N9EWO Review's :
The Degen DE1123 (left) and DE1125 (right) DSP Radio-MP3 Player-Wav Recorder.
A great idea but it comes up short in a number of area's. See the reviews below.
The radio's are setting on a plastic stand from Universal Radio in Ohio, USA.
Also sold as the Kaito KA1123 and KA800/KA801 in the USA.
We also test the later and improved DE1126 and DE1127 models (review near bottom of this page).
SW performance is better on the 1126/1127 as long as you add a length of thin wire clipped to the whip.
But is still nothing to get excited about (the discontinued Grundig G6 still works better on SW).
N9EWO's Review of the
Approx. Serial Numbers Tested :
First "Defective" DE1123 Sample : EX 0239x
Second "Properly Working" DE1123 Sample : EX 0239X
Third "Properly Working" DE1123 Sample : EX 0294x
Country of Manufacture : (PRC) CHINA.
(Note: The Degen DE1123 is
also sold as the Kaito KA1123 in the USA)
First DE1123 Sample Was A Dud !!
Our first sample arrived defective from the ebay vendor with intermittent receive and always on back light. After "priority international airmail shipping for the return of the defective sample back to China, we did receive a properly working replacement. Defective radio was returned in a padded bag of 5.3 ounces total, no accessories or box. Replacement speed was as one could hope for (a 2 week trip). But for a entire month possibility of waiting and buyer having to pay the cost of returning a defective sample are disconcerting issues.
The intermittent reception issue appears to be a somewhat widespread issue with at least early samples. From internet users reports and from our own disassembly of the test sample to verify the findings, it appears that a small soldered wire can stick out slightly from the metal LCD shroud to make contact with the whip antenna and may cause intermittent receiver dropouts (shorts). Degen attempted to insulate this area with a small piece of masking tape (of all kinds of tape to use), and was inadequate in some cases to create this issue. It is unknown if later samples/versions have this possible issue resolved ?
Another Grundig G4 ??
With the Degen Manufactured (DE1122) Grundig G4 biting the dust almost as fast as it came onto the market, Degen has made the some of the same mistakes again with the new pocket DE1123 (and DE1125) which also features a built in off air digital recorder and MP3 player.
Small-Thin Package That Is Actually Pocket Friendly, General, Included AC Charger is RF Noisy. Very Limited Number of Buttons
Unlike many so called pocket sets , the new DE1123 is truly a tiny set. Size is 4 1/4 x 2 3/4 x 1/2 inch (110 x 69 x 13 mm). Weight is 81 grams without batteries.
Powered by 3 internal and replaceable AAA batteries. 3 rechargeable ni-mh cells are included that have a 650 mah capacity. Thank goodness these are not of the high capacity type battery , which have a self discharge rate that drops faster than a bowling ball rolling down a steep hill. However quality of the batteries have been a turkey shoot as we have had dud ni-mh cells with other Degen radios in the past. All batteries insert and remove with ease.
A number of times during the testing period we needed to use the rest button found on the sets rear panel after battery replacement. This does not reset the memories, only the clock and user setups (12/24 mode, MW steps etc).
Buttons have a good tactile response, and most are dual or triple function. However, the 4 position mode/band switch is extremely sloppy-loose (along with a very cheap feel) and who knows how long it will hold up ?? Volume control is a 32 step electronic type with up down buttons on the side. The volume can be pre-adjusted before its actually turned on.
External power scheme is similar to the short lived Grundig G4. That is it uses a USB mini 5 pin connector for power input and data transfer of audio files, no standard round type power input jack is provided. One can charge the set via the computers USB port or use the included adapter that works worldwide. Marked as 100 to 250 AC input, however it is not UL listed.
However one should only use the included adapter for CHARGING and not for operation as this is one RF dirty "switching" power supply. It kills MW completely and bothers SW reception almost as bad. Strong FM signals one may be able to get away with limited operation with the adapter. The manual even states to use as a charger only. Its even is dirty when unplugged from the DE1123, so be sure and pull it from wall when not being used. In general it functioned properly for charging use.
The charging circuit is auto sensing type, so no timers are required to be set for the charge time. Just tap one button with the set off and that is it. It takes about 7 hours (approximate) to charge totally depleted cells (with the included 650 mah capacity batteries). Some early DE1123 samples had a bug with the charging circuit that Degen has admitted to with along with a quazi-cure (see photo below).
Early samples of the DE1123 had a bug with internal battery charging. Degen's cure and "apologizes" in "Chinglish".
(photo edit : N9EWO)
There is a status 2 color LED on
the charger, but the manual misses what color means what.
Information as given from the ebay vendor after I asked : Green
means that its ready, recharging or finished recharging,
Red indicates that its in the charging mode. It uses the
North American style vertical 2 blade plug, so no adapter will be
needed with use in the USA. For Europe and other countries one
will need to purchase a plug adapter as its not included.
It is not UL listed (is CE).
Important Note: The MP3 player (music) or Rec (voice) modes are inoperable once the USB cable is attached (either with a computer or included charger). So one is not able to operate these modes with the USB cable connected.
Speaking of the owners manual, the English section coves most of the functions so one can understand basic operation even if parts are in scrambled Chinglish.
It comes with a 2 1/2 foot USB cable for connection from the device to the computer or to the charger. This is a bit shorter than what we would have hoped for.
Attached whip antenna is short (14 inches total), it does not swivel or rotate. It does not appear to be robust at all either (how long will it last ??). The internal physical connection to the base of the whip is soldered glob directly via a a thin wire (no spade lug or similar used). When headphones or ear-buds are used the cord becomes the antenna on the FM band. So one can leave the whip antenna down in this case (but at reduced sensitivity). There is indeed a internal MW loop-stick for MW reception.
It comes with a light cloth bag (the normal brown color cloth that Degen uses), but it did not smell of any nasty odors. Not too great for any real protection however.
Frequency Coverage, 9 or 10 kHz MW setting, Audio Quality.
The DE1123 has good frequency coverage all around. MW is between 522 and 1710 kHz. 9 or 10 kHz spacing is user selectable as well. LW coverage is not provided.
SW is from 2.30 to 23.00 MHz (no gaps in-between and is all in one band), FM has extended coverage between 64 and 108 MHz. FM coverage can also be user selected for between 64 and 108 or 87 to 108 MHz.
Audio quality is adequately loud, depending what band is tuned and for what ever DSP noises are appearing (as covered below) it can be VERY annoying. So plenty of punch, however under certain conditions and when the volume is turned up, some cabinet resonating (buzzing) was heard. This is a real problem when the volume is turned up (especially for any off air recording, again covered later). As can be expected in a radio of this size, there is no bass response to speak of from its internal speaker .
No Tuning Knob, Sloooooow Manual Tuning. Other Tuning Methods, Band Coverage, 225 Total Memories, One Event Timer, Sleep Timer
The DE1123 has no tuning knob or even a thumb wheel. One tunes about with the 2 up-down buttons that have very slight muting between stations. There are SW band presets, up-down scanning, ATS that works well and in all bands too including SW. As one can tell by looking at the set, there is no direct keypad entry.
If you need to zip from one side of a SW band to the other Either (say going from 11600 to 12100 kHz), it going to be very poky going as there is no rapid tuning available. Either it pushing the up down buttons for a s-l-o-w one channel at a time or use manual scan while catching stations along the way and having to start it back up as it hits.
Tip: In this situation, one can put it in scan mode with the antenna down and put it back up once the desired area in the band is reached. One too has to wonder how well the up-down buttons will hold up in use with this very slow manual tuning arrangement ??
Thank goodness there are SW band presets for at least the 49, 41, 31, 25, 22, 19 and 16 meter bands.
There are 225 total memories. 100 for SW, 100 for FM and 25 for MW. ATS starts to save at memory 50 and up on SW and FM and memory 15 on MW. Memories enter and recall without too much hassle. When accessing the memory channels, it actually scans these, so its looking for only entries that have real active signals. The ATS and manual up-down scanning works well and somewhat offsets the lack of a tuning knob or keypad entry. Its really a requirement to put these features to use too especially with the DE1123's limited tuning methods.
Additionally the memory channels are not battery backed (non-volatile). However once the batteries are removed it takes less than 5 seconds for the clock and user settings (MW step, clock format etc) to reset.
There is a one event timer for radio operation, MP3 player or to record from its internal microphone. Unattended (timer) off air radio recording is not possible, and neither is a alarm off time (one has to manually shut it off).
Sleep timer was done properly (no auto sleep mode when powered up). One uses the tuning up-down tuning buttons to select the sleep time when the radio is off. It can be selected for time between 5 to 90 minutes (in 10 min steps) . Snooze function is not provided.
Real DSP - but Rotten Grapes Instead of Wine, Good Selectivity, Stability.
The DE1123 has not one variable IF transformer, resistor or capacitor. Everything is mounted on 1 double sided PC board. That is because it uses a real DSP receiver on a chip and is not done in the audio chain.
However the DSP adds so many artifacts and noises (especially with weaker signals and at lower volume settings) to make one wonder if the receiver is about ready to die at any second. On the FM band its a bit less noticeable, but never the less is still there. On MW and SW its loaded with hiss, ticks, buzzes and DSP clocking noises. If the volume is turned up, the intensity of the DSP garbage is reduced, but never totally goes away either.
Its much less pronounced with stronger signals (but volume still needs to be turned up) and one may not even notice that this issue even exists. Does not matter if headphones/earbuds are used. Same effect here and even worse as one will hear these bug-a-boos better with phones.
Just receiving background static in-between stations can be abound with the strange DSP noises.
Additionally weak signals that are fully receivable with the DE1121, pop in and out disconcertingly with the DE1123. It may be heard OK one second and totally gone the next. If the signal is strong enough it does ok, and the audio recovery is above average even with the weaker (but receivable) stations. We never put a handle what might be going on here, AGC issue perhaps ?
Overall, this has to go down to be the worst EVER encountered with any true DSP receiver tested for weird spurious noises to make it almost totally useless.
SW sensitivity is fair at best with it's very short whip.
The DE1123's dynamic range is limited and works best only using its attached short whip antenna. It overloads with a 20 foot wire attached and not only is there is the wall to wall overloading we also heard a local 1 kW local MW station bleeding all over the place. If one would like to try a small boost to signals, keep any attached thin wire to 3 to 4 feet maximum (as discovered in testing). Signals that appear OK with the whip, TOTALLY disappear with any longer length antennas-wires in use. There is no external antenna jack and for good reason.
MW does not par as great and being only OK at best using its internal loop stick antenna. But strong regional stations (in my case Chicago,ILL) came in with good strength, but MW DXers are going to be disappointed for ground wave daytime use.
FM sensitivity is good, not quite as well as with the DE1121. The great selectivity helps greatly as well. It separates extremely tight FM stations.
Selectivity on MW/SW is extremely sharp and here is where the DSP selectivity helps again. You can separate station like no ones business here as well. However along with the DSP noises mixed in, makes for downright tiring audio quality on SW and MW. Of course if the signal you are trying to separate is very weak, its going to pop in and out as well. We had a hard time listening to this radio at even 10 minute intervals before pain set in. Strong signals par better, but not completely. FM does better of course with a wider bandwidth being used.
Stability is rock solid as it should be.
LCD Has Good Contrast, But Dark Back ground. Excellent Timed Back light. Selectable 12 or 24 Hour Format Clock With Seconds When Off
The LCD has very good contrast and most icons are very easy to read (conditional , see below). The radio frequency display uses the un-standard Chinese XX.XXx format. But as is the case with many Chinese portables over the last couple of years the LCDs background is at a darker color. So if its being used in subdued light and the backlighting is not in use, its hard to see in this unlit condition.
Thank goodness we have a very nice green LED back light. It only works in a 15 second timed mode, there is no option to make it continuous. Does not matter if its plugged into the computer or AC adapter(added . This is a silly oversight. We did notice slight interference to very weak signal reception when the back light was engaged noise).
When the receiver is off the clock displays seconds and the month and day. It can be user selected for either 12 or 24 hour format. With the receiver on, the clock shows up on the bottom left part of the display (with no seconds).
The digital signal strength meter works well , however it only displays this for a couple of seconds after tuning and reverts over to clock with no way to toggle the signal strength indication on full time.
Off Air Recorder is a 70 Hour Disappointment. MP3 Player is a Mixed Bag, No Shuffle, No Tone Control or EQ Settings
Receiver has a built in MP3 player and digital audio recorder. Out test unit had 1 GB of memory on board and the outer box indicated check mark boxes that were at 1, 2 or 4 GB. Its unknown if any larger memory versions are or will ever become available ?? There is no option for any slide in memory cards to increase the storage capacity.
The built in off air digital recorder turns out to be the same lousy recording quality as the voice recording mode (it actually uses the same voice mode with its built in microphone). Format that is only WAV at 32 kbps, 4 bit, sample rate only at 8 kHz. It records in mono only, so if someone is thinking of recording a FM broadcast in Stereo, forget it.
With no MPWhen 3 files loaded, the total time for internal recordings is a shade over 70 hours. The Voice and Music(MP3) modes both share the same 1 GB memory. one engages the recorder the time left within the flash memory is displayed for about a second made (dont blink). It then shows the elapsed time of the recording being as long as its in this mode.
One plus is the radio can be tuned about with the recorder in operation. With the DE1121, this is not possible. Its easy to engage the recorder too, just hold the Rec button for a second and it takes off after a delay of a few seconds. Much easier over the DE1121 to start record, but again there is no quality setting either.
Updates : When recording the pause does not function (just as it is with the Degen DE-1121 or Kaito KA-1121).
The worse bug-a-boo lies with the way the recording level is accomplished (its not automatic). One needs to turn the volume level up full bore to get ANY level into the recording. In most cases the speaker starts to buzz excessively and battery life out the window aside with from ear pain at this loud level. One would be advised to carry along a pair of low cost earbuds (like the poor sounding ones that come with it, not important if they get fried after awhile) and use these when recording off air, but most importantly NOT inserting into the ears when doing this to save ones hearing. You can hear enough at a distance away from the buds to be able to monitor the recording OK.
The voice recorder Rec mode (not using the radio off air recorder) uses a built microphone. The actual microphone is located near the headphone jack but has no real opening directly exposing it . Has adequate sensitivity for most personal memo use anyway.
For what the recording quality gives, any voice programs will be very useable, however for music and more sensitive ears will most surely disappoint.
It generally plays MP3 files OK and clean.
The manual indicated that large MP3 files should be avoided and as we found in testing this warning should be followed. We tried a continuous large MP3 file (80 min) anyway and it consistently locked up and had to be powered down and back up to be operational again (or had to hit the reset button). We were able to playback continuous 30 min MP3 files with no problems. However the closer we got to 60 min is where we started to run into lockups.
There is no indication in the manual on the maximum file size. Strangely the DE1121 has never had a problem playing larger files. So if one has a long recording, it will have to be broken up in smaller files for the DE1123 to play it
Missing is a shuffle mode, however 2 buttons are provided to select file folders. But access to folders manually (using the up down buttons) is very sluggish-slow. (Note: Voice mode has its own single folder, that is it cannot have different folders)
One can select a repeat to stay within the selected folder or jump to the next one after its finished with the current one. There is no tone control or even any EQ settings with the radio or MP3 player.
Also MIA is any alpha feedback for the MP3 file information. If gives you the folder and file NUMBER within that folder for a SECOND at the start of playing the file (dont blink again).
Using headphones, we achieved a good 8 + hours of MP3 playback operation with the included batteries (freshly charged). We felt that this was more than adequate. As can be expected , operation using the internal speaker should be less.
Transfer of files between the device and the host computer go well via its 2.0 USB connection (XP home tested), its just drag and drop with no added software required or needed.
Pocket Full Of Noises ??
Degen's DE1123 is a mighty tempting Entertainment Center in a Pocket. It's spurious DSP garbage, downright poor audio quality on MW and SW and downright poky manual tuning , one is better off to go with something else. The later DE1126 model is a step up in record performance (review below) , or the larger DE1121 for the best on board "off air" recording and better receiver on SW.
N9EWO Review : Degen DE1125 Kaito KA801
Review of the Degen DE1125
Approx. Serial Number Tested : EK 01171X
Country of Manufacture : (PRC) CHINA.
I had a chance to play with one of
the updated Degen DE1125 pocket portable (see
top photo) and to me this later version offers no REAL SW
receiver improvement over the older DE1123 model
above. In fact with the tested sample it was actually worse in
other area's. The same very poor DSP receiver performance
continues. On SW , it cuts in and out even with solid signals
just like on the DE1123, AGC pumps up and down, hissy, sputters,
nasty distortion and narrow audio when it does receive a strong
enough signal. FM performs MUCH better and more sensitive (best
part of the set in fact) , but for some reason it takes a much
stronger signal for the stereo to kick in (with headphones in use
of course) when compared to the DE1123. MW performance is also
improved but only slightly.
Battery used is now a single Lithium Ion BL-5C type. This battery has been used in Nokia cell phones over the years. Unknown if this will be easy to purchase replacements down the road ? The battery cover is one very thin piece of plastic (better treat it with kid gloves). I will admit that the operation time has increased by a large margin and no self-discharge trait to deal with as with ni-mh cells. But the use of AAA's with the DE1123 model at least made for a low cost and easy switch when all died out in the field, not so with the DE1125. Clock and date settings die within seconds after this BL-5C battery is removed, but these are quick and easy to reset.
For some reason when compared to the DE1123 the LCD is a bit easier to see without the backlight in use. When the backlight is on, it's brighter too.
The worse part of the DE1125 was when headphones were used on SW , (yes I tried different phones and earbuds). The audio went into nasty "oscillation-motorboating" to make it totally unusable . The speaker output never was a problem with this issue. Have a listen here. A wav. audio file as recorded off the receiver, SW on 10 Mhz WWV. first without headphones then with. FM and MP3 "headphone audio" is a bit more muffled when compared to the DE1123. Also the headphone jack is on the BOTTOM of the unit. The DE1125's speaker output also has excessive bass response that adds much more break-up audio distortion on the SW and MW bands even at low levels.
The tilt stand is a nice touch and latches properly to the set (but is very thin tab of plastic). Still the radio and mp3 player lack any tone or EQ controls.
A nice tuning knob improves tuning over the DE1123. However it's very touchy, skips a channel or too while rotating, has a muting-chuffing trait on all bands and slight rotational play. But it's not wobbly (at least when new). Unlike the DE1123 the cabinet is painted to give that "rubber" feeling that so many Chinese radio have these days. The MP3 player capacity is now at 2 GB which is double over the 1123, but alas we still are lacking a shuffle function. The user can now select a mp3 file using the tuning knob which is a huge plus.
Good news is the DE1125 can record "off air" without having to turn up the volume full blast as with the DE1123. As long as it's electronic volume control is set at 1 or above, the record level stays the same. However, with the tested sample when we plugged in earbuds or headphones on MW or SW, the nasty oscillation went on the recording too !! Another downer is that the recorded file is using the same lousy "32 kbps 8 kHz" WAV format (just like with the DE1123 / KA1123) ? Also it's still lacking is any automation for timer RADIO RECORDING.
I love the idea of having a good performing pocket radio with a "off air" built in flash recorder. But if your want decent SW reception, I have to say you are much better off to go with the Degen DE1121 (or Kaito KA1121). Will admit that this could have just been a sour sample I used, but maybe not for all bugs as listed above (including lesser audio quality) ? The later DE1126 model is a step up in record performance (review below).
Kaito in the USA is (was?) selling a variant of this Degen model known as the KA800 (no SW but weather instead) and a identical version to the DE1125 as the Kaito KA801 (with SW) .
N9EWO Review : Degen DE1126 / DE1127
The 3rd generation "pocket size" Degen DE1126 (right) and even smaller DE1127 variant (left) "MW / SW / FM / MP3 player / Digital Recorder" .
SW reception is improved when compared the DE1125, but only with added wire to the whip. But neither are DX radios either on MW or SW.
On board record function is a mixed bag even if it has a better WAV 129 kbps recording rate, The other 40 kbps MP3 setting is totally worthless.
A "crackle tick-tock" sound appears on some off air radio station recordings (varies, see text).
Mp3 Playback is improved including EQ and "shuffle" functions . Display supports artist and title too if provided.
The DE1126 has the edge to our ears as the longer whip gave for better FM performance. (see text).
One other variant of this model , the DE1125-4G was not tested . All 3 versions use the same firmware and the single DSP receiver IC.
Very Important firmware update information can be found below .
(Photo : N9EWO)
Review on the Degen DE1126 / DE1127
Approx. Serial Number Tested (DE1126): GC 0362xx
Approx. Serial Numbers Tested (DE1127): Sample 1 : GH 0109xx Sample 2 : (missing, was a "Demo" sample from Tecsun direct)
Firmware Version Tested (DE1126) : v0.2.6 ENG (Custom Firmware for Kaito USA Imports, see MY owners manual for more information)
Firmware Versions Tested (DE1127) : Sample 1 : v0.1.7 Sample 2 : v0.1.8
Country of Manufacture : (PRC) CHINA.
and Two DE1127's were tested for this report.)
DE1127 "Super Tiny and Fragile" / AC Charger AWOL ?
The DE1127 is the smallest Degen version of this series to date. Size is approx 4.25 x 1.6 x .7 inches. There are larger versions of this model sold as the DE1126 (also tested) and DE1125-4G (not tested). All use the same firmware and operating scheme (different button layout). The DE1127 is in a smaller package and lower speaker audio amplifier (which sound pretty good considering the size of the speaker). Headphone jack is located on the top. The DE1126 is a bit larger at 4.5 x 2.5 x .6 inches. Also (duh) the 1126 has a larger speaker for improved audio quality.
No rubber painted cabinet used with the DE1127. Metal (cover only) on the front panel with flashy chrome accents. The slide on rear cover is plastic and on the very thin fragile side. The short approx 10 inch 4-section whip antenna is also VERY THIN and fragile and in my view can (will) get damaged very easily if not extremely careful. The DE1126 does indeed use a "rubber painted" cabinet. Whip is a more sturdy and a little bit longer too on the 1126 (6 inches longer). Might not seen like much , but we found this to greatly improve the FM performance.
Buttons on both have a have great tactile feel even if a few of the front panel buttons on the DE1127 get slightly wobbly after some use. Side mounted thumb wheel (or knob with the DE1126) tuning and menu encoder has a good feel too (no slop) but if turned too quickly UP it will skip. There is a RESET button located inside the battery compartment as with the DE1123 (but not the DE1125).
Neither version normally does NOT include any external AC wall battery CHARGER. In this case any 5 volt USB aftermarket power adapter should work rated 500 ma or more . This is the first model in this Degen series that can REALLY use an aftermarket 5-volt USB charger. The resellers where our test samples came from , included a universal 5-volt USB wall charger in the deal, but is NOT normally included by Degen (and so indicated on the "box rear" feature list, last line). One can operate the set while charging the battery. However DO NOT press the power button after the USB power supply is plugged in. Just hit the menu button. SW or MW reception will of course suffer here, as most USB power supplies are of a switching type. There are no USB drivers to have to deal with.
Menus / No More Mechanical Switch / Now Proper Frequency Display Format / Improved MP3
Lots of menus with the DE1126 / 1127 but are easy to use and follow. However, if you are a menu hater, you will not be a fan of these little radios. But it's not hard to deal with.
LCD has icons for most functions and has a nice timed lime green backlight. The mechanical mode switch found on the DE1123 and DE1125 models , has been totally removed and everything is now switched via the menu's electronically. The radio menu selection is mis-marked as "FM Radio" (for all bands). Expect with the V0.2.6 ENG firmware where here it is properly labeled as just "Radio".
Contrast and the length of the backlight (up to 30 seconds) are adjustable. Yes, the LCD is small and for over 50 eyes is going to be ruff to see more so with the DE1127 (DE1126 or DE1125-4G larger version are better here of course). Also just as it is with the GRE PSR-800 scanner the LCD is near impossible to see without the backlight in use. This is a dot matrix type display. However with the DE1126, you can get the contrast a bit darker (along with the much larger screen) and helps on this front.
Also improved is the frequency display format from the 1123 and 1125 models. No more XX.XXx (now the proper XX.XXX Mhz readout)
MP3 player now has shuffle (even if it does not work the greatest), EQ adjustments and even artist and title information if provided. Our test samples both had 4 GB of memory. You can even adjust the tempo if you want to zip over a recording (music or voice) a bit faster. We found the EQ settings to sound richer with the DE1126 for some reason (more so with GOOD headphones of course).
The LCD shows it's entire SW coverage (2.3 to 23 Mhz) when FIRST selected (see the lower scale in photo above).
One can tune or scan the entire coverage of the set in this mode , but as soon as the SW Button is pushed again
to access the band presets it can only scan and tune that band shown on the scale on the bottom of the LCD.
Sorry , there is no way to tune in between the 5 Khz steps.
(Photo : N9EWO)
Reception Performance / Defaults to Chinese on DE1127 Sample
On SW using it's whip alone it's super DEAF, like it's not even working. When a thin wire is clipped to the whip (say 5 meters / 15 feet or more in length). It comes up to life with useable levels. The best part is signals do not chop in and out as bad as the DE1125 (Kaito KA801), so you can hear more stations. Not that it's a DX machine (no way), but now at least useable with an added wire antenna, which was not possible with the DE1125. In fact we connected to an outdoor long wire with good results, the only real bug was with a local MW overloading on SW with any external antenna connected. SW signals that suffer from even mid to severe fading will still have the AGC issues as with the DE1125 and is hard to put up with . On SW (and on MW to a lesser extent) the older tested "non-DSP" Grundig G6 still performs better .
FM band sensitivity : In the case of the DE1127 , it is better on the DE1125 (KA801). The shorter whip on the 1127 could be the issue here? The 6 inch longer whip with the DE1126 cousin improves the FM by a good margin, now equal to the DE1125. MW is a bit better on the DE1126 too, but is no DX machine either. Both 1126 / 1127 have a buzz on MW that lurks in the background when no signal is present on weak stations (also to an extent on SW as well) .
By the way as it does with most of these types of radios, the headphone cord acts as a defacto antenna on FM. Sadly it lacks any external antenna jack and would have been a huge plus as we covered above.
Selectivity on SW is slightly wider so overall audio has been improved here. MW audio is about the same as compared to the DE1125.
A major annoyance happened "Sometimes" when we took the battery out with the DE1127 test samples (but not always, change it out within 30 seconds to lower the risk) the menu defaulted to Chinese. So if the language menu resets, you have to hunt around for the language toggle (a royal pain in the $%&!). This is a variable and one is not advised to change batteries too often (unless you understand Chinese). See my owners manual which has a chart to find your way around to locate the English menu (link below) . We never have seen the DE1126 test sample ever default back to Chinese (NOTE : This is with the Kaito V0.2.6 ENG firmware ONLY) .
Internal Recording Quality / Set The Volume Control At "10" BEFORE Any Recording / Very Annoying "Tick Tock" Recording Bug
The DE1126 and DE1127 both offer on board off air recording as well as from the built in microphone.
For the off air recording there are two quality selections. One is in the WAV format at 129 kbps (sample rate 16000 hz) and the other is MP3 at 40 kbps. The 40 kbps MP3 setting is so narrow hollow sounding that is pretty much useless. The other 129 kbps WAV format makes for improved recordings. IMPORTANT : Adjust the volume setting to " 10 " BEFORE YOU START RECORDING (be sure it's set at 10 no more...no less). Volume level effects the recording quality in MY testing. If it's set any higher, more distortion will be heard. I say more distortion as the MW/SW receiver sections have it's own distortion and buzzy AGC traits (varies with any given station) and it seems have a bit in there no matter what for most signals (but not always either).
Even a more nasty issue is (on all bands) , there can be a very annoying crackly "Tick-Tock" clocking sound (mixed in with the station) when the off air recording mode is engaged (with both DE1126 or DE1127 models). The amount of this self-generated microprocessor noise varies a bit with frequency tuned and signal strength. Sometimes it will be killer, other times it will not. With super strong signals you will not detect it.
Another important point is in any off air record mode the level coming out of the speaker changes to a LOUDER fixed level and cannot be changed [volume control needs to be set at 10 for "off air" recording for reasons above]. At least with the DE1125, you have control of the volume in the off air record, and as long as you keep it at the first setting or above. Again with the older DE1125, the record level is not affected by the volume control setting (as long as it is at least set at 1). You may wish to keep a pair of earbuds/headphones handy (but maybe not put them in/on).
When making voice recording off the internal microphone, there are a number of DIFFERENT settings. Here the format is WAV and at 256 kpbs. Also there is a VOR mode (voice activation). It makes very decent sensitive voice recordings. Pause works in record as well, but has a 3 minute limit before it shuts off (saves the file of course).
But why the variances between off air recording and internal mic recording modes and also at totally different bit rates is a very strange question.
Same BC-5L Battery (Capacity Varies) / Good Battery Life / My Own English Manual/ High "1 ma" idle current
The DE1126 and DE1127 both use the same "cell phone" BC-5L lithium ion battery as with the DE1125 . Capacity rating with the included battery test sample was 1020 mah with the DE1127 and 850 mah with the DE1126. It took 4 hours to charge the 1020 mah battery from a dead state (battery low auto shut off).
Battery life (operation time) is good .After 3 cycles of the 1020 mah battery for full capacity, we had (approx.) 10 hours operation time on a fresh charge (NOTE : MP3 playback mode, speaker operation and at 12 volume level, no backlight use, "Soft" EQ setting, shuffle mode with no knob or button use in the time frame). With louder volume, different EQ , and/or any backlight use etc...this will be reduced (duh) . Radio use should be about the same time frame, however when tuning around the backlight will be on of course and reducing battery life.
I have provided a FREE 14 page DE1126 / DE1127 English Owners Manual / Firmware Instructions in PDF format here (version 4.5 , 520 k size). NOTE : Requires Adobe Reader 9.0 or greater. This is my own little project and was really for my own use . It does miss some items like basic button layout, which I do not need to have pointed out. (VERY IMPORTANT NOTE : My older 1.2 version should no longer be used due to the way firmware updates were changed as covered below , major revisions have been done).
IMPORTANT NOTE : The lithium-ion battery will become totally discharged when in the OFF state . Yes, if you leave the set idle without charging it (starting fully charged) , in a few weeks (say in 4 weeks or less) the battery will become totally dead. Clock and idle microprocessor current is a bit excessive at 1 ma (1mah , so for the reason why). You should get in the habit of fully recharging it just before taking it out of the day, recharge it maybe every 2 weeks if you use it or not, or just remove it. If left in a dead state for any length of time , will greatly reduce the life of the pack.
So You Are Hearing Some Dropouts On MP3 Files With Your DE1127 ??
Also once in awhile we were experencing MP3 player dropouts with the SECOND DE1127 test sample (later firmware V0.1.8). We found this had to with the EQ "NORMAL" setting . Just selecting any other EQ mode and was issue was cured . So perhaps a firmware related bug ?? We NEVER experenced MP3 dropouts with the "Kaito" DE1126 test sample in the NORMAL setting .
Improvement Overall But a Bit Backwards with the Internal Recorder / DE1126 is the overall clear winner to my ears .
The DE1126 and DE1127 with at least improved SW reception (but only with help on the antenna) and MP3 playback improvements is a neat SMALL low cost device. FM and MW par a bit better on the DE1126 (longer antenna's ?).
Sadly the off air recorder part with the strange noises made for some disappointment (more so with the tiny DE1127). The DE1126 has improved record performance over the DE1125 with the higher bit rate (firmware V0.2.6 ENG). Please keep in mind we have NOT tested the DE1125-4G variant of this product. Overall we find the DE1126 to win the horse race and is the best showing of this pocket size series from Degen to date . But as pointed out above it is no DX machine either. If you want it small and need solid SW performance the Grundig G6 is the better choice (however is discontinued) .
We have covered before , Degen products have a very nasty tradition of having an above average "dud rate" and / or variable performance . So the usual caveat "warning" must be stressed here once again.
WARNING : VERY IMPORTANT FIRMWARE UPDATE INFORMATION / Quality of Internal Construction with the DE1127 is FAIR .
covered in the early printed manuals, they old way the
firmware was updated was to copy over the "upd"
file over from the host computer (after download off the
Degen web site) and transferred over to the DE1126 / DE1127.
Then in the Degen menu's just select "Firmware
Upgrade" and after a battery reset that was it. This
went OK for versions (from V0.1.5) , V0.1.6 and V0.1.7.
Where is goes BAD was with V0.1.8. No
text was provided in english for any warnings with V0.1.8
update (at the time this text was typed) and when this
was attempted it turned our 1st DE1127 test sample into a
TOTAL BRICK (DEAD) . There is a way to restore this,
however is not for the general public. We have included
this information in MY FREE owners manual (link below).
After talking to (Tecsun) Degen about firmware V0.1.8 , they informed me that THIS VERSION MUST be done with a updater program which is provided with the update. NOTE : We have NOT done this V0.1.8 update with either 1126 or 1127 . Our 2nd DE1127 sample came with V0.1.8.0 already installed (was a replacement "Demo" from Tecsun direct).
To make matters even more confusing, our DE1126 test sample (imported into the US by Kaito Electronics USA) came with firmware V0.2.6 ENG. See the new owners manual for a bit more information on this.
We had a peek inside the first trashed DE1127 sample (just before it REALLY HIT the trash can) and I must say construction to me was fair at best !! The whip antenna in the DE1127 is just poorly tacked soldered in place on the PC board (no screws at all) and just barely too with poor lead free solder. The super thin antenna fell apart as the case was taken apart. The rest of it is not much better either I'm afraid. Sorry to say this was a real sad showing for a 21st century electronic device even at this low price point . (DE1126 version is unknown with it's longer whip, but I can say that it at least uses a screw to hold it into place).
Again , YOU are doing ANY firmware updates at YOUR own risk !!! Who knows what else might and could happen ?? As long as it's not the original V0.1.5 , you should be OK operation wise ??
Be sure and download the new N9EWO's owners manual for more information (link below). Important Note : As I type this text Degen has removed ALL firmware updates under all 3 models (DE1126 , DE1127, DE1125-4G) from the web site (links below as well). Unknown if they will ever return ?? So the information I have listed above may be of little use now ??
The Degen DE1127 with the VERY fragile "slide off" rear cover removed (4 GB of memory).
Uses the same lithium ion BC-5L battery as with the older DE1125 , Kaito KA800 and KA801 models .
A RESET button is located under the battery (DE1126 or DE1127) and is handy when doing firmware updates .
MP3 player features a "Shuffle" mode, but does not work very well (repeats selections way too soon).
Our second DE1127 sample rear cover is slightly loose fitting (fish tails),
this was due to the 2nd sample lacking that tiny cube of foam stuck on the cover's mid section (you can see it in the photo above.)
We added 2 very THIN small pieces of foam and totally fixed the issue.
We were very careful not to get the foam too thick (or too large) to keep excessive stress off the THIN rear cover latches.
(Photo : N9EWO)
Links (all subject to change
without notice , ALL FIRMWARE UPDATES DONE AT YOUR OWN RISK !! )
Important Note : As I type this text Degen has removed ALL firmware updates from the web site.
DE1126 Firmware Updates on the Degen Web Site
DE1127 Firmware Updates on the Degen Web Site
N9EWO's DE1126 / DE1127 English Owners Manual / Firmware Instructions v4.5 (PDF Format , 520 k , Adobe Reader 9.0 or above)
Universal Radio's Degen DE1126 Page
Universal Radio's Degen DE1123 / Kaito KA1123 Page
Kaito Electronics KA1123 Page
I will NOT be held responsible
for any info that is listed here
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