My AOR AR7030 table top receiver was the best listener’s radio that I have ever owned. And the most controversial, as well.
In 1996, just as my interest in shortwave radio listening was rekindling, a U.K. subsidiary of AOR Japan brought out a new receiver. The AOR AR7030 was designed by leading British designer John Thorpe, who had previously developed a bunch of gear for Lowe. I think his intent was to push state of the art to its limits, both electronically and aesthetically.
My AR7030 table top was a joy to listen to, particularly for SW and MW AM broadcasting. I found the audio second to none, dynamic range impressive and oh, was it quiet – almost noiseless until you tuned in a station. I know a few folks who bought these as a second radio for use at the bedside for late night listening.
Two controversies arose. First, and less important, was about receiver specifications, which eventually resolved in the radio’s favor. Second, and most striking, was the controversy over the user interface. Up until this point, a radio typically had a front panel control for each of its functions, You remember all of those knobs, buttons and switches?
Thorpe took a different approach. Many of the front panel controls were multi-purposed and the user interface (physical and visual) could be reconfigured through an extensive menu system (see section 2.4 of the manual.) I can honestly say this was the first (and only) radio where I simply had to read the manual first!
AR7030 Table Top Technology
In many ways, I found the AR7030 as a typical synthesized up-conversion rig with IF at 45 MHz and 455 kHz. A variety of ceramic filters, including a few in cascade provided selectivity. Everything was μP controlled. Synchronous detection worked particularly well.
I developed my Ergo Radio Software initially as a “real front panel” to compensate for all the complaints about this radio’s ergonomics. Ergo, get it? My efforts to program software control resembled assembly language. With AR7030, you had to push bytes into registers and then poke a command to get something to happen. And all this at 1200 baud.
But whether under PC or hand control, the AR7030 table top was a great radio for adventurous listeners across LF, MF and HF. I got mine early in 1997 and never had any regrets.