Eton Grundig Executive Satellit
Near the end of 2014 Eton announced a new Satellit. I was surprised that it was a travel-sized portable rather than a larger portable/desktop style radio as all the previous Satellits had been. However, I was impressed with its overall performance in this size category – the Satellit compares very well with its competitors from Tecsun and Sangean and it rapidly became my personal favorite radio of this size due to its good sound and AM reception better than the competition. The original Satellit was updated shortly after its introduction and replaced with what might be called the second-generation model which was now labelled “Grundig Edition” at the top of the front panel. That version had some worthwhile updates such as reduced muting while tuning and correction of an issue with the Aux Antenna jack. (Read The original Eton/Grundig Satellit Review):
Now for 2017 Eton has dressed up the Satellit with a new silver color and integrated tan leather case known as the Executive Satellit. Certainly, this is an attractive package but there is no info from Eton as to whether or not this radio is internally updated in any way or if it is identical to the Grundig Edition Satellit. This article will compare my second generation Satellit with the newest Executive version. The basic specifications are unchanged:
- AM/FM/LW/SW/VHF Aircraft bands
- 5 Bandwidth Settings (6K, 4K, 3K, 2.5K, 2K)
- Fast/Slow Tuning Plus Fine Tuning In SSB Mode (10 Hz Steps)
- FM with RDS (Radio Data System)
- Single sideband (SSB) with +/10 Hz tuning
- Automatic or Manual Digital Tuning with ATS
- FM stereo/mono selection (Stereo FM to Headphone Jack)
- Sync detector with selectable sideband
- Direct key-in meter band for SW
- 700 memory stations i 100 Pages with Copy/Paste Capability & Alpha-Numeric Tagging
- PLL synthesized dual conversion receiver
- Local/DX switch
- Local/world time zones
- Clock/Alarm/Sleep Timer with time backup
- Rich orange LCD display
- Reset/Lock button
- FM/SW telescopic antenna
- Line In/Line Out Jack switch selectable
- Headphone Out Jack
- 6.6″ x 4.1” x 1.2” (16.8 x 10.5 x 3.1cm)
- Power supply: 6V DC Adapter (Included) or 4 AA batteries (Not Included) Can recharge batteries in the radio
- Deluxe Integrated Folding Leather Case
Checking Out The New Executive Version: – Being a long-time fan of the original Satellit Grundig Edition version, my first order of business was to look for any obvious differences. I didn’t find any other than the color and 4 metal magnets on the back panel which mate with metal inserts in the leather case to hold it in place, similar to the much older Grundig G2000A Porsche Design radio of many years ago. Also the display is brighter than my older Satellit but actually this change was made before the Executive version was released…more recent original units have this upgraded display. Every other detail is identical…even the owner’s manual is the same with no revisions I could find. I took a quick look inside and found the circuit board labelled with a 2015 date code Rev 7 whereas my older unit has a 2014 Rev 6 code…see pictures. However, this 2015 rev 7 PCB is the same one which has been used in more recent production of the original black Grundig Edition radios so evidence points to the Executive version being the same as those. This is not to say that there are no minor revisions but there is no indication that there have been any.
Performance: As I said earlier the original Satellit is my travel-size radio of choice so I was especially curious to see if there were any differences with this new version. I spent quite a bit of time comparing my two Satellits side by side in detail. In this case, I’m happy to report that with one exception there were no differences in performance. That difference as a subtle AM improvement, and I say subtle because I probably wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t been comparing the two radios side by side. I had always considered my original Satellit to be free of any digital interference on AM which is fairly common with today’s DSP (Digital Signal Processing) radios. But when I was band scanning the daytime AM band I found 4 frequencies on the older model – 600, 730, 1130 and 1670 KHz where there were very subtle tones mixing with very faint signals…those minor tones were completely absent on the new model which indicates that digital interference on the AM band has now been totally suppressed. Awesome! Note: As is the case with most such spurious tones they may vary in frequency from sample to sample, and if you don’t happen to have weak signals on those frequencies you could easily miss them. It is possible that more recent production of the original model with the 2015 date code on the PCB also had this improvement but I have no way of knowing that. And I stress…these are very subtle tones only noticeable under a few very weak signals.
AM Reception is as good as it gets in current production multi-band radios of this size and is more sensitive with a lower noise floor than the Sangean ATS-909X and the Tecsun PL-880, PL-680 and PL-660.
SW Reception is also very sensitive and at least as good as the other radios above I mentioned above.
FM Reception is also very good but perhaps just a tad less sensitive than the others in this group. Actually, I could only notice this on two signals because in general they seemed quite comparable.
Other Reception Notes: There is some muting while tuning which is mildly bothersome but during SSB reception there is no muting while in Fine Tuning mode which is good. SSB performance was good for this class of equipment. There is very little soft muting, again a good thing. To hear it I had to put the radio into it widest bandwidth mode (6KHz) and tune a weak signal, but even then it was subtle. And generally, one would reduce the bandwidth at least one notch to the 4 KHz setting at which point the soft muting seemed to disappear. Synchronous detection locks tenaciously and allows tuning a few KHz up or down before losing lock which is good but sound quality in sync mode is very thin for some reason. I wish the Aux Antenna jack would work for AM…this is a common complaint with modern portables. In this group only the Sangean allows that.
Overload with Big External Antennas: The Satellit seems to have great sensitivity with its built-in antennas. It also works well with modest passive antennas such as a passive AM loop or for SW a common 23 foot reel-up type. However, with my Wellbrook antenna at night there was considerable overload until I switched the DX/Local switch to Local. That cured the overload and in this mode the Satellit seemed to receive similarly to the other radios. The other radios however didn’t show much overload with this same antenna.
One oddity is the design of the new leather case itself. I can’t deny its aesthetic appeal and the magnetic latches give it a certain cachet, but it seems it could have been a little more functional as the radio cannot be operated or even listened to when the case is closed. Remember when most transistor radios came with leather cases that allowed you to use the radio while it
was protected by the case? If this case simply had perforations over the speaker grill it could be listened to in the case. Maybe that’s an idea for the future. And since this case restricts positioning of the rod antenna I spent my time testing the radio on SW and FM with the case removed. Am I being too picky? Perhaps…after all I very much like and recommend this radio overall.
Conclusion: Since its introduction the Eton Satellit has been my travel radio of choice due to its great AM performance and good sound for a radio its size. The Sangean and Tecsuns are worthy competitors to be sure and the choice will rest with your preferences as each has its own personality and its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Operationally the new Executive Edition seems to perform as the original model did so if you are on a budget there is no need to upgrade unless you must have the latest design which is indeed a looker. But if you are looking for a new radio in this size category I can whole-heartedly recommend the Eton Grundig Executive Satellit it to you because overall there is none better.