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Reviews Categories | Receivers: General Coverage | Palstar R30 Help

Reviews Summary for Palstar R30
Palstar R30 Reviews: 43 Average rating: 4.2/5 MSRP: $749. USD
Description: LW/MW/SW Shortwave Receiver
Product is in production.
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Page 1 of 5 —>

W4DST Rating: 1/5 May 19, 2015 09:09 Send this review to a friend
Fair receiver, poor service  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I purchased a new Palstar R-30 from Universal Radio several years ago and had problems with it right out of the box. The receiver processor would lock up when tuning past a local LF non-directional beacon on 379kHz. I'd have to turn the radio off and back on to reset the processor. I hooked up my URM-25F signal generator to the antenna input and could easily duplicate the problem. Next the receiver would randomly reset its frequency to 150kHz. Finally after a week the audio output chip failed. I called Universal and was told I'd have to return it to Palstar that they were not allowed to service the receiver. What's that all about I wondered.

I called Palstar and was told by Paul himself to send it back and it would be repaired. It came back, the audio was fixed but it still locked up on the strong LF signal and still reset randomly to 150kHz. I called again and spoke to Paul the owner. To say he has no customer service skills is being diplomatic. He said the frequency reset is "normal". Well not in my shack Paul. Next he couldn't duplicate the processor locking problem and was very vague about his testing method. In so many words he blamed the problems with the receiver on my ineptitude regarding the operation of the R30.

Then I asked for a service manual. "Oh no, that's proprietary information." Come on Paul, your R30 is a poor knock off of the superb John Thorpe designed Lowe HF-150 with an internal S meter added.

I contacted a former Lowe technician in the UK to see if he had a service manual for the Lowe HF-350 which is a rebadged R30. I got an earful from him speaking off the record about how Paul refused to let them have service manuals, would not let them repair the HF-350 in the UK under any circumstances and was firm that all defective receivers had to be returned to the US for service. No wonder Lowe dropped the HF-350 and Palstar like a hot potato.

A well known DXer in the US was snookered by Palstar early on with a "cherry picked" receiver provided by Palstar for his review. Read this review closely and you see in the review Paul supplied the radio. This happened to the ARRL back in the '50s and they will no longer accept any gear for review supplied from a manufacturer. It's now purchased off the shelf by the ARRL lab the same as anyone would buy. This review fooled me into buying an R30 and has fooled many others.

I started with a rating of 5 stars, knocking off 1 for every problem Paul couldn't or wouldn't fix and 2 for his nasty attitude. I have seen remarks from other Palstar customers regarding Paul's abrasive personality.

The R30 is a very overpriced receiver for what you get and much better value would be the superb Icom R75 which is about $250US less than the Palstar purchased new from Universal Radio. Service manuals are a free download from Icom and the build quality is head and shoulders above that of the Palsar. Anyone who will sell a $895 receiver and refuse to sell a service manual is running a very poor business. Why anyone would pay $895 for an R30 is beyond my comprehension.

If you really want a Palstar like receiver, a used Lowe HF-150 or HF-225 cost less, are a much higher quality, and have more and better controls than the very bare bones Palstar. Used HF-225s sell for 1/2 the price of a new Palstar which includes the external keypad and internal synchronous AM module both which are lacking in the Palstar R30.

Universal Radio is correct in dropping the Palstar line from their store. I've dealt with Universal for almost 30 years with no problems other than the R30. I'm sure they finally had their fill of the Palstar line and the problems associated with Paul and his company.

I sold my R30 with a full description of the problems. I cut my losses on the receiver and would not own another one. I do own a Lowe HF-225 which is a superior receiver in every way.
JRT3 Rating: 3/5 Sep 19, 2014 10:30 Send this review to a friend
Extended use report  Time owned: more than 12 months
As a receiver, I have dropped my long term use rating of my R30A to 3 -'OK'. The greatest aggravation, the need for multiple adapters to enable the use of 1/4" & 1/8" stereo plug equipped headphones with the Palstar's 1/4" mono jack, was circumvented. I plugged a Behringer MA400 'Headphone Amp' (<$20 shipped - w 12V ps - from Amazon.). It has it's own gain control and independent stereo headphone outputs (1/4" & 1/8" stereo) and is connected to the R30A's line/record output. The speaker output is bridged - ie, not ground referenced. Always feed external audio accessories from the line/record output.

Operationally, when fed directly from my Pixel Pro-1a, BCB signals can be heard bleeding into the long wave (100-500 kHz) spectrum - as well as into the tropical bands. Add my Lowe PR-150 preselector to the mix and they disappear. I have my continued aggravation over the lack of an available schematic.

As a prospective purchaser, one should be aware that Universal Radio has discontinued the Palstar R30A - and the LA-30, MW-550, and speakers. The R30A is now $900 from Palstar - but now includes the SP30B 4" speaker, which sold for $100. A bit too pricey, in my opinion. The CommRadio CR-1a, also US-made, looks like a better deal - at 2/3 the cost.
AOCSGIL Rating: 4/5 Sep 6, 2014 20:44 Send this review to a friend
Pricey little receiver  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
This is my review of the R30A..First, this is the second Palstar receiver that I have owned, the first was the original R30 which I purchased new in 1997. These little receivers are unique in their design and use. There is a little bit of a love/hate relationship with them...They are simple, well built and solid performers with some quirks about them.

The Pro's:
1. Outstanding Collins Filters (5.8 and 2.5)
2. Solid construction
3. Excellent fit and finish
4. Outstanding selectivity and sensitivity
5. Great on AM and for SSB DXing
6. Fairly easy to use (once you get use to it)
7. Overall outstanding receiver specs.

The Cons:
1. Recessed VFO Knob (WHY??)), knob is cheap and clunky.
2. Frequency off by 100Hz , drifts until after 30 min. warmup.
The problem with this is that after warmup frequency can be off (+/-100Hz)! Had to adjust the Alignment Trimmer Capacitor after warm up to correct.
3. External speaker jack is 1/4" mono (should be 1/8" stereo)
4. Tuning the bands and using the memories takes practice and getting use too.
5. No PBT or IF shift . (Not really missed).
6. Very pricey ( considering the cons).
7. NO schematic!

Taking everything into consideration... are there better receivers for the price? absolutely! However, this is still a nice, quality receiver that overall performs well... especially when used with the Palstar SP30B speaker... Despite its short comings and quirks, the simplicity of this small receiver seems to grow on you and I find myself enjoying it more each time I use it. I'll be keeping it!
K2VI Rating: 2/5 May 20, 2014 11:46 Send this review to a friend
grossly overpriced  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Did a side by side comparison of my icom r-75 and r-30A Receivers. There was little difference in sensitivity with a slight edge going to the icom. Filtering was very even both notching out ajacent interference quite on both are quite well However no memories , scanning, band stack register on the palstar. The icom is more of a radio and 250.00 less. I just don't understand how anyone can give this radio high regard. If it was sold at say 400.00 I would most certainly give it a five. In my opinion ALL palstar equipment is way overpriced and offer less that other units costing less. I feel with palstar wether it is a tuner or receiver you just realize you overpaid when you use the equipment. It's not junk but just overpriced for what you get.
KC2RCX Rating: 1/5 Sep 7, 2013 21:02 Send this review to a friend
BEWARE  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Caution. I agree with the quality control issues.
Mine was the unit just before they changed the display. Upon receipt, radio was dead.

Sent back to Palstar with the power cube. Radio was returned operational without the power cube.

Had to argue with the owner as he stated I did not ship it and I would have to buy another one. Shortly after they found it and was difficult for him to apologize. Owner is Canadian, not that there is anything wrong with that at all, but arrogant as anyone could be.

It makes a nice desk ornament and exceptable AM radio from an audio perspective. Regarding sideband, forget about it. Move on with your hard earned dollars.

Radio was put up on Ebay and sold quickly.

WI0H Rating: 4/5 Apr 4, 2013 08:45 Send this review to a friend
A lot of performance in a small package.   Time owned: more than 12 months
I couldn't resist when I saw that a Palstar R30cc was up for sale on I'd been curious about this radio for a long time, and now it was time to scratch the itch. All in all, this is a very capable receiver that I enjoy quite a bit. The two mechanical filters in the CC version work very well, and thanks to the 455 kHz out jack on the back, I can use my SE-3 synch detector with it for even better performance. Recently this combination has been used to skirt around WWCR's 4840 flamethrower and get listenable audio from VL8A on 4835.

The radio does have a few shortcomings though that are forth mentioning. The lack of tuning step options is one, but it's not a big deal. Cafeful use of the 100 on board memories reduces that problem pretty easily. The noise floor on this radio seems higher than some of my other radios, but it never seems to be an issue when I'm chasing faint DX either.

My biggest criticism of the R30cc is its power consumption. This thing will drain down a fresh set of AA batteries in about six to eight hours, and that's with the display light turned off. That seems pretty excessive to me, so be sure to bring along plenty of spare batteries if you're taking this rig out on the road.

Shortcomings aside though, I really like this radio. Pair it up with a good communications speaker (the built in speaker doesn't cut it) or headphones and you have a very capable radio in a compact package.
SM4KAS Rating: 5/5 Feb 21, 2013 13:05 Send this review to a friend
One of the best...  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I bought the R30A in July 2012 and I have been using it portable with a G Whip Receive Antenna and a Quantum QX Loop 3.0 almost daily. I run the R30A on a Valve Regulated Lead Acid Battery. I prefer using headphones and have a pair of Koss UR-40 with a mono plug. This combination of equipment really pulls out the best from this marvellous little receiver. I have 35 years of radio experience and all I can say is that this hits the nail when it comes to serious DX-ing.The R30A really shows us that "simple is better".
KA2SHU Rating: 5/5 Nov 19, 2012 13:05 Send this review to a friend
Small Size Big Punch  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Given the size, price and original intent for this radio, is is an excellent receiver. It can easily hang in with big boys and in many ways can surpass them! Ease of operation, simplicity, portability, and fantastic audio come together in the R-30 making it an easy favorite in my receiver collection. This is an American made receiver to be proud of.
DXTUNER Rating: 4/5 Oct 20, 2012 08:55 Send this review to a friend
Pretty good radio but had some issues  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I no longer own the R30C, but what I recall is a cool looking compact receiver with nice sound & good selectivity. But there was a problem. I purchased my R30C, used, on eBay, I distinctly remember the seller putting this remark in his ad: "Stable after a 30 minute warm-up." Well, when I got the radio I saw why he put the comment in his ad.

The R30C drifted like crazy on sideband, slipping & sliding all over the place. Constant retuning. Problem was, a "30 minute warm-up" didn't stop the drift! I contacted the seller, he admitted that he'd twice sent the radio back to Palstar, and both times he was told the radio was operating exactly like it should. Reading in between the lines I now knew why he put it up for sale.

I don't expect synthesized receivers to drift like that. I keep my rating of this radio a "4" allowing a benefit of the doubt. Its possible I simply had a bum unit. There were a couple other quirks I wasn't crazy about, involving ergonomics, but then again the radio was designed to have a minimalist user interface.
K7FD Rating: 4/5 Jun 18, 2012 22:41 Send this review to a friend
12 years later...  Time owned: more than 12 months
The R30C had been sitting on the shelf for a few years...and I decided I might as well sell it. I powered it up to make sure it was still operating and it was...

I tuned to a QSO on 75 meters...and was immediately impressed (again, but long gone from my memory) on how GOOD this receiver sounds. It IS an HQ-180 in disguise! BIG ROBUST audio...none of my $5K radios come close to the wall of sound that comes from this receiver!

Bottom line, I decided to hang on to it, hi! My initial experience with Palstar's service department bordered on strange at best, but I think we parted as friends at some point if I remember right.

But if you can find one of these reasonably priced, your ears are in for a rare treat!

73 John K7FD
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