08 January 2007

rp2100 / ka2100 user reviews

The Redsun RP2100 / Kaito KA2100 radio is generating a very high level of interest among radio enthusiasts. There seems to be more interest in the '2100 than there was in the Eton E5, which I find a bit surprising.

This posting is here to solicit your opinions on the '2100. I have decided to wait for the Redsun RP3000, which I hope will come to market during this year. Since I will be unable to give you an original review of the '2100, I'm hoping that some of you current and future owners of this new radio will share some comments here.

Your reviews don't have to be lengthy; sometimes a well-written sentence that describes the overall experience can be effective. Or if there are reviews submitted before your own, you might try to address an area that hasn't already been discussed. I hope you'll participate!

48 comments:

weatherall said...

To get things started, I would like to point everyone to the Radiointel.com review of the Redsun RP2100:

Redsun RP2100 Radiointel review

Art Simon said...

I sold my Sony ICF-2010 before I got the Redsun RP2100, but I used both in the same location, and my general impression is that I get better reception with the RP2100. Both were excellent on MW & SW. For instance, Even though I'm in the SF Bay Area, I could get decent reception of KFI 640 Los Angeles on both radios. My recollection is that KFI seems to sound better on the RP2100. The RP2100 reminds me of another radio I really enjoyed, the Philips/Magnavox D2935. But the Redsun is better!

LinuxSense said...

I got an email from Kaito last week saying that the ka2100's should be shipping by the 16th. I'll post my impressions as soon as I get it.

Anonymous said...

Just got an email from Kaito...my KA2100 shipped today and should be here tomorrow...woot.

Anonymous said...

I posted the 2nd anonymous post in the other thread.

This is my first shortwave radio I've ever bought, I've only played around with my Dad's.

I also got a shipping notice. I can't wait. :)

weatherall said...

I am reading your anticipation comments with a true sense of jealousy!

Anonymous said...

LOL...I am such a geek I am going to have a hard time sleeping tonight in anticipation of UPS delivering my new radio ;-)

Anonymous said...

Got the KA2100 today. Looks nice. So far it seems to work very well, but I need to put up a decent antenna to use with it. All I have right now is a discone on the roof for use with my scanners. I am considering setting up a long wire antenna in my attic tomorrow...I could run one the entire width of the house right under the peak of the roof...should work OK on the cheap.

Anonymous said...

Was playing around with the KA2100 at about 2:15 PST and came across a 'numbers station' on 9238-9240 with a spanish woman reading off blocks of 5 digits for about 20 minutes. Transmission ended at 2:44 PST. I checked around and I think it was a numbers broadcast from Cuba (V02a?). Was pretty cool. Picked this up via the whip while laying in bed ;-)

weatherall said...

Nice catch on the numbers station! I'm jealous... I still haven't heard a live one.

How's the sturdiness of the 2100's whip?

Anonymous said...

> How's the sturdiness of the 2100's whip?

Seems to be real good. Very long. Stays put when fully extended.

Interesting note: Opened up the KA2100 tonight and noticed that the PCB's say "R&D By Redsun" ;-)

weatherall said...

*gasp*

You took it apart?!

Anonymous said...

Yea, I took it apart, I tend to do that.

Check out this site:

http://hkradioer.googlepages.com/rp2100

Lots of good hi-res images of the insides of a Redsun rp2100. Interesting site to browse if you can deal with the slow page loads.

weatherall said...

Very nice; thanks for the link!

I think I've only taken a couple of my radios apart: the Tecsun BCL-2000, and the Redsun RF-1210. When I got the BCL-2000 back together, I had a couple extra washers left over. Oops.

weatherall said...

* That ferrite bar doesn't look very big. It must be smaller than the one in the BCL-2000 / BCL-3000 / S350.

* On the other hand, that's a massive speaker.

Anonymous said...

I setup a 100' 'random wire' antenna along the peak of the roof in my attic yesterday, worked good, but today I ran a ground stake for it and man, what a difference. I have always head that ground was key for good sw reception, and that sure seems to be the case. Now I just need to get a 9:1 balun to sort out the rg58 feed and it should work very well. I would have made one today, but I could not find any place local that could supply the ferrite ring, so I just ordered one off the 'net. Cant wait to get the balun in place...even without it the results have been impressive for the money spent.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me what type of sw antenna connector is on the back of this unit? I need to track down some adapters so I can use some of my existing coax, but these shortwave antenna connectors are new to me, I cant seem to find anything that matches them. I just have the two semi-crappy connectors that came with the ka2100 that I have soldered onto some coax..but I would like to find some adapters. Thanks for any info.

BTW: Head that cuban (pretty sure at least) numbers station again last night. At about 1:15PST it could be heard on 9040kHz then it switched over to 9238kHz at around 2:15PST. The signal was very strong.

Anonymous said...

RP3000 to be released in early Feb. 2007:

http://scott.no-blog.jp/weblog/2007/01/redsun_rp3000_f1fe.html

Anonymous said...

I finally got my KA2100 today. I'm pretty new to the shortwave stuff but I was dissapointed right off the bat that, although they send you the KA33 antenna, there is no real way to hook it up to the radio without an adapter.

I was scared at first when I put in the D batteries because my radio was completely locked up. I had to do a reset.

Oh well, on to the actual radio. I love using the knob to tune stations. It doesn't seem loose at all. Overall it seems well constructed except for the battery door. It doesn't feel like it slides in tight at all, and I was afraid I would break the tabs. As long as I don't have to replace the batteries very often that part should be ok. Alot of the buttons seem like they aren't sensative enough, you gotta press it pretty hard to get it to work.

Reception wise it seems good to me. Just using the internal antennas, and whip (which also seems solidly built) I was able to pick up quite a few shortwave stations, a ton of AM (the AM gain knob is actually more useful than I thought it would be), and some reasonably distant FM stations.

The built in speaker sounds great, and with the treble and bass knobs you can get exactly the sound you want.

I love having the orange backlight automatically turn on when you adjust the tuning knob. It's very useful.

I'm a shortwave newb, and for me this radio is great.

Anonymous said...

Yea, the KA33 antenna does not have the correct adapter to hook it directly to the SW antenna input on this radio, but they do include two adapters that you can use if you are willing to cut off the 'clips' from the KA33 and solder those leads to the adapters. Just take note of which clip is the ground and which is the antenna lead.

FWIW: The whip seems to work as good as the KA33. Your going to need a 'real' external antenna to notice any improvement over the whip. You want something like this:

http://tinyurl.com/22592s

Cheap. Works well. The key is the 9:1 balun...works wonders for a 'random wire' and that guys price is pretty good. Get something like that and forget the KA33 ;-)

weatherall said...

Excellent, a new shortwave radio fan. I have a DE31, and I just use the white clip onto my Eton E5's whip, in my most common configuration these days. For some reason, that seems to give stronger reception than plugging the DE31 in directly.

(alas: top floor of an apartment building, with no yard...)

weatherall said...

I wanted to share this rec.radio.shortwave report of a Redsun RP2100 that stopped working:

http://radiobanter.com/showthread.php?t=113567&highlight=RP2100

Anonymous said...

Well...buyer beware I suppose.

If you buy something from China with no warranty your pretty much asking for trouble in my book. Thats why I waited and purchased the Kaito. Sure, its the same radio, but if it craps out I can send it to Kaito for $5.

I like the post on there: "STUPID CHINESE CRAP..BLAH BLAH..." Yea..as if sooo many manufacturers are producing affordable radios anywhere else ;-)

That entire thread reminds me of why I quit reading usenet years ago...

Anonymous said...

I posted the long-winded review above. I'm only anonymous because I'm too lazy to get a username and password. :P

Anyways Kaito jacked up the price on this radio $20 to $149.95. Glad I ordered mine when it was cheaper.

One of the main things I love about this radio is the FM reception. It is insanely good. I don't think an exterior FM antenna could beat the reception with just the whip. I get a ton of stations that are 70-90 miles away crystal clear, and the majority of local stations (most of which are atleast 20 miles away) do not bleed into close frequencies.

I found some morse code (I think) earlier today on shortwave. I only got a couple frequencies on SW2 (10.0-20.0) and none on SW3(20.0-30.0). Why are these bands included on shortwave? When looking up frequencies online I saw that most of them are in the SW1 band and that is where I get a decent amount of stations.

Awesome blog guys, I learn alot reading here.

weatherall said...

Hey Anonymous:

It's fine if you don't have an account here. But if you like, sign your posts with an alias and it'll be easier for me and others to specifically respond to you!

The 10-20 mhz band is good during the daytime. If you search this weblog for articles titled "shortwave summary", or go to my featured articles page and find them there, you'll eventually find some of my shortwave receptions that happened during the daytime on frequencies around the 11-16 mhz range.

primetimeshortwave.com is one of my favorite sites, because it publishes a concise schedule of english shortwave broadcasts. I just look for things targeted to North America, and I can get the majority of those. I'm in California though, so signals originating from Asia are more likely to be heard than signals originating from Europe.

The time station WWV has persistent broadcasts on 2.5, 5, 10, 15, and 20 mhz. I think the 20 mhz broadcast is rather weak. But you can try picking up 15 mhz during the daytime to get an idea of when that band will be useful.

Anonymous said...

I'll have to agree with the comments about the FM reception of the ka2100...its very impressive. It does get better with a good external antenna though. With my 100' wire antenna in the attic the FM performance is just awesome. Could just be from the addition of a solid ground on the external antenna feed...a good ground goes a long way..

One other thing about the ka2100: It seems to run off D batteries for a very long time and the charging feature makes using some nimh rechargeable batts very easy. I find that the batt meter reads low on a fresh charge, but it does not seem to drop until the batts are getting lower.

What up with the option to run off AA's? Only runs for about 30 minutes with 'em ;-) I figure it must just be for emergency use.

Madridkid said...

Here in Europe, the Redsun is sold as the Roadstar TRA-2350P from the Swiss-based company of the same name. I have seen it here in Madrid sold in several electronic stores specialise in shortwave radios for about 57 euros. I haven't bought one yet but I am tempted. If you are interested, take a look at the Roadstar web site through this link. There, you can download a features pamphlet and the instruction book in English on PDF files. Hope this link works:

http://www.roadstar.com/newsite/index.php?left=family&id=1100¢er=productdetail&id_prd=335&right=productdownload&id_fam=109

weatherall said...

Thanks Madridkid. It looks like Roadstar also resells a number of radios made by Kaide/Kchibo (which by the way I do not recommend).

LinuxSense said...

My SSB adapter for the Kaito KA2100 showed up today...works well. Quality seems quite high for what it is. I posted a pic of it over on my empty blog (forgot I had one..lol) and will review it once I have had some time to play around with it.

It plugs into the AM IF Out on the rear of the 2100 and when powered on the 2100 can pick up SSB signals. As a bonus, it has a cool blue light ;-)

Anonymous said...

I posted a review on amazon.com today Jan 26. It's the first one.

weatherall said...

peevish one:
I like your Amazon review - thanks for sharing! I hadn't heard before of the weird LCD backlighting.

The audio quality and RF gain functionality both sound like excellent attributes. I remain curious about durability, especially since the carrying handle looks petite in the pictures I have seen, for example. The whip antenna sounds like it is durable though.

weatherall said...

LinuxSense: a blue light? Oh, now I need one of those even if I don't get the matching radio!

TulsaJeff said...

Found your thread and decided to post a comment on the KA-2100. First, I know this sounds crazy but I like my Grundig S350 very much and have it coupled to a homebrew PAC-12 antenna. I get really great reception and the pair makes a nice portable combo. As far as my new KA-2100...I like it too. All except I can't really pick-up CW very well, if at all! I need to get the SSB adapter I guess. Overall, this radio clobbered the Eton E-5 that I offloaded on a friend after my comparison. I am very impressed with the reception off the whip. What a great radio for money. I will still keep my S3-DRIFTY as the drift is minimal. I use a length of coax with an adapter I bought from Radio Shack and it works on the Grundig and the Kaito. I haven't used an antenna tuner yet or an SWR meter but will do so shortly. The PAC-12 was cheap and easy to build and mounted onto a camera tripod is a highly portable antenna. P.S. For all those with iPods, get a really short digital camera tripod, a 1.5" bolt, a nylon washer and a 1/4 coupler and mount a SOLIO charger on it and you are in business. You get a lot of comments about how cool your "antenna" looks. LATER, TULSAJEFF

weatherall said...

Welcome TulsaJeff! Thanks for your comments - I don't think I've heard any comparisons of the KA2100 and the Eton E5 yet. I'm still a faithful E5 user at this point.

Anonymous said...

Hello, everyone in katio 2100 land! my name is thomas sheridan. I ordered the Kaito 2100 on 4 16 2007 and got it 4 18 2007. plugged it in and, using a $10 heathkit antenna tuner HD-1424 I got excellent rx of SW stations with the antenna on the tuner. kind of a funky connector though, but it came with 2 adaptors that I connected to a pl-259 connector on my tuner with a 2 foot long co-ax wire between the radio and the tuner; AM rx is excellent with a tuned AM ferrite core antenna that I made with 4 8" long ferrite rods inserted in a 8 inch long pvc tbe with wire wrapped around the tube terminated both ends of the wire with a 365 variable capacitor for AM band coverage! Stormwise wants $105 for the AM antenna tuner that I made for free. E-mail me at tomsheridan@netscape.com. thank you.

airchecklover said...

I bought the Kaito version, with USA warranty, for about $100 + shipping on eBay. This is the best $100 I have spent in recent memory. THE BEST $100 I've spent!!! That said, I've gotten back into SWL this past year after a long abscence. I used to own those big radios that weighed 75 lbs and glowed in the dard ((boatanchors :)) For me, the RP2100 is a miniature, shrunk-down boatanchor radio. What do I mean? (1) This is the ONLY radio on SW that has "the sound". The wide and narrow filters sound great (narrow is NOT muffled), the bass & treble controls really contour the sound and the speaker has great lows and highs (2) This is the only modern radio that has RF gain - and that matters. It's ahot radio in I live 2 miles from 4 xcast xmtrs. RF gain to the rescue!!! (3) This radio is sturdy and drift-free. Dial-in a frequency and it stays there. If I dropped it, I bet it would still work. It's HOT HOT HOT on AM-FM-SW and very selective. (4) this radio is an absolute steal at $100+

I went a little crazy this year and bought a bunch of portable SW radios, figuring I'd keep two and sell the ones I don't like so much. Well, soon I will be selling my Grundig Sat 800 and Sat 700 and Sony 7600. I will keep the 2100 and the Eton E1. I will sell the E1 one when the 3000/3100 hits the market.

And NO, I do not work for Redsun, Kaito, CC Crane, Roberts, etc. I just LOVE this radio. It makes me smile every time I turn it on!

Ron said...

All I can tell you is that I should have bought the Kaito KA-2100 a LOT sooner. I was concerned from the negative comments on a $100 Chinese-built radio, and I thought the Passport review was less than generous as well. I finally decided the KA2100 might do well anyway after I finished my rooftop SW antenna, since it doesn't appear to overload (or blow internal components!) as badly as the Sangean and Sonys on a high-gain external. Well, this radio flat-out pulls on both SW and FM, right out of the box! The filters and AGC work very well, thank you! MW(AM) is very good, but not quite super: I can get stations a little over 1,000 miles away at night with some interference, and directionality of the ferrite rod is good. But, on SW with just the 44" telescoping antenna, I picked up everything from Radio Pyongyang to the Voice of Turkey, with the radio inside my house and sitting on the coffee table. Very clear reception, and DX work is aided more than you'd think by aid of a large speaker and separate tone controls. Will be trying it out on a balun-equipped end-fed wire roof antenna on SW next, stay tuned.

Ken said...

I've had my KA2100 for about a week now and am quite impressed. This is the first shortwave radio I have bought since my Realistic DX200 back in the early 80's. After 25 years, I've decided to start SWLing again and am happy I found the Redsun. For $100, It's amazing. On the downside, I haven't been able to change the time or turn off the annoying beep which goes off every time I use the scan function.

I am also ordering the E1 (got the bug again for sure). We'll see if its worth an additional $350.

Ron said...

OK, another update on the KA2100. Using a 100' external rooftop wire sloper antenna with a balun, from the southwest U.S. the Kaito has pulled in good, audible SW transmissions from Novosibirsk, Russia; Rome, Italy, Brasilia and Porto Alegre, Brazil; Kigali, Rwanda; and Hanoi, Vietnam during day and night listening.

On the AM broadcast band at night, using just the KA2100's not 'very big' internal ferrite rod loopstick antenna, I have gotten faint but identifiable signals of 50KW BCB stations at distances (as the crow flies) of 1,150 miles and 1,254 miles away, and a 5KW AM station at 590 miles (station manager reports it's the first reception report he's gotten from my city). Pretty good for $100, no?

Gypsy Creek said...

I also managed to get my long wire antenna up (60ft N/S, with balun) and what a difference in reception. No overloading and great SW reception around the world.

I did receive my E1XM the other day. Despite several consults with the dealer over the phone, I could not get the defective LCD to work. So I sent it back and decided to save my money. I know the E1 has many more features, but for my purposes, I am very satisfied with the KA2100.

Ron said...

Redsun RP2100 or Kaito KA-2100 owners sometimes complain of annoying interference from AM radio stations or signals on the shortwave bands, especially when using an external antenna. This is a problem common to many shortwave portable radios. Do yourself a big favor and get yourself an AM high-pass filter like this one: http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/filters/4426.html

It works great! Connects into your coax line with PL-259 connectors using SO-239 fittings (adapters are available to fit other connectors). You can use it with any radio on your external antenna and it will zap all AM interference and let you hear your shortwave bands in all their glory.

Karen said...

Hi, I'm new to SW and am considering the KA 2100. I like the reviews and the price is right. My question is: where can I buy the SSB adapter? Only one website (radios4you) offers it and they are out of stock...I'll be leaving the country soon to move to Indonesia and want the SSB adapter...can anyone help? Thanks so much!

weatherall said...

Karen:
You can search eBay for "rp2100 ssb"

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen, the SSB adapter is available on ebay, the ebay Auction Item number is: 140138471535. However, the seller notes on his site that he's out of the office through 10/28/07, he states you can send him an email and he will reply. Might want to wait and order from him once you get to Indonesia, seller is in China and can probably ship there.

Jim said...

Has anyone compared the Kaito KA-1103 with the Kaito KA-2100, the 1103 has built in sideband and from other reviews I hear it is very sensitive. Just wondering how it stacks up against the 2100.
I ordered a KA-1103 and I also ordered a Silicone Scientific #75498 which is an english version of the Redsun RP2000 (not RP2100), NO memory storage, but delivered new for around $60 with a mail in $10 rebate.

Karen said...

Thanks Weatherall and Anonymous! I went to ebay and ordered the adapter already. The seller did email me that he was unable to send it until the end of the month, so I gave him my Indonesian address and it's all set. I had a little Sony analog SW years and years ago when I lived in Morocco and loved it! Can't wait to get the 2100 and get back into the world of SW...can't believe I've gone this long without it. Really appreciate the help, guys, thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking of getting a better radio than I have now (a cheap Kaide picked up in HK) and am considering the Redsun, an Eton E5 or a Degen 1103.

I must say though, even with the Kaide I could pick up numbers stations - heard a 'NATO letters' (E10 Mossad?) station yesterday at about 6.8Mhz, and today got what I believe was a Russian numbers station at about 6.9Mhz. Maybe these stations are very common in Europe.

Anonymous said...

Hi
Just got a KA2100 and am impressed so far. Good service from Universal Radio. KGO in San Francisco comes in crystal clear 1000 Mi away in BC. Still playing with SW. Anyone know how to turn off the beep when the buttons are pressed?