Day one on a new DMR radio.
First impressions: when the sound quality is good, it's just fine. No noise, but you do get dropouts. I'm sure that's the quality of the DMR voice encoder/decoder and not specific to my radio.
I have a Baofeng / Radioddity RD-5R, purchased on sale for less than $60. Build quality is fine out of the box.
Programming the radio was the first task. I had previously obtained a DMR ID from RadioID.net so that step was taken care of. The programming software is from Radioddity and runs on Windows only. Helpfully I acquired a little old laptop running Windows 7 so I was able to run it. The code plug I'm using is from W8XM and is distributed via the ARROW club at the Arrow group on groups.io.
Some mysteries to address while they are still mysterious.
Every so often the radio light turns green, presumably because there's a call on the repeater, but I don't hear anything. I'm told there is a "monitor" mode where you open up the radio to listen to this traffic, but I haven't found it yet.
The code plug is programmed for a "Parrot" server, a sort of echo test that lets you check levels and hear the sound of your own voice.
There should be a way to tune in to an arbitrary channel, and this code plug has a slot for "TS2 Custom" which looks like where I'd do that. I haven't sorted out how yet.
I've had conversations on the W8RP.local channel (to W8XM) and on the statewide Michigan channel (to several folks who were helpful in radio testing). In addition I've listened to the TAC310 group which is a bit random but evidently useful.
The radio also supports analog UHF/VHF repeaters in the area and has a broadcast FM receiver just like the Baofeng UV-5R. So you can listen to your favorite broadcast station and then have the radio cut in with traffic.