The CC Radio
Plus (CCR+) is a table top sized AM-FM-TV-Weather clock radio manufactured
by Sangean and market primarily by the C. Crane Company. Many CCR+
owners were introduced to the radio from advertising spots appearing
in AM talk radio programming, most notably Art Bell's Coast-to-Coast
overnight program. Anyone listening to AM talk radio in the past 5
years that hasn't heard of the CC Radio, just hasn't been paying attention.
of the Tape The
CCR+ measures 11"W x 6.5" H x 4" D. With batteries,
the CCR+ weighs approximately 5 lbs.
Coverage AM (MW)
= 520 - 1700 kHz
FM = 87.5 - 108 MHz
TV = Channels 2 - 13 audio
Weather = Channels 1 - 7
AM tunes in 10 kHz increments
with the up/down buttons and 1 kHz increments with the tuning knob.
There is no way to change it to 9 kHz spacing. For FM, it tunes in
100 kHz via the up/down buttons and 50 kHz with the knob.
CCR+ operates off 4 D cells. I have found battery life to be very
impressive. A removable power cord is also provided for AC power (no
wall wart needed hooray!).
Internal to the CCR+ is a charging circuit for those who want to use
NiCad rechargeables. The charging adapter is an additional option
from C. Crane.
Antennas AM is received
with a long 8" internal ferrite antenna. A telescoping pivoting
21" antenna functions as the FM/TV/Weather band antenna. External
antenna terminals are provided on the back of the radio. The manual
states that this allows the external antenna to be "directly
wired through filter network into RF front end."
Features A lot
of effort went into the clock and associated features. A digital clock
is displayed when the radio is off or when the clock button is engaged.
The clock is in 12 hour format (AM / PM) and even displays seconds.
An alarm is provided and you can set it up to turn the radio on to
its most recent frequency/volume setting. Alternatively, you can set
it to awaken you to gradually increasing beeps. With the beep system,
the beeping goes on for a minute followed by a minute of silence.
This continues for an hour unless the alarm is turned off.
The CCR+ also has a snooze
feature, allowing you to kill the alarm for 5 minutes while you try
and sneak in a few extra winks. For those who like to drift off to
sleep listening to the radio (and who doesn't?), the CCR+ has a sleep
countdown timer adjustable at 120-90-60-30-15 minute increments. The
radio also has a cool timer set-up. You can program the radio to go
on/off on one of the pre-set frequencies at defined times every day.
There is just one timer - so it is either on or off for each day of
CCR+ is equipped to receive the emergency tones transmitted by NOAA.
When such a tone is received, an alarm and/or light is turned on at
the radio. This would alert the listener to tune in for weather details.
The weather alert system does draw current even when the radio is
off, so it will run down the batteries if the CCR+ is not connected
to AC power.
(see August 5, 2004 Update at the bottom for more)
The CCR+ built
its reputation on its ability to pull in weak AM stations. Additionally,
advertising promised that its audio was tailored for the human voice
making intelligibility better. The radio does a lot of things well
on AM. The large 8" internal ferrite antenna does do an exceptional
job of receiving stations. The 1 kHz tuning increments help to escape
adjacent channel interference.
On the downside, the
radio is unusually susceptible to overloading in the presence of a
local AM station. The CCR+ is amongst the worst radios I own in this
regard. My local AM station completely blankets +/- 20 kHz. Additionally,
nasty sidebands reach out +/- 20 kHz beyond that. Another annoying
problem is the presence of shortwave stations due to mixing. The casual
listener may not realize they are even there, as they tend to appear
in between the 10 kHz spacing. Despite the wonderful claims on audio,
I find the audio to be "muddy" on AM.
Reception While the CCR+
was being pitched as the ultimate AM radio, I actually find the FM
receiver to be this radio's shining star. The FM is received in stereo
and is heard that way through headphones. Audio quality is very pleasant
even through the speaker. My test for FM reception here is to see
if a weak distant classical station at 89.9 can be separated from
a much stronger station at 90.1. I only have 4 radios that regularly
do this and the CCR+ is among them. I find the audio quality on FM
to be outstanding.
Audio Reception The CCR+ easily
receives local VHF TV stations (2-13). This is a feature I hardly
ever use, but it is there for whoever would want to watch TV on their
radio. Anymore, no one knows the real TV channel they are watching
due to cable anyway.
band reception The closest
stations to me are over 35 miles away. I can always receive the closest
one on Channel 1 and the one on Channel 5 comes in about half the
time. It is a handy way to listen to the creepy voices of the NOAA
humanoid robots tell us about the weather forecast. The Alert function
does work. However, remember that it will drain the batteries. Recommend
using the radio on AC power for this use if you feel pretty comfortable
you are not headed for a lights-out situation!
of the center/left is dominated by the grill covering the 5"
The display is
located at the upper right. The radio display shows the frequency
in large easy-to-see numerals. In addition, the following is
displayed on the radio display: band in use, signal strength
bar graph and pre-set chosen. When the clock mode is selected,
the time is displayed. The following indicators are displayed
both on the radio and clock side: weather alert on, lock, sleep,
timer on and alarm on (and type).
When the radio
is turned off, the bar graph turns into a battery level indicator
for about 7 seconds. A small button located at the upper left
corner of the display controls the backlight. When on AC power,
the green LED backlight will stay on until it is turned off.
When the CCR+ is running on batter power, the backlight goes
off 2 minutes after any button has been used. The backlight
is relatively bright and helps make the display easy to read.
display (left) are 4 small buttons that set/control the clock,
timer, alarm and display. To the right of these buttons are
two larger up/down buttons for frequency changes. Below the
up/down buttons are control knobs for bass and treble adjustments.
side A large
tuning knob with a finger indent is at the top. The volume control
knob is below that. A lock switch is located between the two knobs.
A mini-headphone jack (3.5mm) is below the volume control.
side No controls
The following jacks
are located on the left rear of radio: Aux in, timer activate
and line out. AM external antenna connections are located on the
back. The batter compartment is accessed at the bottom. An indentation
for gripping the radio is provided at the top to aid in carrying
Top The top of
the CCR+ is pretty busy. Along the top, from left to right are: Band/Aux
button, Weather Alert button, Weather Alert light, 5 preset buttons,
features The designers
of the CCR+ thoughtfully provided an Auxiliary input jack. Other audio
sources (CD player, etc) can be plugged into the CCR+ and take advantage
of the powerful amplifier/speaker. Very few radios have the Aux. input
feature. C. Crane also sells an LED light which can be plugged into
a dedicated jack in the back of the radio. This, I suppose, gives
the user a complete all-around emergency package in the event of power
failure. The CCR+ was designed to work a tape recorder such as the
Sangean VersaCorder. Compatible jacks between the units enable the
CCR+ timer to activate the recorder to capture a favorite program
being received by the radio. The CCR+ also has a scan feature. Press
and hold down either the up/down buttons and it will scan and stop
at the next station.
Use It's a good
news - bad new story.
First, the good news.
The radio is simple to use. The display is well laid out and easy
to see. The dimensions and weight of the radio make it very solid
and it won't tip over on you or slide around the table.
On the not-so-good side:
The buttons used for up/down and pre-set are stiff and you can definitely
hear the "click" when you push them. Additionally, the band
change button emits a different audio beep sequence for each band.
This is a great feature for the visually impaired. However, along
with the noisy frequency change buttons, they make the CCR+ pretty
difficult to use in nighttime/bedside situations where you are trying
to keep the noise down to a minimum. It would be nice if the band
switching beeps were adjustable on/off. The grip/hold area on the
back works, but you still must be careful. In reality, you can only
get your fingertips in there, so the grip is somewhat tenuous. I would
have moved the earphone jack over to the unused left side of the radio.
This would prevent you from bumping it when adjusting the volume control.
The clock-alarm-timer set up is not intuitive. If you don't use those
features often, you will be consulting the manual a lot.
I like It does a very
good job of pulling in stations on both AM and FM. The antennas work
very well on both bands. The display is big and easy to see. The signal
strength "meter" is a very helpful and nice addition. Other
nice touches include the external AM antenna terminals, a real tuning
knob, 1 kHz tuning on AM and the Auxiliary input. By the way, the
manual is very well written.
I don't like The "fake"
shortwave stations that appear are annoying. The alarm/timer/clock
set up is not intuitive and hard to remember. The noisy controls (clicky
buttons and loud beeps) make it hard to use at the bedside. Wish it
had more than 5 presets per band.
I REALLY don't like
(see August 5, 2004 Update at the bottom for more) For the AM
listener in proximity to local stations, the inability of the CCR+
to "contain" these stations in a reasonable amount of bandspace
has to be very frustrating. I only have one here and the CCR+ is pretty
much useless 40 kHz on both sides. I find this to be inexcusable.
I can't imagine using a CCR+ in a metro area with multiple high power
how many of you bought a CCR+ (or the original CCR) based on the commercials?
Raise your hands. I thought so. Well, me too. Based on all the hype
and that purchase price well, this just had to be close to being
the World's Greatest Radio right? Well, it isn't. You've heard
the saying, "Under promise and over deliver?" Well, you
could reverse that for the CCR+. It's a good radio in many regards,
but is it worth $160? I don't think so.
was the CC Radio Plus designed for? What were the objectives? Well,
I don't know for sure, but here is my best guess. Build an easy to
use AM-FM radio with big buttons, easy to read display, large knobs
with very good reception ability. The target audience is probably
a person that listens to it primarily as an alarm/sleep countdown
radio for under 1 hour per session and rarely changes stations. Those
fitting that description will be delighted with the CCR+. It really
is an easy radio to use and is going to be more than satisfactory
for the casual user.
Radio nuts like me that
are looking for performance commensurate with the purchase price and
the advertising hype will likely conclude that they overpaid for their
new clock radio.
a recent test I did to rank sensitivity and selectivity of
various portables on MW, I experienced selectivity results
that somewhat contradict my earlier statements. I find that
selectivity is noticeably better when testing the radio outdoors
at my location. The CCRadio benefited from this "change
in scenery" more than other radios I tested. I also found
that the CCRadio is very "picky" in terms of pointing
it to null out interfering stations. Just a slightest move
"off target" makes a big difference.
(LCD) Reliability I was
reluctant to post this in the initial review, thinking I had
an isolated experience here. I originally owned the first
version of the CCRadio. After about 1.5- 2 years, the display
failed. At first parts of some of the numerals faded out,
then entire digits disappeared and eventually I had no display
at all. Resetting the radio would not cure it.
Later I got the
CCRadio Plus. Again, in the 1.5-2 year time frame (after the
warranty period), the display has started to fail again. I
have no way of knowing how common this problem is, but postings
to the Yahoo CCRadio group confirm that this is a problem
others are experiencing. Some have had the radio cure itself
after leaving the batteries out for several days. I have had
success doing this, but after serveral weeks - the problem
always comes back. It seems like the "recovery"
period is shorter and shorter. C Crane charges $50 to repair
the problem. The
photo on the front page of the Yahoo CCRadio group gives you
an idea of what the display looks like as it starts to fail.
This may be a component or design problem isolated to the
CCRadio, as I own many other Sangean portables with displays
that have performed flawlessly for many many years.