Wintal DAB10B vs Sangean DPR-69+
One radio described as the “DX wonder machine” vs another radio used by a number of people for DXing. Which one is best?
When researching for a digital radio set which would be sensitive and be able to maximise signal reception, two sets keep popping up on the horizon — the Sangean DPR-69+ and the Microspot RA-318. The problem with the latter is that:
a) the radio is no longer on sale;
b) you won’t find a set available on eBay or any other shopping website, and;
c) when the radio was on sale, it was only available from one retailer who would only supply the radio in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
Some further research found that there are two other radio sets which share the chipset, design and make-up of the Microspot RA-318: the Mbeat DAB+ Radio and the Wintal DAB10B (DAB10W is the white version). No luck on the former but an Australian retailer is exporting the latter. So I purchased one. After a trial by customs which took several days, the radio arrived with me for testing.
On the subject of sharing chipsets, if you own a Roberts Play (mono) radio, then congratulations — you already have a ‘Sangean DPR-69+’. The radio is a rebadge of the Sangean DPR-67 and shares the same chipset and telescopic antenna. From testing, there is nothing between the Play and DPR-69+ in terms of performance, as you’d expect. The Sangean DPR-77 and Roberts Play Duo, a stereo version of the DPR-67 and Play respectively also has the same characteristics and tuner sensitivity. There is a smaller version in the DPR-6x range, the DPR-65 but it does not share the same chipset or aerial. When testing, the DPR-65 has a weaker tuner than either radio on test.
The Wintal DAB10B uses the Frontier Silicon Venice-7 chipset. The display button displays a signal meter in the same vein as in the manual tuning option (see below), genre, multiplex name, DAB block and frequency, signal error, bitrate and encoding method, time (with seconds) and date before returning to the Dynamic Label Segment (DLS). The signal meter, bitrate and encoding method can be viewed whilst the Fast Information Channel (FIC) is able to be decoded.
I did find myself getting confused using the volume up/down buttons instead of the forward and back buttons below.
There is no way to lock the radio in order to prevent accidental turn-on when taking it to a destination.
The radio either uses a 6V 800mA plug (Australian pin set-up of course) or 4 AA batteries. The radio cannot recharge batteries, that must be done outside of the radio.
The display is lit up in orange and whilst the LCD display is softer than the Sangean, the light is brighter.
To access the manual tuning option, you need to press the menu key and select the manual tune option. At which point you can cycle through the DAB blocks and frequencies by pressing up and down and pressing select to tune. A meter will appear at the bottom to aid fine positioning of the radio for maximum signal. When the radio locks onto a signal, the multiplex name will scroll from the right.
The Sangean DPR-69+ uses a Frontier Silicon Verona chipset. The display button displays the genre, multiplex name, time and date, DAB block and frequency, bitrate and encoding method and finally, a signal meter before returning to the DLS. The bitrate, encoding method and signal meter can be called up even if the FIC cannot be decoded. The bitrate and encoding method information is retained if the radio loses lock onto a signal until the station is changed.
The radio has the ability to lock the radio to prevent accidental turn-on.
You can use either a 7.5V 800mA plug (Europlug or the Roberts Play UK adapter is rated the same) or the radio has the ability to charge 4 AA batteries. Just make sure to have the correct Alkaline/NiMh option selected to prevent damage to the radio.
A useful feature with the Sangean DPR-69+ is that you can access the manual tuning option easily by holding down the select button when a radio station is playing. The radio then functions in the same manner as the Wintal DAB10B, with only the meter and text information flipped around.
In order to see how well both radios worked, a number of manual tunes were performed in order to compare how well they pick up a signal and how well they could lock onto a weak signal.
On an even surface, the Sangean DPR-69+ has somewhat of an advantage in having a telescopic antenna which is 67cm compared to the 49cm antenna on the Wintal DAB10B. This gives the Sangean more ability to gather the available signal in a weak signal area when used static.
However, when seeking out weak signals, the Wintal was more sensitive when it came to seeking very weak signals. Both the Wintal and Sangean was able to lock onto weak multiplexes but the Wintal has an easier chance of finding a signal to lock on to.
Also, when out in the open with both radios, I found that the Wintal was able to gather more signal. Despite the advantage of a taller antenna, the Sangean was showing a lower measurement on the signal meter for every multiplex tested. Tests using a fixed antenna showed both radios were close in terms of signal with the Wintal slightly winning out.
For FM testing, a number of strong and weak signals were tuned to. I found the Wintal to edge the Sangean for sensitivity. The Wintal was also quicker and more accurate in decoding RDS data. The Sangean does have the advantage of showing the stereo flag on the screen. Both radios have the ability to change the auto scanning option from local stations to distant stations.
Both the Wintal and Sangean have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to using them for DXing. The Sangean has a convenient shortcut and clearer LCD screen, ability to use and charge rechargeable batteries and show information if a signal is no longer locked for a station. It also has an advantage in antenna height with its default aerial on a level surface.
The Wintal however, has the more sensitive tuner and also has the ability to find very weak signals that are blind to the Sangean. The difference isn’t night and day but it does allow the Wintal to edge the Sangean in sensitivity. DXers who hack their radio sets in order to add an antenna jack/socket to connect an external aerial will find both sets perform well, but the Wintal will edge the Sangean in terms of finding a signal.
The Wintal deserves the title of being the “DX wonder machine” but don’t discount the Sangean — it has more useful features and is easier to get a hold of in Europe.