We all have heard the hype on the Art Bell show "Coast to Coast" and the Rush Limbaugh program about the "Best AM radio ever", the CCRadio. If you go to www.ccrane.com, heres what they say. "Never before has a radio been specifically designed for talk radio, news, sports and weather. Twenty years of dreaming, planning and engineering went into the development of this radio. Audio has been specifically tailored for the human voice."
The claims of "The Most Powerful AM / FM Radio Ever Made" and "Hear Radio How It Was Meant To Be" are now gone from the site where they were once prominently shown.
This is a very good radio for a casual listener and not a serious DXer. Anyone who expects otherwise is going to be sadly mistaken. I would classify this radio as one that is a fair to good radio that can do some nice domestic DXing. If you purchase it with that in mind, then you will not be disappointed.
Let me describe the radio to you. The CCRadio is smaller than the GE Superadio III. It is 11"W x 6.5"H x 4"D. There is a very large LCD display with large numerics shown on the screen. It is even easy for my 45 year old eyes to make out with bifocals. The radio weighs about 4 lbs. without batteries.
There are treble and bass controls, an up or down tuning button which moves the frequency 10 kHz on AM, light switch, band selector, clock / frequency display and a sleep timer button on the front. On the side there is a very large dial which tunes in 1 kHz steps, a lock switch, volume pot and jack that will accomodate stereo headphones although there is no AM, FM or TV stereo on this unit.
On the top of the set there is an alarm button and a button that sets the weather alert for when the alert tone is set by the NWS in case of an emergency. Across the set are five large round buttons marked one through five. Each band has 5 memory settings. On the end of the top above the LCD there is the power switch. And near the alarm button there is the FM / TV / WX telescoping antenna which seems to be rather short at about 20 inches.
The radio is carried by a handgrab recess in the back and this is rather unfortunate. This radio desperately needed to have a handle. When you pick the radio up via the hand access your thumb or heel of your hand rests on the control buttons on the top and changes frequencies, sets alarms, turns off the radio or turns off the weather emergency alert.
The CCRadio I purchased was the model with the DC charging circuit and the LED light. These jacks are found on the back along with external AM antenna connections. The AM antenna connections are virtually useless and I would not attempt to attach any antenna to it as there is very little to be gained by doing this as the ferrite antenna in the unit can not be disabled.
The LED light which is an option, is very bright and the light exceptionally white. The light has no consideration for turning it on and off while connected to the radio. Either the light is plugged in and running or unplugged and off. I find that for a light that is $39, this is an extremely glaring omission.
The DC charging circuit which also is optional, can either be used with a 6v wall wart or a solar panel. I do not have the solar panel but it is said to be able to charge the four optional NiCd batteries in 67 hours using the solar panel. The optional 6v wall wart will charge the NiCds in 27 hours. The expected run time on the NiCds is 48 hours. The radio seems to like batteries a great deal.
This radio tries very hard to be a lot of things to a lot of people. The frequency coverage is from 520 - 1710 on AM, 87.5 - 108.0 on FM, TV channel 2 -13 and all seven channels on the weather band. The set has an alarm, a sleep timer and a snooze feature.
When it comes to AM reception, if you live in the city and are surrounded with many signals, this may not be the radio for you. I have observed that this radio is very sensitive but not very highly selective. I live approximately 3 miles from KMIK 1580's antenna. On my Radio Shack DX-398 [ Sangean 909 ] I have KMIK and its splash from 1570 to 1590. On the CCRadio KMIK kills the band from 1540 to 1620 and also has its images popping up in places on the X-band during the day. I have a similar problem with KXAM 1310 also about 3 miles away running 5 kW where the spread is larger on the CCRadio than the DX-398.
However if you are not in proximity of a local 50 kW or 5 kW station, the radio is fine and is not prone to overloading as it is nearer to an antenna. I would say that this is the major problem with the CCRadio. The sensitivity is ever so slightly better than the GE Superadio III and selectivity less on the upper end of the band than the GE model.
This radio will perform very well though if not in the vicinity of any strong RF signals and if you are in an area where you don't have to deal with this it is a solid radio.
There is an issue with the memory display on the LCD that C. Crane and Sangean needs to address and is common on all three CCRadios I have used. Once the 5 memories on the bands are set, and only on AM, if you press the memory buttons the selection comes right up and the memory number on the LCD is fine. However, for example if memory button 4 is set for 1450 kHz and you tune with the DIAL, at 768 kHz the M-4 shows although this is not where the setting is. It has no bearing on the operation of the radio, it just is there. There are several places where memory numbers show up at odd places. Not good programming nor quality control to have this issue show up in a 160 dollar radio.
The reception on the weather band is adequate and nothing exceptional. On most radios that have the weather band, I get five different stations but generally I only get three on the CCRadio and sometimes four with a lot of antenna twisting.
I have found the TV section to be poor at best. For example, I have a channel 4 in Tucson that is easily receivable on the Optimus 12-604a which is NOT known to be a DX monster. The CCRadio has an image of KDKB 93.3 FM right on top of KVOA 4 Tucson's signal rendering it unreceivable. Channel 7 from Prescott is doable with other radios but there is an image of KNIX 102.5 squarely atop its signal.
On FM I have found that this is your typical lackluster Sangean built FM section that is not only weak and lifeless but full of images. I have only seen one Sangean radio on FM that was not full of images and that is the DX-398 with RDS but even that is fairly dead and impervious to most DX.
I have two stations I use as a standard for FM reception. One is KAHM 102.1 in Prescott [100 driving miles] as I am on the edge of its receivability and the other is harder to hear on a portable in Mesa, Arizona, KMGN 93.9 from Flagstaff [180 driving miles]. Both of these stations are fairly doable on a GE Superadio and for the CCRadio costing 3 times as much as a GE Superadio, well I believe the reception should be able to be duplicated if not superior. Guess what? It isn't. KAHM is receivable although weakly and KMGN, forget it.
My take on the CCRadio. This is a good radio on AM reception for those who are not in close vicinity of an AM transmitter and tower. The radio when it is not there is not overloaded and quite selective. It will pull in DX and do a fair job and somewhat better than a GE Superadio under those conditions.
The TV / FM / and WX bands are usable in a local sense and do a good enough job in that role. This radio was not sold as a top of the line powerhouse in these areas and they are good enough to get the job done.
I believe that this radio is priced way too high for what you get and would be better if it were priced at nearer to $100 than $160. The radio has an advantage over the GE Superadios in that it has a digital readout and a clock plus the GE does not have WX or TV. However for the price, I believe that the GE offering is hard to beat at $50.
This CCRadio would be highly recommended if the new price was $120 or less but it is not the best AM radio ever made. It is a very good to fine set for someone who is a domestic DXer and is well made but it doesn't live up to the hype it has received. Its definitely a little better than the GE Superadio III but certainly not as good as a Sony 2010 with its ability to lock on to a signal.
I would not say that its a no buy, but will say that you should consider whether or not you can deal with a radio that overloads near strong RF more than other radios, and how much you want the TV, FM and WX reception before buying. At $160 you might want to consider waiting for a sale on the DX-398 at $30 more and get SW, continuous coverage from 153 kHz to 30 mHz and FM with RDS which is a very nice feature.
Its like everyone always says, there is no such thing as a perfect radio. If you are considering one, this may work for you and do a fine job under the right conditions since this is still a good, but not great, receiver.
The original version of this text appeared in the AM Radio List on the NRC's site.