Gone are the days where we used to rely on the analog mode of communication and were annoyed by the poor signal quality and interference. Be it for personal or professional use, digital mobile radio (DMR radio) is the most reliable choice you can make today.
Many manufacturers, like Baofeng, Kenwood, TYT, Anytone, Alinco, Motorola, Hytera, and Radioddity, produce the most reliable mobile radio solutions.
Given the variety of options on the market, choosing the best DMR mobile radio can be a tough task, as not everyone is versed in the paraphernalia that goes with it. Do not worry. We at Save Net Radio are there to lend our expert hand in making the best choice.
Best DMR Radios
After trying and testing out different dual-band digital mobile radios, we have come to the conclusion that the AnyTone AT-D878UVII Plus is by far the best DMR radio that you can buy. However, considering the affordability factor and different use cases, we have also picked a few other options worth buying. Here’s a list of the top DMR radio picks:
Without further ado, let’s dig into the detailed reviews of all DMR radios.
#1. AnyTone AT-D878UVII Plus – Our Top Pick
|AnyTone AT-D878UVII Plus
|136-174MHz (V), 400-480MHz (U)
|25KHz (WideBand), 12.5KHz (NarrowBand)
|7.4V DC ±20% (2100mAh)
AnyTone AT-D878UVII Plus DMR Radio Review
The AnyTone AT-D878UVII Plus is a combination of affordability, functionality, and reliability and is the best DMR mobile radio in the market that you can buy today. If you ask me, I would personally recommend the AT-D878UVII Plus over any other dual-band DMR Mobile Radio.
Performance & Reliability
AnyTone D878UVII Plus offers best-in-class performance and reliability both in digital and analog operations, be it in the UHF or VHF frequency band. Speaking of the build quality and design of this nifty device, it comes in a decent form factor for a dual-band DMR mobile radio. The build quality is pretty dope with a rugged finish to survive operations in harsh environments and is entitled to IP54 waterproof certification.
AnyTone AT-D878UVII Plus Display
It comes equipped with a 1.77-inch color TFT display. By default, it is configured to show white font on a black background which is pretty readable even under broad day-light. You can also customize the display to your liking. Most of the buttons on the front panel and the side panel are user-configurable. You can configure them either by using the software tool or the radio itself for that matter.
To the side of this DMR mobile radio is a standard Kenwood mic plug which also doubles up as a port for programming the radio. On top, you should find two knobs. The smaller knob is used to turn the radio on/off which also doubles up as a volume controller. The larger knob, on the other hand, is used for selecting the channels.
AnyTone AT-D878UVII Plus Speaker Quality
Speaking of the speaker output on AnyTone AT-D878UVII Plus, it is the loudest and the clearest that we have come across on a handheld DMR radio. The microphone quality is also top-notch with an option to enhance. This comes in very handy, especially in a noisy environment. The enhancement option can be accessed from the settings panel of the radio.
What Inside the Box?
AnyTone AT-D878UVII Plus DMR handheld radio ships with a desktop charger for charging the included lithium-ion battery. The package also includes a high-gain rubber ducky antenna and a cable for programming the radio.
On the battery note, AnyTone AT-D878UVII Plus DMR radio can last for over 35 hours on a single charge which is incredible for a handie talkie of such a small form factor. All credit to the included 3100 mAh lithium-ion battery pack.
Feature that I Loved in AnyTone AT-D878UVII Plus
The AnyTone AT-D878UVII Plus has 4000 memory channels, 10,000 DMR talk groups, and 150,000 digitals contacts.
What makes this device stand out is its support for both analog and digital Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS). Besides these, this dual-band DMR mobile radio also shares support for DMR roaming which is a feature that helps in switching seamlessly between repeaters and is equipped with a built-in GPS.
It is thoughtful of AnyTone to include Bluetooth functionality on this device as it helps make this device more convenient to use. For instance, you can pair a remote PTT (push-to-talk) button or connect to any Bluetooth audio device or even pair it with your car stereo system for that matter.
Verdict of AnyTone AT-D878UVII Plus
We have tested out different DMR HTs in the past and the AnyTone AT-D878UVII Plus turns out to be the best among them all for the feature pack it is to offer while still being in the affordable price range. On a reliability note, the D878UV Plus features a faster and better processor than its predecessor, AT-D868UVII. It also comes with Bluetooth connectivity to help pair it with other Bluetooth-enabled devices. If you decide to skimp on this feature, you can opt for the AnyTone AT-D878UV (non-Bluetooth) variant for a little less. The battery life on this device deserves a mention. It is not just a DMR but is also great for VHF/UHF. In a nutshell, the AnyTone AT-D878UVII Plus is the best dual band DMR radio on the market in this price range.
#2. BTECH DMR-6X2 Dual-band DMR HT – Best Value For Money
|136-174MHz (V), 400-480MHz (U)
|25KHz (WideBand), 12.5KHz (NarrowBand)
|4FSK Digital Modulation
|≤0.25μV (wideband) ≤0.35μV (narrowband)
|7/5/2.5/1W, UHF: 6/5/2.5/1W
Review of BTECH DMR-6X2 DMR Radio
The BTECH DMR-6X2 is yet another reliable option when it comes to the best DMR radios in the market. Though the entire construction of the 6X2 is based on the AnyTone D878, BTech has added several additional features to this DMR handie talkie which we will be learning in the latter part of this review.
Unboxing of BTECH DMR-6X2
Speaking of the package contents, the BTECH DMR-6X2 ships with an additional battery. It also comes with two belt clips, a hand strap, a 6.25” antenna, programming cable, charger base for charging the included batteries, earpiece, and a user manual. The included 6.25-inch dual-band antenna should serve the need. However, if you aim at a slight improvement in the signal strength, an NA-771 can get you about 2db.
When it comes to design and built quality, the BTech DMR-6X2 looks precisely the same as that of the AnyTone AT-D878UV DMR radio with a rugged design and quality. The 1.77-inch TFT display on the device is color capable with decent brightness and is visible even under the bright sun. It has many buttons on the front and side panels which are customizable either with the aid of a compatible software tool or one can even do that on the radio itself.
As the device ships with an additional battery pack, you don’t have to worry about draining it any soon. On the other hand, the BTECH DMR-6X2 yields a decent backup with the included batteries. As per the claims of Baofeng Tech, the 3100mAh battery should yield 35 hours while the 2100mAh should yield 18.5 hours of battery life. But, in our testing, the battery life turned out to be a little lesser than their claim. However, it is all dependent on the mode of operation.
The BTECH DMR-6X2 also shares support for both the analog and digital APRS functionality. With the ability of its built-in GPS, APRS packets can be sent easily. Analog APRS is editable right on the radio menu even without having to take the pain of programming software.
It does exceptionally well both in digital and analog operations. Be it in the UHF or VHF frequency band, this DMR radio exhibits decent signal reception. The numbers on this DMR handheld are impeccable with 4000 memory channels, 10,000 DMR talk groups, 200,000 digital contacts, and 250 zones with 250 channels per zone.
The receiver sensitivity on this device is pretty decent with good signal strength on both digital and analog. Talking of the speaker quality, the speaker is loud enough even in noisy environments. The maximum volume on the speaker is 8. As I have mostly used this radio in indoor conditions, my ideal range is 3 to 5.
Speaking of the keypad on the device, the buttons are larger and placed reasonably far from each other which makes them easier on the hands. As the keypad features backlit functionality, it is easier to access the keys even in barely lit environments. The PTT button is located to the side and doesn’t require a lot of pressure to activate. Even a swift press should do the work. To the right-side panel, you should find the standard Kenwood mic plug which also doubles up as a programming port.
The BTECH DMR-6X2 can function as a store and forward simplex repeater. In this mode, the device records transmission and stores it in its memory. Once the incoming signal is dropped, the transmitter keys and retransmits the recorded audio. The transmission can happen either on the same or different frequency and need not be on the same band. This comes in handy, especially where a central relay method is needed and there is no local repeater to operate.
Verdict of BTECH DMR-6X2 DMR Radio
The BTECH DMR-6X2 is one of the decent DMR radios on the market today with a great list of features. It can function as a digital simplex repeater which is great for a DMR HT. The device features a good sensitivity range, decent speaker and microphone quality, and everything that you would expect from a typical handheld DMR radio. It is built to withstand operation in harsh environments, thanks to its rugged body.
The most important factor for a DMR mobile radio is battery life. It yields a pretty decent battery life with the included 3100 mAh battery. Besides this, you will also get to see an additional 2100 mAh battery in the package, which I would say is a deal. Also, the DMR-6X2 only weighs about 11.3 oz with the large battery and 10.4 oz with the smaller one. All and all, the BTECH DMR-6X2 is a bang for the buck.
#3. TYT MD-UV380 – Best Affordable DMR Radio
|136-174MHz (V), 400-480MHz (U)
|High ≤ 5W, Low ≤ 1W
TYT MD-UV380 Dual Band Mobile Radio Review
The TYT MD-UV380 is a small, simple yet effective portable DMR radio that we have ever tested. For the size and the price at which the radio is offered, it makes it to the best DMR mobile radio list. Do not let its size fool you. The device can be operated in dual-band VHF (136 – 174 MHz) and UHF (400 – 480 MHz).
Upon unboxing the TYT MD-UV380, you should find a dual-band whip antenna, a desktop charging cradle to charge the included 2000 mAh Li-ion battery, USB programming cable, 120/240V desktop charger power supply, a belt clip, and a user manual.
By looks, the TYT MD-UV380 is identical to the popular MD-380 monoband DMR radio. It has a minimal form factor for a DMR mobile radio and weighs only about 10 oz (280g) with the battery and antenna attached. The case feels solid and is very comfortable to hold and grip.
The device comes equipped with a dual-band whip antenna connected to the standard SMA female connector on the TYT MD-UV380. On the battery note, it comes with a 7.2V, 2000 mAh Lithium-ion battery included. It can take as long as 10 hours to charge the battery from 0 to 100. The bright LED bar on the charger’s front turns red when charging and turns green when either the battery is fully charged or even when there is no radio in the cradle.
The display on the device is very crisp and clear and is bright enough to show the contents even under the brightest sun. You get to see a lot of buttons on the front as well as the side panel of the radio. Most of the buttons are customizable and can be done using the software or on the device itself. Sitting comfortably on the top are two knobs smaller of which is the volume knob which also doubles up as a power switch. The larger one is for channel selection.
It has a standard Kenwood mic plug to one of its sides, and on the other side, you get to see a push-to-talk (PTT) button and two user-configurable buttons on either side of it. The buttons feel tactic and are easy to access. On the top, there is an LED indicator that reflects the status of the receiving signal.
The speaker on the device is pretty loud for indoor operations and is loud enough in noisy environments. Speaking of the microphone quality, the built-in microphone does its job well. You can attach an external microphone using the standard Kenwood mic plug for a better experience. However, you cannot go with wireless accessories as there is no Bluetooth functionality on the TYT MD-UV380.
This dual band DMR mobile radio can store up to 100,000 DMR contacts. It has a channel capacity of 3,000 which is a pretty decent figure for mobile radio. Talking of the zones, it supports up to 250 zones which again is pretty solid. The device can record transmissions for playback. It also has support for FM in both wide and narrowband.
The software that comes with the device is pretty much straightforward. However, if you are a novice in the DMR radios, you might require to do a bit of research. When it comes to firmware on the radio, it is upgradable. You can always have availability to the latest version of the firmware through the resources section on the TYT website.
Verdict of TYT MD-UV380 Dual Band Mobile Radio
If you are in the market looking out for a good DMR radio for less than 100 bucks, the TYT MD-UV380 should be the right pick for you. The device is small, tough, and portable to fit comfortably in your hands. It has got everything that you would typically look for in a dual band DMR ham radio. The speaker and the microphone quality are decent for even operating in a noisy environment. Configuring the buttons on the device is a cakewalk either using the software or on the device itself.
- Decent build quality
- Excellent audio quality
- Programmable buttons
- Multiple DMR IDs
- Excellent channel and contacts figures
- Affordable DMR radio
- Programming software needs improvement.
- Lacks Bluetooth capability
- Charging the radio takes a longer time.
- The channel selection knob malfunctions at times
We have been using this for quite some time now and we did not face any major issues. There were hardships now and then but all of them were fixed in the firmware update. Overall, I would say that this is one of the best dual band DMR radios in the market.
#4. Radioddity GD-77 DMR – Best Budget Transceiver
|Radioddity GD-77 DMR
|136-174MHz (V), 400-470MHz (U)
|FM 12.5 kHz and 25 kHz, and DMR ETSI Tier 1 and Tier 2, including DCDM
|4.5 channels per second
|High ≤ 5W, Low ≤ 1W
Radioddity GD-77 DMR Review
The Radioddity GD-77 DMR is a compact and portable handheld DMR radio weighing only about 254 grams with the battery and antenna attached. Programming the buttons is no hassle either by using the software or on the device itself.
Upon opening the package you should find a user guide, 2200 mAh Li-ion battery, charger base, an AC adapter, a belt clip to attach the radio to your waist belt, a 6.5-inch antenna, a cable to program the radio, and a software CD.
Moving further to the build quality and design, the Radioddity GD-77 has a pretty decent build quality with a right outer case made of high-grade plastic. The included antenna is also of decent quality and is a fairly common size (6.5”) for a handheld DMR radio. It is connected to the radio using the standard SMA connector.
The display on the other hand is a 2-colored LCD with ample brightness. However, there is no option given on the radio to adjust its brightness. The text on the display is difficult to read when the backlight goes off. Pressing any key on the device will light up the display. You can set the backlight timeout between 5, 10, and 15 seconds. Or, there is also an option to keep it turned all the time.
The included charger has an output of 8.4 volts and charges the included 7.4v 2200 mAh Li-ion battery well. However, the included charger is taking a longer time than it actually should, to completely charge the battery. The light on the charging cradle turns red when the battery is charging and turns green once the battery is full. It remains green even after the battery is removed from the cradle. Once fully charged, the battery can easily last up to 18 hours when functional and can yield up to 48 hours of standby time.
The audio quality on the Radioddity GD-77 DMR is pretty impressive and can be heard even in the noisiest environments, thanks to the 1W audio amplifier. Speaking of the microphone quality, it does its job. I had no serious complaints about it. Like most other dual band DMR mobile radios, the PTT button is on the side panel. The size of the button is ideal for easy access. Besides this, you also get to see three other programmable buttons that can be customized using the software.
On the top is the volume knob which also doubles up as a power on/off switch. There is no channel selection knob on this device. You should use the arrow buttons on the keypad for channel selection. The keypad features 12 alphanumeric keys along with 6 along with 4 navigation keys and 2 functional keys.
The figures on this DMR radio are not the best out there but they would easily suffice the needs of most DMR ham radio users. It features 1000 contact IDs, 64 scan lists, and 31 channel lists and ships with 18 months of the standard warranty.
Verdict of Radioddity GD-77 DMR Radio
The size, affordability, and performance of this nifty piece of hardware make it the best dual band DMR radio in the market. Like any other dual-band DMR, the Radioddity GD-77 also lacks in some areas but the makers are constantly addressing the flaws and are trying to improve it with each update. The channel capacity on this device might be less but it should suffice the needs of most users.
The battery life on this device is pretty decent for its size. It feels sturdy and is easy to carry as it only weighs 260 grams with the battery and antenna attached. If you are an amateur and are looking for a decent DMR radio in the market, look no further than the Radioddity GD-77.
Pros of Radioddity GD-77 DMR Radio
- Affordable pricing
- Dual-band VHF/UHF operation
- True Tier II DMR
- Decent reception and transmission sound quality
- Decent battery life
Cons of Radioddity GD-77 DMR Radio
- Charging time
- No brightness control on LCD
- Manual could be more comprehensive.
#5. BaoFeng DM-1801 – Cheap Dual Band Mobile radio
|136-174MHz (VHF), 400-470MHz (UHF)
|25KHz (WideBand), 12.5KHz (NarrowBand)
|High ≤ 5W, Low ≤ 1W
BaoFeng DM-1801 DMR Radio Review
The BaoFeng DM-1801 is probably the cheapest dual band DMR mobile radio on the market. It feels lighter in hand as it only weighs about 255 grams. The portability factor of the DM-1801 makes it stand out among the DMR ham radios family.
I appreciate how decently the BaoFeng DM-1801 is packaged. Opening the package, you should find a 99-page user manual, an Earpiece/microphone for operating it handsfree, a 14.5 cm antenna, a clip to attach the radio to the belt, a charger base along with an AC adapter, and a 7.4V 2200mAh Lithium-ion battery.
The enclosure of the radio is made out of toughened plastic material. For the first impression, the radio looks decent with the ingenious design touch of Baofeng. The front part of the device hosts a speaker, a display, and a keypad with directional and functional keys. To the right, you should find the standard Kenwood 3.5mm and 2.5mm jacks.
Enlightenment: The BaoFeng DM-1801 DMR radio requires a two-pin programming cable. Although it looks the same as the K1 Kenwood cable, the standard cable with a UART chip is not compatible with this device. This is because most K1 cables have the USB UART chip embedded in the connector itself. Whereas, the BaoFeng DM-1801 already has the chip incorporated in the radio itself. In this case, a simple straight-through programming cable should do the job.
The display on the BaoFeng DM-1801 dual band DMR radio is a 0.75” x 1.3” two-colored display with 9 large characters per line. It lights up in blue color while the displayed text appears in blueish gray. Though the display feels a bit smaller in size, it still does the job. The viewing angles on the display are great, it is visible even under direct sunlight.
The buttons on the keypad are a bit smaller in size. If your fingers happened to be larger, you might face some discomfort in pressing the keys. The navigational arrow keys on the keypad are extremely small to press one of them precisely. You will require some time before you get used to them completely. The functions of the four control buttons on the keypad namely, Menu, Back, VFO/MR, and A/B are fixed. You cannot program them which is a thing for many DMR ham radio users.
When it comes to user-configurable buttons on this device, you should find two of them pairing with the PTT button on the left side of the radio. Also, there is one on the top of the device. The three buttons can be programmed for long and short press options leaving you with six possible programming options.
When it comes to supporting, the radio has a frequency range of 136-174 on VHF and 400-470 MHz on UHF. Besides DMR capability, this transceiver also has support for both wide and narrowband FM. The radio supports both scanning and monitor mode which allows the users to monitor all talk group activity on the time slot. This is also referred to as the promiscuous mode.
Speaking of the battery backup on the BaoFeng DM-1801, the bundled 2200 mAh Lithium-ion battery should last for a full day’s operation. The included charger takes around 6 hours to fully charge the battery. Like most other DMR mobile radios, the charging unit comes with a cradle and an AC adapter attached to it. The charging cradle has a bright LED indicator that stays Red as long as the battery is being charged and turns green indicating the battery is either charged completely or is removed from the cradle.
The speaker on the radio is adequately loud and sounds decent on the ears. As the device ships with an earpiece, it is even more convenient to use it. The transmitted audio on the other hand turned out to be pretty decent. However, the radio lacks the gain adjustment feature onboard. The audio still turned out to be clear, and undistorted.
Pros of BaoFeng DM-1801 DMR Radio
- Solid build quality
- DMR and Analog capabilities
- Good battery backup
- Portable and easy to handle
Cons of BaoFeng DM-1801 DMR Radio
- Lack of channel selection knob
- LCD Display
- Keypad buttons are very small.
- Crude software tool
Verdict of BaoFeng DM-1801 DMR Radio
If you are in the market aiming for a cheap DMR ham radio with great portability, the BaoFeng DM-1801 should be your go-to option. This is an ideal choice especially for amateur users testing their luck with the DMR radios. The speaker quality on this device is pretty decent to be heard even in noisy environments. Programming the radio is also pretty much straightforward. However, you will have to be versed with certain technicalities beforehand.
Like any other budget DMR ham radio, the BaoFeng DM-1801 is also prone to some drawbacks. However, for the price at which the radio is offered, it is still worth it. My only complaint is with the size of the keys on the keypad, especially the directional keys. Nevertheless, this is a decent choice for a budget DMR radio.
#6. Ailunce HD1 DMR Radio – Best Waterproof DMR Mobile Radio
|Ailunce HD1 DMR Radio
|136-174MHz (VHF), 400-480MHz (UHF), and 76-107.95MHz (Receive only)
|FM Modulation Mode
|4FSK Digital Modulation
|12.5KHz(data only):7K60FXD12.5KHz(data and voice):7K60FXW
Digital:0.30uV/-117dBm(BER 5%)0.70uV/-110dBm(BER 1%)
Ailunce HD1 DMR Radio Review
There are several handheld DMR mobile radios on the market, standing amongst them is the Ailunce HD1 DMR radio with impeccable stats, 10W on VHF, and 8W on UHF. It is a dual band FM DMR VHF/UHF analog and a digital handheld transceiver.
Opening the package, you should be greeted with a well-written user manual that gives you an overview of the radio. Moving further, you should also see an antenna, an included Lithium-ion battery, a desktop charger along with an AC adapter, a belt clip, a hand strap, and the radio itself. All the accessories came well arranged and packed inside the box.
Moving on to the design and the quality aspects, the Ailunce HD1 DMR radio feels pretty decent for the first impressions. It is made out of good quality plastic. The build feels pretty solid and can last longer. It is rated to IP67 waterproofing which means you can literally immerse the device in water and it should work normally.
The speaker quality on the device is also pretty dope. It has enough loudness and clarity that you never have to struggle to hear it. In our testing, the quality of the microphone also turned out to be very good. It offers decent sensitivity and picks the audio well.
The battery on the radio is a whopping 3200mAh and has a voltage rating of 7.4V. I haven’t found the time to fully test the battery but typically it lasted for a couple of days at medium transmission power. The battery status is displayed at the top of the screen which is a decent add-on.
On the front panel of the Ailunce HD1 DMR Radio, you should find a speaker along with a keypad and a screen. The buttons on the keypad are well arranged for easier access. You don’t have to push them harder as they are very tactile to handle. On top of the radio, you should find a volume knob that also doubles up as a power switch. Sitting comfortably next to the volume knob is the channel selector knob. You also get to see a signal LED besides these knobs which indicate signal status.
To the right side of the radio, you will find the mic/speaker jack along with a programming port. The battery pack on the radio is removable with a belt clip attached to it. To the left of the radio, there is a push-to-talk (PTT) function button along with two additional buttons whose function can be easily customized.
The display on the radio is pretty decent and does the job. It displays the battery percentage, mode of operation, power level, signal status, band, zone, and channel number. However, my only complaint about the display is that it is barely visible in broad sunlight. Besides this, it is great.
The RF performance on the Ailunce HD1 DMR Radio is unparalleled. It is capable of doing 10W on VHF and 8W on UHF which is incredible. However, in most cases, you wouldn’t be required to transmit on high power. I don’t prefer going high on power as it drains the battery quickly. Instead, equipping a better antenna can help achieve the feat.
Coming to the audio performance, this dual band DMR mobile radio does well. The audio is clear and loud making the radio suitable for operation in harsh and noisy environments. However, there isn’t any gain controlling mechanism on the radio. You should speak at the right distance on the microphone.
Pros of Ailunce HD1 DMR Radio
- IP67 waterproof rating
- Programmable keys
- 3000 channels and 100,000 contacts
- Real VFO for frequency agility
- Three transmission power levels
- Multiple DMR ID selections
Cons of of Ailunce HD1 DMR Radio
- Programming software
- The display is barely visible under direct sun.
- Cannot import code plugs from other radios
Verdict of of Ailunce HD1 DMR Radio
The Ailunce HD1 DMR Radio is the tougher, prettier, and is one of the best performing dual band DMR radios on the market today. Though the HD1 is bigger than most DMR radios, I don’t mind its size for everything this beast has to offer. The fact that it comes rated at IP67, makes it an ideal choice for using it in places where there is a chance of exposing it to water.
The GPS functionality on this device worked seamlessly and is faster than most radios I’ve ever used. Accessing buttons on the keypad is a cakewalk as they are spaced well and are easier on fingers. The PTT button on the other hand is tactile and needs less pressure to activate. The battery life on this device makes it the best DMR radio, thanks to the included 3200 mAh battery.
#7. TYT MD-9600 – The best DMR for your Car/Truck
|136-174MHz (VHF), 400-480MHz (UHF)
|250 (64 channels per zone)
TYT MD-9600 Dual Band Mobile Radio Review
The TYT MD-9600 is an ideal choice if you are looking for the best dual band DMR radio for your car/truck. It has got plenty of power and features for a mobile radio of this size. The device is rated 45-50W of transmission power. We have put the radio into a calibrated Bird Termaline wattmeter and are surprised to see how close the radio came to the actual ratings.
In the box, you get a comprehensive 64-page user guide, a mounting bracket, a 12v DC power cord, a software CD with the drivers, the radio itself, and an optional programming cable. The device came in a decent package and feels heavier in hands.
For the initial impressions, the device felt compact for a DMR ham radio but is heavier at 1.02 kgs. The heat sink constitutes about 70% of the overall weight of the radio. There is a 1.5 x 1.5” fan at the rear end of the radio that kicks in as soon as the transmitter is keyed. This mechanism helps in keeping the radio cooler, especially while transmitting at high power.
To the rear, you will also find a SO-239 connector for the antenna, a jack for an external speaker, and a mini-USB port for connecting the programming cable to the radio. The cooling fan on the radio isn’t too loud and is barely heard.
The front panel of the radio hosts a two-colored display of size 7/8 x 2 1/2″. It features a sky blue colored backlight while the text on it is displayed in dark blue color. The backlight timeout can be adjusted between 5, 10, and 15 seconds using software programming. You can also opt to keep it turned on all the time.
The microphone on the TYT MD-9600 DMR radio is connected to the device using an RJ-45 connector. Though the RJ-45 interface is used by several other vendors, the wiring on this device is unique and doesn’t work with others. A 16 button keypad layout with Up/Down arrows along with an A/B display switching button can be seen at the back of the microphone. You will also find a transmit indicator LED just above the keypad.
You can opt for an optional programming cable along with the device. However, as the cable required is a USB to mini-USB, you can make use of the cables belonging to your old gadgets lying around. The cable doesn’t need to have a UART chip in it as the radio has it on-board. Also, you don’t have to install any special drivers to get your device detected on your computer. Just plug it in and you are good to go!
The internal speaker on the device is powered by the built-in 5w receive audio amplifier. It has ample power to drive the speaker to its maximum capability. The audio is reported loud and clear on the receiver’s end too. However, I would recommend you plug-in a mobile speaker for a better audio experience.
Having used the TYT MD-9600 DMR ham radio for quite some time, I can confidently tell that it has got the best transmission capabilities over most other radios in the market. It has a frequency range of 136-174 MHz on VHF and 400-480 MHz on the UHF band. The radio can be programmed on the fly using the keypad. It has support for multiple DMR radio IDs.
Pros of TYT MD-9600 Dual Band Mobile Radio
- Decent transmission power
- Cooling solution
- Easy to program
- True Tier II DMR
- Multiple DMR IDs
- Build quality
Cons of TYT MD-9600 DMR Radio
- No Bluetooth functionality
- Two-colored display
Verdict of TYT MD-9600 DMR Radio
With the storage capability for 100,000 contacts and 3000 channels, the TYT MD-9600 stands out in the DMR radio crowd. I’ve been using the TYT MD-9600 DMR radio personally for over a year now. I can confidently say that this is the best possible dual band DMR radio for your car/truck.
The speaker quality and the transmission power are what makes this device stand out. The microphone on this device is IP54 rated, which means that it is protected against dust and water splash. Also, the keypad on the microphone has well placed key design that makes the device more intuitive.
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Best DMR Mobile Radio Buying Guide
Now that you are here, we assume that you have gone through all of our Best DMR mobile radio recommendations above. You must have had a lot of questions in your head. Especially, if you are an amateur you gotta be unfamiliar with most of the technical terms discussed above. Worry not! We took that extra mile in breaking the jargon for you. For your better understanding, we tried explaining stuff in simpler terms.
Topics Covered - Index
- Best DMR Radios
- #1. AnyTone AT-D878UVII Plus – Our Top Pick
- #2. BTECH DMR-6X2 Dual-band DMR HT – Best Value For Money
- #3. TYT MD-UV380 – Best Affordable DMR Radio
- #4. Radioddity GD-77 DMR – Best Budget Transceiver
- #5. BaoFeng DM-1801 – Cheap Dual Band Mobile radio
- #6. Ailunce HD1 DMR Radio – Best Waterproof DMR Mobile Radio
- #7. TYT MD-9600 – The best DMR for your Car/Truck
- Best DMR Mobile Radio Buying Guide
- Additional Information on DMR Radios
- Frequently Asked Questions
Build Quality and Durability
DMR mobile radios are not the things that you buy now and then. If you are investing your hard-earned money on a radio, it should last at least for a few years to come. Also, the radio should be able to survive and perform well in harsh and unfavorable conditions like rain, snow, and wind.
All the radios on our recommendation list are picked keeping this consideration in mind. They are built with a rugged case to dampen shock caused by unfortunate drops and falls. Most of them are rated to withstand dust and splashes of water while some can even survive direct immersion in water.
Price of Dual Band Mobile Radio
The cost of the radio matters the most as the term ‘best’ is always confined to the pricing of a commodity. At each price range, you can find the best DMR radio. People usually have this false notion that the costliest are the best and the cheaper aren’t. This isn’t the case every time. You must compare the functionalities with their cost before you conclude it.
Frequency and Bands
Frequencies and bands are yet another important thing to consider while aiming at the best DMR radio. All DMR mobile radios on the market have dual band capabilities with support to both UHF and VHF. But the difference is in their frequency range. The range on the VHF is between 100 and 200 MHz while that of the UHF is between 400 and 500 MHz. Depending on the make and model of your DMR radio, the frequency ranges are adjusted.
Contacts and Channel support
The fancy figures for channel and channel support on some expensive DMR radios are a mirage. There are many DMR mobile radios on the market with the support of up to 10,000 channels, 5,000 talk groups, and over 1000,000 contacts. You are never gonna make use of or exhaust them completely.
As a moderate DMR ham radio user, a channel capacity of a few hundred would more than suffice the need. However, if you aren’t a regular user or amateur DMR user, you would typically need tens of channel support.
Display of DMR Radio
Not all DMR radios are blessed to have a display screen. However, it is vital to pick the one with a display as they come convenient in programming your radio on the fly. But then, the screen must at least be larger than 1.5-inches as the text on the smaller screens is hard to read.
Also, make sure that the display on your DMR radio has decent viewing angles and the backlight is brighter enough to be able to view even under bright sunlight.
Keypad Type of DMR Radio
The keypad on your radio is another important aspect to consider while deciding on the best DMR radio. Most radios on the market come with an alphanumeric keypad. Make sure that the keys are sufficiently spaced. With some radios, the keys will be small and are packed tightly together. This makes it difficult to access them. Also, make sure to pick a DMR ham radio that has keys that are easier on fingers and are tactile to click comfortably.
Ensure that the dual band DMR mobile radio that you are picking has programmable keys/buttons on it. With programmable buttons, one can easily assign the desired function to a specific key. They come in handy when switching between different modes or presets.
Most DMR radios on the market ship with a pair of control knobs at the top of the radio. One of them doubles up as a power On/Off switch and can also be used to control the volume on the radio. While the other knob is dedicated to channel selection. However, in some DMR radio models, you don’t get to see the channel selection knob. In that case, you should make use of the directional keys on your keypad to do the job.
Battery of DMR Radio
The next important thing to take care of while going for a good DMR radio is its battery backup. You should choose a radio with decent battery backup and standby time. If you are aiming at decent usage, you should go for a radio with over 2500 mAh lithium-ion battery. And if you plan to put it to extensive usage, anything over 3000 mAh should last over a day.
Transmitter Power Output (TPO)
The transmitter power output or TPO is referred to as the actual amount of power of radiofrequency energy that a transmitter produces at its output. It is measured in watts. Better the TPO better will be the transmission range. However, this will consume more battery charge. Usually, the transmitter power ranges between 1W and 10W for a portable DMR radio.
Bluetooth and GPS capabilities
The GPS functionality on the DMR is a useful addition as it comes in very handy in outdoor activities like trekking and riding. However, it may take up one of your time slots and can suck more juice out of your battery. It is all worth it in the end if you are aiming at using GPS functionality. The Bluetooth on the other hand enhances the overall connectivity ease. It helps in data transfer between two radio devices, or you can even connect it to your laptop or computer. Also, you can attach a wireless headset or earphones that supports Bluetooth protocol for a hands-free experience.
Speaker and Microphone
You must do enough research on the quality of the speaker before you decide on the best DMR radio. The microphone quality is the primary aspect and plays an important role, especially in noisy environments. Some DMR radios in the market come with noise cancellation features to enhance the microphone quality.
Additional Information on DMR Radios
What is DMR Radio?
Digital Mobile Radio, commonly known as DMR Radio, is an international digital radio standard developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to improve voice quality, security, channel efficiency, and functionality. Compared with the analog radio system, the DMR is affordable and less complex. Depending on the use case, the DMR Radio system is categorized into three. Namely, Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III.
What are the different tiers of DMR Radios?
Based on the use case, the DMR mobile radios are categorized into three different tiers.
- Tier I (unlicensed) DMR Radio
- Tier II (licensed conventional) DMR Radio
- Tier III (licensed trunked) DMR Radio
Tier I (unlicensed) DMR Radio
The DMR Tier I has a range of frequencies that can be used by anyone with a compatible radio as it is license-free. It defines 16 channels for DMR use between 446 MHz and 446.2 MHz. Anyone with compatible radio equipment can log in to any of these channels. The maximum power emitted by radio in Tier I is less than 500mW.
As these 16 DMR Tier I frequencies are not allocated, anyone in the area with a radio logged in to the same channel has the potential to interfere with your communication. The Tier I DMR is ideal for people that do not require wide area coverage as it works in direct mode (unit-to-unit) on public frequencies.
Tier II (licensed conventional) DMR Radio
The DMR radio working under Tier II can be operated anywhere within the DMR frequency range. Usually, the operational range is 136 – 174 MHz band for VHF and 403 – 527 MHz band for UHF. To avoid issues with interference and low power, it is advised that your DMR Tier II equipment is licensed from the frequency licensing body in your region.
Unlike Tier I, the radios in Tier II can be operated either in direct mode or by using a base station for repeating. This will significantly increase the coverage area.
Tier III (licensed trunked) DMR Radio
The Tier III DMR Radio is similar to that of Tier II in terms of frequency range but adds in several other helpful features. Unlike in Tier II, the equipment in Tier III is operated in a trunked mode. That means the radios are allocated to frequencies automatically rather than being on a fixed frequency. This waives the risk of interference as no two groups try to communicate using the same channel, many thanks to trunking.
Besides this, DMR Tier III also adds up radio SMS capability, over-the-air programming ability, location-based (GPS) services, telemetry, etcetera.
Why should I use DMR mobile radio?
The DMR radio is better than analog radio for several reasons. However, you will have to go through the one-time pain of programming your device. The following are a few ways in which the DMR radio is better than analog radios.
Effective utilization of spectrum: The DMR mobile radio utilizes the spectrum better than the analog. You can have two different channels on a single repeater frequency. Most repeaters in the DMR have two time slots. A digital repeater that functions with DMR uses half the bandwidth of a normal traditional analog repeater. The bandwidth on an analog repeater is typically 25 kHz, while a DMR repeater can carry voice on a single channel at just 12.5 kHz.
Both voice and data can be carried: Besides the usual voice transmission, DMR can also carry other information. The information can be data, text messaging, Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) location etcetera.
Less background noise: Conversion of analog audio into digital transmission can significantly eliminate background noise.
Better audio quality: Digital voice sounds much better than analog.
Improved battery life: DMR is kinder to the battery on a radio. One can experience an improved battery life of over 40% on DMR compared to analog radio. If you happen to have a hotspot running at home, you can configure your DMR mobile radio to run on low power mode. This should let your DMR run for a couple of days on a single charge.
Repeater Roaming: Based on the signal quality and strength, the DMR radio decides which repeater to connect to. This mechanism is seamless and doesn’t interrupt your communication.
Improved signal range: It is needless to mention that the DMR radios have a better signal range compared to analog radios.
Who uses DMR mobile Radio?
The versatility offered by DMR mobile radios enables them to suit a variety of applications. Be it for general communications, or for delivering emergency updates, the DMR radios are very convenient. DMR radios are very efficient especially when there is a need to organize a large group of people. This comes in handy especially when you are conducting a rescue party, or organizing an event.
DMR serves as an effective means of communication for mountaineering or backpacking activities as cell phone signals and other common means are unreliable in remote areas. Another merit of using DMR is that it runs uninterrupted even in disasters or emergencies as DMR cannot be destroyed by poor weather, earthquakes, or other incidents that can damage internet or phone connectivity.
How to maintain Dual Band DMR Radio?
DMR Radios are a costly affair. It is not possible changing a Radio very often unless you are looking for an effective way to waste your hard-earned money. However, if you can maintain your radio well, it should last a while and also does better in terms of performance. The following are some of the ways in which you can improve the performance of your Digital Mobile Radio. They might sound cliche but are effective.
Storing your Radio: If your radio is not in use for longer periods of time, consider separating the battery from the unit and store it in a dry and clean place.
Protective accessories: While carrying your device, make sure to keep it in a protective pouch to prevent it from damage. Also, consider wearing a wrist strap to have a better grip. This will help prevent accidental droppings. There are many rubber cases available from different manufacturers online. Consider one for your radio model. This will help prevent your device from shock and damage from water and dust if your radio is not rated to water damage.
Cleaning the unit regularly: Make it a habit to clean your unit regularly with a dry, lint-free cloth. Focus on jacks, microphones, and speaker grills as these are the key areas that are more exposed to dust and dirt.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a license to use DMR Radio?
You do not need a DMR license if you are using DMR frequencies offered in the Tier I operational range. However, you will have to possess a Radio ID to program your DMR Mobile Radio unit which allows you to access the local system. To obtain an ID, you will have to register online which is free and can be done in a few easy steps.
What is the range of DMR Mobile Radio?
Speaking up straight, you can talk to virtually anywhere using a DMR mobile radio. Let me explain! If you just have a DMR in hand and there are no repeaters around, you can hardly reach out to a few miles depending on the terrain where you are at. This range can be extended to over a hundred miles with the aid of a DMR repeater. However, if you have a linked DMR, it is possible to talk to repeaters all over the World through the Internet.
What is the best DMR Radio on the market today?
The best DMR mobile radio is confined to many factors. You can find the best DMR in each price segment. You must decide on your requirement and budget before you hunt for a DMR in the market. However, having tested different DMR radios in the market, we have concluded that the AnyTone AT-D878UV Plus is the best dual-band mobile radio in the market.
If you are a little less on the budget, you can consider the TYT MD-UV380 or the Radioddity GD-77 DMR which offer great value to your money.
What is the best budget DMR Radio on the market?
The Radioddity GD-77 DMR is by far the best budget DMR radio in the market which offers great value to your money.
Other Helpful External Resource:
- Dual-Band Radio
- Mobile Radio