Sunday, August 23, 2009
Kaito WRX911 Mini Review
I've had the Kaito WRX911 ultralight for a couple of months now since ordering it from JR.com. What a fantastic receiver for the price - $16.99 plus shipping! I bought the black one. It is slightly larger than a pack of cigarettes and about as thick.
The WRX911 is an analog set with slide rule tuning dial. Mediumwave AM, FM, and shortwave bands are included. The dial is tight, I can find almost no slack in it - very good for such a small, inexpensive radio. The tuning knob is sized large enough to get a good grip on, a little larger than the tuning wheel of the Sony SRF-59. Tuning is still touchy, though not as touchy as the SRF-59. Shortwave tuning range is 4.6 - 22 MHz. It is a very quiet receiver, being analog.
The radio uses two AA sized batteries. With headphones, battery usage is almost nil. A fellow owner claims upwards of 400 hours battery life. Batteries do not come with the unit. Included with the radio are a pair of earbuds and a cloth carrying case with drawstring.
The WRX911 uses a ferrite loopstick antenna for the MW band. Contrary to the wildly-enthusiastic reports of superb nulling ability, mine was only so-so out of the box and I questioned why. I noticed some interaction with the telescoping whip on the MW band, so I opened the case and had a look. Naturally, the whip has a short jumper which connects it to the circuit board. Tracing the circuit path, it seems to also connect somehow to one end of the loopstick wiring. The MW sensitivity is increased a little with this connection to the whip, but this severely compromises the nulling ability. Mostly I bought the WRX911 for MW reception anyway, so using a soldering iron, I unsoldered this connection (see photo) and taped off the wire, and rechecked. The nulling ability improved dramatically and is now as good as noted by others. And I no longer receive Radio Poland (on shortwave) at the high end of the MW band! Note that unsoldering this wire gives you no reception possibility on shortwave or FM.
Sensitivity with the antenna mod is still fair, though a little down from before. The radio's sensitivity is less than the Sangean DT-400W but easily brought up to acceptable with a small loop or external tuned ferrite rod like a Q-Stick. I have a homemade 4-inch tunable ferrite bar which does a nice job in coupling to the WRX911. Coupling to a passive loop is good. Currently I use both 12 inch and 42 inch loops here. Reception on the 42 inch is phenomenal.
Selectivity on the WRX911 is fairly good, a world of difference better than the Sony SRF-M37V, and perhaps on a rough par with the Sangean DT-400W.
The radio has a separate on/off switch from the volume control. I find it easy to forget and leave it on. I think it would be better had they incorporated it into the volume control.
For $16.99, how can you go wrong with this radio? Cheap fun. Get one before they are gone.