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Tecsun PL-660 Review

Tecsun PL-660 Review: If you’re in the market for a new shortwave radio, you’ll be faced with a tough decision. With tons of models on the market, there are many viable options to choose from. The best way to narrow down your choices is to choose a target price range. 

If you’re looking for an affordable but high quality unit, the Tecsun PL-660 is a great choice. Tecsun is one of the most respected names in the amateur radio community, and for good reason - their products speak for themselves! The PL-660 is an older model, but it’s still widely considered to be one of the best options in the sub-$150 range.

Let’s dive right in and explore why the Tecsun PL-660 is one of the best selling and top-reviewed shortwave radios on the market.

Buy Tecsun PL-660 Portable Shortwave here

Features:

Receives AM, FM, MW, AIR, Longwave (100KHz-519KHz), and Shortwave (1711KHz-29999KHz)

The Tecsun PL-660 offers a wide array of bands to listen to, giving you a lot of options. From casual AM talk shows to popular FM music stations to international shortwave broadcasts, the PL-660 has got you covered.

Receives Single SideBand (SSB)

Since the PL-660 receives single sideband, you’ll be able to pick up amateur radio broadcasts from ham operators. SSB is the band of choice for most ham broadcasters, so this feature is important for amateur radio enthusiasts.

4 tuning options

The PL-660 offers 4 tuning options to help you find your favorite frequencies: manual tuning (tuning knob), scan, key pad entry and auto tuning storage (ATS).

2,000 memory presets

Save all your favorite frequencies using up to 2,000 programmable memory presets.

Digital display

An advanced digital display shows frequency, temperature, signal strength, battery consumption, S/N ratio, clock and alarm.

External antenna jack

Advanced users will appreciate that the PL-660 features an external antenna jack - a feature which many competing devices in this price range lack. Note: the external jack if functional for SW/FM, but does not work for MW.

Synchronous detection (sync)

Enjoy enhances selectivity and sensitivity thanks to synchronous detection and dual conversion.

• Dual conversion

• 2 position tone Hi/Lo switch

• Highly compact and portable

• 3 position sensitivity switch for AM/FM/SW

• Lock mode to prevent accidental key presses

• Two IF bandwidths

• Dual alarm timers/sleep mode

• Can charge batteries when plugged in

• 1-year limited manufacturer’s warranty

Performance:

In our experience, the Tecsun PL-660 performed very well, especially for it’s size and price. All the key features worked very well, and were easy enough to use without much prior knowledge. We found the PL-660’s selectable synchronous detector to be the best performing of any radio in this class. The automatic tuning was also highly useful, especially since it can be set to fast or slow, which really helps with fine tuning.

The PL-660 is not perfect. We found that the AM reception was a bit lacking, and had more noise than any other band. The unit lacks a line-out jack, which makes recording broadcasts difficult. The sound quality is good, but not amazing.

Reception:

Overall, reception was excellent. Shortwave reception was particularly impressive, even with the built-in antenna.

"When we attached an external antenna, the reception for shortwave was just as good if not better than several more expensive models we tested."

SSB reception was also impressive. The selectable upper and lower sideband modes and the BFO fine tuning knob made it easy to land on the exact right frequency and get natural voice quality.

FM reception was good, picking up local stations very well and allowing fine-tuning of out-of-town stations.

AM reception, however, was a bit disappointing. The noise interference was significant, and made AM listening on this device subpar to many radios in the same price range.

Sound quality:

For the size and price of the Tecsun PL-660, the sound quality is very good. It provides a deep, rich sound quality, that’s great for listening near the radio itself. Sound doesn’t fill the room very well, so it’s best to use external speakers if you’re looking for that kind of sound coverage.

Considering the size of this unit, and the low price tag, we found the Tecsun PL-660 sound quality to be more than sufficient.

Consumer reviews:

Our overall experience with the Tecsun PL-660 was positive. In every review, we like to include a section containing information found in consumer reviews from around the web. We encourage you to read reviews before purchasing any product.

On Amazon, the PL-660 has received almost 300 reviews, with an average rating of 4.1/5 stars.

On eHam, the PL-660 has received over 40 reviews, with an average rating of 4.1/5 stars.

In general, the comments left in consumer reviews reflect our review here, and were positive overall. As for negative comments, some reviewers complained about the lack of line-out jack, which is a significant downside. Other were not satisfied with the audio quality.

Some reviewers warned of faulty units that stopped working after several months or years, which is always a possibility with just about any piece of technology. Luckily, Tecsun has good customer support, and every radio comes with a 1-year warranty (if purchased from an authorized dealer). So, if you have an issue with your unit, you should be able to return it or get it repaired/replaced.

Conclusion:


Overall, we found the Tecsun PL-660 to be a great little radio. It’s feature-packed enough to keep more advanced users entertained, but easy enough to use that even beginners can enjoy this unit. Sound quality was adequate for the size of the radio, and reception was excellent on all bands but AM, which we found to be lacking a bit.

The Tecsun PL-660 is a fine choice for those looking for an affordable, mid-range radio. It’s not perfect, but given the low price, we think it’s a great deal for most users. If you’re looking for a more advanced radio, we’d recommend the Eton Grundig 750 (which is actually also made by Tecsun), but keep in mind that the Grundig 750 is roughly twice the price of the PL-660.

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By popular request, we also field tested the Tecsun PL880  Radio here: Tecsun PL880 Review