After posting the Grundig G3 deal from Amazon.com last week, many of you sent a message saying that you had snatched one up at that excellent price. However, readers Gary and Dave will be sending theirs back. Here are their comments:
I received my $52 Grundig G3 today. Unfortunately, it appears to have been a re-sold defective unit. The whip antenna is bent, MW AM sensitivity is far worse than my Sony 7600GR, there is lots of internal noise on MW AM, and sync locks only on the strongest stations (and 1 kHz low).
Well, when I got to it it was up to $59 but that’s still a great deal so I snagged one. It arrived today. I suspect like Gary (above) that it was a returned unit. Lots of scuffs and signs of use. So… I’ve sent it back to Amazon asking for a replacement. We’ll see what shows up. I see now that it’s selling for $96. I would hate to think that Amazon would be selling off returned stuff at a discount and yet presenting it as new.
Gary and Dave, I certainly hope that Amazon replaces your G3s with new-in-box units; I expect they will. These G3s were certainly advertised as new and sold by Amazon.com (not anther vendor). Let us know if you get a proper replacement.
Any one else experience the same problem from this Amazon sale? Please comment.
[Update: Also check out this thread on the Herculodge. Thanks, Gary.]
Amazon keeps recycling the bad G3’s that are returned so you have a very good chance that you will get a defective one. I purchased 2 Grundig G3;s from Amazon and both were defective. I also purchases 3 Tecsun PL-210’s from Amazon that looked used and were also defective. Amazon just does not care, they keep recycling the defective radios instead of returning them back to the manufacturer or distributor which is bad business ethics. I am very disappointed in Amazon!
I’ve always suspected that Amazon simply receives and processes returns based solely on the criteria of the previous owner. I imagine that’s how a lot of defective radios are re-sold. I’m pretty sure they don’t check each return, though I may be wrong.
One of the two G3 units I got from Amazon appeared to be new, but its performance was not good so I sent it back for a refund. I think Degen needs to spend more time on the QC of their radios.
Quick update on my G3 experience. I returned the second one I got from Amazon because, like the first it appeared to have been opened and not new so I just didn’t have the confidence that there wasn’t something wrong with it as well. I decided to order one from Universal Radio thinking that I would get a brand new one from them. Well…. it arrived today and it too appears to have been at least opened and handled (seal broken on box, torn packing bag, finger prints on the radio itself).
I’ve got a email out to them asking about this. Man, all I want is one that’s actually brand new.
I made a small error in my last post…. the dud radio I bought on Ebay was a ‘new’ Tecsun 390 from ‘g8hkshop’. It came with a broken volume ‘knob’…. after several months I ended up with a radio that had an erratic volume knob. One of the included batteries also had a large dent in it.
Since then I have bought a number of ‘brand new’ Tecsuns ( 390 and 660) for myself and as gifts from ‘anon-co’ and ‘big bargainonline’ and have had no problems at all.
It’s a shame that the two G3’s I tried — built in 2012 — had some defects that aren’t present in the G3 that Jay Allen bought and reviewed years ago (in 2009, as I recall). Normally, later production units should be improved over earlier production, not the other way around.
Good luck with the Sony and Tecsun units. My Sony works as well as it did when it was new, except for the SSB. It seems much more fiddly to tune than it was when I bought it several years ago, and it drifts, so SSB has to be re-tuned too often.
Gosh, guys. Sorry you’ve both had such a bad experience with this bunch of G3s. Sounds to me like recent QC at the factory is lacking–or there was another story behind this particular set at Amazon.
Dave, I’m quite partial to the Sony–it’s built like a tank and (mine, at least) was made in Japan. Again, I need to do an A/B with it and the PL-660, but it is my go-to portable for field recordings. I carry the PL-380 as a back-up. I’ve had my 7600GR, perhaps, 5 years.
Let us know what you decide to do.
Well Gary, I’m close to doing that as well. In fact, I’m thinking of ordering either a PL-660 or an ICF-SW7600GR which I’ll do some comparing with the G3. What I’m worried about with the G3 is that my inexperience will prevent me from being able to pick up on flaws/defects. I’ve read nothing but good about the Sony’s and pretty much the same for the Tecsun. We’ll see and I’ll post here what I find.
Ultimately, I decided to return my replacement G3 to Amazon for a refund, because of two problems I ran into.
1) The keypad is erratic. For example, often when I press the Tune Up key it
acts like I pressed the Page key. Resetting the G3 has no effect on this
2) On SW, in the 49 m band, several stations have a background tone that varies
in frequency with the number of bars on the signal strength meter. This noise
appears to be generated by the display or display circuitry. This happens in
sync AM, non-sync AM and SSB. These annoying tones don’t occur on my Sony 7600GR
or CCRadio-SW running on the same antenna.
On further consideration, I think a preselector might not help for your particular problem with the G3 and KOA 850. The reason is that the internal MW ferrite bar antenna is not disconnected when an external antenna is plugged into the G3. I just checked this by plugging a mono miniplug into the external antenna jack on my G3 while listening to a local MW station; there was no difference in signal strength. Since the offending KOA 850 signal is likely being injected through the ferrite bar, using an external antenna with a preselector is probably not going to fix this problem. On a radio where it’s possible to disconnect the ferrite bar when using an external antenna, the preselector idea should work.
There are a couple of things that you can try with your G3, without additional equipment. One is to tune to KOA 850, rotate the G3 to null the signal as well as possible (lowest reading on the signal strength meter), then tune to the desired SW signal. An additional thing you can try after nulling KOA 850 is to use the Local rather than the DX position on the attenuator to see if this helps reduce the KOA intrusion while still allowing reception of the desired SW signal.
Interesting thought Gary. And it makes sense. Are there possibly radios that do have a way to “turn off” the MW rod?
As for rotating to null that’s worth a try.
I tried the same test, plugging a mono miniplug into the external antenna jack of my Sony 7600GR while listening to a MW station. In this case, it does disable the ferrite bar, and the MW signal disappears.
Plugging a single-wire, passive antenna into the 7600GR is not a problem, but you may have to be a little careful with two-wire and active antennas, because the 7600GR puts voltage on the antenna jack to turn on and off their AN-LP1 active antenna.
Oh, that’s good news. I was actually considering selling the G3 and picking up that Sony. Perhaps that and the AN-LP1 might be my ticket.
Unfortunately, the only way to tell for sure if a given radio/antenna combination will fix your KOA 850 shortwave intrusion problem is to try it.
On my CCRadio-SW there is an external antenna switch, but it has no effect on the MW ferrite bar. Ideally, it’s best if the external antenna switch (or auto-switching jack) turns off the internal MW antenna.
Gary, Thank you for all the info and help. Many years ago when I was in high school I got into SW listening by way of a friend. I had a Radio Shack DS-302 and had a long wire (maybe 75 ft.) on my parents roof. Had a lot of fun with it and now I want to sort of get back into it. Some day I’d like to live where I can put up a proper external antenna and have a solid desktop unit but for now, these little portables will have to do.
I don’t currently have a preselector. Maybe some others who read this blog have specific suggestions.
The Universal Radio web site has quite a few of them in their section that also contains preamps and tuners.
I would probably just get one that is passive (no preamp).
Something like this MFJ-1046 perhaps:
Or this cheaper MFJ-956:
The external antenna input on the G3 doesn’t work for LW or MW, so the first two tuning ranges on the MFJ-956 wouldn’t be used in this case.
As far as the wire, plain old hookup wire is fine, but a roll up antenna is fine as long as you can hook it to the preselector input. Whatever you use, you’ll also need the proper connectors for the preselector input and output and the radio external antenna input.
Got it. Well, that’s worth a try as I would hate to have to shelve this budding hobby due to where I live. Can you recommend a preselector? And would the antenna wire be something like those little roll up ones I’ve seen online?
Ah, OK, I see. But isn’t overloading a danger with these portables by using external antennas?
That’s true, but you can always put the attenuator into the “Local” position if necessary (at least on the G3; I’m not sure if the PL-390 has an attenuator). I’d keep the random wire to 25 feet or shorter on these small portables.
The main benefit of the preselector is that you can tune it to the frequency you’re listening to and attenuate higher and lower frequencies (like KOA 850).
I haven’t used an AN-LP1. It does have some rough frequency tuning, so in principle it may help.
I was thinking more along the lines of a random wire passed through a tunable preselector and then on to the external antenna input of the radio.
I’ve been playing a bit with my G3 and also a Tecsun PL-390. Today I spent some time outside to try and eliminate any extra noise/interference from electronics in the house. I love the Tecsun for it’s “ETM” scan/store facility. it found about 30 stations on SW. This was at around 23:00 GMT. The reception on most was OK but on just about every station, in the background at perhaps 50% the volume of the primary station was a local MW station, KOA Denver (50K watts). Now KOA’s tower is about two miles as the crow flies from my house. So my question is, am I screwed being so close to KOA? Is there any way to filter it’s signal out or is that beyond the capability of these small portable radios?
Does this issue affect both the PL-390 and the G3? Being so close to a 50 kW “blowtorch” AM station is likely to cause problems even with bigger radios.
One possibility is to use a tunable preselector with an external SW antenna. Of course, this negates the portable nature of a small radio, turning it into a desktop setup.
Gary, yes, both suffer from this. The G3 a bit more. I’ve heard good things about an active antenna like the Sony AN LP1 (?). Is that what you’re referring to?
Gary, thanks for explaining sync detection–I forgot to comment on that. Very good explanation, by the way.
Dave, an external antenna will help with reception–you can use a simple long wire attached to the telescoping antenna (with a clip) or via the 1/8″ antenna plug found on the left side of the G3. But you must be careful on the G3 (and most likely the PL-660 since they’re almost the same internally). If the wire of your wire antenna is longer than 20-25 feet, you may overload the receiver and even cause damage.
Most of all, though, you need to eliminate as much radio interference as possible. If you hear a lot of static hum and buzzing sounds with the antenna down, adding a wire antenna may only make it worse. Not only will the wire antenna help with weak signals, but it’ll also “help” with unwanted signals/sounds (QRM). Check to see if you have any noisy items in your house like wall wart type AC adaptors, Plasma TV’s, etc.
I would just stick with the G3 instead of trading for the PL-660. Here are some thoughts I have about the G3:
The PL-660 probably has a slight edge, but honestly, the difference is probably nothing that the filter between your ears couldn’t deal with. 🙂 Part of the fun is just getting on the air and listening. That’s a skill that you will develop and makes all of the difference when chasing DX.
Thank you Thomas. Yeah, I’ll stick with the G3 for now. I’ve been playing with it in my home office which has at least one laptop going and a power strip with three “Wall Wart’s” plugged in. Probably not the best place to do DX.
And thanks to Gary for the sync explanation. I thought it was a passive type of thing but then noticed (after reading what Gary wrote) that you turn it on via a button. So I’m going to play with that.
Am I at a disadvantage being in the middle of the country (Denver area) as opposed to nearer the coasts?
The sync detector on the G3 does make the sound less shrill, or more muffled, depending on your point of view. If you’re using the narrow filter, you might try switching to the wide filter to get a crisper sound.
My other radios with sync detectors sound very similar between the sync and non-sync modes, unless there is fading or interference to deal with. (In my case, the other radios with sync are a Grundig Satellit 800, Sony ICF-2010, and Sony ICF-SW7600GR.) This aspect of the G3’s sync behavior is a little odd.
Regarding the sound being more muffled on one sideband than the other in sync mode, this probably means your G3 is not adjusted exactly right or the IF filter is asymmetrical. In my experience, adjusting C113 can make the sync sound very similar in LSB and USB sync. I tried this on my first G3; on the replacement G3 it was not necessary.
I know being on the coast is a big advantage for MW DXing across the ocean. I’m not sure if it applies as much to SW. Perhaps Thomas can weigh in on this.
In both of my G3’s the sync detector locks quite well and I have no complaints about the sound. I only use the sync detector for weak signal listening, where fading can be an issue. Though the audio sounds a little muffled, the signal sort of “pops out” of the static.
There are certainly variations amongst the various production runs of the G3. My first G3 was from the first production run. Its sync was mediocre and it lost a lock too easily (unless the station was very strong). I got a replacement from the second run and still have it today. Its sync is much better, but I have to tune down 1 kHz before engaging the lock for it to do a proper job. Like Gary, I could probably crack the G3 open and adjust this, but I haven’t. The second G3 work just fine out of the box. I’m afraid QC at the factory is not consistent. Still, I’ve always found QC better from Grundig than Degen, though both are produced in the same facility. Perhaps it’s just my luck.
There are some avid DXers who live in Colorado, so I wouldn’t be concerned with location so much. Again, one of the best factors to determine your ability to hear stations is the RF noise level where you listen.
Not long ago, I went to Belize City for a week. I took my PL-380 and my Zoom recorder. I was right on the coast (very good for rx!). It would have been ideal had there not been noise. The noise, coming from some sort of appliance or power pole near my apartment, was so broad spectrum, it literally rendered my PL-380 deaf. I couldn’t easily escape it either–I had to walk nearly a block away before I could hear strong stations.
If you have noise at your home, try turning off all of the circuit breakers in your house and check the radio to see if it has an effect on the noise level. Use a process of elimination to find the breakers with noise, then plug and unplug devices on that breaker to discover the source. It’s a tedious process, but can really pay off in the end.
You certainly need to listen and have your antenna near a window if indoors. If you can comfortably listen outside, it’s even better. Well, when winter ends–seems like it’s hanging around CO longer than it should!
Let us know how things go!
If you don’t mind a bigger radio and don’t need SSB or sync, the CCRadio-SW (aka Redsun RP2100) works very well on SW, and has much better sound quality than the G3.
The main competitor to the G3 in its size class is the Tecsun PL-660. Like the G3, the PL-660 has SSB and sync.
To clarify my question in my last post asking about a better radio, my primary interest is SW. I wouldn’t be listening to FM, AM, LW or Aircraft. So I’m looking for the best SW radio.
Gary is right. The PL-660 is widely considered a notch better than the G3. I’m due to do an A/B comparison between the two. If you don’t mind the lack of a tuning knob, you can’t go wrong with the Sony ICF-SW7600GR. Its sync lock is the best of the bunch, in my opinion. Pretty bullet-proof and decent front end for a portable. You will pay a premium, however ($140 ish), and stock levels fluctuate (meaning, they could be on back-order). Like Gary, I love the CCRadio-SW for broadcast band listening (of course, no SSB, sync or direct entry keypad)–it’s great on SW and excellent on MW as well.
Still, for the money, the G3 is very hard to beat.
Thomas and Gary,
Thank you both for your replies. I’m a bit of a newbie here. As I understand SSB is used by Hams correct? I’m not into amateur radio at all (all they seem to talk about is their equipment!). For AM I have a GE SuperRadio which is amazing. FM, well, that’s what the car is for right? 🙂 So I’m looking for pure SW.
Now can you tell me what sync (or the lack of it) means practically? I guess I would want a radio that would do the best at simply pulling in the distant stations. If it makes a difference, I live in Colorado (east of the Rockies) and might not be able to use an external antenna.
Also, is there a good reference you could recommend that would help me undersand some of the terms I’m coming across when I’m reading reviews, things like sync, sensitivity, selectivity and spur (?).
Finally, what about these little ultraportable units from Tecsun and such that have the DSP chip? Is that going to make pulling in the signals better?
Thanks again for you help and patience.
SSB is not just for hams. So-called utility stations use it as well, as do many military and government stations. Here is a list of some services that use SSB:
A sync detector can help in a couple of situations: 1) to reduce fading distortion, and 2) to reduce interference. For example, if you’re listening on 6010 kHz and there’s an interfering station on 6015 kHz, switching to LSB sync can usually eliminate the interference. It’s almost like having a narrower IF filter (better selectivity), but without the detrimental effect on the clarity of the sound.
The little Tecsun DSP radios work pretty well on SW, considering their low cost (I have a PL-380). I don’t think they receive shortwave better than non-DSP radios, but they usually have a wide selection of IF filters (the PL-380 has 5), which can come in handy. Non-DSP portable radios usually only have 1 or 2 IF filters.
Here’s a web site that defines radio terms:
This web site has lots of useful info for beginners, with links to many other web sites:
Very good info Gary. Thank you.
I was very close to getting a PL-660 when this G3 deal came up. Would you say they’re about the same?
And, would an external antenna (long wire) be appropriate for this type or radios?
Gary, I’m still not clear on the sync issue. When I’m tuned to a station (a local AM station in this case), I hear it clearly. I then hit the sync button and it gets worse in that it sound more muffled. I then push the U/LSB button to switch to SYNC-USB and it gets ever more muffled. Is this to be expected or am I mis-understanding and mis-using the sync function?
Today I received my replacement G3. I’m at work so I can’t check it out operationally yet. Visually it looks new (unlike the one I returned) except for one thing. In a YouTube video of someone unboxing one of these there was a plastic screen protector on the display (typical stuff). Mine didn’t have that. It may not mean anything but still I wonder. I’ll report back once I’ve had a chance to turn it on and see how it works.
Question. I picked this one up due to the great price and generally good reviews (Thomas’ one here especially). In this same class, is there a better radio?
I got my replacement G3 today from Amazon. From the way it was packed, I don’t think this was a returned unit as my first one was.
Cosmetically, it’s much better than the first one. The whip antenna is straight, but there is a slight ding in the base section of the antenna. There are no scuff marks on the case.
The sync locks on frequency with no C113 adjustment needed, and USB/LSB sound very similar.
MW AM is still pretty bad, although maybe just a tiny bit better than the first one with respect to sensitivity and internal noise. Many of the stations I regularly listen to need an external loop to reduce internally-generated hets and other digital garbage, including even 50 kW KNX 1070, which has a strong het around 1066 kHz (on the first unit the het is at 1073 kHz). Normally the sync detector would be useful to reduce this tone, but KNX is an IBOC (HD Radio) station, so using SSB sync causes a rushing noise.
On SW it seems as sensitive as the first one, and the sync never seems to lose lock on fades. In sync mode it sounds very nice on SW.
Unlike the first one (after the C113 adjustment), this one sounds best on frequency with non-sync AM, not tuned 1 kHz high. Like the first one, it sounds somewhat raspy and shrill in non-sync AM, but it’s not quite as bad.
On FM it performs very well, as did the first one.
Based on what I know so far, I’ll keep it for SW AM and SSB (and perhaps FM), but I’ll probably use my other, quieter radios for MW AM.
Maybe Amazon uses the same definitions as EBay?
Business, Cameras, Computers, Electronics, Home, Industrial, Musical Instruments, Phones
A brand-new, unused, unopened, undamaged item in its original packaging (where packaging is applicable). Packaging should be the same as what is available in a retail store, unless the item was packaged by the manufacturer in non-retail packaging, such as an unprinted box or plastic bag. See the seller’s listing for full details.
New: Never used
A new, unused item with absolutely no signs of wear. The item may be missing the original packaging, or in the original packaging but not sealed. The item may be a factory second or a new, unused item with defects. See the seller’s listing for full details and description of any imperfections.’
I was caught with a ‘new’ Sangean from Hong Kong like that once….
Actually, the noise I’m getting with the G3 is generated inside the radio itself, presumably due to the CPU and other digital circuits. I can listen to my Sony 7600GR side by side with the G3 on MW AM, and these hets and other noises heard on the G3 are totally absent on the Sony.
I am not sure if it will help but I just tuned to 1400 AM and am actually getting a good signal with no noise but that may be due to that station being local for me.
I don’t think the AM tuner is that great for picking up far away stations with the G3. I read about this on amazon but did not believe it until now.
The FM works great for me by the way as does shortwave but the AM or MW is not the best. I get the same results with my other radio on MW as well but not as much. Of course I am using my radio in my basement with no antennas other then the one included on the radio so that may explain my problems with it.
On a whim I decided to try and reset my G3 to factory defaults that was found in the manual and after a few tries , I was able to reset it to factory defaults and after moving the radio away from my router and computer but still in the same room, the radio noise that was constantly making MW not picking up anything now sounds more like AM then a band of noise.
I now can pick up more then one station on AM and that buzzing noise I used to hear on AM is pretty much gone. If you have not tried resetting your radio to factory defaults I suggest you try it before giving up on the radio.
I am not sure if it helped on not but when I reset the radio I was on battery power rather then AC adapter and have yet to plug the AC adapter back in to the radio.
p.s. Sorry for the double post as I did not know how to edit my other post to tell you about resetting the radio.
My G3 was ordered directly from Amazon, not a third party. I have requested a replacement unit. We’ll see how it goes.
In the meantime, I adjusted C113 on the defective G3 to put SSB and sync AM back on frequency. This doesn’t help the shrill and distorted sound on non-sync AM, but since the sync will now lock on very weak signals, the sound in non-sync AM becomes less of an issue. I’ve never seen another sync-equipped radio that had a significant difference in sound quality between sync and non-sync modes when there is no selective fading or interference to deal with. Under these conditions, my Sat 800, Sony 2010 and Sony 7600GR sound very similar in sync and non-sync. With the G3, turning on sync makes it seem like a totally different (and much more pleasing) radio. One thing I’m hoping is that the replacement unit doesn’t have so much internal noise on MW AM (tones and other “computer” noise).
Yep I notice a lot of computer noise but I am getting the same thing on my Sangean ATS 818 ACS as well so I know the problem is not just with the new G3 as I live out in the country.
I assume all the noise is from something that was not there in 2007 when I first bought my Sangean ATS 818 ACS as back then I don’t remember having so much noise on AM or Shortwave.
In other words the problem is not so much with the radio, as it is with all the noise that has increased since then.
I bought 2 of these personally for a friend and me and both of ours were new. Also 2 others I know bought the same model after you posted the model being on sale and had no problems with them that I know of.
The secret to making sure you get new stuff from amazon if make sure your actually ordering from amazon as sometimes if your not careful amazon will give you the lowest price on stuff and it will be from a 3rd company provider but shipped from amazon instead which tends to be a crap shoot on what you receive.
Besides me, I’m aware of a couple other people who got bad G3’s and one who got a good G3 from this Amazon sale.
I got one for $47 and change, and it’s been excellent so far. At the same time I bought a Sangean ATS-505 for slightly more. (It was a used unit, but other than the sticker indicating used on the box appears new to me). In my few days of using both I’m much happier with the Grundig G3. Much better sensitivity than the Sangean, and smaller to boot.
Thanks for the comment, Chris. Wow–you nailed that sale at its lowest price. Good for you! Glad you received a new unit. I suspect that they simply got some of their returns mixed in their new stock. I’ve never compared the 505 and G3 side-by-side, but your impressions are about what I would expect.
I got one for $54 and it arrived yesterday. Have not used it much but it definitely looked new and so far it works fine. I know of two other people that got in on the super deal and so far theirs works and looks fine.
Tom (hamrad88 on YouTube)
Thanks, Tom. That’s reassuring. As I’ve stated on this site, I love the G3–it’s a great radio for the price. I have two, if that’s any proof. 🙂