If you hear or read the word 'Perseus', you can't help but think of the Greek myth. Perseus was the son of Zeus and Danae. He is known to have cut off Medusa's head. But enough of Greek myth. By 'Perseus' I mean the new Software Defined Radio (SDR). By October 2007 word got around that this new SDR would soon appear on the market. Now everybody is talking about it and the radio is on the table of many a SWL. What makes the Perseus so interesting? First of all, 'Perseus' is an abbreviation: "Pretty-Excellent-Receiver for-Software-Eager-Unperceivable-Signals".
The Perseus in action on MAC. It only works with boot camp. The Perseus does not run in a virtual environment!
The Perseus is a so called black box receiver, i.e., a receiver which can only be controlled with a computer. This computer should have a good performance, otherwise the Perseus will not work satisfactorily. Computer from the good old DOS era can confidently be discarded. Windows XP or Vista with 2.5. Dual Core CPU and a minimum of 512 MB RAM are required.
The frequency range is selectable from 0 - 40 MHz in AM,.AMS, CW, RTTY, USB, LSB, FM, DRM and User.
In the small window, the band filter widths can be selected freely from approx. 50Hz to 50KHz with the help of the mouse. The Perseus has a choice of either a waterfall or a spectrum display with a max. band width of 1600 KHz. Starting with the software version 1.1.C, there is also a zoom function, so you can zoom in on the selected display to a few KHz. A double click on the waterfall or spectrum display will change the selected frequency immediately. The Perseus offers freely variable band pass tuning and a super notch filter, whose blanked out area is selectable. The Perseus' software offers a choice of three frequency lists and the name of the selected station is shown. However, the memory system of the Perseus is not really user friendly, it takes some computer knowledge to integrate these frequency lists. There are other features which cannot be described here because it is beyond the scope of this article. There are quite a few settings possible in the registry.
A real novelty is the recording of the frequency spectrum of up to 1600 KHz, so you don't have to stay up all night to wait for your program. Before going to bed, you switch on the record button and listen to the recording the next morning. You can move freely in the recorded frequency spectrum: you can select the mode, add a notch filter etc. etc. You almost have the same options when listening to the radio 'live'. As mentioned above, the Perseus only works with a newer PC. It barely worked on my old PC with 1.8 GHz and 768 RAM. But as soon as you used DRM or other programs, there were skips. As I wanted to assemble a new PC anyway, the problem took care of itself. My new PC has a Dual Core2@3GHz, overclocked to 3.6GHz and with 3GB there are enough main memories. Thus the Perseus runs without any problems and is ready for some comments on its receiving qualities. When the discussions about the Perseus started on the internet and its technical data were published, I was doubtful , whether the radio would live up to its promises. I think, I was not the only one, who was skeptical, but I bought a Perseus anyway. If you have some knowledge of shortwave reception and receivers, you hear right away, whether a radio lives up to its reputation.
The Perseus keeps its promises!!
Reception is very convincing. As far as intelligibility is concerned, there are not many radios on par with the Perseus. This is particularly true in respect to signal processing with its almost continuously variable filters, the very flexible BPT and the excellent notch filter. In addition, the sound of the soundcard software can be controlled with an equalizer. The Perseus has a somewhat harsh hissing sound, however, which can become a little bothersome when using headphones over a longer period of time. As far as I know, there is no hardware receiver which offers such flexibility of signal processing. As regards intelligibility and flexibility, the Perseus beats almost every other receiver. Also its large-signal immunity is very good. I couldn't notice any disturbances at the time of writing. Another SDR, the CiaoRadio, has the same reception qualities but its large signal immunity was bad. In the evenings, there regularly was a lot of overmodulation. The Perseus can handle high-quality antennas. I connected it to the ALA1530S+ and a 20m-wire antenna and there wasn't any overmodulation. Excellent!!
I compared the receiver with the DSP receiver Kneisner & Doering KWZ30. Generally, both receivers had the same reception qualities. But the KWZ 30 sounded a little better because it has a wider audio frequency range. With very weak signals, however, the intelligibility of the Perseus is a little better. But the Perseus has its disadvantages as well! It is very power-hungry! An old PC will not be able to handle the Perseus. The other disadvantage: You will be sitting in front of a computer to listen to short wave programs with the internet with its Perseus related forums running at the same time. You will have a hard time to break free from the PC! Danger of addiction!!
In the mean time, after some software updates, DRM works well, too. Fortunately, the developer, Nico Palermo, improves the radio continuously and he is offering a memory bank with 600 memories making external memories superfluous.
For 849 € you will get a radio with a performance of considerably more expensive receivers.
On the page '"Comparisons" you will find comparisons of reception.
The current software can be downloaded >here<
Controlling software and other programs for the Perseus can be found >here<