Wednesday 6 December 2023


Having sold my 30yr old AR3000A (for a fantastic price), I was looking to purchase a modern, STANDALONE SDR Wideband Receiver but didn't want to fork out big bucks for one. And I wanted something portable with a full colour screen and a Scope & Waterfall. Something that was easy in the hand - not too big and not too small. Then I spotted a likely candidate on YouTube.

As as Subscriber and follower of the excellent TECH-MINDS channel, I get to see Matt (M0DQW) reviewing all sorts of ham radio goodies and on the 4th December I watched his review of a rather nice looking bit of Russian kit called the Malahit DSP2.


I'm quite a big fan of Russian (and Belarusian) radio equipment (like the ColibriNano and Belka DX), but I don't particularly like supporting the Russian economy right now, so I try to purchase from the second-hand market.
It's very odd (some might call it fate) that after watching Matt's video, I swung over to and spotted that he’d put it up for sale on that same day! I messaged him and bagged it for a couple of hundred quid. Bargain? We'll see!

Anyway, the radio arrived from Matt the day after paying for it and it was well packaged for the journey. I knew I could rely on him because I previously bought a (tr)uSDX from him. Being just 2 months old, the DSP2 was of course immaculate and being such a busy chap, I'm sure that Matt has barely used it beyond the time spent testing it for review purposes. 

I noticed that Amazon had a few for sale around the £400 mark and their platform provides a good amount of protection for buyers who might otherwise end up being duped, but in all fairness, AliExpress and Bangood in China have these radios for £300 or even less. Whether they're selling unlicensed fakes is another question.

I mentioned ‘unlicensed’ because these particular receivers are built in China under license to the Russian MalahiTeam  and are commonly referred to as clones - legitimate licensed clones. They come with V2.3 firmware, whereas all the rip-offs have to use V1. To confuse buyers, unscrupulous Chinese sellers badge and market their radios as the DSP-3, 4 and even 5.

The fact is, the creator of the Malahit DSP2 SDR  (George Yatsuk, RX9CIM) was virtually forced to sell licences to Chinese manufacturers because he was unable to sell the radios himself due to PUTIN'S crimes against Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions and restrictions. At least if George sold licenses he could generate an income for himself and his small team and continue his work (preparing a DSP3 probably). 

Thankfully, one particular Chinese manufacturer chose to purchase licenses and came up with  completely different aesthetics for the radio - something which appealed to many buyers. Instead of looking DIY, this one wouldn't look out of place in a Ham Radio store alongside the big manufacturers of shortwave radios. Their design and high standards of build and materials led to what is probably the best of all the DPS-2 legitimate clones.

And that brings me to another point - many people prefer the look and feel of a traditional shortwave transistor radio - I like them too and I have some in my collection. But if I'm totally honest, I'd also like them to offer a bit more and that's what the DSP-2 brings to the table - a somewhat traditional radio appearance, with all the modern, colourful bells and whistles of SDR.


It's a 100kHz - 2GHz Software Defined Radio (receiver) with a 3.5" LCD colour touchscreen, a powerful processor and great DSP functions. It has CW, LSB, USB, AM, AM sync (upper and lower),  FM, WFM and DSB modes. It also has a USB connection for CAT control, IQ and Audio. Note : the frequency coverage is not complete - there's a gap between 380MHz and 404MHz. There's also a built-in CW Decoder!

Because this is a legitimate, fully licensed clone, you benefit from being able to get free FirmWare upgrades and at the time of writing, V2.40 has been released by MalahiTeam which adds two more modes of operation - RTTY and FT8. Yes, the radio can now receive (and display onscreen) FT8 decodes 😲

Decoding a -22dB signal

Please be aware that updating firmware is always an opportunity to turn your radio into a paperweight and never more so than with one of these clones. So many people are duped into thinking they’ve bought something they’ve not and then they try to install firmware which is not the correct version, resulting in a dead radio - forever! I updated mine from V2.30 to V2.40 without an issue, but I knew that my radio was a legitimate licensed DSP2.

The radio feels and looks like a high quality item and not at all cheap - the manufacturing standards seem to be very high. The rotary dials feel smooth and don't have any unwanted lateral movement. The display screen is beautifully clear and bright and the touch-facility works pretty well, with decent sensitivity.  The aluminium case gives the radio some heft, weighing in around half a kilo and it feels really solid.

Included in the box is a carry case, the radio, 29" telescopic whip, USB-C lead, stylus-pen and a decent manual. You also get a useful carry-strap and a stand which attaches to the back of the radio allowing you to sit the unit on a desk at the perfect angle for viewing and operating. There's even a set of rubber feet. This is very reminiscent of my Tecsun PL-680 package - it's nice to see something so complete.

The DSP-2 is powered by an internal 5000mAh battery, giving good periods of use between charges and the BMS prevents you from damaging it by operating at too low a voltage. Charging is done by connecting a USB lead and doesn't take very long at all. The battery looks easy to replace if it ever did fail in the future.

Operating the radio is pretty straightforward and the menu-system is fairly easy to follow. Needless to say, there's an awful lot of options with an SDR receiver, so it might feel a little overwhelming if you've never had one before. Not to worry though, because you don't need to delve deeply to access the very common options. Once you become more familiar with it all and feel a little more experimental, you can venture much further. The manual (read it!) helps a lot and it contains a number of colour images to tie in with the text.

If you are pretty new to SDR's I would suggest that your first experiments involve a local FM Broadcast Radio Station. That way you will be assured of a strong, reliable and constant signal that you can listen to as you play around with the many options. I would also recommend that your first trials with the receiver are with an external antenna connected (if you have one), but make sure you use a pigtail connected to the little SMA connector to avoid straining it with the weight of a large connector and thick coax.

As you can see in the image below, the DSP2 is capable of decoding Multipath RDS text which is a nice feature for those who spend time listening to Broadcast stations. I should mention that the speaker audio on the DSP2 is surprisingly good and listening to WFM Stereo is very pleasant through headphones too.

RDS Screen

By tapping the upper part of the waterfall, you can switch the display from a panadapter to an RDS screen or even a Retro Tuning Scale, the latter being a little odd on a modern receiver, but it's there if you want it. To be fair, the scale is editable, so you could clear it and add all your favourite station markers such as BBC-R4,  BBC-R1,  HEART,  etc,

RETRO Screen

Customised Retro Screen

The DSP2 has 50 Memories with AlphaTags (5 banks of 10), which seems a little on the skinny side to me, especially considering the vast frequency coverage available. I could fill 50 memories with AirBand frequencies alone!  A good thing though, is that the memory saves not just the frequency, but a lot of other parameters too, such as Mode, RFgain, AGC, PreAmp, Tuning Step, etc, - that's very useful. You also have options on how to monitor those memories.

The first thing that impressed me about this receiver is the NR (Noise Reduction). Wow!! It really is stand-out and even better than some of the professional ham radio equipment I've bought. There's none of the Dalek-Speak character to it and you can fine-tune it to suit the noise at your particular location. Another feature which works extremely well is the AGC. It has four useful decay-rates and the settings are easily accessible.

HOW GOOD IS THE RECEIVER?   Well I have to be careful here, because on the one hand it's all too easy to get giddy about these cheap radios and to overstate their performance, but it's also easy to not give credit where credit is due. I own some fine receivers including the glorious Icom IC-7610, so I have to get radios like that out of my head when listening to the DSP2. I guess I should compare it to the radio that it replaced - the AR3000A - but then again, that was over 30 years old.

How about comparing the HF part of the DSP2's receiver with something like the wonderful BELKA DX? That makes sense - to me at least. So I set up both radios side by side and had them connected to the same antenna via a switch. I made sure that both receivers had similar gain, no pre-amp and no other settings which may enhance the performance of one over another. Each radio had the same model amplified-speaker attached to keep the audio more fairly balanced.

Now bear in mind that this is just my own very amateur and very subjective rating! There's no oscilloscopes or fancy lab-gear involved - just my two ears and what little there is between them.

Comparing big SSB signals on both radios was easy, because both radios performed the same. There literally was no difference. Tuning to weaker stations on the various ham bands was where I'd find differences - or at least I thought I would! Truth is, they both performed exceptionally well and it was difficult to find a difference between them. I moved to the bottom of the ham bands and switched to CW mode. Here I was finding that I ever so slightly preferred the sound of the Belka, but honestly, I was really nit-picking. Switching to AM, I flicked through my favourite shortwave broadcast stations and in the main I was favouring the DSP2 although the difference was absolutely marginal. The final test was on various VOLMETS and again there were no detectable differences. 

Detectable differences - that's the key I guess - because in my opinion too many people rely on the lab-reports from places like Sherwood and blindly follow the league tables. For example, I bought the Yaesu DX-101D which (at the time of writing) is No.1 in Sherwood's Tables and I hated that machine! I sold it and bought the Icom IC-7610 which is in 21st position. I didn't hate the receiver performance of the Yaesu - I hated the ergonomics. The 7610 by comparison, was a dream to operate and the receiver sounded every bit as good as the Yaesu to me. I go off what I can hear - not what a piece of lab equipment can detect.

The next comparison was with my FX-4CR HF Transceiver. Again, I matched the settings as closely as possible to ensure fairness. Without boring you to death, I can tell you that both receivers were a good match for each other. I did notice though, that without an antenna attached, the meters read -127dBm on the DSP2 and -119dBm on the FX-4CR.

Now bear in mind that the DSP2 has some mighty fine digital signal processing available which can make an almighty difference to the clarity and readability of any given signal. These features put the DSP2 ahead of the Belka and the FX-4CR's receivers.

I guess I should point out that the DSP2 does have a little weakness in that it seems vulnerable to interference from local Broadcast Stations and I live right next door to WinterHill where the North West UK's TV & Radio stations are transmitted from. It's not really that bad apart from one radio station in particular called HEART FM on 105.4MHz. It bleeds all over the place.  To be fair, HEART FM also affects my Yaesu FTM300 and FTM500 on 145.400MHz - it just acts as an attenuator on that frequency, rendering it unusable there.

ERGONOMICS    I find the DSP2 extremely easy to use. It took just one day to become totally familiar with it and I feel like there's nothing which would require me to turn to the manual again. Initially I thought the touch-screens sensitivity was below par and I found myself tapping harder and harder with my finger to get it to respond. I then realised that you just have to hold your finger/stylus slightly longer (I'm talking a fraction of a second). From what I understand, the earlier DSP1 suffered from some noise from the screen and a firmware update fixed the issue but lowered the touch-sensitivity. This has long since been resolved in the DSP2 and you can even switch off the screen altogether with a short press of the Power Button.

The rotary encoders on top of the radio feel great and of high quality. It's a bit odd, but you get a couple of alternative knobs in the box and I'm glad, because I much prefer the knurled finish of the replacements. The buttons on the left side of the radio also feel good and work well. 

I'm pleased to report that the USB port is the C-Type - a big upgrade from the DSP1's MicroUSB.

So am I glad that I sold my AR3000A   and replaced it with the DSP2? Well of course I was sad to see my old buddy go after all these years, but I also had to admit that it was feeling very tired in the company of my other modern SDR radios. The 3000A will always hold a special place in my heart but I'm very, very pleased to have the DSP-2 in the shack. It has so much potential.

I'm particularly happy with the addition of RTTY and FT8 through the V2.40 firmware update. Of course this also means that you can connect the DSP2 to your PC and run software like WSJT-X.  This weekend I'm going to try to connect the radio to SDR UNO (just for the hell of it).

I will play around with the receiver much more over the coming Xmas break and report back on performance at higher frequencies. In the meantime, don’t forget to visit TechMind’s YouTube video-review of this radio.

If you have any comments, please leave a message below. 

And thanks for visiting the blog!

73, Tom, M7MCQ.

“John” sent a comment with some interesting points and I inadvertently blocked it (sorry bud), so here’s a copy….

Great review. I just received this radio and am loving it so far. I'm very much new to HAM stuff - my previous radio is a Yupi 7100, so the screen. and functionality of the DSP2 seems amazing to me!

My only negative so far is the lack of save slots that you touched on. However, as a newbie, I would go further. It's so nice to have the bands all saved with their appropriate modes that I don't feel I can overwrite any of them... which leaves no real save slots at all! I have found that if you set up a scanner/monitor page, you can save in the 50 slots that comes with each of them (10 x 50) but you have to first set up a frequency range and then plod through a scan, saving frequencies as you go... there is no way to just find an interesting frequency and just save it (if you don't want to overwrite the 50 with settings).

This limitation is a bit of a pain. I'd have liked to, for instance, saved the various frequencies of my local airport, but this doesn't seem possible... and of course I'd like to save the frequencies of any interesting signals I come across and feel I'm stuck to writing them on paper now.... so much for tech...

Anyway, great to read your review - that is really my only negative in an otherwise lovely radio. I wonder if they can add more save slots in a firmware update? Cheers, John.


John AE5X said...

What an interesting little receiver - if I didn't have a Belka-DX I might go for it. With the big display and waterfall, how long does the battery last?


MadDogMcQ said...

Thanks for visit John. I've been using the radio for two days now, on and off and there's still plenty of battery life left. It has a timed screen-dimmer and the option to switch off the display if you're listening to a single frequency for a while.

73, Tom, M7MCQ.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tom
Thanks very much for the great review touching all aspects of this little gem. We in India are handicapped as the import tax is almost equal to it's cost. All in all a great radio for the enthusiasts, I will have to be satisfied with my icom icr10 for the time being HI.

John Ambler said...

Hi Tom,

Great review on this great radio. I’ve had mine for a week now and I’m starting to get to grips with it.
I bought mine from Banggood but had to wait for three week for it to arrive as they were out of stock at the time of ordering.
I had to buy one after seeing the tech minds review.
Mine came with ver 2.4 software already installed. Do you know what the BT Connect button does in the radio tab? I have read the instructions twice but didn’t see any listed for it.



MadDogMcQ said...

Hi John, thanks for visiting the blog and joining in the chat! The BT Connect is for when connecting a BlueTooth Speaker or Headphone, but it requires an optional board to be installed and (as far as I know) is only for the Russian made variant, not our remodelled version.

To be honest, I'd rather lose the BT option and have this wonderful looking case :-)

Take care and thanks again for visting.

Kind regards,

Tom, M7MCQ.

MadDogMcQ said...

Hi Anonymous from India! Thanks for visiting the blog and leaving a comment - it's always interesting to hear people's views from across the globe. I'm sorry to hear that the Malahit is not financially feasible in your part of the world - maybe that will change sometime soon.

Thanks again for visiting.

73, Tom, M7MCQ.

Gerry said...

Great review Tom!

I just received the Malahit DSP2 as well, it's a really cool little radio! Have you found that when setting the frequency increment step amount and turning the encoder to change it's value, that it takes multiple turns of the knob to see a change of the number or does your step setting adjust with one knob "click"? I'm also seeing a constant peak on the waterfall in the center which almost seems to be an artifact, is this something you notice? These are two annoyances I've found but I'm not certain if I have a defective unit. Appreciate hearing about your experience with it!

Thanks again! :)

MadDogMcQ said...

Hi Gerry and thanks for the visit. I have not seen the artifact you speak of on the waterfall. I wonder if you could email me a photo of it to ??

With regard to the rotation of the dial for adjusting the step-size, yes, mine's the same! I've learned to give it a quick spin and it moves up one step, then another spin for the next, etc. Maybe they'll alter that in a FW update. It doesn't really bother me, but I did find it a little odd initially.

Kind regards, Tom.

Denis said...

Thank you for your insightful commentary.
What made me pull the trigger is that it is a
"licensed" clone and the professionnal looking build. To me it is the perfect complement to my rspdx.

I got mine on Dec 6 and been using it daily.
It amazes me how easy it works.

MadDogMcQ said...

Hi Denis, thanks for visiting! Yes it’s a wonderful bit of kit isn’t it?

I too have an RSPDX - best of the SDRPLAY options in my opinion.

Kind regards,


Anonymous said...

I’m thoroughly impressed with this rig , the noise reduction eliminates the incoming interference that my apartment building delivers better than my modern Yaesu or Icom.
The VHF receive is ALMOST as good as any handheld, be sure to use a good antenna for the high bands!
Otherwise this rig is worth every penny!

Anonymous said...

Might be a dumb question, but do the knobs just pull off to replace with provided spares?

Anonymous said...

Hi John, if you brick your dsp2, you can unbrick it using the latest 2024 v2.4 chinese firmware from MalahitTeam site.