Since just about everyone now has a smartphone, looking for the best DMR radio may seem strange to some people. However, having reliable two-way communications is essential for some people. In those cases, smartphones might not meet their needs.
What is DMR Radio?
DMR stands for digital mobile radio. They are the modern digital versions of the old analog walkie-talkies. These offer many advantages, including clearer signals. With the dual-band DMR radio, it is possible to have two distinct conversations simultaneously, while using a single frequency.
What are the Best DMR Radios?
With plenty of options in the market, it’s hard to settle on the best DMR radio. With all factors in consideration, some radios have unique features which greatly impact their efficiency. Here is a quick summary of our top picks.
Best Long Range DMR: Radioddity GD-77 Long Range DMR Radio
It has tons of unique features and free lifetime updates at a reasonable price, although it isn’t good for amateurs.
Best Beginner Friendly: BaoFeng DM-1701 Dual Band DMR
It is compatible with both analog and digital radio, and it is easy for amateurs to learn how to use it.
Best Value for Money: BTECH DMR-6X2 VHF DMR Radio With GPS
While it isn’t cheap like the aforementioned radios, it has unique features that match the price to give you a valuable experience.
For Both Pro & Newbie : TYT MD-380 UHF DMR Radio
Since it is not a dual-band, it comes in UHF or VHF, which is easy to use for beginners and experts alike.
Advanced Model: Ailunce HD1 Waterproof Dual Band DMR
It has an excellent customer support feature to help you out if you’re confused about some software issues.
Best For Outdoor Use: Radioddity GD-77S DMR HT Radio
Its short antenna is designed for outdoor use, and it comes with an additional longer antenna to boost the gain.
Best Waterproof DMR: TYT Upgraded MD-390 DMR
It has an IP67 waterproofing rate which enables it to work well even after being immersed in water for 30 minutes.
Best Compact Design: Radioddity GD-73A 2W DMR
This mini DMR radio is small with a short antenna and can easily fit in a pocket.
Best For Driving: TYT MD-9600 – DMR Car Radio With GPS
It works on a range of more than 30 miles with dual-band modes.
Most Versatile: Retevis RT84 DMR Radio
The LCD gives you clear and simple info, and apart from sending messages, you can talk through it up to three miles away.
Best Recording Function: Retevis RT82 DMR 2 Way Radio
Apart from the typical features on any DMR radio, it has a recording function that can help you record content for up to 8 hours.
Best DMR Radio Buying Guide – Things to Consider
It’s a bit challenging to choose the perfect DMR radio among a lot of options in the market. So there are some specific factors you need to consider when you’re picking the DMR radio for your own use. Check below for more details.
Almost all of the radios in the list are HTs (handheld transceivers, which is a more “professional-sounding” term than “walkie-talkie”). However, there is also an option for a car radio.
While most of these units are lightweight and the same size as a regular smartphone, the antennas can be rather long. Therefore, you may want to check out the overall size and also look at the belt-attachment accessories.
These are short-range radios, with some only good for short neighborhood-sized distances. This is O.K. if you’re getting these things for employees working in the same building. However, you may want a longer range, if you use these for cycling.
Some of the radios cost less than a hundred dollars each. They are a good choice if you are buying them for a large number of people. There are others with more features that cost up to twice as much. The car radios are more expensive than even the more advanced handheld units.
A one-year warranty is common with most of these radios. Therefore, a two-year warranty can indicate a very durable model. This type of radio is recommended for activities, such as hiking. If you are going to use it primarily outdoors, you should also make sure that it is waterproof.
Each model has its own specific features. Those models with more advanced features will be more difficult for beginners to learn. They may initially want to select a model with fewer features.
There is even a model on the list without an LCD display. The LCD display is easier for those who are used to cellphones and smartphones.
The model that you select should be based on your current knowledge of DMR radios. If you are new to DMR radios, it is recommended that you get an experienced user to assist you. You may also find that demonstration videos are helpful.
The battery should be able to provide enough power when your DMR radio needs it to operate. A two-day standby time is common, with a few hours of available working time. You should get a powerful battery, if your business depends on reliable communications between your employees.
Best DMR Radio – Reviews
In a hurry? If you don’t have enough time to read the whole article? No worries! I have shortlisted top 7 DMR radios available in the market.
1. Radioddity GD-77 Long Range DMR Radio
Radioddity calls the GD-77 your most cost-effective DMR option. It is hard to argue with this claim. The radio has many useful features at a reasonable price.
It’s true that if you are new to DMR, the digital version can be intimidating. There are many new things to figure out. However, you can easily get started by watching videos and joining the Radioddity Facebook Group for tips and advice. Many beginners actually find the GD-77 easy to use after a while.
This handheld unit feels is easy to hold and seems solidly built. It has clear audio on both the digital and analog channels. It performs well on a single charge for two days. There is a charging indicator light that tells you when you need to recharge.
- Compatible with digital and analog modes, including dual-band UHF/VHF
- Free lifetime upgrades of software and firmware
- The keypad and side keys can be programmed for customized frequencies, channel names, tones, and other functions
- Can be programmed with MS Windows PCs
- 1024 channels, 128 received groups, 250 zones
- Weighs just 1.64 pounds, measures 5.5 by 2.2 by 1.1 inches
2. Baofeng DM-1701 Dual Band DMR Mobile Radio
This radio is another “cost-effective” option. This DMR radio is designed for amateur use. It is ideal if you are not in the police or you are a first responder.
This is relatively large. However, it has a larger screen and a solid feel. The radio has ample storage and very clear audio. The radio has a 1.77-inch color display. With this radio, you can send SMS messages with up to 144 characters.
Although it has an Asian brand name, Baofeng actually partnered with Radioddity to produce the DM-1701. This amateur DMR radio can be programmed by your PC, if you’re using Windows 10, 7, or XP.
- Can store 120,000 contacts, 10,000 talk groups and 3,000 channels
- Comes with a PTT earpiece and programming cable.
- The battery can last up to 48 hours
- Can work as digital or analog radio
- Talking range between 1.8 to 6.2 miles (3 to 10 kilometers)
- Available encryption and digital alarm function
- Excellent DMR radio for amateur radio operators
3. BTECH DMR-6X2 VHF DMR Radio with GPS
This DMR two-way radio isn’t considered a “cost-effective” option, since it costs almost twice as much as the first two DMR units on this list. However, you can get your money’s worth with its capabilities and features.
This is especially true if you select the DMR-6X2Dual Battery Kit. The default 3100mAh battery provides 35 hours of use, while the 2100mAh battery gives you more than18 hours. When this radio was first launched, there were several complaints about bugs. However, they were all fixed through the software and firmware updates.
The DMR-6X2 has an impressive features list, which keeps getting longer due to all the new updates. It comes with some features that aren’t available with the less expensive models. This is because this radio’s research and development took over two years.
- Long battery life on a single charge
- Large display screen, with daytime and nighttime settings
- Can store 10,000 talk groups and 4,000 channels, along with 200,000 digital contacts
- Can call new talk group or use new repeater, without saving the talk group to memory
- Built-in GPS
- You can group scanning channels together and add channels to these groups.
- It is possible to store and forward your conversations on the same band with the Store and Forward Repeater Mode.
4. TYT MD-380 UHF DMR Radio
Several newcomers have recommended the MD-380, because it is easy to learn how to use. There are two versions available (VHF or UHF) because this is not a dual band DMR mobile radio.
The communication distance ranges between one and seven kilometers. A group of people traveling together can get several of these radios, so they can keep in touch with each other. You can normally be used for about 9 to 12 hours, with a 52 hour standby period. You can also drain the battery by using it continuously for about two hours.
This works for both digital and analog. It also has great software updates. You may want to do some research (or find someone with DMR experience), when doing the programming. However, overall this is a great product. The audio doesn’t give you the hisses that you normally get with old-style radios. The controls are also easy to understand.
- 1,000 channels
- Measures just 5.2 by 2.4 by 1.4inches
- Weighs about a pound and a half
- Easy to hold
- Very dependable
5. Ailunce HD1 – Waterproof Dual Band DMR Radio
This is another more advanced DMR radio models. It is also more expensive. This is another best dual band DMR radio, with many features to make it worth its price. There is also excellent customer support, which is great for beginners who are confused about the various software issues.
This radio has a nice feel and is easy to hold in your hand. You should be able to use it with one hand. Beginners who are experienced with smartphones might need time to get used to the long antenna. However, that is always the issue with DMR radios.
This unit has outstanding durability. It is a waterproof device that is great to maintain contact while hiking or riding your bike.
- Excellent build quality
- Free lifetime software upgrades
- Keypad can be used for adjusting settings, without the need for a PC
- Terrific audio reception for both DMR and analog
- Uses 3200Mah battery, for longer standby time
- Can store 200,000 contacts and 32 radio IDs
6. Radioddity GD-77S – Handheld Long Range DMR HT Radio
Didn’t we already cover this? This is actually different from the Radioddity GD-77.aIt is the GD-77S. This is an inexpensive DMR radio that is worth the money. This digital two-way mobile radio does not have a LCD screen.
What makes this different, aside from the price, is that it is much easier to use. It is an excellent choice for beginners, especially when it is to be used by employees and family members. It comes with two different antennas, with a shorter antenna for outdoor use. The longer antenna comes is for when you want to boost the gain.
This is a reliable dual-band DMR mobile radio that most people can use easily. You can easily adjust the dials and buttons, and you can start using it. The radio can also be programmed using your Windows PC.
All Radioddity GD-77S units have been preprogrammed to the same frequency, so everyone within three miles can talk to each other.
- Dual band, with dual time slot
- Digital and analog mode
- 1024 channels
- 2200mAh battery
- Easy to use with no LCD and fewer buttons
- Voice operation provides radio status
- 18-hour working time, 48-hour standby time
7. TYT Upgraded MD-390 – UHF DMR Digital Radio Transceiver
Despite its price tag, this is advertised as an entry-level DMR radio. It is a tough, compact device. It is also waterproof and will still work, even after being submerged in a meter of water for half an hour.
This radio also comes with two antennas. The standard, shorter antenna is better for outdoor use. The other antenna is much longer and thinner. Therefore, it is necessary to be careful when moving around with it.
This is a rather sophisticated radio that has many features. Since this can be challenging at first, it is recommended that you go through the instructions and talk with experienced DMR enthusiasts online. The radio provides dependable voice and text communications. It even has a GPS option.
- IP67 waterproof rating
- Up to 1,000 channels
- Comes with programming cable (for Windows PCs) and earpiece
- Measures 5.2 by 2.4 by 1.4 inches, weighs less than 0.6 pounds
- Software updates
8. Radioddity GD-73A 2W – Dual Time Slot DMR Amateur Radio
Do you dislike bulky DMR radios with extra-long antennas? If that is the case, you need this mini-DMR. It has a short antenna, and is small enough to fit inside your pocket. However, you still get important features like a keypad and an LCD screen.
This radio uses a 2600mAh battery, which allows 48 hours of standby and 16 hours of continuous use. It comes with a micro-USB cable that allows to charge and connect the radio to your PC for programming.
It comes with a detailed user manual, which you need to read so you can make use of the available features. The radio has 21 available functions, of which you can assign four of them to two customable keys.
- Can send text messages
- 1024 channels
- Measures 4.48 by 1.95 by 1.25 inches, weighs1/3 pound
- Dual time slots
- Up to five-mile range
9. Retevis RT84 – Perfect DMR Radio For Vehicle and Outdoor Use
The 10th entry on the list is another excellent all around DMR radio. Many people find this radio to be more versatile. It enables you to talk at a distance of up to three miles and also allows the sending of SMS text messages. The 2000mAh battery offers 24 to 36 hours of standby, with about 10 to 15 hours of working time.
There are both digital and analog options. They both give you clear audio for transmitting and receiving. If you’re a beginner, you must learn how to write the code plug for this. However, you have the option of getting a DMR vet to help you or there are useful instructional videos online. It is a very durable device that is great for outdoor use.
- Simple and clear info on the LCD display
- 250 channels available on scan list
- Can store up to 1,000 channels, 250 talk groups, and 120,000 contacts
- Removable antenna
- Convenient size for keypad buttons
10. Retevis RT82 Dual Band DMR Digital 2 Way Radio
The Retevis RT82 has a unique waterproof case. This cheap DMR radio has GPS with dual-frequency range and can store up to 3000 channels and 10 thousand contacts. These characteristics are amazing.
You can use this radio anywhere, since RT82 will work for 8-12 hours without a break, and the standby mode lasts for 150 hours.
Like many other radio stations, this has Dual Band monitoring technology. If you have a similar radio station from Retevis, you have access to a double-time interval for point-to-point communication.
You can make two group calls. Group calls are useful, in that they allow calls without group restrictions.
RT82 dmr radio has a recording function of up to eight hours, which will help you to record all the necessary content. You can also program this radio station manually or on a PC using a code plug-in.
- The radio has a battery capacity of 2200 mAh for 8-12-hoursof continuous operation.
- There is the possibility of manual programming and programming on a PC and updating the installed software.
- 10,000 contacts list can be imported/exported from the device.
- The radio station supports the text function with the ability to edit messages in digital mode.
- The RT82 has 16 basic encryption groups and eight advanced encryption groups, as well as a support number and letter-mixed encryption.
- Retevis RT82 supports auto alert interval.
- This radio has a CTCSS / DCS Monitor and VOX alarm.
11. TYT MD-9600 – DMR Car Radio with GPS
If you prefer to use the DMR radio when you’re driving, you may want to consider this radio. It gives you 250 zones with 16 channels each, for a total of 4,000 channels. This is also a dual-band radio, which offers digital and analog modes.
Since this radio is designed to use while you’re driving, it works over a larger area. It has a range of over 30 miles. It is an excellent choice when your family is using several cars to transport family members while on vacation.
It is also very easy to use, although the user manual is not helpful. However, there are many online videos that demonstrate how to use the MD-9600. It is not that costly when all of the helpful features are taken into account. It is still more expensive, however, than handheld transceivers.
- Long range
- Easy to install
- Color, lighted LED display with lighted keypad
- Durable microphone
- Full list of features for communications
Benefits of Using a Mobile DMR Radio
People find out (often during the most inconvenient times) that smartphones aren’t always the best option, when a group of people must communicate with each other. You can then choose a classic walkie-talkie. However, modern handheld DMR radios are superior options.
Better Audio Quality
Similar to the way that CDs offer better sound than cassette tapes and LPs, you enjoy better audio with the DMR digital radios. The sound of Analog radios gets worse the farther you are from the other person using another radio. Hisses and other noises are common.
As long as you’re within the DMR radio range, the audio quality is the same. There will be no hisses or other noises.
Traditional ham radios can’t send text messages, but DMR radios can. It is often better to send texts, especially when you are supplying an address or a phone number. It is better when you are providing data that the receiver needs to remember.
Even the best DMR radios cost less than $200. This is much less than the cost of a good quality smartphone. When you are hiking or cycling, you don’t want to risk losing or damaging your smartphone.
Many smartphones are not built to withstand adverse outdoor weather conditions. Many DMR devices have excellent waterproofing. You can also drop a portable DMR radio and it will withstand the impact.
Longer Battery Life
The DMR radios tend to last longer than smartphones and traditional analog portable ham radios. They use the power more efficiently. With its battery life extending up to whole-day use and with two days of standby time, you don’t need to keep charging your DMR radio. This is great when you’re in the wilderness and you can’t find an electrical socket for charging.
Dual Time Slots
The dual time slot is a very important feature. Even when you’re speaking with someone else, it allows another call to be received. This is very helpful when it is a high-priority call. If your entire family gets separated from each other while hiking, you will want to able to receive their calls.
Also Read: Our favorite beginners ham radio of all time
FAQs on DMR Radio
Do I Need a License to Use a DMR Radio?
It depends on the situation. You can go unlicensed in the 446 MHz band, if you’re a private user, with a transmitting power of less than 0.5 watts. However, for other uses, you will also need a license and an ID.
Does DMR Work with Other Digital Technologies (such as P25)?
No, it doesn’t. It is not compatible with P25, NXDN, System Fusion, or D-STAR.
Who Can I Talk To Using the DMR Radio?
You can talk to people all over the world, if they have DMR radios and you’re on the same talk group. You can also form your own talk group.
What is dmr radio frequencies
Digital Mobile Radio covers the RF range from 30 MHz to 1 GHz.
Not including the military and the police, public sector organizations find these modern walkie-talkies much more dependable, useful, and cost-effective than using smartphones. Businesses that require workers to have regular communication, can also use these best DMR radios. They’re great for security personnel, delivery workers and other employees who work in the field.