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Review of the Degen DE1123 DSP AM/FM/SW Pocket Radio with 1GB MP3 Player & Recorder

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Review of the Degen DE1123 DSP AM/FM/SW Pocket Radio with 1GB MP3 Player & Recorder

DEGEN1123Providing a valuable service

From the “We wasted our money on this so you don’t have to” department… ”

So who needs another portable AM/FM/SW radio – certainly not me.  Or do I?


There is really only one reason I bought this radio – it has one innovative feature that is really valuable to me – the ability to directly record to its built-in 1 GB memory.  When listening to any station on AM/FM/SW hit the record button and you can both listen and record up to 69 hrs of audio.

The radio goes for $79 at  I purchased the radio from, no tax, and free shipping.  The radio arrived in about 5 days.

Here’s what you get

  1. The radio
  2. Three AAA rechargable ni-mh 650 mAh batteries
  3. USB cable
  4. earbuds
  5. carrying case
  6. Wall charger (accepts USB cable)
  7. An interesting manual written in “Chinenglish”

First Impressions

Fist impressions is that this is a very cheaply made radio.  The plastic case is very thin; the buttons are hard to push; and the slide switch which switches modes from FM/AM-SW/MP3/Record is going to be the first thing to break.

My second impression… is that my first impression is correct.

So, getting past that, lets turn the radio on.  After putting the batteries in and firing the radio up the first thing you will find in AM mode is that the factory default step between stations in not appropriate for the US.  Get the magnifying glass and the “Chinenglish” manual and set the AM station set size to 10 KHz.

Ready to go.  The user interface to this radio is not at all intuitive – you need to read the manual.  A little bit of intellectual elbow grease and you will have it down in 30 minutes or so.

Where’s the Beef?

So, lets get to the beef – the ability to record any station you are listening to into its 1 GB internal memory.

The good

  1. It does in fact work.  Record any station you can tune.
  2. Stores up to 70 hrs of audio neatly arranged in files.  Each time you hit the record button a new file is created
  3. You can play recorded audio back through the radio
  4. Plug in the USB cable and copy the WAV files to your personal computer
  5. Charge the supplied AAA batteries in the radio.

Some more good features

  1. This radio will play MP3 files.  Once connected to your personal computer via the USB cable drag any MP3 file to the device.
  2. The radio has a built-in microphone for voice recording,  Record any audio.  The mic is very sensitive.
  3. Use it for fie storage – 1GB – put anything on there that you want.

The not so good

Audio record levels

There is one very disappointing attribute of the the voice recording – the audio level.  The recorded audio is only about 1/2 the level that you will hear when listening in real time.  The radio has a digital volume control and indicator.  The max setting is 31.  A normal listening level is 15.  If you record at 15 you will have to playback at near max volume setting – 31.

The manual warns you about this.  They recommend that you set the volume to max when recording and connect the earbuds.  I assume that they don’t expect you to listen to it in this mode.  In any case, the volume you hear when recording is not the volume you will get on playback – the audio volume is reduced to about 1/2.

Mitigation Strategy for Audio recording levels

Not too much of a problem since I would simply copy these recordings off of the device and place them on my PC for later listening.  One can fix the audio level problem with fee software such as Audacity and then re/save the file back to disk on the PC or transfer it back to the device.


Painful!  There is no VFO, wheel, or direct entry of frequency.  You can press and hold the freq up/down button but it will stop on anything strong including interference.  Manually trying to get to a specific frequency on SW is painful.  Store those frequencies in the 100 presets.

“I forgot”

Take the batteries out and lose the time, date, and AM tuning step.

Some interesting other features

  1. Digital signal strength meter – very nice
  2. Sleep timer ( 5 to 90 minutes)
  3. Time and date
  4. SW (2.30 MHz to 23 MHz )
  5. Also available in 2GB and 4GB models (have not seen these advertised as of yet)
  6. Presets 225 – FM(100) MW (25) SW (100)
  7. ATS (Auto Scan and store of active frequencies in a band)
  8. Battery power levels
  9. Charge from your PC when connected to the USB port

Wish that it had…

  1. Timer to start recording.  That is, let me set a recording start/end time and  mute the audio.
  2. Better construction
  3. Expandability of the built-in memory – but 69 hrs of recording seems to be more than adequate with 1GB internal
  4. Let me set the recording quality.  I’d take better quality at half the recording duration.
  5. Always-on back light
  6. Built-in Cappuccino maker

Other Alternatives

The only other alternative that I know of at this time is the C.Crane Witness.  The Witness is more than double the price.  The Witness has double the memory (and expandable) and looks to be of far better construction from the picture on the CCradio web site – but no Shortwave !!


This radio does exactly what I want – record any AM/FM/SW station that I am listening to with up to 70 hrs or recording time.  However, there are some bumps in the road.  The biggest bump in the road is the record audio level which is only about 1/2 the level of the orginal.

The DEGEN1123 barely gets gets a pass.  I give it a D+ due to its cheap construction and the record audio level problem.  At $79 it will be a good value for a AM/FM/SW portable radio IFF (If and only if for you logic fans)  you have the burning desire or need to record broadcast terrestrial radio stations.  If you do not highly value this feature – then there are far better radios out there at about 1/2 the price.

“Please copy the files frequently.  Our company will not answer for the data destroying and losing”

“The functions and LCD displays will be changed because of the updated software, please take the unit as the standard.”

“While tuning the stations, you had better get very close to the window or stand on the outdoor field in order to avoid and disturb and gain the best reception”

Plus, if you feel you are ripped off, then read the “Chinglish” manual for some “free” entertainment.


You can see that the CC Witness is a different anaimal at about twice the price and perhaps 4 times the features and quality.
Manual for the C. Crane CC Witness –

DEGEN1123 on


Written by frrl

July 11, 2009 at 4:49 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

5 Responses

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  1. How did you change the tuning step?


    May 19, 2016 at 10:15 pm

  2. […] same watered down wav format as well. There’s plenty of online feedback out there, and the verdict seems to be that it’s a cheap and imperfect (but interesting) toy, and if more care would […]

    • Check out the web site in the response above – The Radio Kitchen. Very Nice


      September 15, 2009 at 12:56 pm

  3. I bought one of these. On AM, the radio generates its own ‘AM signals’ which interfere with actual stations, such as on 1110 for example. The AM sensitivity is pretty good. On shortwave, sensitivity is not good at all, only strong stations will be heard–its not at all like the Sony SW22, a little analog portable that has incredible sensitivity on AM and on SW. On FM, a real disappointment. The FM section is not very sensitive and something about the DSP design on FM causes the radio to generate audio distortion even on strong stations. I ended up using an older Walkman to get decent FM reception minus the Degen’s distortion. On recording, you cannot name files, so you get just file 1 or 2 or 3 and have to remember what they are. I don’t think this radio is worth the money. DSP is a cool idea but poorly applied here.


    July 27, 2009 at 8:37 am



      July 28, 2011 at 9:26 pm

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