Manager - NA4M
Manager Notes

Reviews For: Tecsun PL-660 PLL World Band Receiver

Category: Receivers: General Coverage

eMail Subscription

Registered users are allowed to subscribe to specific review topics and receive eMail notifications when new reviews are posted.
Review Summary For : Tecsun PL-660 PLL World Band Receiver
Reviews: 63MSRP: 109.9
FM-Stereo /MW/LW/SW SSB/AIR band (118-137 MHz) World Receiver with high sensitivity and selectivity.
Product is in production
More Info: http://
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
SPOCKO Rating: 2015-09-04
Not for Air Band. Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I purchased a PL-600 and loved it from the first second, so I invested in the PL-660, as it has 'Air Band' coverage (and I live in between two airports).Bad news. the PL-660 does not scan on the air-band!
That is my only gripe, apart I wish the controls on the PL-600 and PL-660 were the same. There are slight differences in how certain functions work and the locations of certain buttons (particularly when using the units at night).
The PL-660 unit then served as a 'table DAB radio' when this radio 'died'. I love the sound from the (mono) speaker on the FM band and even more when you listen through headphones.
On the AM band, I found the display was 3 KHz out, which can be a pain whist on scan mode. This problem was discussed with the retailer and was solved in a 'swap-over' radio.
I love it, I recommend it for anyone who is travelling overseas or long distances and is not expensive to replace if you drop it in the water and cannot dry it out!
Short-wave reception is not my forte, but I am happy with what I can receive at 2.00am whist in bed. Nice, clean audio and strong, locked-in signal.
Final word. TRY to read the instructions and try to understand that this radio can do more than you first thought it could do.
I look forward to reading reviews on the PL680 in the future.
VE3FAX Rating: 2015-08-31
Edit of my review after 1year Time Owned: more than 12 months.
A few revisions to my original review:

Battery life is much better than originally thought - when using rechargeable NiMH. My originals where too small in Amp-Hour rating. The higher the better. Life now good .

You CAN turn off the back- light for the display, but not the LCD character display itself.

Reset button does not always work for a lock-up ( lock-ups are extremely rare). Take the batteries out FOR at least 10 minutes to let all caps discharge. Taking them out and putting back in right-away is not going to fix it.

LOVE this radio, audio levels can be a bit low sometimes, perhaps due to the type of AGC that has been discussed as slightly problematic in other reviews. Occatinally, some signals may seem to be crying out for more AUDIO gain.

I have very good SSB stability, sensitivity and selectivity.

I have been hard on this radio. I use it so much in the field. I have left it out in the rain a few times, dropped it in mud and it still works great (after taking it apart and cleaning/drying)

I highly recommend it for the price.

KD5MTB Rating: 2015-03-18
It's a great radio at twice the price! Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I think if any review is to have much meaning it has to be compared to another radio as a bench mark. Anyone can say “This is good.” or “This in not so good” about a radio, but we the readers don’t know how much experience the writer may have and without a comparison there is no standard for a guide. For this review of the Tecsun PL-660 I will compare it to my Sony ICF-2010, one of the best, and the “classic” of portable radios. (Note: My 2010 has Kiwa filters installed so the bar is even higher for the 660). All tests have been done head to head, with and without an external antenna. All tests were conducted under the same exact conditions over a 3 month period. All comments refer to SWL unless noted.

I have read the other reviews and I would like to address some of the negative comments of others with my own findings.
RF GAIN (Called Ant. gain on this radio): I find that it works perfectly. I often use it at the least sensitive setting when using the SYNC feature (ECSS). It yields a clear and clean sound at all 3 positions.
SENSITIVITY INCONSISTENT: I do not have that problem at all.
SSB WANDERS: I have not had that problem either.
POOR SOUND: I have found the sound clear, pleasant and not fatiguing at all with speaker or ear buds. The speaker sounds fine for it’s size. (Much better than my G-6)
POOR PERFORMANCE WITH WEAK SIGNALS: I do not agree (see my comparison farther on.)
POOR SELECTIVITY: I, again, do not agree (see my comparison farther on.)
BFO: I have found the BFO very easy to use. (I did put a white dot at zero position on the knob so that I can see where I am. It helps.) I often do not even have to adjust the BFO dial.

The comparison to the Sony ICF-2010:
SENSITIVITY: In most cases I have found that the 660 hears everything that the 2010 does. On a few occasions I have heard weak signals with the 660 that the 2010 does not hear at all. Yes…this is true. I checked back and forth several times because I did not believe it. But this is correct. I found this to be true using an external antenna and using the pull up antennas. The 660 does not overload when an external antenna is used. I have used my HF ham radio antenna, my DEGEN 31MS portable antenna and the Sony ANL-P1 portable antenna.
SYNC TUNING: (The best Feature of this radio) The SYNC tuning on the 660 and 2010 operate almost the same, with one exception. With the 660 you do not have to do any manual tuning. It is also my experience that the 660 SYNC feature locks on to weak signals much much better than my 2010.
SELECTIVITY: At 11:00 GMT I hear the BBC at 9740 as a strong signal. At that same time there is a station at 9735 and one (or 2) at 9745. With the 2010, using rf gain pulled down and in the ECSS mode I achieve a noisy but understandable signal. With the 660, doing the same thing, I get a clean and clear signal with almost no side signal interference at all.
NARROW/WIDE BAND WIDTH: This feature is really well thought out. With most radios I never use the narrow BW because it is just too unpleasant to listen too. Not so with 660. In fact I often just leave it on the narrow setting.
SSB: I find it easy to use. Using the antenna for my HF rig I find that it picks up stations better than my Kenwood TS-450. (Yes, one night on 40 meters, the 660 did a much better job of RX. Spain was strong into Ecuador on the 660 and a weak signal on the TS-450)
AM/FM: It is a small radio so of course AM RX will not be as good at say a Panasonic RF-2200 or the CCRADIO-SW. I have not tested and am not interested in FM DX so you are on your own there. This is a good place to say that the 660 does not have the greatest sound for listening to music. If you want a SW radio that is also good for listening to music get one with separate treble/bass controls and a bigger speaker, like the CCRadio-SW or the Panasonic RF-2200.

OTHER FEATURES THAT I LIKE: When you manual tune the 660, or push any button, the light comes on, so it is really easy to use in low light or dark situations. It also has an internal charger so you never have to buy batteries. The charger is easy to to use. Just plug the radio into the power cord. No buttons to push…and…the charger is very fast to charge. It also has 3 tuning speed choices, Fast, Fast/Slow and Slow. The first and last are fixed speeds. The Fast/Slow option varies the tuning speed depending on your tuning speed, very nice for HF (Ham Radio SSB) listening. I prefer Fast for SWL.

STORED MEMORY: I don’t use stored memory much, but I have found that the memory functions of the 660 is somewhat cumbersome and the manual hard to understand. EXAMPLE: if you stored 6195 and 15580 in the 01 and 02 positions on Page 1, accessing is not simple. You have to be on 49 meter band to get to position 01 and on the 19 meter band to get to position 02. The memory function of the 2010 is so so easy to use. There is much more about the memory capabilities of the PL-660 that you can learn about on youtube.

I think that covers the heart of the Tecsun PL-660. There are other features that I have not used and can not comment on. I was more than pleasantly surprised with this radio. It preforms far better than I ever expected with every feature that I want in a SW radio. When I travel, this will be the radio I take with me. If I could give this radio a 10 if I would do it.
W0NWT Rating: 2015-03-09
Best Buy for the buck spent. Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
For a radio under $250 nothing else compares. Amazing reception on just the whip antenna. SSB is great. The radio speaker sounds great. Nice display and easy to read. I got mine for $109 shipped. I have looked at old boat anchors and they cost more than this and do not have as good of performance as this little radio.
WA6MOW Rating: 2014-10-26
Super Value Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I love this radio. Technology has sure improved over my early SWL radios. A lot of fun for little money.
VK3LZ Rating: 2014-10-13
Value for Money Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I bought this before heading off on a cruise ship because I wanted something portable for casual listening without spending too much money or taking up too much space. I wasn't expecting much but I ended up being pleasantly surprised. The 660 is a very versatile and usable radio. It's sensitive and reasonable selective with good HF shortwave reception (Radio Australia sounded great aboard the cruise ship!). It's not perfect however, memory storage has issues and the buttons are awkward but I don't think there's a better HF portable at this price point.
KG4FMQ Rating: 2014-10-13
Great Receiver, Great Value! Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I have had this radio for a while now. It is my first SWL radio. Sure I have HF radios that I have used to listen to the SW bands, but I wanted something portable and slim. This radio has good sound, and great reception and I was really surprised for what it is. Now it is not some $400 receiver with all the bells and whistles, this radio does what it was designed to do, and it does it very well. It is easy on the ears surprisingly for the speaker size. The bottom line is that the radio is simple, and it gets me listening to most all of the bands everywhere! It can receive SSB which is a plus too!

It is a great buy, and a good value! You cannot go wrong, get one and see for yourself!!!

KD8UEI Rating: 2014-09-16
Good radio Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I've owned this radio for more than a year. It does what it is meant to do as a portable receiver. The thing that shocked me the most is that it is an EXCELLENT FM receiver. I am able to pull in stations from far away that I can't get with an ordinary AM/FM radio. I am also so glad that I can tune in SSB and actually understand what is being said. There are very few portable radios in this price range with this ability, and I think that alone makes it worth the price. My only gripe is that MW (AM broadcast band) is a little noisy on weak far away stations, but it still is able to bring them in. All in all, I'm happy with my purchase.
LISTENER007 Rating: 2014-07-27
It's Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
I know in my last "Conclusion" write-up I thought I could put my PL-660 review to bed, but there's no substitute for experience of ownership and even though I liked this radio overall, it does fall a little short of the imaginary mark in a few areas.

1). The auto type RF Gain (almost like a squelch, turning RF gain right DOWN) kicks in too much and limits the clear reception of many weaker signals, so much so the it can sound like somebody has put his cupped hand over the speaker and made it sound muffled, very muffled, then it might burst through and sound normal, might not either, it's exact threshold is very unpredictable and can quickly become annoying.

2). Sensitivity appears to change. Sometimes it wants to bring in everything and other times it sounds almost deaf. A good external antenna is a must if you want those weaker signals (see above though) but other times the telescopic antenna does a great job and even the supplied roll out wire antenna worked very well for shortwave AM. Putting this radio near almost anything either conducting electricity or large and metallic can change its sensitivity dramatically and/or introduce lots of noise. Even bringing your hand(s) near it will also affect it, and in the shack it has to be placed carefully so as to not get interference from the other rigs and equipment if the external antenna is not plugged in. It's like it was in drastic need of a good earth - probably IS...

3) SSB wanders quite a lot and NEVER stops. Although at times its reception is magic for a small portable, it can be typically horrible listening to off frequency SSB every few minutes. During warmup this can be expected but even after half an hour and longer, it's still happening, albeit slower. I sometimes listen to known HF USB frequencies with both the PL-660 and other more costly transceivers side by side and when they are both dead on frequency, you can notice beat zero and audibly pickup less than a single Hz difference betwen the two with your ears (I'm sure you guys know what I mean here). The PL-660 does not stay on frequency for long though and I find I am constantly adjusting by large amounts, for that elusive beat zero, every five or so minutes.

4) The VFO Up and Dn changes steps or memory channels at different rates. Down is a lot faster than Up, about twice the rate. I haven't experienced any runaway or the reverse tuning thing that some speak of but from day one, this different rate was noticable.

Just the once, I changed from VFO SSB listening to AM broadcast then FM broadcast memories and I couldn't get back to HF no matter what I tried. I don't know what went wrong but it just would NOT go back to HF. I switched it OFF then back ON and then I could get back but I think I experienced some sort of software failure or lockup. I never was in love with the software in the 660,, I am less in love with it now...

Conclusion... The Tecsun PL-660 is still a magic little portable receiver and I am glad I bought it,, BUT,, a portable receiver it will always stay and NO MORE.. It amazes sometimes and falls quite short other times. I believe it almost shows promise on one hand and the side affects of its cheaper pricetag on the other hand. I guess you get what you pay for. If you are serious about shortwave and especially SSB on HF, then save your money and go for the REAL stuff, you know, the radio's with known brand names that have been in the game for scores of years. The PL-660 is adequate as an "away from home" substitute, and no more.

I was going to buy and try a Tecsun S-2000 but I am not going to now, as that might be a bit of a costly purchase, just to get annoyed at...
N1KW Rating: 2014-06-19
There were high hopes Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
MW performance is the most important parameter in my book. Unfortunately the receiver I tested was a failure on that band: very poor sensitivity, high noise, severe overload on local stations (no AGC?). My Grundig YB400s and Panasonic RF-B65 run circles around the PL-660 on MW!

HF operation was OK. In SSB mode, it does have good opposite sideband rejection, the best I have seen in a low cost portable.

I was so disappointed with the MW performance that I didn't bother to test it on LW or FM (who listens to LW or commercial FM anyway?) before packing it up for return shipment the next day.