22 March 2008

reader question: eton e5 versus sony icf sw7600gr

This question was recently submitted by Pete:
If you were about to be abducted by aliens and you could only take one SW portable with you, would it be the Sony SW7600GR or the Eton E5? I live on the West Coast too, so I'm interested in your opinion of the two radios. I'm primarily interested in their SW performance.
Send those aliens my way! I'm ready for a vacation.

Without recently comparing these two radios side-by-side for shortwave performance, I have an overall preference for the Eton E5. The Eton E5 is smaller, produces better treble response through the speaker, and has the continuous non-muting tuning knob. The E5's tuning knob is great for band scanning. The SW7600GR offers AM synchronous detection, but in my experience, it has only slightly improved already-usable signals. (I risk angering some readers with that comment, but I'm always willing to hear your opinions!) My SW7600GR is rarely used these days; the E5 is my main receiver for mediumwave DX and shortwave.


Firestarter5 said...

I also own both of these receivers, and my biggest gripe about the E5 are the tiny buttons, such as the F1 - F7 located just under the display.

Also, what seemed to be a cost cutting issue only was the lack of separate USB and LSB.

The tuning knob could have been extended a bit further out from the side as well.

As for the ICF-SW7600GR, the complete lack of a tuning knob is inexcusable even if the buttons allow you to tune in fine increments.

The ICF display could have been a bit larger as well.

Both units have to many operations located on their sides.

My Sangean 909 seemed to be built damn near perfect, plus it included RDS.

However, when it comes down to choosing either the Eton or the Sony, I'd go with the E5.

Stephan said...

The E5 has:

* a tuning knob
* better audio
* an additional wide bandwidth
* higher sensitivity
* an excellent FM section

The Sony still wins out in terms of:

* oscillator phase noise (the 1103/E5 was found to be unsuited for a DRM mod)
* AMBCB sensitivity
* SSB (truly selective sideband, no other portable in this class can do that - Sony's advantage is the proprietary CXA1376 IC, which is also resposible for sync detection and part of the bad overload handling on FM)
* durability (save for the old telescopic antenna problems) - the 1103/E5 does not have any protection diodes at the antenna (against static), and failing AM preamp FETs apparently aren't all that uncommon

I guess for general use I'd end up with the E5 - but promptly modified with at least a 10kOhm from telescopic antenna input to ground (or better two anti-parallel diodes).

Simon G said...

I have both sets: the Eton wins hands down, feel technology has moved on since the Sony first appeared.

E5 is MUCH more sensitive, esp. on FM. Tuning knob is vastly superior to the Sony's keys, and, really speaking, the Sony's selective SSB is not that great - certainly compared to the 2010 version.

Thev E5 is great value for money and very lively - with an external antenna it jumps up another level.

Easy winner, I think

Alex said...

I keep looking at the E5, but the lack of synchronous detection is what turns me off from it. I use it quite often on the 7600G.

While it definitely doesn't seem to do much for weak signals, it really seems to shine in eliminating adjacent channel interference. It's amazing in that respect. Both on the SW and MW bands I'm able to dig out stations I wouldn't otherwise be able to hear over the adjacent station. For that reason I stick with my old 7600G.

The lack of a tuning knob has never bothered me? I can't stand tuning knobs on digital sets. It just doesn't feel right. The tuning buttons are laid out very well on the 7600G.

The one thing I wish it had was a signal strength meter and not just a red LED. Other than that, I love the Sony.

xi said...

e5/1103 with the narrow filter and detuned 2 to 3 khz above or below (so the passband is a single sideband and the frequency response is normal) works great in eliminating adjacent interference, heterodynes, and reducing noise.

im still trying to understand what a synch circuit can really help with. reducing audio noise during sky-fade AGC readjustment or something? an auto-ECSS for lazy people?

in short, in DX mode, on battery (for better S/N ratio), with rotatable loop antenna and filter just wide enough for one sideband, the weakest link is the atmosphere, not some marketing point in your radio. when hams describe signal quality, i usually notice the same thing, and this is some 49 buck thing not a 2 grand Icom..

the tuning knob is key. you can quickly whisk thru an entire band and find stuff, with only a slight twirl of one finger. its almost like ESP. have you tried it?

just beacuse you used a crap knob, dont let that speak for everything. theres a huge variety out there in step-size sensitivity thresholds, physical resistance, mounting location and so on. theres plenty to love and plenty to hate

karkfumm said...

I own both and enjoy both. Lately I've gravitated toward my G5 due to the ease of hopping up 10kHz to the next MW station with just one button press.

The G5 does have fewer volume steps, however - harder to find that "perfect" level compared to the 1103.

In other news...
Retailers are finally shipping the G6 (aka the 1103a in China). My backordered unit should arrive Monday, May 5.

Anonymous said...

The G5/E5 hands down. More sensitive on SW, MUCH more sensitive on MW, better sound, real bandwidth filter, built-in loop active all the way up to 2MC instead of just 1.71MC, and better FM section too (Sony's FM circuits have ALWAYS sucked..overload city..ever notice how many have a loc/dx switch? Bad design is why.)

So there's no sync..just tune up or down a few KCs..problem solved. The E5/G5 also has a fairly good bandwidth filter, so IMHO sync isn't ll that necessary.

The only complaint I have is the lack of RF gain control..that the Sony has.