kHz 9600 and Yaesu Fusion in VW (voice wide). Again being this is
NOT a scanning type receiver, it does not support trunking of any kind.
Decode quality while quite acceptable
not at any stellar standing. When scanning it sometimes does not stop
with digital signals (even if super strong). Doesn’t happen too often,
but is one that needs to be pointed out. I would say it was good about
90% of the time in testing.
Memories / VFO’s /
Scanning / Searching
2000 total memory channels are
provided. These are divided up as 50 channels in 40 banks. What is
stored with each memory channel is hazy and incorrect in the manual. It
does store more than Frequency, Mode, Tuning Step and 12-character
alpha tag. Add the AGC setting, Bandwidth among others.
As with it is with most AOR
receivers, there are 2 very useful VFO’s. Additionally there is one
called VFO-Z. This is again is vaguely covered in the manual on what it
really does. For one is used for tuning the memory channels, So yes the
memory channels are indeed tunable. One just hits ENT key while on a
memory channel to accomplish this.
Operational Tip: If you hit the F
(function) key while in a VFO mode the tuning step increases by a
factor of 10. (Example: 5 kHz becomes 50 KHz). The F button has no time
out, so remains active until you hit it again. That is a bit different and is plus or negative depending on how one prefers it.
Scanning speed of the memory channels
is poky at best. If you scan digital channels that contain Digital
modes it becomes even pokier. Even another step worse if the “Auto”
mode is used. However the “Auto” mode select is a super neat feature
with the AR-DV1. There is a PASS feature that allows the receiver to
not scan these marked channels (same as Lockout on
Searching has 2 modes. A very
convenient fast VFO Search, where it searches between VFO A and VFO B and
Program Search, where it searches between pre-programmed limits (up to 20 groups
Choices A Bit Limited But OK and Excellent
There are a number of Selectivity
choices for all modes. The ones available varies dependent on mode. FM
Broadcast normally uses the 200 kHz bandwidth, but a 100 kHz is
available and is good for dx’ing. By the way the FM Broadcast band is
in MONO only.
With AM Synchronous Detector Mode, 2
poor narrow choices of 2.6 and 3.8 were chosen, It’s not a huge loss as
the Sync Detector is a utter disappointment anyway (it breaks into
distortion more than not and again the filter selections are just too narrow).
Available Filter Bandwidths:
FM: 100, 200, 30, 15 and 6 kHz.
FM Digital P25: Fixed at 15 kHz
FM Digital other ?: Fixed at 6 kHz
AM: 15, 8, 5.5 and 3.8 kHz
AM Sync: 3.8 and 2.6 kHz
SSB: 2.6 and 1.8 kHz
CW : 500 or 200 Hz
Steps / Test Sample Frequency Display Approx 300 Hz Low
Tuning steps are proper and what’s
available is dependent on mode selection. The finest tuning step and
display resolution is 10 Hz . Stability is excellent all around.
Those steps are: 10, 50, 100, 500 Hz,
1, 2, 5, 6.25, 7.5, 8.33, 9, 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 3, 50, 100 and 500 kHz.
Test sample frequency display was off
up to around 300 hz (low). As it always goes in these situations, the
error is worse as one increases in frequency. Sadly there does not
appear for a way FOR THE CUSTOMER to correct this error (with the ICOM IC-R8600 this is easily done in the menu’s).
This error also throws off the
Synchronous AM mode with normal tuning, but as we have already covered
in this report above, when even when properly tuned the Sync detector
sorely lacks and the only 2 poor bandwidth filtering choices
provided are too narrow anyway.
SSB and Manual ECSS modes are excellent even with the only one "useful"
2.6 kHz bandwidth provided. But again with the frequency being
slightly off makes that not as nice tuning around in 1 kHz tuning
steps for SSB. One has to change the tuning step and fiddle with off channel fine tuning (a major chore).
Of course AOR provides NO service
information (not even a decent block diagram) of this receiver. AOR USA did
respond back to us when we reported it, but gave no resolution or answer.
|Actually Received on Test Sample
"Zero Beat LSB-USB Mode" (warm)
MW and FM Broadcast
Breakthrough Issues / Manual Preselector For Certain Situations
If the AOR AR-DV1 is used anywhere
near a MW of FM broadcast station(s) one can expect these signals to
breakthrough into the SW bands. It just lacks the proper internal pre
filtering. The easy way to cure this is to add a external Band Pass Filter to
the input of the antenna line so to cut off the interference.
We experienced this issue at HQ (in
our case it was a local 1 KW MW station). To cure this issue, a Chinese
3.5 to 30 Mhz “Band Pass Filter” was added that allows signals only in
this range and it terminated the offending local MW station 100%.
However just using a VARIABLE attenuator also cleared up this issue up
but also reducing all incoming signals as well.
Testing was not done with a manual HF
pre-selector. This would add another tedious step
in the tuning process and is desirable to avoid that altogether.
However if one is near HF amateur radio station a manually tuned PASSIVE (no preamps) preselector may be a requirement (such as the MFJ-1046, not tested).
3.5 to 30 MHz “Band Pass Filter”
Depending on where you live, this may be a required purchase for the AOR AR-DV1
HF Dynamic Range : Not Excessively Bad
Once the MW / FM breakthrough Issue
is taken care of (if you need to deal with it), the next gremlin that
can occur is receiver overloading on the HF bands. Actually behaved itself fairly well
with the test 55-foot long wire antenna. But alas during peak “very
strong” band conditions (say the 49 Meter SW Broadcast Band at night)
we indeed experienced overloading with a decent antenna. If it was less
than very strong band conditions, it was not a problem at all.
Cure was to add a 20 db EXTERNAL
attenuator in the antenna line (ours was a variable type so just enough
to get the job done). This cured the problem 100%. Why an external one
you ask? It has no traditional antenna attenuator. There is an
automatic inboard one used for ADC overload, but this attenuator
circuit does not work in the same way.
This attenuator was also required to
tune in the MW band at any time at the test location to reduce the
local signals JUST ENOUGH to keep overloading at bay. This situation
will of course vary at any given location.
Quality with MW and SW Broadcasting Stations
One major “Bug-A-Boo” with the AOR
AR-DV1 is with its shrill-sharp “tiring” audio quality with MW or SW
signals. It has ZERO bass response and external speakers will not help
with this disconcerting issue. With the sharp audio quality and being a
SDR on these bands, a plus side of this is for above average voice audio
recovery (can hear the spoken work better). With FM Broadcast (and all
other signals) it pars better in this department (much more Bass response). There are no tone
controls provided on the AR-DV1 (none).
If AOR were to improve on these MAJOR
MW / SW “AM Mode” audio issues (firmware ?), we feel they could very
improve sales perhaps greatly, but don’t hold your breath ? We have
talked to a number of AR-DV1 owners and this was the MAIN reason they
did not like it (of course this is a very subjective topic).
Even with the sub par audio quality
with MW and SW broadcast stations the use of an external speaker in
testing was a huge plus to help point the audio to the user.
Noise Reduction /
Auto Notch Filter
The AOR AR-DV1 includes a 3-Step
Noise Reduction feature (accessible in the "options" list, Function + 9).
The LOW and MED settings work wonderful and above the average.
Equally decent is the Auto Notch
available in the same “option” list.
Excellent On Board
SD Card “Off Air” Recorder / Finicky With SD Cards
As found with the Icom IC-R8600 we
have a standard SD card slot on the front panel which allows for making
internal “off air” audio recordings as well as to store backup the
memory files and receiver preferences.
Audio recordings are made in the
"wav" format (19200 kHz 16 bit Mono). There is only
the one quality setting but works well. They can be played back in the receiver
itself or in a computer.
It's very "finicky" on what SD cards
it accepts and operates properly. The single page July 2017 "manual addendum"
included with current samples indicates this (has to do with the IC
used in the SD card). EXAMPLE: We tried a high quality
SanDisk 32GB Class 10 card and it would NOT accept it. However with a
SanDisk 8GB Class 6 Card worked perfectly.
The included "standard size" 4 GB SD
card was changed to an 8 GB MICRO size card with a micro to standard SD card
adapter (both are class 10 cards). This is not the best way with these card adapters
for any extended use like this, use of a standard SD card is best (but this works OK).
Only way that we were able to erase files off the a card was in the PC.
We could find no way to do this in the receiver. Owners manual barely
covered how to record.
Firmware Update Confusion
Unblocked versions (most samples
worldwide) Serial Numbers start with 0952xxxx, USA "Blocked" Consumer
Domestic versions Serial Numbers versions start with 0956xxxx. There
are 2 different PC Board versions (as indicated in the firmware
instructions) where 2 different firmware versions starting with v1710C
(the 2 different PC boards). The split is at 09523001 and firmware
instructions say nothing about the blocked 0956xxxx versions on which
one to use at the time this report was complied.
AOR USA had indicated to us directly
that blocked consumer versions use the .DV1 file extension. Well guess
what.....with the test sample (received in Feb 2018) does NOT recognize
the .DV1 file (but does the .DV2 file).
We successfully completed the update
using the .DV2 file with our OUR test sample. Where the serial number
split is with the US Consumer "blocked" version is unknown. About all
one can do is see what a sample recognizes which file and go from there
? Of course the US consumer “domestic” blocked versions have much LOWER
Serial numbers, nowhere near 3001 (blocked samples sold are in the
09560160> area as of early 2018).
I will NOT be held responsible for any info that
is listed here.
ALL DONE AT YOUR OWN
So What’s the Word
With the AR-DV1 ??
The AR-DV1 is a very unique usable
“Wide Band” receiver even with it RF warts (albeit with it’s steep
What other “standalone” radio
receiver on the market can decode most of the widely used digital modes
with the neat side to also listen on the HF / MW or FM broadcasting
bands with the SAME radio (with having half way decent RF performance)
The AR-DV1 is excellent for hunting
new unknown digital signals with its auto mode. Dedicated scanners can
decode DMR and NXDN, but lack all others like D-Star and Yaesu Fusion.
Yes one can use a low lost “SDR dongle” and the DSD+ program tied to a
computer, but that is royal pain in the rump to make happen (plus even
more marginal decode quality) and of course is not a standalone
alternative. As covered in the review above, would be a huge plus if
AOR could add NXDN support for 9600 (12.5 kHz). This would make it an
even better deal.
However one definitely needs to
understand what the receiver is including what it can do and cannot do
before making a purchase. We need to stress AGAIN (one more time) that
it is NOT a traditional scanner and does not try to be one.
If one is ONLY into SW/HF/MW
monitoring, the AOR AR-DV1 is probably NOT for YOU. We strongly feel
that a candidate MUST have a primary interest in the radio-monitoring
world above 30 MHz (including having "standalone" digital voice decoding) with
everything below as more secondary. We wish the audio issues as covered
in the review with MW and SW bands was addressed. As it stands is a
pretty sour pill for MW/HF broadcast listening.
© N9EWO, all rights reserved
Programs for the AOR AR-DV1 (tested on a "Windows 7" 64 Bit computer)
DV1 Manager [Free]
This program does not install.
One just copies the files into a directory. No errors to speak of but
it was total disaster in our testing. Half of the program is in
French. We were able to do some basic control of the front panel
functions and that was about it. Memory / Search functions did not
respond to the receiver (at all). No instructions and we gave up in
quick order. It's Free and should be as it was totally unusable. It is
a terrible program in our testing, actually is recommended by AOR
espyonard - AOR AR-DV-1 Computer
Control [about $ 55. USD]
have not been able to do an in depth review of eSPYonARD for a variety
of reasons. It certainly appears to be very comprehensive. A lot of
thought and work has gone into its production.
There is a free Trial program available, which contains a full
instruction Manual, which is required reading, and covers all the many
functions the program has to offer.
Currently it is the only program available to control the AR-DV1 which
offers a Band Scope facility, and also a suite of functions called 'Q'
exclusive to this Receiver.
DV1" (Pro Version) [about $ 70. USD]
(sorry....this software was not tested)
AR-DV1 Links For Additional Information (all subject to change without
David Norris AOR AR-DV1 Review (Dec 2015)
Mike Richards AOR AR-DV1 Review (RadioUser Jan 2016)
AOR AR-DV1 Receiver - UpstateHam.com Resource Page
Video : AOR DV10 HF vs Kenwood TH-74e
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