Saturday, October 01, 2011

A Brief G31DDC vs G33DDC Comparison

After having tested the two Excalibur SDRs, the G31 and the G33 "Pro", it's time to draw some preliminary conclusions.

Those who have followed my blog, and postings to the Winradio G3 reflector, will know that I have found the G31DDC to be an excellent receiver, but with a serious drawback: The missing ability to date- and time stamp DDC recordings. In fact, the files do not contain any date and time information. This is of course a software issue and not a hardware one. Winradio decided to wait a year, until they released the G33DDC, to implement this crucial function.

So, if you want to use a function found in all other important SDRs (including the low-cost SDR-IQ), you need to "upgrade" to a "pro" version of the Excalibur. There was a heated debate on the topic on the Winradio G3 reflector a while ago, which ended with us "whiners" basically being told (in a more diplomatic language) to shut up or get lost. Mind you, this was not posted by a Winradio representative.

Anyway, I couldn't resist the temptation to buy the G33 (thus proving that Winradio's business philosophy works, unfortunately). A record-breaking shipping time of only seven days from Grove Enterprises allowed me to test the SDR this weekend.

As you can see from the display screendump above, the G31 and G33 GUI is basically the same. The only difference is the added functionality in the G33 hardware and software. The G33 software can play back G31 DDC recordings. More surprisingly, the G31 software can play back G33 recordings, although without date and time, and limited to the 2 MHz DDC bandwidth of the G31 software But why would you use G31 software for G33 playback.

The G33DDC is as sensitive as the G31, a uniform -106 dBm or 1 uV was measured which is very good for SDRs. The G33 even has a 10 dB preamp, which should allow for even better sensitivity. At first I found no audible or measureable effect and thought it could be a software bug in version 1.61. However after testing with the G33's built-in measuring tools, I found the preamp to increase sensitivity to around -110 dBm, making it with a good margin the most sensitive amateur-grade SDR in the market. For those (few?) who need it.

So then: How do the two Winradio SDRs compare? To find out (and to save myself from writing and my readers from reading a long and boring blogpost), I set up a matrix with functions I have found interesting for the DX-er in general and the MW DX-er in particular. The grading is subjective. I may have overlooked something. Please comment if you find other important differences between the G31 and the G33.

Value for money? Well, sort of. For me, the G31 was a disappointment in two important parameters, but others have different views. The G33DDC is USD 1,650 from Grove Enterprises. A UK quote is GBP 1,333 ex. VAT (comparably a lot more).  A Perseus bought in the UK costs only GBP 583 ex. VAT (exactly the same as the G31DDC), leading me to the conclusion that in Europe, the Perseus is much better value for money. In the US the situation is somewhat different with the Perseus selling for USD 1,000.

The RF Space NetSDR is USD 1,450, but the netSDR is hardware expandable and basically a different receiver altogether (and under a continous software development).

In conclusion, the G33DDC is what the G31DDC should have been. But revenue is everything.


R J said...

Hi ! Many thanks for an interesting review. I am rather keen on the interface, so would be interested to know your thoughts on the NetSDR product you mentioned earlier ?

thanks /RH / G0TKZ

Bjarne Mjelde said...

Yes, I've planned to do a netSDR post. SDR-Radio has been given a favourable mention in an earlier post. Basically you can't go wrong with the netSDR, even if it is a bit less sensitive than the G3xDDC SDRs.

steck said...

Thanks for this post. I bought the G31 soon after it became available here in Australia. I'm not a serious enough listener these days to justify the additional expense of the G33, but the extra sensitivity might help. Still, I'm having lots of fun with the G31. It's certainly the best radio I've ever owned.

Peter Herman said...

I am unable to justify the large price difference in the G31 vs the G33 when one considers only RF performance. Yes; the G33 has a few more features, but the large price differential is not worth it in my opinion.

That said, the G31DDC is a far cry from the Icom's and Kenwood's I used in years past. Being able to (see) the RF spectrum is incredible!

MrTimerider1160 said...

I enjoyed reading your reviews of the G31 and G33. At this point maybe you would consider doing a review of the " OPTIONAL SOFTWARE " for these SDRs as at least one of the options for "PSK" is quite expensive. Maybe you could recommend which "Optional Software Packages" are worth investing in. Thankyou and looking forward to your future reviews.

Bjarne Mjelde said...

MrTimerider1160: Yes, that might have been a good idea, but I removed the Winradios from my inventory several years ago.