Chris Reviews The Eton Field BT

Earlier in 2017, Eton revised the lineup of radios that have been previously released three years prior. The most striking change was the Executive models of the Eton Satellit and Traveller III with its all silver color and improved hinged antennas.

There was another model with a refresh, which was the Eton Field. The 2014 version of the lunchbox-style radio had digital tuning with an analog tuning knob. Jay Allen wrote a review and liked its overall performance aside from soft-muting.

The latest version of the Eton Field, now with a BT suffix, looks the same and shares the “DNA” of all of Eton’s radio lineup. It has a more chiseled modern aesthetic with a orange text on black display.

Why “BT?”

The most notable change to the Field is in the lettering “BT.” The BT is short for Bluetooth. While it isn’t the only multiband radio with the feature, it is a first in this class of radio and for Eton.

The Bluetooth “band” allows the user to connect a wireless device’s audio output into the radio. A smartphone or computer with Bluetooth connectivity can sync with the Field BT and play audio from the device.

The pairing process is easy and quick, and range is good as well. Overall, the Field BT is a great boon for radio fans who love listening to podcasts, music, and streaming services alike TuneIn Radio, Spotify, Pandora, or iHeartRadio.

Now on the rest of the radio…

Tuning

Most $100+ radios have a frequency input. The Field BT is unlike those receivers and used only analog tuning knobs. The tuning knobs are a silver painted plastic and the two of the them work in tandem to tune to your favorite stations.

While the knobs may be a turn off, the BT is digitally tuned. This method of tuning is susceptible to drifting off frequencies, yet the Field doesn’t suffer from this issue. You’ll stay to the signal that you’re tuned to no matter what.

Also, the back knob is tightly tuned while the front one is loose (but not to the point of falling off) for fine tuning.

On shortwave, the Q. Tune button allows users to shift to 1000 kHz points. Say I am on 4000 kHz and want to tune in WRMI. Then I would press the Q. Tune button 5 times (which it will display 10000 kHz) and fine tune down to 9955 kHz.

I honestly prefer a digital keypad over a tuning knob for ergonomics and easier tuning. Hopefully the next Field BT will incorporate a numeric keypad and forgo the tuning knob or at least put it on the left side (where nothing is placed).

Display

The Eton Field BT shares the same orange on black LCD display the other radios from the company share. It is a large display and easily legible.

You can read the frequency as well as signal strength, band selection, and RDS information while using FM.

The screen is also well-lit and you can even keep the backlight on with a flip of a switch on the right side of the radio.

Audio Quality

The great thing about these types of portables is the audio quality is fantastic. It can fill a room and allows for some pleasant airchair listening. The Eton Field BT doesn’t disappoint in this aspect.

Sound from this radio is hands down my favorite of any radio I have used. It isn’t bass heavy, but it is far from sounding tinny.

Noise is comfortably low on all bands and makes it a pleasure experience if you care about the content you’re listening to.

In the Bluetooth mode, the speaker is used very well and it is great for music and spoken word content.

Antennas

The Field BT sports a very long telescoping antenna for FM & Shortwave reception. Since the radio is quite large, it also has a lengthy ferrite antenna for AM and it is housed inside the plastic.

In additional to the internal antennas, the Eton Field gives the option to add external antennas. Should you need to improve reception, you can add a wired feeder and ground antenna for AM bands while FM and Shortwave have separate F-type (or basic coaxial) connections.

Admittedly, I do not have or use external antennas aside from some simple wired ones. I’ve found the internal antennas effective for pulling in signals, but I would imagine external setups will do better.

I live on a rental property so constructing antennas outside is impractical, but it is good to have the option if I choose.

Reception

The Eton Field BT is quite a performer on all bands. I am able to listen to numerous distant stations on this radio, and it is by far the best I’ve uses in terms of sensitivity.

First the not-so bad news. AM reception is good, but it degrades in the higher frequencies. Somewhere around the 1500 kHz range, weak signals are hard to listen (local stations are no issue, though).

One station I benchmark is WLAC 1510 from Nashville and usually can be heard well on many multiband radios. Even I can receive it, it is very weak on the Eton BT and it’s soft muting completely nulls the signal. It becomes dead air.

However, it performs well in the lower frequencies and stations like KMOX 1120 from St. Louis and WGN 720 in Chicago are easily received.

FM reception performance is much improved. Weaker stations roughly 80 miles away from the transmitter site can be received in near local quality.

The Field BT’s RDS display shines here with displaying station details if the signal is strong enough.

Finally, shortwave reception is top-notch even on-the-whip. I am able to pull some stations with booming results. There are even some stations that I haven’t been able to hear on other radios like the Tecsun PL-660 but I can catch on the Field BT. I am referring to RAE from Argentina.

The following videos will give you an idea of just what the Eton Field BT is capable of doing.

Radio New Zealand International

Radio Saudi

WRMI

WMAV 90.3 FM (85 miles from Memphis, TN)

WGN 720 AM (Chicago)

KMOX 1120 (St. Louis)

Overall Impressions

I am greatly pleased with the Eton Field BT and would recommended it to any shortwave listener who values content or a beginner getting started in the hobby. The lack of SSB, sync detection, and soft-muting may turn off DXers and die-hards, but I’d argue that the external antenna ports and excellent FM and shortwave reception are worth it.

Also, the Bluetooth connectivity is the icing on the top and helps extent the radio’s longevity should someone not be able fine anything on the bands.

It is definitely my favorite portable in this class.

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I’m Still Blogging

Hello everyone! In case you may be wondering if this site is still active, then no need to fear.

I haven’t been able to update this WordPress site in a quite so I apologize for being absent since my last post on the Nintendo Switch.

Field_FRONT_0You should expect more posts in the weeks to come, especially radio related content. I recently purchased a slightly used Eton Field with Bluetooth. It is basically a newer version of the Field 550 but with Bluetooth so you can stream content to the radio from a PC or smart device.

The Field BT will be reviewed sometime after I get my hands on it next week. I had also traded in my two year old Sangean WR-22 to Amazon.

I am thinking of doing something special on YouTube once I get the Field BT. There’s an idea of possibly creating a weekly YouTube stream session on weekend evenings.

It will be via Google Hangouts and viewers can interact with the show called “Shortwave Tonight.” It would something similar to a game session on Twitch, but with radio and other radio listeners.

I am planning on doing it primarily on Saturday nights between 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. However, times may vary depending on availability or some internet fluke.

Needless to say, I think it will be a lot of fun interacting with other SWLs and a talking about radio while listening to some interesting stations.

Episode 3 – Shortwave Flatline

Sorry for the delay. Sometimes life gets busy. Other times…stormy weather shuts the power off and your work ends up deleted.

Nonetheless, Chris delivers this third episode and talks about the recent disappearance of international broadcasters on shortwave and where they are going (or not going). In Part 2, there is news of upcoming Eton receivers, if you’re not convinced of the “death of shortwave” argument, that SWLs may want to consider.

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