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Monitoring Times Reviews

March 2004



Yacht Boy 550PE

by Gayle Van Horn


            The recent release of Grundig’s new YB-550PE, has caught the attention of quite a few hobbyists, and deservedly so. This incredibly attractive addition to the versatile Yacht Boy line combines an AM/FM and shortwave receiver, in a lightweight, compact radio.

            The YB-550PE receives all 14 international shortwave bands (shortwave tuning coverage from 1.711-29.999 MHz), AM broadcast band (520-1710 kHz) FM broadcast band. A built-in telescopic antenna is used for shortwave and FM, and an internal ferrite bar antenna is used for the AM broadcast band. A mini plug jack on the side of the radio facilitates connection of an external FM or long wire shortwave antenna.

            The many tuning aids in the YB550 are a nice feature with six different tuning methods available, including either a direct keypad frequency entry, or the up-down tuning  key to band scan in 5-kHz increments. The side scroll wheel tunes medium wave AM or shortwave stations to 1-kHz increments.

            Another nice tuning feature is the Memory Autoscan. Two hundred frequencies can be stored into eight pages of memory. Each page holds 25 frequencies, or you can customize your memory pages from eight to four, five, or 20. This feature proved invaluable for nightly shortwave monitoring.

            You can also quickly jump from one broadcast band to another quickly by using the meter band selector button. This was helpful when comparing shortwave band conditions at various listening hours.

            Frequencies are displayed in a large backlit LCD, while signal strength is indicated via a five-level graph bar. The radio’s back snap-on stands proved helpful for table top or “hand-held” listening. The internal speaker provides good, loud and crisp audio. A set of ear buds are included for private listening and stereo reception in the FM mode.


Reception a Pleasant Surprise


            Just what can you hear from this portable? Plenty. In our recent test, we observed very good selectivity, with an above average dynamic range for a low end portable. Medium wave reception was remarkably good. Domestic AM band broadcasters, as well as foreign stations from Canada, Mexico and Cuba were audible with good signal strengths. FM broadcast reception performance was equally as impressive.

            My biggest surprise, however, was reception of broadcasters in the 60 and 90 meter tropical bands. While the 550-PE is definitely not a “DX machine,” if we compare it to a table top receiver, our reception test in the "trops" found quite a few stations with fair to good signal strengths at levels which were certainly adequate to monitor. Band scans in the 49, 41, 31, 25, 22, 19 and 16 meter bands also indicated better than average signal strengths, perfect for general program listening.

            Other features of the YB-550PE include a 12/24 built-in clock, which may be set for either format. An alarm with a snooze feature allows you to wake up to a preset station or the last one tuned, and a 5-120 minute sleep timer. An optional DC 4.5 V AC adapter is also available for purchase. Other refinements found on the side of the radio include a DX-local switch, tone button, lock switch and fine-tuning.

            For shortwave, AM or FM listeners seeking an affordably priced portable, the new YB-550PE is just that. The complete product kit includes a carrying case, owners manual, Shortwave Listening Guide booklet, ear buds, and three AA batteries. The small 10-ounce size, ease of operation, crisp audio, and operation features should interest those seeking a terrific carry-along for travel or a portable pocket radio.  The Yacht Boy 550PE is available at select national retailers *  for $99.95. For additional information about the Yacht Boy 550PE and additional Eton products, call 1-800-872-2228, or visit


    *Editor's Note: The published magazine which said Grove Enterprises carries the Grundig radio was in error: they do not.

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