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Reviews For: Radio Shack DX-394

Category: Receivers: General Coverage

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Review Summary For : Radio Shack DX-394
Reviews: 40MSRP: 399.95
General Coverage Communications Receiver Rating (1-5): H (1) <br> Made In: China 1995-1998 Voltages: 120 VAC 12 VDC <br> Coverage: 150-30000 kHz Readout: Digital LCD 0.1 <br> Modes: AM/LSB/USB/CW Selectivity: 7.2/6/5.7 kHz <br> Circuit: Double Conversion Physical: 9.125x3.5x7.8" 5 Lbs. <br> Features: ¼" Head. Jack, S-Meter, VRIT Tuning, Dial Lamp, Keypad, NB, Fine Tuning, Clock, 5-Event Timer, Scan, Sweep, Standby, Lock, Record Jack, Sleep Timer, Four Tuning Steps. <br>
Product is in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
G4MJA Rating: 2020-03-23
Good little receiver Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I originally bought a DX394 back in 1995, used it for a couple of years then sold it on & regretted it. It was an early model but a good little performer.
Recently I bought a second hand one, it is the later 'B' model which has several improvements. Is it a Watkins Johnson, no, of course not, don't buy a Ford & expect it to be a Rolls Royce. It works well & is perfect for my needs. I have other receivers which have many more features but there is something nice about operating this little radio. It has become something of a cult radio & prices are rising. if you fancy one of these receivers I can recommend it.
KC0EKQ Rating: 2017-02-13
It works just fine Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I bought my 394 in '97 I believe, when the clearance prices hit around $50 out here in the Ozarks. For that price, brand new in the box, it was a no-brainer.

If you could find one now for $50, in good condition, it would be a no-brainer, too.

There were a few different iterations of the DX-394, noted as A, B and C versions over manufacturing years. The A (earliest) version seems to be problematic and the least able to be improved, but the B and C versions are perfect candidates for all those neat enhancements.

It's just fine for what it does -- receives LW, MW and SW radio signals with decent-to-good sensitivity and decent selectivity on its whip antenna, and even better (of course) on an external antenna (SO239 jack), though you don't want to use more than 25 or 30 feet of wire with it -- it *will* overload on moderate to strong signals, especially in its stock condition.

But that's one plus of the DX-394: it is eminently modifiable, and thanks to now-legendary research and tinkering of dozens of enthusiasts, the DX-394 can perform like a receiver costing two or three times its original price.

Its few bandwidth filters are decent enough stock, but they can be easily replaced and improved; it chuffs and flutters while tuning, but there is a modification to stop that; there are numerous ways to improve the noise blanker, add DSP filtering, and so on, most of which are fairly easy to accomplish for most of the radio/electronics enthusiasts here at eHam.

Stock, though, it is good, but not great. There is a lot of AM bleedover/crosstalk with stronger signals; the audio is tinny and weak most of the time; its SSB modes tend to be a bit muddy with the stock 455Hz IF filters; a decent MW DXer rig, this ain't! But again, all of those shortcomings can be ameliorated with application of several well-known and proven modifications.

The display is clear, bright enough for lit-room reading, but not so bright as to be distracting in dark, night-time room listening.

The 'S meter' is a cute little LCD version of an analog needle type meter, and it's fairly broad and primitive (not very precise or fine)... but it's not useless and can be of help in testing antennas and preamps and so on.

All the other readout functions are clear and legible and the display is quite uncluttered, something I can't say about so many of the LCD displays of many portable and porta-top receivers of that time and even more today.

Even stock, it is a fun little radio to use, and a step up from most portable radios from its day, even some today (other than not covering the FM broadcast band, of course).

But modified and enhanced, the DX-394 is a very good, very worthy and pleasant radio well-suited to bedside/nighttime listening and searching.

Given average pricing these days, I will likely pick up another 394 soon, just for the fun of making it perform better, and gift it to some lucky SWL friend or student of mine.
VE7REN Rating: 2016-01-31
winner Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I found one for 20 bucks,yes 20 dollars.. most sell for 75-100.. it was pretty clean,and with some elbow work and dish soap,it better and near new. overall its a good performer and does what its supposed to.. the internal speaker is thin sounding,but its fine for what I need it for.. most radios internal speakers are weak anyways.. the lcd is nice and well layed out,the design is clean and good ergonomics... overall I'm happy with the radio shack dx394 for my listening pleasure.. ssb,am,cw,etc..
N7XLR Rating: 2015-09-15
poor reception on ssb Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I bought this radio more than 15 years ago brand new for $249. It was a display model, without the box, but was in perfect condition and unused. It receives commercial broadcast stations very well with an end fed long wire antenna. But it is almost impossible to pull in weak amateur ssb signals. I recently learned that there are 2 different versions of this radio, the "A" and the "B". The B version is supposedly quite a bit better. Unfortunately, I have the A version. I am now using my recently purchased Icom 718 as an ssb receiver (I do not have my General yet, and have been unable to find anything on the Technician part of 10 meters) To anyone considering buying one of these radios, I would suggest they make sure it is the "B" model
K7HZN Rating: 2014-05-07
Meets my needs Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I got one of these when they first showed up in the Radio Shack stores. It has given me good service and is still my primary SWL receiver since my transceiver is ham band only.

Never had a moments trouble with it in all these years.
K8JHR Rating: 2012-07-10
Good Radio - good value for the money Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I LIKED this radio. I paid about $175 for a used one, which had been tuned and checked by an old ham. My example performed perfectly and without fault, and was plenty sensitive for general SWL-ing and listening to the ham bands. It received ham SSB transmissions very well and was easy to tune and adjust for proper reception. Radio is well made and feels solid and durable. This is not the best table-top SW radio, but it beats any portable in its price range, and you can get them for the price of an average sized portable.

Bottom line - good performance for the price, solid feel, good audio, reasonable selectivity and sensitivity, and looks good even you have had one for awhile. Good value for the money.

Happy trails and good DX to ya. // K8JHR //
W4ARZ Rating: 2011-10-04
Good 4 Overall Time Owned: more than 12 months.
In addition to all my high end receivers & transceivers, I have given home to 2 of the B series 394's. Both have the anti chuff and audio mods. Didn't buy em for tracking space shuttle signals but I did want to use them for casual shortwave,MW & SSB listening. I hook em up to my Cushcraft A4s or my Carolina Windom 160. My friend Allan has a couple of SW stations 7.415 & 5.110 WBCW.. They work fine & I turn doen the RF gain ( most people run their receivers with the rf gain wide open & wonder why the front end is overloading). These little guys look great ( mine are pristine). and they take the load off my really high end equipment & boatanchors if I just want to listen around the shack casually. Not bad on SSB either. The Problem I have is that there is no adjustable brake on the vfo.. All of em are kinda free wheeling and I like a little resistance in the tuning.. Otherwise it would give it a 5.
KB1FQG Rating: 2011-06-08
Good for what it is! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I question the logic of people who compare this to a $500 RX and complain about it. I have a few $1,000 plus radios and wouldn't expect this radio to be anything like it. It is what it is, a $100 (used price) portable hidden in a desktop box with some extra features. If I'm looking for ultimate satisfaction I'll use my Drake R-7A, SW-8, or my collins, Racal, or Harris gear. But for poking around or something to use at my office or out on the porch, its just fine.
KI6RSE Rating: 2011-02-26
FUN TO PLAY WITH Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Honestly ive had a couple of these..If you dont have the funds to spend a few hundred buck on a more expensive reciever by all means get one of these..I read some of the prima donna reviews on here and definately dont agree with the low scores..This is available for the 150$ range on Ebay and for the price works great..I can hear AM stations on alongwire..right on frequency with WWV .. not difficult to operate..SSb works fine...its not a Kenwood 350$-500$ reciever ..people should give this radio shack radio Credit...For the price its a Great bedside radio..even better if your into the mods for it..
AA9K Rating: 2011-01-17
Add These Mods To Make It A Very Good General Coverage Receiver Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I bought a non-working DX-394 which had the boards covered with oxidized junk. It worked after disassembling, cleaning and reassembling but I was not impressed with the performance.
After looking around the Internet for some mods I came across this site - and installed all the mods except the DRM (I don't need it) and DSP (I'm too cheap) mods. It's hard to believe how much better this receiver performs now - and for less than $15 worth of parts !!!
Mine still has one issue that needs to be addressed; the IF selectivity is broad enough that strong adjacent CW signals will pump the AGC. However, there is a Kiwa IF Filter mod that might help with that. There is a lot of information available on the Internet including the manuals which can be downloaded free from the site mentioned above.