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Reviews Categories | Receivers: General Coverage | Kaito KA1103 Help

Reviews Summary for Kaito KA1103
Kaito KA1103 Reviews: 55 Average rating: 4.5/5 MSRP: $109.99
Description: This high quality world receiver is made in the best radio factory in Asia and it receives all the stations in shortwave spectrums , plus side bands, SSB. The special designed circuit is a high sensitivity one, but no noise. FMSTEREO/FML/MW/SW1/SW2/Single Side Band (SSB)

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KA1SA Rating: 4/5 Jun 17, 2010 07:13 Send this review to a friend
Good but  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Performance is fine. However, for a portable short wave radio, it is odd that it comes with a wall wart having an unusual output (8v) and only 120 vac input. Has anyone tried this with another wall wart? Is there an international wall wart replacement?
KE4WKP Rating: 5/5 Apr 10, 2010 22:08 Send this review to a friend
Nice Radio  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought this radio because my radio shack dx-390 was a piece of junk. The slightest bit of static blew the front end. It never was a good radio to begin with. So I got the kaito 1103. This radio is very sensitive even with the whip antenna. I cut a random wire about 40' soldered to a connector and was a bit disappointed until I grounded the shield on the connector. Wow this radio is amazing! I have had this radio about 2 years and it is still going strong. It is a real pleasure to use and blows away the old dx-390. My only complaint is the volume control. You have to push a button then use the knob to control the volume. I have gotten used to it but I would really like a knob dedicated to volume. I highly recommend this radio.
WA1UFO Rating: 0/5 Mar 6, 2010 01:40 Send this review to a friend
Neanderthal!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Mine has distorted audio on MW and SW. It is sensitive but this is not uncommon with modern circuitry. It reads 1 Khz off on SW and Mw and the bogus analog dial is a gross waste of space! A direct entry keyboaed would have been the ticket. The only reason I bought it was the cheap price at a flea market. Compared to my other portables, this radio is a dog! Poor ergonomics to boot.
WB9NFD Rating: 5/5 Jan 11, 2010 20:24 Send this review to a friend
Great Radio  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Canít say much bad about the KA1103 except the clock has to be set every few weeks.
The radio hears almost as much with the whip antenna as my commutations radio I use on the HF bands. The size makes it very portable. I bought some 2500mh batteries and can go all week using radio 3 hours a day before charging.
I have had the Sony 2010, RS DX-394, Sangean 909, Sangean ATS 818, Sony SW55 but none work as well.
The price is right and easy to use. I had no problem getting used to the volume control.

Richard WB9NFD
NG0K Rating: 2/5 Jan 2, 2010 13:53 Send this review to a friend
Not too good  Time owned: more than 12 months
I use this as a bedside radio and I'm a fool for using it that way. The audio is distorted and the ergonomics dumb. It's a sensitive little bugger and better on SSB than my YB400. I use an in-line volume control so I don't have to mess with the stupid volume control. I would not recommend it unless you want to DX with it.

Doug NG0K
DEANO Rating: 4/5 Dec 16, 2009 18:55 Send this review to a friend
BEST COMPACT PORTABLE FOR THE MONEY  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchased this radio to take on the road and for listening around the house. Sensitivity is excellent, as is the selectivity and audio for a radio this size. Use of the clarifier knob for SSB is fun and makes listening to hams on all meters easy and enjoyable. I like the fact that the light stays on for the display as well as the buttons. I'm not that crazy about the quirky method of adjusting the volume(pressing the "vol" button, then using the jog/tuning knob to adjust to desired listening level); and, I would have preferred a choice of tuning in steps other than 1 khz. However, for the money, this is only a minor annoyance. Like all Chinese imports, I hope that the parts hold out. With that said, overall, I am extremely pleased with this radio and would highly recommend it. For a portable radio under $100 bucks with good SSB, it really can't be beat. If not for the above mentioned issues with the volume and tuning steps, I would give it a 5 out of 5; but, perhaps I'm being a bit picky. Overall, though, it's a great portable radio.
W5WAA Rating: 5/5 Jun 20, 2009 08:44 Send this review to a friend
Surprise performance  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I had never heard of Kaito until I did a little research. I needed something to monitor my transmissions and to keep tabs on what was going on while at work, wow, much more than I had bargained for. Just before I received it I started making plans for an inside the building antenna of some kind. Surprise, the attached whip works great. In fact, the receiver works better on SSB than a lot of expensive non-portable shortwave receivers I have owned, and quite a few dedicated ham transceivers. This is a case where technology really shines. You got my vote as a top-notch product. Has all the controls you need, including a local/dx switch (which I leave in local position most of the time). If you use the reel type antenna included it raises the signal a little, but you really don't need it.
KB0HAE Rating: 5/5 Oct 21, 2008 23:36 Send this review to a friend
A G5 in sheeps clothing?  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Kaito KA1103

My new Kaito KA1103 arrived today. I already have a Grundig G5, but I wanted a backup radio, and the Kaito KA1103 is supposed to be very close in performance to the G5. I might have gotten another G5, or an Eton E5, but I couldn't really find a good deal on either of them new. It is fairly rare to find any of the 3 radios for sale used.

The KA1103 comes with 4 AA NiMH batteries, power supply, simple wire external antenna, stereo ear buds (the radio does stereo FM), soft drawstring case, A Quick Reference guide, and English manual. The manual is a not very well translated from Chineese, but it gets the main points across.

On to my first impressions.

I had already made up a chart (actually a table) in OpenOffice so that I could list what frequency is in what memory. I had done this for the G5 as well, and was able to copy and paste the information into the chart for the KA1103. So I knew what frequencies I wanted in what memories. However, the manual doesn't explain the memory numbering well, so I got it wrong, and had to re-number my table

Programming the memories took me a while, because I had about 140 frequencies to program. That you have to start from memory 00 every time didn't help either. Programming memories is not hard, but its somewhat tedious when you have a lot of them to program. On the other hand, the absence of memory pages is cool. Setting the volume by pressing the Volume button and then turning the jog dial is somewhat of a pain. It is easier for me to just enter a number and press the Volume button. The radio's ergonomics are a little unusual, but not nearly as bad as some reviewers have made them out to be. The fake analog display is not a feature I was looking for, but it doesn't bother me. I just ignore it most of the time.

After listening a bit, it was time for a side by side comparison of the G5 and the KA1103. The radios were sitting side by side on my desk, both running on batteries, Local /DX switches set to DX, wide/narrow switches set to narrow (most of the time), and both using only the whip antennas. On WWV at 2500Khz and 5000Khz reception seemed to be about the same. Also on 80M SSB listening to some hams. Not many signals on the higher frequencies, but both radios seemed to be about equal in sensitivity and selectivity. I would say that the G5 is just a hair more sensitive, but its a pretty thin hair!

On FM both of the radios sound good, especially in stereo via the headphone jack. I used the same headphones on both radio, and really couldn't tell any difference in the sound. Neither radio gets any bleed-through fron nearby AM or FM stations when operating on the whip antennas. AM seems to be the same on both radios, but I don't listen to AM stations much.

My KA1103 does not have any audio distortion, though some owners have complained of distorted audio. I am using a set of Kodak (pre-charged) 2100Mah NiMH batteries. I am charging the green ones included with an external slow charger. I will check the voltages when they are charged. I already have several sets of the Kodak NiMH batteries in use, and the voltage at full charge is very consistant on all of them. Of course each set is marked, and I keep (and charge) sets together.

Overall, I have to say that I am pleased with the KA1103. Its performance is indeed within a hair of the more expensive G5. The Kaito KA1103 is (in my opinion) the best bargain to be had in the portable Shortwave radio market right now. It definitly is a better radio than the Kaito KA1102 (not that the KA1102 is a bad radio) and the KA1103 is more than worth the small price difference between the two radios.

BTW, the KA1103 will receive digital modes,,,a simple cable from the line out on the radio to the line in on the laptop was all I needed (I use the laptop for digital modes and logging , so I had the software installed)

Was picking up SSTV and PSK31 on 20M and 40M, no problems at all.

Pros for the KA1103:

The back-light could be brighter, but the buttons are well lit.

Top notch shortwave reception.

Very good FM selectivity.

The tuning knob with its 1Khz steps is pretty cool.

Easy programming of memories.

Being able to listen while charging batteries.

Line output for connection to external audio amplifier or a computer.

Effective signal strength bar graph on the LCD display.

Continuous coverage from 150Khz to 29.999 Mhz (AM and SW) and 76 to 108.10 FM.

Mode (AM, FM, or SSB) is stored in memory along with frequency.


Keypad and volume control could be better, but you get used to them

No up/down buttons for steping through frequencies or memories.

The external antenna connection attenuates signals. This is a "feature" that is not mentioned in the manual

No way for the back-light to stay on all the time when the radio is being run on batteries.

No ability to name memories.

Radio charges batteries slowly due to not having automatic charging circuitry.

No seconds display on the clock, and difficult to set the clock to the second.
VE4AMN Rating: 3/5 Aug 30, 2008 14:47 Send this review to a friend
Ok compromise  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I purchased this as a replacement for my 15 year old Grandig YB-400 that had expedienced one to many close encounters with baggage handlers. This unit is sensitive, with great audio especially on FM Stereo where it is a real treat with good headphones. The ability to charge batteries without removing them is good, but the long charge time (12 hours) is a pain. That being said, it has good battery life.

The whip is ok, but to get good perforamnce you need to use an external antenna. Some suppliers are bundling this with a loop antenna which is not worth the money.

The image rejection is not great. It does tune SSB, but like the YB-400 it is not a pleasant experience, so if you want to use it for casual ham radio monitoring be prepared to fiddle.

Programming and memory storing is not intuitive and you need to consult the crappy manual fairly frequently until you get the drill. The Alarm is for the radio only; the YB-400 had a real annoying beep that got me out of bed.

The tuning process is most frustrating - you cannot tune continuously and the rotary tuning knob is defeated by the unit's slavish devotion to the standard shorwave bands. You can learn to trick it, but really, that should not need to be the case.

All said if you are looking for casual shortwave unit this may be ok, but if you want to monitor SSB, there are better choices. I hade a chance to use the Grundig G5 and that seems to me a better radio. Oh well eBay here I come!
K8AND Rating: 5/5 Aug 24, 2008 15:35 Send this review to a friend
ALOT of Radio for the dollar  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I really was a little skeptical before purchasing this radio but after seeing the reviews on it I thought I would take the chance. I forgot how much I paid for it but it was under 100 dollars from ebay brand new. It's not perfect but for the price and features you get it's a great bargain and I would recommend this radio to the novice or expert user. I will list the pro's and cons that I feel are worth mentioning.
1.Excellent clean audio from built in speaker
2.Comes with NiMH batteries that can be charged with the included adaptor
3.ALL of the buttons have backlighting,great for when using radio at night
4.EXCELLENT sensitivity on all the bands.
5.Is able to receive Single Sideband
6.Has a "LINE OUT" jack
7.Has a headphone jack that enables Fm Stereo sound
8.Includes adaptor,Long wire antenna (for SW listening),Carrying case,earplugs,and batteries.
9.Has a signal Strength meter that also indicates battery life as well.
10.Very compact compared to it's older brothers such as the YB 400,Sony 7600GR and many others,the size of a paper back book
11.Includes a wrist Strap
12.It combines the nostalgia of old school look with the make shift analogue readout AND digital frequency display
13.The Built in AM antenna is fantastic and is the entire length of the radio.
14.Tuning is made easy with the tuning knob on the right side which is nice compared to UP/DOWN buttons that the YB 400 and Sony 7600Gr does not have.
15.Has Two Alarms and 268 Memory channels
16.The memories are easy to tune using the tuning knob on the right side,no silly Pages and banks like the Sony 7600GR has. I like to be able to tune as many memory channels as I want to without having to switch BANKS/CHANNELS/PAGES...etc
Sure alot of these newer radios have 7000 memories but a complicated bank/page systems.Even the Sony 7600GR although having 100 memories you have to switch banks if you want to listen or scan through more then 10 memories which is a hassel.
17.Has a sleep function if you want to have the radio on for a certain amount of time to have it shut down on it's own.
18.BATTERY LIFE IS EXCELLENT,takes only 4 AA batteries,battery compartment is solid
19.Has a NARROW/WIDE bandwidth switch
20.Also has a LOCAL/DX switch that works on all the bands except FM broadcast.
21.Has a lock feature so if you accidently hit a button it won't affect it's current standings
22.Has Direct Keypad Entry for frequency
23.Unit has a scanning feature to scan through frequncies of your liking.

Now for the Cons.
1.As many have said in order to change the volume of the unit you have to press "VOL" and then use the tuning knob on the right to adjust the volume,why couldn't they have a dedicated volume knob??? However if you Use the radio shack/KOSS pro 35 Titanium Headphones it has an inline volume adjustment so I just set the volume halfway on the Kaito 1103 and use the volume slider on the headpones.
2.It takes 12 hours to recharge the batteries included with the included Power/charger adaptor,You can buy one of those Energizer 15 minute chargers and charge NiNH batteries in 15 minutes.
3.Don't count on listening to distance stations clearly while using the included AC adaptor as a nice buzz/hum is introduced while it's plugged in. I got a new adaptor from KAITO at no charge but still did the same thing so expect this. Just use it with batteries!
4.You cannot tune continuously from 150HZ-21MHZ as the bands are seperated in 12 differant bands. In other words,if you tune on a frequency such as 5MHZ (60 meter band) and you us the tuning dial you can tune across the 60 meter band but tha't it..(4.6MHZ to 5.4MHZ) but at least if you tune to 5.4MHZ and keep tuning it will automatically flip back down to 4.6 unlike the VERY OLD sets where you have to tune ALL THE WAY back down manually!
5.No Synchronized detection filter/switch that the Sony 7600GR. I never liked the sound that when that was enabled on my sony 7600Gr as it would help with Fade but stations would sound muffled and "tight" so don't let the fact it dous not have syncronous detection be a decision breaker

So there you have my honest opinions about my own experiance with the KAITO 1103. I have also used to own the Grundig 800,Grundig YB 400,Sony 7600GR
and even the Panasonic RF 2800 General coverage portable receivers and I am pleased with the KAITO 1103. I don't know if I have ever seen a used one for sale on Ebay but you can find alot of new ones on and ebay for a very good price brand new.

73 and happy SWL,Andy K8AND
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