Grundig G2 Reporter

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Boombox

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Last time I went into a local area electronics box store (Fry's) I noticed the price of the Grundig G2 has been slashed from around $70 to $29. $30 for a digital AM-FM-SW radio with a couple other functions, and good selectivity, is probably a good deal.

I needed another radio about as much as I needed another hole in my head, but being a radio fan, I decided to get one. After trying out the radio for a couple days, I thought I'd post a review in case any other folks here see the radio for sale and are curious as to whether it is worth $30 or not. I think it's worth $30.

To start out with, the few reviews of the Grundig G2 I found were mixed to negative. I read that the MW is mediocre, SW is fair but AGC is too tight, and the MP3 supposedly plays but has dropouts. There is apparently a tick-tick every second or so that is sometimes audible on AM and SW if there are no stations present.

I haven't tried the MP3 function. And the tick-tick I've only heard in places so far -- mainly the lower end of the MW band, 650 khz and lower, and if there is a decent signal, it is covered. Other parts of the MW band, I don't hear it. If it's there, maybe I just haven't noticed it yet. I don't recall hearing it on SW yet, maybe I just didn't tune in the right place, or just didn't notice it.

Being a MW DXer, and casual SW listener, I've been able to try out the G2 a few times on MW and a couple times on SW. My conclusion is that it's an OK radio, might have some potential, especially with its selectivity. It has some minuses, but also a few good strengths. Not a DX radio on MW by itself, but not necessarily unusable for DXing, either.

The MW loopstick is about 2 inches, the same size as the Sony SRF-59's. Obviously, a short loopstick like that is not going to put the radio in Superadio territory. But the SRF-59 has a good MW rep, mainly for its performance compared to its size and price -- so I compared the G2 to the SRF-59, both barefoot and with a loop.

Performance wise, the two radios are roughly the same. The SRF-59 has a bit more gain, which is especially noticeable barefoot, and the sound is more pleasing. The G2 has better selectivity. I tuned in a distant station on 990 khz (using a loop) with both radios. 990 here is right next to a 50 KW blowtorch. Using the loop, the DX station was buried in splash on the SRF-59, where the G2 picked it up legibly with some splash peaks. Barefoot, the station was non-existent on the G2, with pulsing splash peaks, and there was nothing but splash on the SRF-59.

I think G2 can be used to DX with in a pinch -- you just need a loop. Without a loop, it will perform probably as well as a clock radio. With a loop, you can DX with it, because the radio has enough gain, and has good selectivity. The radio tends to work best with the loop on the right side of the radio (the side where the loopstick is located). Because of the radio's AGC, you have to tune the loop slowly to find the peak.

A couple nights ago on SW, I tuned across the 49, 41, and 25 meter bands, and got a reasonable number of stations just off the whip. Ten stations on 49 meters, 3 stations on 41 (including an Arabic chanting station on 7295, probably Algeria), and 4 stations on 25 meters (including RNZI).

It was a night of fair to poor conditions, so I really don't know how it compares to other popular SW radios of the day -- most people seem to have Grundigs and Tecsuns (which I don't have), and most of my digital portables are Sangeans which are not too sharp off the whip. I didn't try the radio with any wire clipped to the whip.

The SW tunes in 'bands'. You press the SW button to cycle through the bands. So if you want to tune outside a designated SW band, it's a no-go -- unless there is a workaround I haven't found yet. But the SW bands themselves are very wide. The 49 meter band, for example, starts at 5800 and goes all the way to 6300. The 41 meter band starts at 6900 and goes to 7500. So it covers most of the spectrum where SW broadcast stations will be. The lowest band is the 60 meter band and the highest band is the 13 meter band.

This morning, just before typing up this post, I tried the G2 on SW again. Interestingly she overloaded, with some FM hash on certain frequencies (happens sometimes on a couple of my radios -- I usually just aim the whip directly away from direction of the local FM transmitters), and with what sounds like local MW signals underneath the SW stations in places. I've never had local MW overload before.

But that was with the whip fully extended. When I dropped the whip to around 8 inches, I got 15 or more signals on the 49 meter band interference free, fully readable, with Radio Australia in English on 6150 khz, CRI in English on 5955 khz, and about 10 stations in Chinese. 41 and 31 also had a handful of stations each, mostly from Asia. I never have had a SW portable work so well off of 8 inches of whip before.

So the radio apparently has decent gain on SW, but one obviously needs to shorten the whip where needed.

The G2's AGC doesn't get in the way of listening, as was reported in a couple of reviews I found online. It is tight, though. About as tight, or a bit tighter than the AGC on an SRF-59. The only overtly negative AGC effect I have found in the radio so far is on fluttery, weak MW signals when there are auroral conditions or poor MW conditions, where the reception is a bit grainy -- the AGC pumps up the atmospheric noise level along with the fluttery, weak broadcast signal.

The G2 has no SSB, so it's broadcast listening only. The selectivity on the SW band matches that of MW -- pretty tight. No heterodynes from adjacent SW channels, but there is some splash from very strong stations 5 khz away.

Not being an FM DXer by any stretch, I have no idea how it compares to other popular FM radios. I tuned around the band and the stereo sounds good. You have to press the FM button twice to get stereo -- mono is the default.

The G2 has a line in, so I suppose you could use it as a mini speaker for an MP3 player, smartphone, or tablet. I haven't tried that yet. I tried the RDS function, and it works, but the readout is tricky -- in some cases, the way the words are cut up, it's very hard to read. I hardly use RDS, although I know it's useful for others. Anyone wanting to rely on RDS with this radio will probably not like it.

According to reviews on the net the G2's rechargeable battery takes 4.5 hours to charge from dead to full (the manual says 6 hours), but mine charged in 2.75 hours. After about 4-6+ hours of use the battery's still apparently on full charge. The manual says the battery lasts around 50 hours. The manual says fully charge and discharge the battery 3X before using for longest life. I have no idea how one is supposed to charge and discharge the battery in the radio "before use" without using the radio. So I'm just going to use the radio, and run the battery completely down to dead before recharge.

The sound through headphones isn't bad on MW and SW -- not full and rich like a Superadio or good walkman, but it has enough bass response to sound adequate for casual listening or DXing. It's not hi-fi by any stretch, but it's not shrill and thin either. On FM it sounds very good through the headphones. Through the speakers the radio sounds like one of those pocket transistors of the 1960's, although with two speakers it has stereo capability, and you can definitely hear the stereo from a foot or two away. In my view the G2 is probably best used as a headset radio.

In summary, I'm sure the G2 wouldn't measure up to the DXpectations for a lot of the people who hang out at Radio Reference. But at a low price, it is a good buy for the money for casual listening. Where I live, it's only $10 more than an SRF-59.
 
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Boombox

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Update: The radio covers the full SW spectrum from 2.3 Mhz to 23 Mhz when you first hit the SW button, thereafter it will only toggle through the bands.
 

jtcase

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Reports are the G2 has been discontinued; no successor unit has been identified.

Early units did have problems with dropouts in the MP3 as well as short battery life among other things. This was firmware version 2.1. The latest firmware, 2.3, fixed the outstanding issues and it is a decent radio now. It had so much bad press, however, that I gather sales were not all that impressive.

For the price you paid, it is a steal.

The Degen equivalent was the DE 1128. This was replaced with the DE 1128H, which has new speakers and a wider boy to accommodate the larger speakers. The flimsy tilt panel support was replaced with a removable tilt support. There were other improvements as well which made the 1128H a very desireable radio. It used to only be available with Chinese and Russian language firmware, but the latest release also includes English. I have not seem them on Ebay, but Anon.Co has them on their non-Ebay site: DEGEN DE1128H RDS radio
 

Boombox

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I recorded a minute long clip of Radio Exterior De España in Mp3 on the G2 and it played back without dropouts. So they must have fixed that issue. Wasn't too hard to figure out how to do it. The tuner button is also a menu button (if you push it in).

I heard CRI's Urdu service earlier in the evening just off the G2's whip, SIO253-354, flutter fading. And I'm in the NW US. It was only one or two S units below another of my radios using my 25 ft. indoor wire. Still as readable, just deeper cuts in the fast fades.
 
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