SWLing in Belize City: comparing the Grundig G5 and G3

G3AndG5BelizeFor the past week, I’ve been traveling:  this time, in the inner-city section of Belize City on behalf of Ears To Our World, where we’ve been working with ETOW’s partner organization, The Belize Council for the Visually Impaired (BCVI).  I had the honor of working with a group of visually-impaired and blind children, giving each a self-powered shortwave radio, along with instruction on its use.

One of our talented advisory board members, David Korchin (KC2WNW)–also an avid SWLer–met me on this recent adventure. One afternoon, we found a moment to pull out our portable radios.  Turns out, he had brought his Grundig G5 while I had my Grundig G3. So we sat back to listen: to broadcast stations (including RRI and REE), to ham radio communications, and to some medium wave stations, including Radio Reloj on 790 kHz. Some great radio listening, by the way.

It was interesting to observe that in almost every case, the G3 had a slight edge on the G5. The G3 noise floor was slightly lower, and audio characteristics slightly better, than the G5’s. Where the G3 really had an edge, though, was on single-side band, where its selectivity was far superior to that of the G5.

With that said, if you purchase a G3, be sure to check out  your unit’s performance thoroughly–and keep your receipt. When Amazon last posted a sale on the G3, we had several reports of faulty units (check out the comment thread in this post). Though I cannot confirm this, I suspect these may be among the final units of the G3 production line.  Choose carefully, and you’ll enjoy a great radio.

By the way, I’ve always had good luck purchasing through Universal Radio.

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8 thoughts on “SWLing in Belize City: comparing the Grundig G5 and G3

  1. Alex K

    Can anyone out there show me an example of a G3 that has any bass whatsoever in the AM circuit, when the Sync is not engaged?

    I’ve had the same experience with 3 different G3’s spanning three years of production: No bass without Sync.

    That aside, yes, it is a worthwhile radio, especially for travel, and especially if you can get one for the prices they were selling for not long ago.

    The G5 on the other hand in my experience has superior audio, sensitivity, and selectivity to the G3 in all respects, with or without Sync. I should mention that my G5 is one with black keys and a black border around the screen (instead of silver border, silver buttons). I should note it behaves like a DE-1103 with a Mk1 board in it (where the internal ferrite bar antenna is disconnected when something is plugged into the AM external antenna input). Compared to a DE-1103 with a Mk7 board in it, its narrower in both modes (News / Music).

    I gather not all G5’s are as good as mine, as not all G3’s are as good as some.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Hi, Alex,

      Yes, there’s a lot of variation in the production runs of each radio. I’ve been very fortunate with the G3 as I’ve had 3 of them and all worked well.

      Thanks for your informative comment!


  2. Mark

    I guess I had two faulty units in a row from Amazon. I found the G3 to have the worst audio of any shortwave receiver I’d ever heard in almost 50 years of listening. It was noisy, scratchy and utterly devoid of any bass. It actually hurt my ears. Performance-wise, it was in the ballpark of the $20 analog tuned cheapies found on ebay and Amazon and nowhere near the PL-660, SW7600GR, G6 or even the mediocre 1103. And the sync was a joke.

    This is one of the most memorable radios I’ve ever owned because of the magnitude of it’s lousiness. The G3 is to shortwave receivers what “Plan 9 From Outer Space” is to film.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Hi, Mark,

      Yes, this more than anything else, makes it difficult for me to recommend the G3 going forward. This past year, I’ve heard too many reports of faulty units; mainly in connection with Amazon, but not exclusively. I’ve owned three G3s over the past few years. The first one was used in my initial review(s), then I gave that unit to a friend. I still own two units now and both work very well. Got all of mine via Universal Radio.

      When you get a working unit, they’re great. When they don’t work, though, they’re pretty bad.

      Thanks for your comment.


      1. Sander W1OP

        To be honest it’s probably a good thing that the radio would fail badly rather than in a subtle way. So much easier to determine you got a lemon that needs returning.

        I’ve been contemplating buying a small SWL radio. I already have a Kenwood TH-F6A which as you know has wide band receive and decode capabilities. I bring that little radio on business trips. Last weekend I used it to have a few nice repeater QSOs on Angel Island and Fremont Peak in California. Let me try listening to some SW stations with the F6A and see how it does.

        73 and greetings,

        Sander W1SOP


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