With more radio models being discontinued than being introduced, the roll-out of a new offering creates excitement indeed. I got caught up in the excitement caused by the introduction of the Grundig S350 portable in early 2003. The S350 is manufactured by Tecsun for Eton/Lextronics (who own the Grundig name in North America). Tecsun also sold the radio in Asia under its own name (Tecsun BCL-2000)
The fast speed covers about 475 kHz (AM/MW) in one revolution. The slow speed covers about 120 kHz for a full turn. For FM, it is approximately 7.2 MHz fast / 2.0 MHz slow. On SW, the fast speed covers about 2 MHz and slow is about 500 kHz. You can "get around" with the fast tuning speed.
To select bands, you first use the bandwidth switch. For AM/SW listening, switch it to either narrow or wide. For FM, select AFC on or AFC off. If you are choosing AM/SW, then you need to use a separate switch to choose either AM (MW), SW1, SW2 or SW3.
(Note - the manual does not indicate the frequency ranges for SW1, 2 or 3. It is printed on the top of the radio, however).
With regards to wide/narrow bandwidth selection set it on narrow and forget it. Wide means barn-door wide. You will get a lot of undesired adjacent channel interference in the wide mode.
The S350 has an alarm that turns the radio on for 30 minutes. The radio turns on to whatever frequency was last listened to. So, it is important to have the radio turned to a reliable station and at a proper volume in order to take advantage of the alarm. The clock is a 12 hour am/pm style. The clock shows on the display when the radio is off. It can be viewed on the display while the radio is on, if the operator pushes the Time button.
The display shows the frequency, of course, as well as what band you are on. There are indicators for alarm status, relative battery strength and signal strength. The battery strength and signal strength show 6 bars at maximum. However, they are really 3-position indicators as they either read as 2-bars (low), 4-bars (medium) or 6-bars (high).
AM (MW) - Not bad for a single conversion model. It fights of my local AM slopper here as well as most of my portables. It certainly does not fold up under overload like the CC Radio does. There are some shortwave images that appear in the upper part of the band (over 1600) and you do get some heterodyne whistling - but it can typically be zero beated. Drift is minimal on MW and the digital readout is pretty accurate, within a kHz or so as best as I can tell. I was expecting tremendous overload problems and images galore with and external antenna. I was surprised at how well the 350 handled the external antenna on MW.
SW - The S350 has inherited its looks from the Panasonic RF-2200, but it may have inherited a nickname from the old Swan Radio, a manufacturer of amateur equipment in the 60's. Back then, Swan had a transceiver called the 350. Because of significant drift problems, hams called it the Swan Three-Drifty. This nickname could fit the Grundig S350 as well. I knew about the drifting before I bought it, so it wasn't a surprise. While I don't have lab equipment, etc. for precise measurements, it seems to me that the degree of drifting is temperature dependent. At room temperature, I found that it would drift 2-3 kHz in the first 30 minutes and then settle down to a 1 kHz drift in each of the following 30-minute periods. The drifting appears to be less in an air conditioned environment. When I took it outside on a hot day, the drifting was quite bad. It was drifting 5-8 kHz in the first 30 minutes. The drifting was worse at higher frequencies.
On SW, while reception is actually quite good, the drifting issue may be problematic for some. Retuning is probably going to be necessary during the first half hour and then maybe a touch up after that. Serious program listeners may also grow weary of the auto-shut off feature after 90 minutes.
Credit should be given to the Tecsun engineers for including an RF gain control, external antenna connections and a great display. I am very impressed with battery life in this analog portable.
appreciate this radio the most? Perhaps someone new to shortwave who
is going to be a casual shortwave program listener who also wants
the usual AM/FM listening capability. I can envision older members
of my family appreciating the easy to read display, lack of tiny buttons
& switches and non-complicated layout / operation. If you long
for a simpler time when "men were men and radios were analog
with tuning knobs," you may be a real fan of this radio. The
Grundig S350 is a good basic everyday radio that offers a wide spectrum
of listening possibilities.
Update: Since the debut of the S350, the auto shut-off after 90 minutes has been changed. Numerous users report that circuitry in the newer generation S350's give the user the option of turning the radio on without auto shut-off engaged
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