Grundig Satellit 800 Speaker Upgrade
It’s hard to believe how many years it has been since the Grundig Satellit 800 was released…the name SAT 800 Millennium on the front panel reminds us of that. My SAT 800 has had a permanent place on a table in my home office since I got it and it has been used almost daily without any problems all these years…it and its successor, the Eton E1 remain my reference shortwave receivers, but the SAT 800 sees lots of AM and FM use as well. (You can read the original Grundig Satellit 800 review here).
One of the complaints about the receiver has always been its lackluster audio quality and specifically, it’s lack of bass given its large size. While not exactly bad sounding it certainly lacked the bass extension and punch of the earlier Grundig Satellit 600/650 series which were known for their powerful, boombox-like audio, and although the SAT 800 is a more up-to-date, more capable receiver it’s audio pales by comparison to those earlier models after which it was obviously styled. There were a few “modders” back in the day who managed to get better sounding speakers transplanted into their 800’s but there are now more speaker choices available which offer not only direct drop-in-replacement with no modifications needed (they fit exactly as the original speaker did) but which also offer improved frequency response and efficiency…they are able to play as loudly as the original speaker with the amplifier power available in the SAT 800.
My friend John is an unstoppable modder…he replaces ferrite rods with larger ones and speakers with better ones. He had the ability and patience to try multiple speakers in his Grundig SAT 800 – his final choice was the Faital Pro 4FE35 which is $25 plus shipping from www.partsexpress.com. This is a 4 ohm version which gets the maximum power available from the radio’s amplifier which is easily capable of driving a 4 ohm load without any problem. This has been verified and in fact some SAT 800’s may have actually shipped with 4 ohm speakers, plus many previous mods have incorporated 4 ohm speakers to good effect. The audio amp is spec’d at 1 watt at 8 ohms and 2.3 watts at 4 ohms. I must say I am thrilled with the sound improvement.
Disassembly is fairly easy but one thing you need is a long yet medium-sized (#1) Phillips screwdriver which will grip the screw head firmly…some of these screws are so tight that they are difficult to remove without damage unless your screwdriver grips them perfectly.
Step By Step Instructions:
Pull off all the front panel knobs and unscrew the bushing (if fitted) around the tuning shaft.
Remove the battery compartment and remove batteries if installed.
Remove 6 screws from the back panel.
To get at the mounting screws on the front of the speaker you next have to remove the mesh grille in front of the speaker and although this is easy it requires patience and care to keep from deforming the grille. It is held in place by 8 tabs which are bent over and glued down with rubbery glue. It is necessary to pry them upward and straighten them out to remove the grill easily without bending it. It seems best to use a flat object to push those tabs down from the inside to begin to move the grille away from the front panel. Take your time with this step and the reward will be a clean disassembly. There is also a black fabric behind the mesh grille which you can peel off. Once the grille is removed straighten those tabs as needed to make later re-assembly easier…you can remove some of the excess glue on them as needed.
Unsolder the leads from the old speaker and solder them to the new observing correct polarity…the wire with the red stripe is positive and goes to the right terminal on both the old and new speaker. If using a different speaker try to observe the correct polarity. It is usually marked but if not use a 1 1/2 volt battery and note that the speaker will move outward when the positive battery terminal is momentarily connected to the positive speaker connector. This is not crucial but it’s best to do it right.
Drop the replacement speaker in. Move it around a bit so it seats perfectly, then replace the screws.
Re-assemble the mesh grille and black fabric noting the tab spacing is not the same on all four sides so it only goes one (or possibly two) ways. Be sure the grille is perfectly seated then from the inside bend those tabs back over to tighten them…on mine the remaining glue served well enough to hold them in place…if needed you could add some glue to be sure they won’t loosen.
Reconnect the plug on the speaker leads to the socket on the PCB then re-assemble in reverse order.
Measurements & Listening Tests:
Although the improvement in bass and treble were clearly evident the moment I turned the radio on I used a Spectrum Analyzer App before and after the upgrade as a basis for comparison. I used FM interstation hiss, which approximates white noise, as a basis for comparison. In this context it doesn’t really matter how accurate the measurements are per se…it is only the difference between what I measured with the two speakers that is of concern. I measured approximately 7 db greater output at the frequency extremes with the new speaker…more bass and treble. Whereas I got relatively flat response (flat means accurate) with the original speaker with the bass and treble controls at maximum, with the Faital Pro 4FE35 there was an obvious increase in bass and treble, and I got flat response with the bass and treble controls just about centered, which is as it should be. Now I can get a pleasant amount of bass or treble boost by advancing the controls when desired…surely this is the way it should always have been! And for poorer signals there is still plenty of bass or treble cut available…in other words the tone controls are much more useful now than before.
The SATELLIT 800 now has full, rich audio that is much more in keeping with its large size…and it was pretty easy to do. Highly recommended.