The Eton Satellit: my thoughts after 3 weeks of DXing and some recent catches…

Hi there, it’s been about three weeks now since I started DXing with the Eton Satellit and I thought it time to post an updated review, based on my experiences thus far, along with some recent catches. Noting that other radio hobbyists with a strong presence online have been posting neutral to negative reviews on this receiver, I would just like to point out, perhaps rather obviously, that no receiver is perfect and just as importantly, the criteria on which a portable radio is judged will be different from user to user, based on their listening habits. I am almost exclusively engaged in DXing with the Satellit, whilst others will be listening on the broadcast bands on a more casual basis. I know that for some, the ultimate quality and finish of a product is as important as performance and they would make their physical assessment in a very detailed manner. I on the other hand focus mainly on performance and as regards quality, I’m reasonably satisfied if it doesn’t fall apart in my hands, straight out of the box! That actually happened – and it’s sort of where I draw the line 🙂 I guess the point is, I try to respect everyone’s opinion, irrespective as to whether we are in agreement or not and I believe that’s healthy for the future of our hobby.

Ok, back to the Satellit. Firstly, I am able to confirm that in terms of ultimate sensitivity, this portable is very close to my Sony ICF-2001D – one of the most highly regarded portables ever made. The delta in performance between the two is most perceptible on the weakest of fading signals that intermittently deliver audio with the Sony, but can’t be heard on the Eton. On stronger signals, my experience is that either radio might provide the strongest and or highest fidelity audio. I have a series of comparison videos already in the can, which will be uploaded to the Oxford Shortwave Log YouTube channel soon.

In terms of selectivity, the digital bandwidth filters work very well, although I note that even on the narrowest setting (2 kHz) when operating in a crowded band, adjacent channel QRM can occasionally still sound quite pronounced, as compared to my Sony ICF-SW55 or ICF-2001D receivers. As regards synchronous detection, this is more of a hit-and-miss affair. Subscribers to my channel might notice that in nearly all of my reception videos featuring the Eton Satellit, I have not engaged the SYNC. That isn’t to say it doesn’t work, however, even with selectable sidebands, the SYNC mode often appears to increase the overall signal amplitude and noise floor, without positively influencing the SNR. However, it’s interesting to note that signals on the Satellit in AM mode often almost match the ICF-2001D in SYNC mode, in terms of overall SNR. More on that to come.

There are a number of ways to tune the radio; manually using the tuning knob (and this has a decent feel/ resistance to it), direct frequency input which requires pressing the ‘AM’ button to engage, automatic search and access to 700 memory locations, via 100 screen pages. In the real world – and by that I mean ‘my world’ which is most often in the middle of a field, or the woods, all of the above tuning options are as ergonomic as most of my other portables. With regard to SSB reception, there are fast, slow and fine tuning options with a maximum resolution of 10 Hz and this works very well to reproduce natural sounding speech in LSB and USB modes. The tuning speed/fine options are engaged by pressing the tuning knob inwards towards the set – quite a neat idea. With SSB and SYNC there’s always a little pause whilst the electronics engage – a set of chevrons appear on the screen to indicate the receiver is actually doing something. It’s similar to the Sony ICF-SW77 where you effectively toggle between SYNC USB and LSB and wait for lock. Not an issue for me, but it might annoy some, particularly those who have experience with the ICF-200D, where SYNC engagement is instantaneous, if the signal is of sufficient strength. A small point, but worth making.

 

So, overall, a brilliant little radio that in my opinion is completely worthy of the ‘Satellit’ branding, at least in terms of ultimate performance. As I mentioned previously, one of the most experienced DXers I know, with more than 3 decades of listening to the HF bands and an owner of a number of vintage Satellit receivers noted that the Eton Satellit outperformed them – and by some margin. To further demonstrate this, I have included links to recent reception videos. In particular, I copied three of the regional AIR stations with signal strength and clarity that had never previously been obtained. I also copied HM01, the Cuban Numbers Station for the first time on the 11 metre broadcast band, Sudan and Guinea on the 31 metre broadcast band (a whopping signal from Guinea) and Polski Radio 1 on longwave. I hope you find them interesting. Since featuring the Satellit on my channel, one of two of my subscribers have purchased this radio and thus far have been very happy indeed with it’s performance.

Ultimately, I have to strongly recommend this portable to anyone interested in DXing and in particular those that embark on DXpeditions. I just hope that should you decide to buy one, you receive an example that performs was well as mine. Embedded reception videos and text links follow below, In the mean time and until my next post, I wish you all great DX!


Click here to watch on YouTube

Click here to view on YouTube

Click here to view on YouTube

Click here to view on YouTube

Click here to view on YouTube

Click here to view on YouTube

Click here to view on YouTube

Click here to view on YouTube

Clint Gouveia is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Clint actively publishes videos of his shortwave radio excursions on his YouTube channel: Oxford Shortwave Log. Clint is based in Oxfordshire, England.

19 thoughts on “The Eton Satellit: my thoughts after 3 weeks of DXing and some recent catches…

  1. Pedro J. Moreno

    Can you post a video showing how soft mute is implemented in this radio? If possible can you show how the soft mute affect LW, MW, SW, FM and AIR reception whilst rotating the tuning wheel ?

    Thanks

    Reply
      1. Guy Atkins

        Hi rtc,

        No stereo plug is needed! I purchased my Eton Satellit a couple of weeks ago and it works fine with a monaural plug as the external antenna connector.

        Reply
  2. Thomas Brogan.

    With this article you have reinstated this radios reputation to a part of the market as to which Eton had intended which was for DXERS, and very demanding enthusiasts. People can now read this article and watch the videos and make up their own mind’s this is how it should be, very commendable indeed. 73 Tom.

    Reply
    1. Guy Atkins

      I completely agree, Thomas. Clint has done a fine job help bring this radio to the attention of DXers. I think it’s important to stress that interested DXers buy the Satellit from new, or newer-used inventory. A firmware update in the 2nd half of 2015 mostly fixed the soft mute issues. Evidently the antenna input jack has been changed to allow a mono plug, too. Eham.net reviewer Terry, KT7DX describes the changes he observed: http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/12160. Other changes improved the LCD screen’s readability in direct sunlight, and the Sync-AM’s performance no longer depends on the setting of the SSB modes’ fine tuning adjustment.

      I hope to make some comparisons between the Eton Satellit and other radios on a DXpedition in a couple of weeks. However, some quick tests between the Satellit and a Panasonic RF-B65 at home have shown the receivers to be nearly identical in sensitivity on their whip antennas.

      Reply
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  4. Frank K

    Thanks for the excellent review and the attention the you’re all giving this new radio. It appears my wallet is vulnerable yet again. I am a fan of Grindig Satellit’s despite some rather difficult Grindig experience in the past. What I really need to know is, is it pronounced Satell – “it” or Satell – “ite”?

    Reply
  5. Frank K

    Well thank you Mr. Schwarzwalder. That’s a brilliant website. Bookmarked!

    I can now refer to my radio as the “sah-tell-it” and not just “the 750”. Nice!

    Reply
  6. David

    Two questions. What is the latest firmware revision and how to tell if a radio has it.

    There are some good prices on this on eBay and some say it’s the latest edition with updated firmware but I want to know how to be certain.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  7. Tudor Vedeanu

    Like Clint I too am a fan of this little radio. It’s very sensitive on SW and MW, works well on FM too with the RDS displaying things like the PI code (I haven’t seen another radio in this class which does this). The sound quality is great for such a small radio. That gorgeous orange display was love at first sight for me 🙂

    That being said there are a couple of things I don’t like:

    – The Sync feature is garbage. Don’t buy this radio if you absolutely need sync. For some reason they can’t make sync working properly on these DSP radios. It’s the same on the Tecsun PL-880 but at least they never advertised sync on that radio because they probably realized it doesn’t work well at all.

    – I bought the radio new a few months ago so it must have the new firmware. But muting is still very noticeable when tuning. I don’t mind it too much and I can live with it but I can’t figure out why they didn’t get rid of the muting completely. Is this a “feature” of the DSP chips? Do they need to add special circuitry just to disable the muting? If you like to cruise through the bands a lot by manually tuning you’ll probably hate the muting.

    – My unit is deaf on LW. Really deaf. From what I saw on Clint’s videos his unit is better. He received Poland on 225 kHz while being in Italy. I’m much closer to Poland but I can’t hear a thing on 225 kHz on the Satellit.

    Reply

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