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Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Comparison of DMR radios

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Please link to this page instead of copying because I will be regularly updating this table with new radios and new data. Page last updated on 30/04/2018.

Please contribute
If you spot any errors or out of date information or if you have more information to add, please leave a comment below or send me an email. Check contact page for details.

Anything with a ? in is something I don't know. If you do, then please help by telling me. If I have missed out any Chinese DMR radios please tell me in the comments.

Disclaimer
Information in this table is not guaranteed. I have made my best effort to provide correct information but there could be errors. Please check before buying, and if you find a mistake please let me know!

Legal information
This comparison is made for licensed amateur radio operators. It is illegal to use any of these radios on licence free channels such as PMR446 or FRS (including GMRS). Radios used on FRS and GMRS must be certified for use on these channels by the FCC. Radios used on PMR446 must have 0.5W maximum output power, and a fixed antenna.


Radio True DMR Dual band Available in Waterproof Receiver type Rough price User DB Recommended/comments
TYT MD-380 Yes No VHF or UHF No Superhet 90 Yes Yes. Good quality body and good performance. Superhet receiver is good. Promiscuous mode and more enhancements available in unofficial firmware
TYT MD-390 Yes No VHF or UHF Yes Superhet 125 Yes Yes. Same as MD-380 but waterproof.
Baofeng DM-5R No Yes VHF + UHF No Direct conversion 50 No No. Does not talk to other DMR radios (uses a different vocoder), and only works on simplex mode.
Baofeng DM-5R Plus No Yes VHF + UHF No Direct conversion 70 No No. Does not work on repeaters properly. Will talk to other DMR radios fine on simplex though.
Ailunce HD1 Yes Yes VHF + UHF Yes Direct conversion 190 Yes I can't decide for this one. It's on the verge of being good enough for me to recommend. This radio is good because it allows full front panel programming and a proper "VFO mode". Also has promiscuous mode. Selectivity is poor though and it still has some bugs.
TYT MD-2017 /Retevis RT82 Yes Yes VHF + UHF Yes Direct conversion 220 Yes Yes. Mostly free of bugs now. Trackball is disliked by users. Selectivity is apparently better than the HD1. Apparently this radio still uses direct conversion, but it has some filtering which improves the selectivity.
Radioddity GD-77 Yes Yes VHF + UHF No Direct conversion 87 Yes No. Second cheapest working dual band DMR but users report a lot of bugs. Still a better choice than the RD-5R right now though.
Radioddity GD-55/ TYT MD-398 No No VHF or UHF Yes Direct conversion - No No. Does not work on repeaters properly. No longer sold.
Radioddity GD-55 Plus Yes No UHF Yes Direct conversion 115 No No. Users complain that firmware is too buggy. Development seems to have stopped. Shows the importance of not buying a radio that still has bugs - they may never be fixed!
Kirisun DP-770 Yes No UHF Yes ? 300 No Not for amateurs. Expensive compared to other Chinese radios and no promiscuous mode.
BFDX CS580 Yes No VHF or UHF Splash ? 130 No Yes. Gets good reviews. Colour code and timeslot promiscuous mode as well.
AnyTone AT-D868UV Yes Yes VHF + UHF Splash Direct conversion 170 Yes No. Still too many bugs. Otherwise would be a good radio.
Connect systems CS750/CS751 (VHF) Yes No VHF or UHF No ? 240 No Monitor feature is good – basically a colour code and timeslot promiscuous mode, but there are newer radios out there with more features and cheaper. Generally good reviews.
Wouxun KG-D901 Yes No VHF or UHF Yes ? 150 No No. Reviews complain that the radio only has 32 channels. Not many reviews and there isn't much of a user community. Meant to be more channels with firmware update but Wouxun says you have to send the radio back to be upgraded. Not worth the hassle and cost.
Baofeng RD-5R Yes Yes VHF + UHF No Direct conversion 75 Yes No. Very new at the moment and still a mess of bugs, probably some hardware issues too. But it works fine on repeaters, unlike the DM-5R.
Zastone Mini9+ No No UHF No Most likely direct conversion 50 No Will not work on repeaters but for simplex use it seems good. Very small, limited display and simplex only. Not legal for use on licence free channels.
Radioddity GD-77S Yes Yes VHF + UHF No Direct conversion 77 No No screen. Not sure why an amateur would buy this. Maybe good for blind users. For commercial use it would be better to buy a radio with a superhet receiver. Not legal for use on the licence free frequencies it is programmed to by default.

Explanation of columns:
1. True DMR. Whether the radio works as it should do on repeaters and with other DMR radios. I strongly discourage you from buying a radio that is not true DMR. You will not be able to use it on repeaters.

2. Dual band. Whether the radio supports two bands in one radio. This will almost always be VHF and UHF.

3. Available in. States which bands the radio is available in. VHF, which is normally 136-174  MHz and UHF which usually starts at 400MHz and goes up to 470, 480 or sometimes even 520 MHz. For amateur use then up to 470MHz is fine because no countries (that I know of) have an amateur band above that (well okay, there are much higher frequency bands but I mean within the operation of these radios).

4. Waterproof. No means not at all. Yes means submersible in water. Splash means not submersible but certified for use in rain.

5. Receiver type. Superheterodyne receiver (shortened to superhet) is better because it rejects other channels better. So if someone is standing next to you talking on another radio, your radio will not become temporarily deaf. Direct conversion is cheaper and takes up less space on circuit boards but is easily desensitised. (that’s what it’s called when the radio cannot hear what you’re listening to because of a strong signal on another frequency). Most Chinese radios use direct conversion which is inferior, at least in the way it is implemented in these radios. A radio like this is considered to have "poor selectivity".

6. Rough price. Given in US dollars. As with most things, you may find it being sold at a much higher or slightly lower price. Please let me know in the comments below if the average price of a radio changes so I can update the price in the table.

7. User DB. The user DB is a database of amateur radio operators and their DMR IDs. When they are transmitting, a radio with the user DB will show their name and callsign. Without the database, the radio would just show the ID which is usually a number such as 3111234. Only radios which have been specially designed (or adapted by newer firmware such as with the MD-380) will have this feature. Commercial radios and brands like Motorola, Hytera etc do not have this.

8. Recommended/comments. Whether I recommend the radio or not based on my own experience and my understanding of other user’s comments online. Also gives comments on why I do or do not recommend the radio.

Promiscuous mode, which is mentioned in some comments, means that the radio has a mode where it can hear any talkgroup without needing to program it in. Usually you have to program in a talkgroup before you will hear anyone talking on it. Promiscuous mode disables this requirement.

23 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. GD-77 is 87$ usd.
      Add mobile? CS-800, CS-800D, MD-9600, etc?

      Delete
    2. Changed the info for the anytone at-d868uv.

      At the moment this table is for handhelds only. I am thinking of making a separate table for mobiles.

      Delete
    3. Anytone....double time slot monitor (promiscuous), 250 channels per zone. Dual band....NOT dual watch.
      De K0XM

      Delete
  2. TYT MD-2017/Retevis RT-82
    Radioddity GD-55/ TYT MD-398
    Radioddity GD-55 Plus
    all of them with RDA reciver type!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I own 2 Anytone with several friends who own multiple Anytone AT868. Firmware 2.21 with software 1.21 is 199% stable. Radio by far easiest to use. Simple change zones. Zones hold 100+ channel's. No need for 3rd party firmware. Callsign database loaded within Anytone software. There are required updates. Base band 1 time flash. KC7JOE

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  4. Replies
    1. Wouxun KG-D901 added. I don't think anyone will consider the Wouxun KG-D900 since it has no screen, so I haven't added that one. Thanks.

      Delete
  5. Excellent blog and YouTube videos. I am new to DMR and learning about the available radios before I take the plunge. I am planning on buying a Dual Bander and considering either the Ailunce MD-1 or the AnyTone AT-D868UV. Are you planning on a full review of the AT-D868UV or maybe even a video face-off between MD-1, AT-D868UV, RT82 and MD-2017? That would be super awesome for someone like me shopping for a Dual Band DMR. Thanks again for all the information you make available.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment. I'm not planning on doing a comparison between the three radios right now. This is purely because of the cost. It would cost a lot to buy all three radios and I wouldn't have any use for them. I don't like any of them at the moment because I believe that they all use direct conversion receivers which are in my opinion, rubbish. Have a look at my latest video where I explain this whole situation.

      My advice right now to everyone wanting to get into DMR is to just buy a MD-380 or MD-390. In most places almost all the DMR repeaters are on UHF only anyway (but check your local repeaters online). The MD-380 and 390 are basically the same internals and the only difference is the housing which is waterproof on the 390. These radios are reasonably priced and work well. They've been out a long time so don't really have any bugs now, unlike the dual band DMR radios which seem to have a lot of bugs.

      When there is no performance downside to getting a dual band radio then sure, go for it, but at the moment there is and it's not worth it unless you actually NEED both bands.

      Delete
  6. Hello, in case you have not heard it yet, Tytera announced a Dual-Band version of the MD-380, called TYT MD-UV380. A couple of website are reporting some (limited) information:
    https://radio-hire.co.uk/shop/radios/sku/tyt-md-uv380
    https://www.buytwowayradios.com/blog/2018/03/announcing_the_tyt_md-uv380_dual_band_dmr_radio.aspx
    Since it is said to be "Built on the popular MD-380" I have high hopes it will have a similar superheterodyne architecture! It would not make sense to me Tytera built another clone of the MD-2017, just to keep the look of the MD-380. We'll see.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah I saw that, and I hope so too. It would be a waste of time if it turns out to be just an MD-2017 clone although at least then it won't have the trackball.

      Delete
  7. Hi, have you had personally the Ailunce HD-1? Have heard from my friend, radioamateur, too, that the TYT MD-2017 during receiving produces loudly buzzing, maybe from the display changer.. What about practical oppinion with Ailunco? Thanks Steve

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes I do have the HD1. I haven't had any loud buzzing during receiving on it. It works fine

      Delete
  8. Thoughts on the retevis rt82 the price point seems good for dual band with gps

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    Replies
    1. Hi Charles. The RT-82 is in the comparison table. Have a look there for my thoughts, which are in the last column on the right. Thanks

      Delete
  9. A lot of this info is out of date. The AnyTone AT-D868UV has had many firmware updates and is now a fantastic radio. Update info when you can and also add some of the newer radios including the Baofeng RD-5R! 73

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment. The RD-5R is actually already in the list, near the bottom. I have been following progress with the Anytone radio and people still seem to be having problems with it, so I have not changed it on this page. I am still following it though and will change here when appropriate. You're lucky to have a radio with no issues.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the quick reply. Yup totally missed the RD-5R. I guess we are lucky. I've had 2 of the AnyTone radios (own one at the moment). A friend also has one and seems to be a great radio after latest firmware updates. 73

      Delete
  10. QUESTION? MD380 USE ON MOTOTURBO AT WORK AND MTR2000 AT HOME ON MY FIRE DEPARTMENT ANALOG VHF. I AM WANTIMG TO SET A CHANNEL TO ALERT AND PLAY AUDIO AFTER PICKING UP AND DECODEING 810.2 and 483.5 TWO TONE. IS THERE ANY FIRMWARE UP DATE TO DO THIS. OR IS THE MD380 CAPABLE ALREADY. IF SO HOW DO I PROGRAM IT. ANY HELP WOULD BE APPRECIATED. MY EMAIL IS thejustinheflin@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete

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