Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sangean DT-400W Mini Review

The Sangean DT-400W is a dream receiver. Let me explain what I mean by this. If I had had one of these little radios when I was a teenage kid in the early 1960s I would have been in heaven. Digital tuning. It receives AM and FM frequencies, though no shortwave. It receives the Weather band. Good sensitivity. Fair but acceptable selectivity. Shirt pocket sized, and ten times better than the Japanese transistor radios of the day. And today, almost the perfect ultralight. I ordered mine from PROVANTAGE.COM for $49.58 plus shipping.

The DT-400W is the size of a pack of cigarettes, only thinner. It is in a vertical format, as were the transistor radios of many years ago. Audio is crisp, and very enjoyable. It has no external antenna, save the loopstick at the bottom of the radio for the MW band.

Two AA batteries are required. Battery life is fair, though nowhere near the Kaito WRX911. I use a pair of 2500 mAH NIMH rechargeables.

Tuning is accomplished with up and down arrow buttons. 19 memory positions are present for saving your favorite channels. A drawback I find is that you cannot tune out of a memory channel as the memory function is part of the carousel band switching method: AM-FM-MEMORY. You must switch back to the AM or FM band before you can tune again.

Sensitivity is good, and better than most ultralights. I find the selectivity only fair, but about the same as most small ultralights. In a dense RF environment, you may have some channel bleed on adjacent frequencies. The new DSP ultralights promise better selectivity, but so far have not shown better sensitivity. I find its nulling capabilities on the MW band also excellent.

Lack of an FM or Weather band antenna has been overcome by having the radio's circuitry couple to the headphone lead-in when headphones are connected. A short wire is also supplied with a headphone type plug on one end to act as an antenna if you are using the speaker.

The DT-400W comes with a nice belt clip which you can attach to the back. Volume control is a traditional wheel at the top. A switch is also at the top which will give DBB bass boost to the radio. A lock switch is at the right side which will prevent the radio from changing settings or tuning should you bump it.

Power button is at the top as well, and a quick press turns the radio on and sets a 90 minute timer. The radio will turn off after 90 minutes in case you fall asleep. Holding the power button down for an extra second will void this "feature". The dial has a nice, warm yellow backlight which comes on for a few seconds if the controls are touched.

The DT-400W couples to a passive loop fairly well, though not as well as some ultralights. Coupling needs to be quite close. Remember the loopstick is at the bottom of the radio.

Though not a cheap buy at a $50-dollar bill, the DT-400W lives up to my expectations very nicely. When I want a small portable unit to take with me, I usually grab it versus the other radios I have. Very nice, indeed.


Ampman said...

Regarding the backlight, I've read that if a button is held down for a couple of seconds, the backlight will stay on until the radio is turned off. I just ordered a refurbished unit from Amazon for $38.00 (free shipping).Bit of a gamble, but returnable. I have a La Crosse T83738. Crap audio, no stereo. The Sangean should prove to be the right radio for trips. Thanks for the comprehensive review!


Glad you liked the review, Ampman. Hope you like the radio. I don't have my DT-400W to check the backlight trick. I donated it a couple of years ago.


Stephen said...

I tried on the DT-400W to see if the backlight trick worked, I couldn't get it to stay on even after holding several buttons down for several seconds each.

I haven't been doing much DXing recently, other than listening to Dave Ramsey on KXNT-840 and KDXU-890 in the evenings depending on when I tune in, maybe a few other occasional things. (He's on KXNT from 6-9pm PST and on KDXU from 8-11pm PST / 9pm-12am MST.)

Was actually looking at something on a map, came across Hays, KS or something like that, remembered some of the blogs you'd posted on cross-country DX and thought I'd like to go back and read a few. :)

Am considering moving, likely out of CA, considering AZ, NM, TX, maybe OK, KS, southern CO, UT, NV possibly. Have friends in Phoenix, in NM, SW of Fort Worth, TX, near Oklahoma City, my grandpa grew up in Durango, CO, etc.
One criteria I'm looking at, among others, is to be somewhere that's not bombarded by strong local AM stations, if possible. (For example, if an unmodded Sony SRF-M37W hears spits on a 2nd-adjacent or much splatter on a 1st-adjacent, I may be too close to the station.)

I'm also going through and getting rid of some stuff - a few of my oldest-to-me radios have all either died or something else wrong with them (and not particularly worth much - Panasonic RQ-SW10/20), so I'm getting rid of those. Hanging onto the other radios you gave me though a few years ago -- I wonder if I was the one you meant when you mentioned the DT-400W - I think I got it from you? :) I've actually been using the DT-400W now mostly, as the tuning knob on my Eton Traveler III broke a few months ago or so.


Hi Stephen,

I've been wondering what you've been up to lately as I've not heard from you in a long time. Glad you are still playing radio and DXing.

OK on the possible move. Let me know where you land. I'm back east at my sister's place near Rochester, NY. I drove back here at the start of the pandemic in March and will probably stay here til next spring at least. I still have my place in Arizona and will get back there eventually.

I think the DT-400 was the one I gave you. Glad to know you are using those radios. I bought a bunch of cheap analog DSP pocket radios this summer and have been evaluating them. Some are not bad.

Lately I just bought an old Allied A-2515 transistor general coverage radio off eBay. It is in perfect condition and I've been going through it. It dates back to about 1969.

Good to hear from you Stephen! Keep in touch. I think you have my email. It's still the same.