RadioReference on Facebook   RadioReference on Twitter   RadioReference Blog
 

Go Back   The RadioReference.com Forums > Scanners and Receivers Forums > Scanner / Receiver Equipment Reviews

Scanner / Receiver Equipment Reviews A forum for reviews of scanner and receiver hardware along with related accessories. Please read the forum Sticky before creating a thread.

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
  #1 (permalink)  
Old 01-17-2012, 9:11 PM
Member
   
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,695
Default Grundig S450DLX Field-Radio

The Grundig S450DLX "Field Radio" is a somewhat large, AM/FM Stereo, general coverage HF (540k - 30mhz AM-only) receiver. It is the successor to the earlier s350/DL models, and retails for approx $100 US.

General description:
The S450DLX is a very worthy upgrade from the 350 series, most notably the drifty tuning issue has been addressed, and now uses dual-conversion. Selectable slow-fast tuning rates and a hefty tuning knob are welcome.

On the back are F-connectors for FM/Shortwave external antenna input, and also an F-connector for the AM-IF output. Note that Grundig states that they don't support the AM-IF output, so you are on your own there if you know what to do with that. Also included is a high-impedance input for MW external antennas.

Headphone, and line-in/line out jacks are on the right side, along with a DX/Local attenuator switch. More attenuation control can be achieved with the AM-RF Gain pot, but that pot does not affect FM.

The keys can be backlit and controlled via another switch on the right side. The clock is only visible when off. The usual memories, sleep timer can also be found.


Operations:
Compared to the 350, the 450 is a joy to tune, but radios that are built this inexpensively can have problems that vary from unit to unit as seen on reviews elsewhere. I saw a very small amount of tuning encoder jumping, but only when tuning very very quickly among strong stations. Tune normally, and no problems.

In my case, attaching anything externally acted as an antenna for noise coming from the radio iself. A large amount of display noise and noise from backlighting the keys was immediately heard when using the supplied power adapter, or running from external DC. When running solely from batteries and using headphones, the headphones act as an external FM antenna, and resulted in multipath disortion from essentially a random wire hanging out on FM.

The cure was to use ferrites on all leads going into and out of the radio - or operate solely from batteries and the internal speaker. The distortion heard on FM was cured by wrapping about 4 turns of the headphone cable near the jack around a Radio Shack 273-105 snap-on ferrite. For the DC leads, I just plan on using the S450 only from batteries. I did not test the line input and output leads. It appears that on my unit, the DC input jack was soldered in a bit off center, so the jack runs into it at a slight angle.

Note that the polarity of the externally labeled 9V DC input is a NEGATIVE TIP and a POSITIVE GROUND!

Like the 350, the bandswitch and bandwidth knobs have a lot of play, although the knobs didn't just fall off this time. It doesn't inspire confidence, but seems to work. The main tuning knob is fantastic with a good feel to it. It is slightly off-kilter, and I see some sort of white contact cement on the shaft to provide a tighter fit to the knob. The finger-dimple feels good, although don't expect to just whip it around like a free-wheel. The 4 pots are very smooth, although I did pull them out just a tad to stop the plastic-plastic scraping on the chassis.

Once these issues were straightened out, the radio actually performs well for what it is. It handled an external shortwave dipole with no problems, and attenuation took care of any overload issues. Audio was fine, although subjectively, I like the "slope" of the bass and treble, and the overall response to either music, talk radio, etc. If I had to, I'd classify it as a "jazz" response when bass and treble are set to maximum, rather than a rock-out boom box experience. Very nice. Easily tweakable for other formats.

The wide / narrow bandwidth for shortwave was reasonable, without being useless, or totally muffled narrow, so shortwave listening was a pleasure.

In addition, the battery door has some fragile hinges on the bottom made out of thin flexible plastic. I already broke one off when installing the 6 D-size batteries inside, so be gentle with the door.

Despite the issues that can be tamed, I am very pleased with the performance and sound quality. It would be wise to check all functions immediately after purchase.

Thing is, I'd easily pay TWICE the price for more shielding and bit more solid construction.
Reply With Quote
Sponsored links
        
  #2 (permalink)  
Old 01-19-2012, 1:42 AM
Zagadka's Avatar
Member
   
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Central NC, USA
Posts: 77
Default

Thanks for taking the time to write up such a detailed review. I'm not so sophisticated an SW listener that much of what you mentioned means a lot to me but I DO know that I love the big tuning knob. I had the good fortune to get it at (of all places) Radio Shack for $69 recently and my wife still has to occasionally pull it out of my lap and make me come to dinner. Not the ultimate shortwave radio on the planet to be sure but pretty darn good for neophytes like me.
Reply With Quote
  #3 (permalink)  
Old 01-19-2012, 2:37 AM
Member
   
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,695
Default

Thanks!

I got mine at RS too, although I missed the deal. Luckily the packaging is pretty tight, so that made it easy to see if it was fresh, or some return-and-rebox faulty unit.

I too was impressed with the tuning / knob! Blown away in fact compared to the older 350 series. In fact, I'd prefer this knob and tuning feel over what is currently on the pricier 750.

Despite the quirks, it is in fact a great starter shortwave / BCB radio. What's the old saying about the 1/10th rule: one-tenth should be spent on the radio, and 9-tenths on the antenna! So, hope you have about $600 to spend on wire, supports, etc. You are off to a great start.

If you do any serious AM BCB listening, run from batteries only as the ac adapter can pick up noise from the display and/or backlight and feed it back into the radio. It is also pretty sensitive on BCB too, at least mine is, and indoors will nicely pick up noise and hum from nearby indoor sources - so being portable, move it around to a noise-free area.

Funny you should mention how you hold it - also notice that it will fit quite well in the crook of your arm. They didn't get all the ergonomics right, but enough right with that huge tuning knob with a great feel that makes you want to use it.

Last edited by hertzian; 01-19-2012 at 2:53 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #4 (permalink)  
Old 01-19-2012, 7:41 AM
GKolo's Avatar
Member
  Shack Photos
Shack photos
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Mountains of East Tennessee
Posts: 544
Default

Ok since you guys know what your talking about, Will this radio let you listen to aircraft flying across the ocean and ships at sea ? I cant afford a high price HF radio but for a 100 dollars i could swing this.
I was told the Grundig G3 would not cover what i wanted ??
Thanks
__________________
''Life's tough ........ it's even tougher if you're stupid.'' -- John Wayne
Reply With Quote
  #5 (permalink)  
Old 01-19-2012, 12:12 PM
Zagadka's Avatar
Member
   
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Central NC, USA
Posts: 77
Default

Maritime yes, aircraft no. The Satellit 750 does incorporate the aircraft bands but the price scoots up to $300-ish. Also take a look at the Grundig G6 or the Tecsun PL-660 - both do aviation and fall in the $100 range. Happy shopping.
Reply With Quote
Sponsored links
  #6 (permalink)  
Old 01-19-2012, 1:51 PM
GKolo's Avatar
Member
  Shack Photos
Shack photos
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Mountains of East Tennessee
Posts: 544
Default

So the G6 will do what i want ? I would love the 750 but its outta my price range.
__________________
''Life's tough ........ it's even tougher if you're stupid.'' -- John Wayne
Reply With Quote
  #7 (permalink)  
Old 01-19-2012, 2:02 PM
Zagadka's Avatar
Member
   
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Central NC, USA
Posts: 77
Default

Seems so. Full SW bands (1500-30000khz), SSB and aviation bands. Check it out here
Reply With Quote
  #8 (permalink)  
Old 01-19-2012, 2:57 PM
GKolo's Avatar
Member
  Shack Photos
Shack photos
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Mountains of East Tennessee
Posts: 544
Default

Ok thanks for the info, That will be the one i start with. I have always used a scanner and i am looking to explore the other radio bands.
__________________
''Life's tough ........ it's even tougher if you're stupid.'' -- John Wayne
Reply With Quote
  #9 (permalink)  
Old 01-19-2012, 6:50 PM
Member
   
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,695
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by GKolo View Post
Will this radio let you listen to aircraft flying across the ocean and ships at sea ? I cant afford a high price HF radio but for a 100 dollars i could swing this.
I was told the Grundig G3 would not cover what i wanted ??
Thanks
The S450 does not do Single-Sideband, which is what both of these services use. You could actually tune up on the HF aircraft frequencies, and various marine freqs, but all you would hear would be Donald Duck responses since the radio is limited to AM modulation on HF.

Also, the G6 Aviator is a poor choice for entry into the world of VHF airband monitoring. Not only is it not a scanner, it performs poorly on airband. So much so, that I cringe when I see the word "Aviator" on it.

The G3 would be the bare minimum I'd go. You'd get the HF SSB coverage, and an intro into VHF airband monitoring. Note that there is no true squelch on Airband on the G3, so that might drive one a bit crazy if you use headphones. And it is not an airband scanner, so you basically sit on one freq at a time. But, it would be a start within your budget.

Last edited by hertzian; 01-19-2012 at 7:01 PM..
Reply With Quote
Sponsored links
  #10 (permalink)  
Old 01-19-2012, 6:59 PM
GKolo's Avatar
Member
  Shack Photos
Shack photos
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Mountains of East Tennessee
Posts: 544
Default

Some of these Radio Stores need to have a layaway program......Or i need a winning Lotto ticket.
HF Oceanic is what i want to be able to grab.

Thanks for the responce
__________________
''Life's tough ........ it's even tougher if you're stupid.'' -- John Wayne
Reply With Quote
  #11 (permalink)  
Old 01-19-2012, 7:40 PM
Member
   
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,695
Default

Just remember that the G3 is a portable, with portable performance. Although HF propagation conditions are improving, you are still using just a small whip. Yes, you can add external antennas, but the caveat here is that portables are easily overloaded, and the G3 only has a DX/Local attenuator - you could need a lot more with a nice external antenna.

Thing is, you gotta' start somewhere. Making the most of what you got, rather than just throwing down money, is a bit more fun in my opinion!

Last edited by hertzian; 01-19-2012 at 7:44 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #12 (permalink)  
Old 01-19-2012, 7:48 PM
GKolo's Avatar
Member
  Shack Photos
Shack photos
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Mountains of East Tennessee
Posts: 544
Default

I am leaning toward the G3 or G6 and adding a longwire to it to improve reception. In a year or 2 i can get a better radio if i am still interested in it.
__________________
''Life's tough ........ it's even tougher if you're stupid.'' -- John Wayne
Reply With Quote
  #13 (permalink)  
Old 01-24-2012, 6:37 PM
Member
   
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,695
Default S450 runs from 9V battery and is clean!

MY NOISE FROM EXTERNAL DC IS GONE!

I got tricked by more than one switching device! The OEM supply was initially suspected to be a switcher, or have some sort of switching device in it. Yep, time to take a hammer to the OEM wall wart. No surprise there - even though it looks deceptively like a clean linear supply with a big internal transormer, cap and regulator.

I have other wall warts that are obviously switchers, and they too produce the expected noisy result.

However, I grabbed a 12V lead acid battery, and a mobile step down regulator to 9V. You wouldn't think that a dc-dc little mobile regulator has a switching component inside, but yes, mine does. ARGGH.

It became obvious when disconnecting these 9V step-down devices from the radio, but not from the 12V lead acid battery, and still getting noise! ( DO NOT connect directly to 12V !!)

In the end, I tried a simple 9V battery and bingo! Not a drop of noise. Amazing that the 450 can run from a 9V battery (Watch the polarity!).

This could be part of the reason for so many initial returns - the oem supply has a switching component, and even devices you have laying around that aren't outright switchers may have some sort of switching component inside. The easy test is to just plug in a wall wart you want to test, and without connecting it, just drape it near the radio while running from batteries. This is how I found out my mobile regulators are also noisy.

The earlier model, the S350 came with a clean linear supply (although 6V). No wonder my 750 and my older 350 have no problems with dc input. Plugging the adapter from either the 750 or older 350 to an outlet, and draping it around the 450 showed that those older supplies are clean.

At this stage, I absolutely LOVE the 450. Just run from internal batteries, OR directly from a 9V battery. Toss the oem wall wart, and check your existing stuff - even things you normally don't suspect of having a switching component inside.

Last edited by hertzian; 01-24-2012 at 6:50 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #14 (permalink)  
Old 01-25-2012, 1:35 AM
Member
   
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,695
Default Measured current draw from battery

While using the 9V battery for testing, I recorded the following:

Radio only - 90 ma.
Radio and blue display backlight = 110 ma
Radio with both display backlight AND key backlighting = 220 ma

The key backlighting is the power hog, so I don't recommend having it on all the time. The display only draw an additional 20 ma or so, so no biggie.

Of course the typical 9V alkaline has about 500 -600 mah capacity, so you'll only be able to get a few hours out of it anyway. But it was a good test to prove that the dc input to the 450 is actually clean even with about 2 feet of test jumper connection to it.
Reply With Quote
  #15 (permalink)  
Old 02-03-2012, 7:19 AM
Member
  Premium Subscriber
Premium Subscriber
Amateur Radio Operator
Amateur Radio
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Agawam, Ma
Posts: 17
Default

I have the 350 and the drift is a killer to an otherwise nice radio. So I'll have to check this one out.
Reply With Quote
Sponsored links
  #16 (permalink)  
Old 02-04-2012, 2:38 PM
corbintechboy's Avatar
Member
   
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Corbin, KY
Posts: 458
Default

I actually purchased this radio and sent it off to Eton. The sound on the lower spectrum of MW was horrible and plagued with noise.

Eton has had my radio for about 3 weeks and I have heard nothing (yet), So maybe we will get lucky and they will do something about the PSU. I actually almost didn't send it back. But I came to the conclusion that just because the radio is "cheap", this does not mean it has to suffer sub par quality listening. My KA1103 was cheaper, with more options (SSB) and it does not have these poroblems, so I know a good radio does not have to break the bank.

Hoping Eton fixes my unit and issues a fix to new production perhaps?
Reply With Quote
  #17 (permalink)  
Old 02-04-2012, 11:35 PM
Member
   
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 1,389
Default

I agree - you should have bought a Degen/Kaito 1103 - continuous coverage from 100kHz to 30MHz with FM stereo and SSB. Less than $100US
__________________
Cheers - Martin ZL2MC - Palmerston North
Reply With Quote
  #18 (permalink)  
Old 02-05-2012, 5:20 AM
Member
   
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,695
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by corbintechboy View Post
I actually purchased this radio and sent it off to Eton. The sound on the lower spectrum of MW was horrible and plagued with noise.

Eton has had my radio for about 3 weeks and I have heard nothing (yet), So maybe we will get lucky and they will do something about the PSU.
Yes, the supplied PSU is noisy on it's own, totally separate from any noise that may be coming through it from the powerlines themselves. It is unfortunate that it went immediately into the recycler. I was surprised, since the wall-warts for my 750's and latest Pl-660 are totally quiet.

Note that my unit was dated from the battery compartment as 201107, which I take to mean July 2011. Aside from the nasty psu on mine, my reception is absolutely clean all the way down to 520khz.

I recommend running solely from a known clean source of DC.

Since the set is VERY sensitive, be sure to test it outside. It is very good at picking up the junk inside the room, unlike smaller portables. I like to dx with it, although rotating the entire set is best done on a lazy-susan. By taking the 450 around the house, I could easily induce heterodynes and other junk into it from wall wiring, other applicances, etc. Take it into the backyard - fantastic. I don't think mine is golden, but anytime I hear a whine or heterodyne on it indoors, I can easily track it down with the rf-attenuator to some other device in the house - or in fact sometimes my neighbors house!

Last edited by hertzian; 02-05-2012 at 5:35 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #19 (permalink)  
Old 02-05-2012, 5:27 AM
Member
   
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,695
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scarpad View Post
I have the 350 and the drift is a killer to an otherwise nice radio. So I'll have to check this one out.
The accurate tuning will blow you away. If you like big knobs, this set continues along the mantra of the 350. Just as important is the dual-conversion - I'm no longer frustrated at hearing images of stations not being where they should be.

The 350 has more oomph in the bass department. Not that the 450 sounds bad, but if you are expecting the exact same sound from it, you might be slightly disappointed. I don't need thundering bass from a portable, but there is enough to make it pleasant to listen to.

Just don't be surprised if the wall-wart is noisy. Run from batteries is my recommendation, or a TRUSTED, known good non-switching dc voltage source. My quickie 9V battery test showed to me that the dc input is actually good and that most of my wall-warts are actually "switching" types inside, or have very noisy components of their own - a noise distinct and separate from anything coming from the ac wiring itself.

Last edited by hertzian; 02-05-2012 at 5:38 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #20 (permalink)  
Old 02-14-2012, 3:10 PM
  Amateur Radio Operator
Amateur Radio
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: spring hill florida
Posts: 1
Default

I just purchased a 450 to upgrade from my 350. Everything seems to work as expected, and there is a big difference while tuning around the bands. My one issue is every station is 1 KC off frequency. If I want to listen to 9870 for example, I will have to set the display on 9869 to be dead center. Same with listening to FM. If I tune the display to 101.5, its off 1 kc, and I need to bump it down to 101.4 for it to be clear. I am going to try and reset the receiver to see if it will automatically calabrate to display, but if that doesnt work, Im sure theres a pot somewhere inside the radio to calabrate the frequency display. Im not really in the mood to open the radio, and Id rather just send it back to try a new one first. Otherwise, for an inexpensive table top shortwave portable receiver, it does real well for the price range.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 2:45 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
All information here is Copyright 2012 by RadioReference.com LLC and Lindsay C. Blanton III.Ad Management by RedTyger
Copyright 2011 by RadioReference.com LLC Privacy Policy  |  Terms and Conditions