About 3 years ago I reviewed a really great AM radio from a company named C.Crane. This radio, the CCRadio plus, sported the best AM reception in a radio its size. Now 3 years later C.Crane comes out with the next generation CCRadio called the CCRadio-SW. The CCRadio-SW gets rid of some features and adds others. The main addition is a Shortwave receiver.
- AM/FM/Short Wave
- Built-in Twin Coil Ferrite™ AM Antenna
- Large LED Display
- Radio/Tone Alarm
- 50-memory preset buttons (with 10 memories per band)
The addition of a Shortwave receiver is great. Shortwave is good for long distance communication, if the conditions are correct and the signal is strong enough, you can hear stations from thousands of miles away.
The built-in Twin Coil Ferrite™ AM Antenna gives this radio excellent AM reception. Like the other CCRadios this radio can often pick up stations that other radios cannot get.
The large LED display is really great for viewing the display information. You get a lot of information also. The display shows the time, battery status frequency, band and much more.
Being that this is a radio there is not much to the design. It comes in only one color, black. It is a simple rectangle with a lot of the same features as a normal radio. On the front is where you will find most of the buttons and knobs that you need to make this radio work.
The left side of the front is dominated by a single 5″ speaker that has been specifically tuned to human voice, which is great for the AM and Shortwave stations; the FM sounds good on the speaker also. Under the speaker is a headphone jack, AM RF Gain, Treble and Bass knobs.
On the right side of the front, starting at the top, is a large by radio standards, LED screen, and three buttons to the right of the screen. The three buttons are Power/Sleep, Dual Time/W/L and Lock. The power button obviously turns on the radio and when it turns on, if you quickly press the button again, you will activate the sleep function. The sleep function will shut off the radio after a certain time that you set. The time that you set will be saved even if you turn off the radio. Dual time and W/L do the same thing, they show local time and world time. The lock turns off the keys so you cannot turn on or off the radio, change the station, or push any other buttons. I did find that volume, AM RF Gain, Treble, Bass and all switches on the sides still work.
The bottom section of the right side of the front has many more knobs and buttons for you to play with. On the left side you have two knobs for switching between bands. The top one switches between Wide and Narrow AM/SW and Mono Stereo FM. The next knob is for switching between AM, SW1, SW2 and SW3. Below those two knobs is the volume. To the right of those knobs is a big knob that is used for tuning. Above the tuning knob are 3 buttons that affect the tuning knob. Hold makes it so the knob does not change the station, however you can still change the station using the up and down arrows that I will talk about in a bit. The slow and fast buttons determine how fast the stations change as you turn the knob.
To the right of the tuner knob are 8 more buttons and each of these buttons have multiple functions; the label that is above the key is the function when the radio is off and the label on the key is for when the radio is on. Starting with the top two they are Minute/Down and Hour/Up, Minute and Hour are used to adjust the time and up and down are for adjusting the tuner. Then there is Clock Set/Mem Set and Alarm Type/Alarm, Clock Set turns on the clock adjustment and then you use the Minute and Hour to change the time. Mem Set saves the current station in one of the memory slots, you can choose which slot by using the up and down arrows, and Alarm is for turning the alarm on and off and changing the alarm sound from radio to beeping. The next two are timers which will turn the radio on at certain times, you have the ability to set two timers. To set the time the radio must be off and you hold down one of the timer buttons then use the minute and hour buttons to adjust the time, then you press the alarm button to turn it on and choose the sound. The last two are SW Band and Charge/Memory, SW Band switches between the common Shortwave frequencies for each Shortwave band. If you are in AM mode then the SW Band button will just step up by 100 kHz and in FM it will step up by 1000 kHz each time you press it. Charge starts the battery charging and Memory loads each of the saves stations. The charge button is only useful if you have rechargeable batteries. Be very careful that you do not turn this on unless you have rechargeable batteries installed because it may cause other batteries to burst and that will ruin your radio.
On the back is the battery compartment. Unlike most other radios you can use either 4 AA batteries or 4 D batteries. There is a switch on the left side that switches between the two. Inside the battery compartment is the AM tuning step switch that will tell the radio how many steps to skip when you tune. You should use 10k in the US and 9k if you are in Europe or other countries. Also, on the back is the external AM and FM antenna connectors. In case the internal AM or FM antennas are not good enough for your location, you can use an external AM or FM antenna.
There are two large black buttons on the top which are used to turn on the snooze and the display light. There is another feature for the snooze button, if you hold down the snooze button for about two seconds when there is not an alarm going you activate a beep that will sound every time you press a button, pressing the button again will disable the beep. I don’t know the purpose except to provide feedback to pressing the buttons and to annoy everyone around you. Also, on the top is a telescoping antenna for FM and Shortwave radio. Above the snooze and light buttons is a small key that lists the bands that you can listen to and the frequencies that each band can receive. For example, it lists FM and under that it shows 87.5 – 108.0 MHz, AM is 520 – 1710 kHz, SW1 is 1711 – 10010 kHz, SW2 is 9990 – 20010 kHz and SW3 is 19990 – 29999 kHz. This is good for knowing what you can expect from the different bands. There is also a timezone map next to the frequency key.
On the right side are three switches, Key light which toggles the lights on and off the keys, AM Sens tells the internal antenna if the radio station is far away, if it is far away, then you set this switch to Distant, if not, you set it to local. I had to try both before I found the one that worked best for me. The last switch is FM/SW antenna, this switch tells the radio if you are using an external or the internal whip antenna to receive FM and Shortwave radio stations.
On the left is a Line Out without volume control for hooking the CCRadio-SW to a stereo or recorder. Below that is a switch that tells the radio what kind of batteries you are using. Last, there is a DC plug for plugging it into a wall with the included adapter.
If you are upgrading from the CCRadio Plus you should do a through comparison of the features of both radios before you buy this one because the CCRadio-SW is missing several features that the CCRadio Plus has. For example, it does not have the weather or TV stations.
Setting up the radio is just as easy as setting up the clock radio on your night stand. All you do is press the clock set button and press the hour and minute buttons to adjust the time, then press the clock set button again to start the clock. You do not have to set the clock to listen to the radio, but if you want to use the alarm then it is a must. Assigning radio stations is a cinch, all you have to do is press the MEM/SET button and then use the up and down arrows to choose one of the 10 available memory slots and then press MEM/SET again to lock it in. Setting up the alarm and timer is just as easy as setting up the clock. Instead of pressing the clock set button just use the timer a or b button and follow the same steps to adjust the time. Then you use the alarm button to turn on the alarm and set the sound.
I am not a big Shortwave user so playing with this radio’s Shortwave feature was a new experience for me. I was initially disappointed by the lack of interesting programming, but once I found the correct times and stations to listen to I was able to find some good programs. I did notice that most of the programming I found were religious or Spanish speaking. I was really hoping to tune into some French, German or British broadcasts, but either I was listening at the wrong time or I live in the wrong area, but I could not find any. One odd behavior I noticed was that when I was holding down the scan button it would sometimes skip large ranges of numbers. For example, it skipped from 6300 to 7100 and 7500 to 9400. It would happen even if I was going backwards or forwards through the numbers. If I turned the dial on the front it did not skip numbers.
The biggest test as far as performance goes is the AM reception. C.Crane says that this radio has a built-in Twin Coil Ferrite AM Antenna. So I put it to the test. Since this radio will most likely be used indoors in an office setting that is where I tested it. I also tested a CCRadio plus to see if one is better then the other. Both radios were not able to pick up anything but static inside my office, when I put it next to a window they both got perfect reception. When hooking them up to an external Twin Coil Ferrite AM Antenna I got good reception with both radios, not as good as it was when they were near the window, but good enough to listen to. The only annoyance about the CCRadio-SW was that I could not use the Ferrite stick. No matter where I placed it on the CCRadio-SW it would not improve the reception. So I had to use the external antenna connectors on the back and it immediately improved the reception. With a little adjustment on the antenna I was able to get clear reception for the radio. The one thing that caused me the most static was noise in the power line. If you have a lot of devices using the same power you can get noise in the power lines. Every time I pluged in my Treo 650 the static was so bad that I could hardly hear the radio. I tried plugging the Treo into other outlets, but as long as the outlets were on the same circuit it still effected the reception. Power noise was a problem for both radios. It would be nice if the radios had some power conditioning built-in, but since they don’t you could purchase a power strip with power conditioning to take noise out of the power line. Noise in the power line only seemed to affect the AM reception.
Battery life on the CCRadio-SW is really good, the claim for this radio is about 30 hours on AA batteries and 175 hours for D batteries. These times will vary because battery life can be affected by several factors. To make sure you get the most from your batteries, keep the button lights off and the volume down.
The sleep timer is nice if you use the radio to go to sleep with, but it got in my way on several different occasions. Because it is built into the power button you cannot turn the radio on and off rapidly. There were a couple of times when I would turn on the radio and a co-worker would come over to talk to me and I would go to turn it off and instead it would activate the sleep timer. I had to learn to just turn down the volume instead of turning it off.
Warranty and Support
The CCRadio-SW comes with a one year parts and labor warranty. It is a short warranty and I wish it were longer.
If you are in the market for a great radio with lots of great features and excellent battery life then the CCRadio-SW is an excellent choice. The CCRadio-SW is currently cheaper than the CCRadio plus, so if you don’t need TV or weather bands then you will get a great radio for less. You can find the CCRadio-SW for $149 on the C.Crane website. I highly recommend that you check it out. The CCRadio-SW can be purchased directly from C.Crane or Amazon.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|