A Review of the Kchibo D92L Receiver

The Kchibo D92L is among the latest Ultralight receiver available in North America that incorporates Silicon Labs’ Si4734 DSP chip. The most popular such model is the very impressive Grundig G8 (Tecsun PL-300WT), reviewed here. The G8 is therefore extensively used here as a basis of comparison in this review. Kchibo is apparently fully embracing the Silicon Labs DSP technology, in that they are incorporating it into numerous new receivers. However, of current models only the D92L and the as-yet evaluated D96L tune in 1-KHz steps, and only the D96L (see Summary section, below) also tunes in 10 KHz steps. All other Kchibo models (D90L, D95L, etc.) apparently tune only in 9 KHz steps, and therefore are likely of limited interest to DXers, especially those in North America. I received my Kchibo D92L nine days after ordering it from eCrater seller “hygt369” in Hong Kong. This seller has since listed the D92L on eBay as well. General Features The D92L is described as an “entry level” DSP receiver. It is fairly small and lightweight, yet has a solid feel to it. The buttons and manual are in Chinese, but a manual is available here, which can then be translated with Google, giving you access to the various functions which include a clock, alarm, scan function and generous memory presets. The two lithium-ion batteries arrived mostly charged, and snap into place easily. You can take the battery out and the clock and memories will remain, indicating there is a capacitor somewhere, but don’t turn the unit back on without the battery since the capacitor will instantly discharge and your stored information will disappear. The supplied AC adapter is labeled as a 220V only. For tuning around on MW, only 9 KHz steps are available, so domestic DXing in North America is a bit cumbersome, since you will have to use the 1 KHz fine-tune thumbwheel quite a bit. This raises some concern in my mind about the life expectancy of the thumbwheel’s encoder. It doesn't have the variable speed FAST/SLOW tuning scheme of the Grundig G8. You can also enter the frequency via the keypad, but the buttons are quite tiny and difficult to press in my experience, and I initially found myself using the 9 KHz steps and the thumbwheel exclusively. Once I figured out how to enter and recall memories, tuning around was much easier, especially after programming frequencies at regular intervals throughout the bands in order to quickly get to the vicinity of a desired frequency. The memories do not store bandwidths, but continue to use whatever filter setting is already being used. I personally prefer the rotary thumbwheel on the G8 for volume and tuning, rather than the up/down buttons on the D92L. In the upper portion of the 40-stop volume control, there is little if any change in the volume of the D92L as you punch in a higher or lower volume setting. However, the speaker on the D92L sounds a lot better to my ears than the G8's speaker. AM Performance Selectivity using the narrower bandwidths is truly head and shoulders above all other Ultralights, including the G8 which only has the 3 KHz filter setting. The 1 KHz filter setting on the D92L is especially valuable for close-spaced stations, while on the other end of the filter spectrum the 6 KHz filter has very good fidelity on my local stations that still play music. The default filter value is 2 KHz, and is selected when you turn the D92L on, regardless of where it was set prior to turning it off. Fortunately, the 2 KHz setting is a good filter width for scanning around the band. For the three narrowest bandwidths (1, 2, and 3 KHz), optimal detuning distances are generally that same amount or one KHz more

the sensitivity and internal noise issues can overcome with the use of most any passive loop. However. using a passive loop or external antenna turns the D92L into a capable DX receiver. making it awkward to use. horrid. signal levels are above the internal noise floor on all frequencies throughout the band.. because of the shape of their internal ferrite bars. the selector button is quite small and very close to the fine tuning thumbwheel. the displayed SNR drops to zero if you detune from the base frequency of a station. The D92L seems to work well with all types of loops. the front end of the D92L is remarkably immune to overloads. is a very noisy experience.e. even a small one like the Terk Loop or Quantum Stick. if the D92L is coupled to a broadband antenna such as a longwire. Sensitivity using just the internal ferrite antenna is. the D92L is almost unusable. Audio Performance The audio section appears to have a decent AGC. Therefore.(i. and/or Kchibo’s claim to an advanced AGC circuit is true. As a result. so if you want to go from the 2 KHz to the 1 KHz filter setting. the “Slider”-type external ferrites that have been transplanted onto the Eton e100. so the AGC time constant appears to be fairly small. Not only is this inconvenient. the internal noise disappears. Not only is the internal ferrite quite small (it was also cracked on the only other unit that I know of that was received recently). in a word. As with the G8. As a result. I did not notice the curious anomaly associated with the G8. especially on the upper part of the band where the G8 has them on many channels. detune 1 or 2 KHz using the 1 KHz filter) for best DX results. in that my strong locals had approximately the same volume as weak stations. Late at night when the MW band is fully established. One negative aspect of the filtering scheme is that filter selection. on the fives) and when detuning 1 or 2 KHz from weaker station. but the internal noise apparently associated with the LCD screen "hash" easily overwhelms weak to moderate signals. As a result. as with the Drake R8. while the Adding an Antenna Port article on DXer. there are many parts of the band where the internal tuning noise is less of an issue. C Crane SWP and Grundig G8 are apparently not a possibility here. so apparently there is something that Kchibo did in its design that better utilizes the Silicon Labs DSP chip in this way. Being tuned to the carrier frequency of a given station will result in the lowest noise. although the noise may be quite strong between 10-KHz channels (i. Wellbrook loop or an active whip. as opposed to the G8 and Eton e100 which. the internal noise is a lesser issue. As with the G8. if you are not a barefoot DXer. do not couple well with some types of passive loops. even though the signal strength might be still very high.ca shows how a permanent physical antenna connection can be installed. but it also results in more wear and tear on the bandwidth selector button.e. and the audio level drops off as well. In summary. An advantage of the D92L is that it appears to have far fewer birdies and heterodynes than the G8.. you need to cycle through the 3. So. these defects appear to be largely unique to the G8's design. uses a carousel arrangement. but detuning even 1 KHz will bring the noise up significantly unless the station’s signal is quite strong. and a larger passive loop such as the Crate Loop generally makes the internal noise disappear altogether. Further. tuning up and down the band. The D92L has the SNR and signal strength indications of the G8. 4 and 6 KHz settings first. . Also. as a barefoot receiver. The external antenna can be coupled to the D92L using a few turns of wire or a ferrite coupler. yet the SNR indicated on the D92L is higher! I could hear the improved SNR in the actual audio coming out of the speaker. So. especially during daytime conditions. where depressing selected buttons apparently causes the AGC to temporarily disengage. and I found it a pleasure to browse up and down the band. Audio recordings of the effectiveness of the three narrowest filters are available on the Yahoo UltralightDX group in the Files section. Initial experiments with adding a large external ferrite antenna indicate that the internal noise issue is not overcome even with the ferrite a few inches away from the receiver. resulting in increased volume. I noticed that with many stations. the signal strength indicated on the D92L is a bit lower than the indication on the G8 using the same antenna. There were no obvious transients that indicated that the AGC was having trouble reacting to large signal strength changes.

5” long (the G8's whip is 22”long). The D92L's whip antenna is only 17. This can be overcome using an external antenna clipped to the whip with an intervening pre-selector. when in FM mode. but then the whip gets quite top-heavy. WA August 2009 . a possibility here is that whatever is disrupting AM reception may also be affecting FM reception when the whip gets too close to the top of the receiver. while the G8 retains decent sensitivity even in this situation. and that it was often better when I detuned a KHz or two. when used in conjunction with a tuned external antenna. in which case it is a capable performer. The G8 had noticeably better signal strength and SNR. are just as problematic on the D92L as with the G8. attaching a few inches of wire to the end of the whip using an alligator clip brings the sensitivity back up. and an evaluation is currently underway as to whether it meets the definition of an Ultralight receiver. I may have received a defective unit. Using the headphone jack base for this connection. each attached to a Moxon antenna. the bandwidth selector buttons functions to select either 50 or 75 microsecond de-emphasis to adjust the tonal balance of the audio. Selectivity is the same single bandwidth as the G8. the D92L is a capable shortwave receiver. This occurs with the G8. compared to the much finer 10 KHz steps available on the G8. but it gets much less noticeable as you widen the bandwidth. especially on the 31 meter band. so the D92L does not appear to be a good choice for FM DXing. a decent substitute for synchronous detection. the D96L. FM signal strength decreases dramatically. the receiver as a whole is only useable in conjunction with a passive loop or external antenna. However. but barefoot shortwave listening is indeed compromised. I ran a comparison between the D92L and the G8. 50 dB adjacent channel rejection. much less a portable. Shortwave Performance Numerous images and spurs. the D92L is a less capable FM receiver than the G8. presumably because the soft mute feature reaches the muting threshold and suddenly restores volume to its full level. therefore only so much can likely be expected of the D92L if used barefoot. the D92L’s selectivity is clearly significantly better than any other Ultralight. Fine tuning on the D92L is in 50 KHz steps. so I was not able to determine whether or not the D92L also has rapid volume increases when a weak station fades up. One advantage with the D92L is that. caused by overloading from local MW stations. Summary As a MW DX receiver. FM Performance In general. an option native to the DSP chip but not available on the G8. As discussed above. Kevin S. With the lithium-ion battery's unique terminal arrangement. there is not a convenient battery spring to connect a ground for an external FM antenna as there is with the G8. The filter settings available work great on shortwave. I noticed that many stations had more hiss on-frequency. although the sensitivity specifications of the D92L are significantly worse than its big brother. Therefore. which is absolutely outstanding on any FM tuner. Bainbridge Island.The background hiss of the audio section can be annoying with headphones when using the 1 KHz filter setting.. Initial testing shows that it is in fact a more capable receiver. therefore sensitivity is reduced compared to that of the G8. I had to use external antennas when doing this evaluation. When the whip is retracted and tucked into its storage clip. and the narrower settings allow you to detune from the carrier in order to reduce selective fading. The Kchibo D96L is now available.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful