Best DMR Radio Reviews (Updated 2020)
In the world today, almost everybody owns a smartphone; therefore, finding the best DMR radio may appear to be out of the ordinary for some people. That is why we decided to review them and save you time and money.
Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) is the contemporary digital version of the ancient analog handheld radios. These provide many benefits like perfect signals. It’s possible to have two different conversations at the same time with a single frequency. Here are several of the best DMR handheld radio choices you can get currently.
Comparison Table – Best DMR Radio
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Output:7 Watt Max
Frequency Range: 136-174MHz and 400-480 MHz
Compatible with DMR Tier I & 2.
Zones: 250 (250 Channels Per Zone)
Channel Capacity: 4000
Usage: Both amateur & Commercial
Best Dual Band DMR Radio
(Best DMR Radio)
Usage: Amateur use & Commercial
Output Power: Max 5W
Channel Capacity: 1024 Channels
Dual time slot: Yes
Display Type: LCD
(Editor's 2nd Pick)
Operates on TDMA technology
Runs on both DMR tier I and II
Operates on the UHF band
Operates on a 400-470 MHz frequency range
Powerful antenna and battery
Frequency Range 136-174/400-480 MHz RX/TX
4 Power levels: 6/4/2.5/1 Watt
Memory Channels 4,000 channels
Built-in GPS feature
Supports FM and DW functions
Dual Band DMR Radio
Frequency:VHF 136-174 and UHF 400-480 MHz.
GPS functions supported.
Supports FM and DW functions.
Dual Time Slot
Frequency range: 406.1-470MHz
Channels: 1024 (in 64 zones of 16 channels each)
Range: 5 miles
Short Messaging Service (SMS)
Compatible with MOTOTRBO; Group call, private call, all call
1W > 5W transmit
VHF and UHF
DMR / FM
Frequency Range:VHF 136-174Mhz, UHF 400-480MHz
250 zones (64 chan/zone)
It has an inbuilt GPS.
Selectable output power settings.
DMR tier I and II.
Powerful 1700 mAh Li-ion battery.
Best DMR Radio Reviews
#1. BTECH DMR-6X2 Dual Band Two-Way Radio (Best DMR Radio)
This is the editor’s pick for the Best DMR Radio. It is a two-way and versatile dual-band DMR radio that operates on the very high and ultra-high frequency ranges of 136-174 MHz and 400-480 MHz respectively.
This radio is designed for both amateur and business use. Therefore, you will only need one radio that you can use for your commercial and personal needs.
It features a large and bright color display that measures 1.77 inches. With this, you can see the functions on the display screen at glance.
And one of the best thing is that it has adequate memory for the storage of channels, Talk groups, and contacts. You can store 4000 channels, 10,000 Talk groups, and 200,000 contacts.
It features and operates on an inbuilt GPS function that you can use to determine user locations. But that’s not all…it has an inbuilt audio recorder that you can use to record audio for future reference while making a call.
#2. Radioddity GD-77 DMR Two-Way Radio (Good for Commercial & Amateur use)
This is a dual-band and two-way radio that is designed for amateur use but can also be used for commercial purposes.
Thus, the radio operates on very high-frequency (VHF) and ultra-high frequency (UHF).
Besides, this DMR handheld radio operates on both tier I and tier-II DMR modes and frequency ranges of 136-174 MHz and 400-470 MHz. In turn, this will allow you to use the radio both for personal and commercial use.
Additionally, it has an inbuilt VFO (variable frequency oscillator) mode that enables you to fine-tune frequencies and find that sweet spot.
Also, the radio has the capacity of a maximum of 1024 channels which will allow you to communicate with multiple Talk groups within your region.
The DMR radio comes with a programming USB cable that’s plug and play. Once connected to your windows computer, you can program the radio to your specifications and preference.
The radio is versatile and doesn’t only support calls but also instant messaging. To effectively use this option, you need to input your user ID when programming the radio.
*Check out our review of Best Portable Ham Radios
#3. TYT MD-380 DMR/Moto TRBO Radio (Best for Amateurs)
This is a DMR portable radio that operates on a two-way mode and a time division multiple access technology.
TDMA technique enables you to share a particular frequency with other users based on time without communication disruptions or interference.
It runs on DMR tier I and II which makes it ideal for both amateur and business use. For specificity, it operates on the UHF band and a frequency range of 400-470 MHz.
It supports up to 1000 channels. This gives you access to communicate with multiple talk groups within your region.
However, for this to happen, you need to program these channels on the radio. The good news is that the radio comes with a USB programming cable and software. Therefore, you need to install the software on a computer, then, use the USB cable to connect the radio to the computer.
Once you’re set, you can engage in private calls, group calls, and text messaging in digital mode.
This radio runs on a 2000 mAh battery that is powerful and long-lasting once fully charged. This will enable you to use the radio for long and it’s more convenient when in remote areas. It can be used for around 9-12 hours with a stand-in time of around 52 hours but 2hrs if used continuously.
For easy navigation and control, the radio has a color LCD display where you can see all the operations as you feed them in.
And to make your work easy, the radio comes with an easy to read and comprehend user manual. You can make reference to the manual whenever in doubt.
The TYT MD-380 is really simple to use. Overall, it’s an ideal product and perfect for amateurs.
This DMR handheld ham radio a dual-band radio that is FCC part 90 approved and is suitable for personal and business use.
It is a versatile radio with an inbuilt Bluetooth function which makes it convenient where you need to have hands-free calls. You can use it in your car while driving or other Bluetooth enabled devices such as headsets and earbuds.
The memory space is adequate with a 200,000 digital contact list capacity. This will allow you to maximize saving your favorite contacts and Talk groups.
It comes with a programming cable and software so that you program your radio according to your preference.
The battery is powerful (3100 mAh) and lasts long after a full charge. This means you have more talk time so that you don’t miss updates even when in remote places.
Ailunce HD1 is a dual-band DMR ham radio that is specifically designed for amateur use. However, you can use it for commercial purposes especially in construction sites or any other work that requires supervision.
The radio features a high definition and color LCD Display and a full numeric keyboard that is also soft and easy on your hands. The display is user friendly and it’s easy to see the operations at a glance. Moreover, even in bright light, the display will still function well.
Amazingly, this radio is almost independent of computer programming. This implies that you can carry out most of the radio settings through the keypad.
More importantly, the radio is easy to learn and to operate even for first-timers. You only need a few hours to learn the ropes.
With this radio, you can engage in sending and receiving of text messaging. However, the operations limit you to a maximum of 144 characters and 50 lines.
The radio supports both analog and digital systems and you can switch to any of these at any time depending on personal preference.
This DMR radio allows double contacts therefore, you can have one-to-one calls, one-to-many calls, and many-to-many calls.
Besides, it supports 3000 channels, 200,000 contacts, and can operate in 256 zones. Therefore, this radio offers you limitless options and opportunities.
Are you irritated when dealing with unwieldy DMR radios with very lengthy antennas? If that’s the case, then you require this mini-DMR. It is a small lightweight radio with a short antenna that can fit in your pocket.
It features an LCD screen that is so clear that you easily see the functions at a glance. To add to this is a compact mini-keyboard that is easy to operate using one hand.
This is a two way and dual time slot DMR radio that is designed for both amateur and commercial use.
This DMR radio runs on a powerful battery capacity of 2600 mAh. The battery power is durable and can last you 12 hours when using the radio and 48 hours when the radio is on standby.
It comes with a USB cable that you can use to charge the radio and program it at the same time. There’s no need for an additional costly programming cable.
This Radioddity GD-73A radio comes with a well-detailed user guide that makes it easy to use by any person. If you’re completely new in this, you don’t need to worry since your interest is well-taken care of.
*Check out our review of Best Long Range Two Way Radios
This is a two-way, dual-band, and a DMR handheld radio that is designed for amateur users. The radio runs on both VHF and UHF bands and a frequency range of 136-174 MHz and 400-480 MHz.
It is well built and offers a quality audio sound so that your communications remain standardized.
Besides, it features a clear and multi-color LCD display that allows you to see the functions at glance. This makes the radio user friendly and easy to operate.
Also, the radio is versatile and allows a variety of calling and messaging options. These include; private calls, group calls, all calls, and text messages in a digital mode.
For channels programming, the radio comes with a programming cable that you can use on your Windows PC or computer. Unfortunately, you can’t program on the Mac operating system.
The programming software is available on the manufacturer’s official website free of charge. Once you have downloaded it, you have access to a YouTube video tutorial for guidance.
#8. Alinco DJ-MD5GP Dual Band DMR VHF/UHF (Ideal for Commercial Use)
Alinco is a dual-band radio that operates on the very high and ultra-high frequencies. Besides, the radio is designed to facilitate crystal clear audio especially in noisy environments.
For this reason, this radio is ideal for use in construction sites, parks, and security applications. The best part is that it has a powerful antenna that works well even in low lying areas.
Also, it features a 1.77 inches color LCD display that will enable you to see the detailed functions at a glance. Besides offering you good user experience, this feature also saves you time when operating the radio.
Moreover, this radio has a 4000 memory channel capacity which is more than enough for you to save your favorite channels. Additionally, you can save up to 160000 contacts so that you engage multiple Talk groups.
What is a DMR Radio?
Digital Mobile Radio is an improved version of analog radio and is designed primarily in response to the shortcomings of the analog radio system.
Before 2005, radio users– both buyers and sellers– noticed that the analog trunking standards needed an upgrade to modern techniques.
Consequently, this prompted the European telecommunications standards institute (ETSI) to comply with international digital radio standards.
This is what led to the development of DMR radio with the aim of enhancing affordability, reducing sophistication, and complying with the digital standards.
This radio system is reliable and better than the analog radio system. Here are more of the benefits associated with DMR Mobile Radio.
- Improved security.
- Enhanced voice quality.
- Improved functionality.
- Enhanced channel efficiency.
- Enhanced information exchange between manufacturers.
The difference between a digital and analog radio goes beyond what is seen on the surface. Below, I dive deeper into explaining the two concepts.
Digital Vs Analog Radio
Out of all the available forms of communications, radio tops as one of the most reliable methods.
Technology changes and so does radio technology. The result is seen in the advancement from the traditional analog radio system to a digital one.
While digital radio has better features than the analog radio, there are some advantages that analog radio still has over digital radios. However, the bottom line is that each is made unique to its technology.
The first group of users to work with analog radio was the military. This went for 20 years after which the system was introduced to the business world in 1933.
The good news is that its use wasn’t limited to commercial purposes only but was later opened to the general public and individuals as well.
When the time was right and the analog radio had reached its growth potential and improvement limit, digital radio was born. Digital radio offers improved functionality and better radio features.
While some DMR ham Radio offers the same features as analog radio, others offer additional features such as improved battery life and efficiency.
More importantly, it’s worth noting that the differences are brought about by different manufacturers of digital radios.
Here’s why digital radio is a better option compared to analog radio;
- Improved calling range.
- Top voice quality.
- Wider coverage.
Some radio users still value analog radio. This is primarily influenced by personal preferences. Below are some of the features that influence their choice.
- Push to talk option.
- Ability to scan for channels.
- Supported one way and group conversations.
However, there is one main shortcoming of the analog radio system. The closer you get to its maximum range, you will notice reduced voice clarity.
This is the exact opposite of digital radio. Therefore, sound clarity in digital radio is not affected by distance and remains constant even at its maximum range.
There are multiple reasons for needing a radio–precisely a digital mobile radio.
Like you, other users acquire this radio for commercial, or personal use and in emergencies.
In response to this need and to enhance mobile radio efficiency, DMR radio has 3 tiers that manufacturers use to create equipment that is relevant to specific market needs.
Here are the specific DMR tiers!
a) DMR Tier I
This tier comprises a range of frequencies set aside for license-free use for users in the Eurozone.
Tier 1 compatible radio operates on 16 channels and between 446 MHz and 446.2 MHz. Also, the regulations only allow the radio to operate on not more than 500mW battery power.
However, the use of Tier I frequencies is not exclusive to specific users. Therefore, equipment operating on tier I are likely to experience signal interruptions and destructions.
b) DMR Tier II
This tier operates on VHF and UHF frequencies where VHF operates on a band range of 136-174 MHz. On the other hand, the UHF band works within the 403-527 MHz range.
As compared to the first tier, equipment operating under tier-II needs to be licensed by the relevant authority in your county.
This, in turn, helps in tackling communication hurdles associated with tier I equipment. Moreover, tier II equipment can amplify weak signal strengths especially in unfriendly settings with poor signals.
c) DMR Tier III
This is an improved version of the tier II equipment. Tier III equipment runs on the same frequencies as the tier II equipment only with some advanced features making the difference.
Tier III equipment function on trunked mode, therefore, each radio automatically assigns itself to a frequency.
This system is beneficial as it helps in preventing communication challenges associated with fixed frequencies.
Operating On DMR
DMR radio operates on 2 slot TDMA –Time Division Multiple Access. This implies that tier II and III of DMR can equally share 12.5 kHz bandwidth.
The result is that each channel takes 6.25 KHz leading to spectrum efficiency. Overall, this makes DMR more efficient than analog radio.
Below are some considerations you need to take care of when dealing with a DMR ham radio.
a) Talk groups
Talk groups allow members of a group to access a shared channel without interference or disruptions within the same time slot.
You need to program your radio to a particular talk group, or else, you won’t be able to get traffic signals from the group.
Also, you should check with the local radio authorities to find out the groups that are found in your area.
This is the grouping of channels according to regions. Certain DMR radio models set the maximum number of channels specific to a zone.
You need to find out the channels that your zone and DMR radio supports. Also, depending on your interest, you can program your DMR radio for use in specific zones.
Scanning allows you to search specific channels so that you configure them in your DMR radio.
Once you have your desired channel, you can program it according to your preference.
Buyers Guide– DRM Radios
You need the right information when making a DMR buying decision. While it can be a challenge when you’re a newbie, the best solution is a checklist that you can refer to anytime.
1. DMR Equipment Manufacturer
Digital mobile radio standards are open to all radio device manufacturers.
Therefore, every one of them complies with these standards when manufacturing radio equipment.
But these are just the basics. What should concern you is how these manufacturers use these standards to create digital mobile radio that suits you well.
So, how should you go about this?
It simple! Ask what their statement of value or unique selling proposition is and relate it to what you’re looking for in digital mobile radio.
Does manufacturer A’s equipment have better features and benefits than B? This is one question you can ask yourself to check if the equipment is worth investing in or not.
Check this example:
Company A’s equipment doesn’t require programming software while company B does. What does this mean?
Buying from company A is convenient as it saves you money. On the flip side, with company B, you have to have another budget for buying the programming software.
2. Audio Quality
Audio forms an integral part of your DMR radio. However, it shouldn’t be just any type of audio.
The equipment should guarantee quality audio regardless of the environmental conditions.
Also, the best DMR equipment has an in-built device called AMBE + 2 that neutralizes unwanted signals or environmental noise.
Perhaps, the best way to verify this is through a product demo test with your seller so that you’re certain.
3. Programming Cable
DMR devices are compatible with specific programming cables. Therefore, you should check what type of cable your radio needs for programming.
While some devices use the standard USB cable, others require a special set of a programming cable.
Furthermore, the type of cable will determine whether it’s easily available in the market or not.
The best approach is to get a radio that requires a standard USB programming cable.
4. Battery Quality
Portable and handheld mobile devices have one challenge– you won’t always be in a place where you can easily recharge the radio.
Therefore, you want to make sure that when in a remote place or during power outages, your radio should still serve you well.
And there is only one way to guarantee this: make sure your battery power is durable and can last you long.
The other option is to get a supplementary battery as a backup plan.
5. Antenna Power
A powerful antenna comes in handy when you’re transmitting in areas with weak signals.
Your aim is to communicate with other radio users but with poor signals, that won’t be possible.
Therefore, when operating in an area with weak signals, you need to ensure your radio has a longer antenna.
That’s the only way you can scan and operate at certain frequencies.
6. Channels Accessibility
To communicate with little to no hurdles, you need to access the right channels. But this is not something that’s a constant to all DMR devices.
While some can only support a few channels like 19, others can support up to 100 channels.
For effective communication, you need to find a talk group (s), have color code, and a frequency.
All these three are supported by a channel. Therefore, the many channels your DMR device can access equates to the number of people you can communicate with.
7. Display Screen
Different DMR radios have different display screens. Furthermore, each device has specific information that displays on the screen.
Such information includes; user ID, frequency, type of call, color code, slot underuse, and group number.
The best way to see this information is by checking your desired device for these features.
It’s a fact that not all DMR devices can display this kind of information.
8. Frequency Bands
DMR radios work well with very high-frequency (VHF) and ultra-high frequency (UHF) bands.
Besides, you need to know that these frequencies are stronger in some regions and weaker in others.
A key determinant of this are factors such as government regulations or military radar operations.
Your radio needs to operate in VHF or UHF bands for optimum performance.
Thus, you need to be certain that your area has the necessary infrastructure to support this.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What Can You Do With DMR Radio?
A: DMR radio offers better features and fulfilling benefits. Some of these include; high quality and clear sound, better coverage, two calls over a single channel, better control features, improved security, and enhanced battery life.
Q: Does DMR Require a License?
A: DMR system operates on 3 tiers. Licensing is one of the characteristics that set tiers different from each other.
The first tier is license-free, hence you don’t require a license to operate radios operating under tier I.
However, the second and the third tiers require licensing before you’re allowed to operate a DMR radio.
Q: How Do You Program a DMR radio?
A: Programming a DMR radio shouldn’t be a daunting task. You can follow these steps to make your radio ready for use.
- Install the programming software on a computer.
- Switch off the radio and plug in a programming cable. Remember to turn it on once successfully connected.
- Fresh the code plug in the computer.
- Begin by programming in DMR ID, followed by contacts.
- Next, you want to enter the channels then set channel and frequency name.
- When all is set, write data to your radio so that the programmed information is transferred to the radio.
Digital Mobile Radio will serve you better than the analog radio models. This is because a DMR radio has all the features of an analog radio plus other improved functionalities.
To get the best experience from DMR mobile radio, you need to take certain guidelines into consideration.
There are lots of them but zones, Talk groups, and scanning are some of the Essential factors to conside