Friday 29 December 2023



As an SWL’er, the DV1 has appealed to me since the day it was launched in 2015, but I could never bring myself to pay the ridiculously high asking price for a new one, so it has been stuck on my wish-list for many years. 

😮 £1300 new???  £1100 used??? 😮 

Now bear in mind that although this is a true Direct Sampling SDR (up to 18MHz and then it's a hybrid triple conversion superhet),  it isn’t a high-end receiver like you’d find in the Icom, Kenwood or Yaesu catalogue - it’s a jack of all trades and is pretty good overall, but isn’t the king of any particular castle.  So why did I want one so badly? Because it's unique - probably the only (sub-£4k) receiver in the world which covers 100kHz to 1.3GHz and can decode virtually anything including DMR, DSTAR and C4FM (as well as TETRA, P25, NXDN, ALINCO, etc, etc). Yes, I know there’s the £900 AR-DV10, but that’s just a piece of useless crap (apologies to owners).

I’ve seen a few secondhand DV1’s for sale over the years, but when asked for a serial number, the sellers have gotten tetchy with me, indicating that it's probably one of the units with a dodgy USB, so I’ve steered clear. You see, despite AOR’s denials, there was a real problem with a batch of DV1’s which caused the USB connection to fail. In fact, some even failed out of the box, new! So you have to be careful that you’re not buying an old unit with an early pcb which is affected by this problem.

Anyway, as usual, I saved searches on eBay, HamRadioDeals and Facebook until one popped up which ticked all my boxes. In this case, it was a virtually new radio, in the original box, with the new Revision.2 motherboard and the very latest firmware (2205A). It was MINT++++ condition and on sale at just £800. That’s a massive saving on new prices 😮

I collected the radio from the seller in Manchester and returned home to have a play. The unit is powered by the supplied mains adapter which is huge and fugly! 

First of all I used the supplied telescopic antenna and it matched my expectations - poor! Connecting it to an EndFed HalfWave produced great results on the HF Amateur Bands, with perfectly usable sensitivity. I was really happy with the DV1's performance considering that it's a very wideband receiver.

There's no switchable pre-amp or attenuator which is surprising, but there is great Auto Notch and Noise Reduction - very effective! There's also no Line Out, so I use the headphone socket, exercising caution with the volume level.

Switching to VHF and UHF it produced similar results. I was lucky enough to find a few QSO's on 2M SSB (thanks to it being Xmas Hols) using a small portable yagi - the signals were easily readable despite the distances between me and some of the operators. On FM (with a colinear) it was as you'd expect - very good. AirBand too, was excellent!

Switching to Digital, I started by tuning into my OpenSpot4 just to see how the radio decoded C4FM. It was really good, with nice audio. The only criticism would be that if you opt to use AUTO mode (where the radio detects the mode and switches to it), there was an initial 'cccerkk' for a split-second while it made its mind up. If you choose the mode manually, it's perfect!

(Click HERE if video doesn't load)

I then programmed in a local NWFG Fusion repeater and tried again. Perfect! Unfortunately, I couldn't reach any DSTAR repeaters, so I had to start the DV1's Record Function, set my Kenwood TH-D74 to low power, move outside and  and ran a test that way - the DV1 decoded the incoming signal perfectly and again, the audio was great. I wasn't able to carry out a DMR test from the caravan.

Switching to Wide FM  I tried tuning into a few broadcast stations using just the telescopic whip and for comparison, I stood it alongside my Tecsun S2000

The Tecsun beat it hands down, but then I realised that the limitation was actually the antenna, which was much shorter than the S2000's. When I shortened the Tecsun's antenna to the same length as the DV1 (600mm), they were equally poor! I obviously need to invest in a longer/better telescopic. I ordered a 115cm telescopic from Amazon and I'm pleased to report that it made a huge difference!

On MW and LW, the radio's sensitivity was slightly less impressive, but in all fairness I didn't have my antenna coupler with me, so I couldn't give the DV1 a good platform to work from. One thing that did jump out was the effectiveness of the AGC which was excellent! 

Because I was at our holiday home in Scorton, I was limited to how much testing I could do due to antenna limitations so I will add to this post in much more detail after the Xmas Hols. I also intend to use the radio out portable with a battery pack - I suspect that a good take-off point with no electrical noise will produce really pleasing results - we'll see.

So what about the ergonomics? Well this ain't no Icom, but it gets a big thumbs-up straight away for having a nice VFO dial. It also has a couple of buttons above the dial which can be used for fast tuning (along with other uses).

The screen too is nice and easy to read despite its small size. The two rotaries on the left of the unit control the volume and the squelch. The volume also acts as the On/Off button.  There doesn't appear to be a MUTE button which is quite an omission as far as I'm concerned. Another annoyance is the difference in volume levels between analogue and digital modes - you need to remember to turn the volume down when moving to analogue signals. Of course turning the volume down is not a realistic option when you are scanning memories which include both types of signals - you have to keep the volume at a level to suit digital.  This problem is not unique to the DV1 - it's a problem with many of the ham radios that I've used (and the same applies to the mic-gain differences on many modern transceivers).

Overall, the DV1 has a very nice, high quality feel to it and you get the impression that it has been built to a high standard. The finish is superb and there's nothing about it that has you worrying about its longevity. The bank of 22 buttons feel very sharp and the printing is fantastic - unlikely to wear off easily. 

The buttons are backlit and the light can be set to stay on permanently or to extinguish after a set time. The colour of the backlighting can be adjusted too, although one of the blue shades fits in better with the colour scheme of the front panel.

Most of the buttons have a second function which is easily accessed by pressing the F-key. It only takes a few minutes to get familiar with it all, Having said that, I strongly advise sitting down with a cup of tea and reading the manual.

Because this is a compact, very wideband digital receiver, it obviously lacks things which you may be used to seeing on ham radios like Band Buttons. It just doesn't work like that - you simply switch it on and then type in a frequency  such as 7.090 followed by ENT. You then have to press the mode button and choose the appropriate mode (LSB in this case) - unlike a ham radio, changing to a frequency does not automatically switch modes, so you need to do it yourself.  You may also need to adjust the bandwidth by pressing F-MODE.

Seem a bit fussy? Only if you are coming from a ham radio background - otherwise you wouldn't expect anything else. The best thing to do is to program some frequencies (along with the mode and bandwidth, etc) into a memory and save it for quick access. There are 2000 memory slots available available as 50 Channels in 40 Banks. 

It makes sense to group similar frequencies together such as AirBand, Marine Band, Military, etc, etc, and the DV1 obviously accommodates that but it also goes further by allowing you to scan individual banks and to link certain banks together so that you can opt to scan everything or just certain banks such as Civil and Military airband frequencies.  

The red button initiates the radio's built-in recorder and all recordings are saved to the SDCARD. Bear in mind that if you are recording and then try to power-down, the radio will not switch off until it has finished disabling the record function and saved the file safely.

The MONI button is a non-latching monitor function (like turning down the squelch momentarily). The CLR button is best described as an ESCape button. LOCK disables everything except the volume and squelch dials.

The DV1 has a built-in speaker on top of the case and it sounds pretty good, but like most other radios, it benefits from a good quality external speaker. The headphone output is also good and produced satisfactory volume even when I plugged my Sennheiser HD600’s in, which are not easy to drive.

Initially I tried an Icom SP-38 speaker and it made a huge improvement to the enjoyment of the DV1 but it's relatively big speaker and looks dreadful alongside the lovely DV1. So next up was my much loved BOSE SoundLink Mini II which not only sounded fabulous, but also matched the DV1 perfectly!! Because the Bose is an amplified speaker, you need to plug it into the headphone socket and not the speaker socket. It's a pity there's no BlueTooth option to enable wireless speaker connection.

(Click HERE if video doesn't load)

There are a few software packages available which permit you to connect the DV1 to a PC but I think they're quite limited and not something I'd choose to use personally - except maybe to aid storing and organising memories.

So that's it for now. The DV1 is an amazing receiver, covering a very wide range and able to decode pretty much all the major digital modes. And it does it well.

I'll update after further testing. If you have any comments, please leave them below (including a name if possible).

73, Tom, M7MCQ.

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