U

SANGEAN
CCRadio plus

 

Their Home Page
www.sangean.com

Distributed by
C. Crane Company


[click on photo to enlarge]

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.

Tale of the Tape
The CCR+ measures 11"W x 6.5" H x 4" D. With batteries, the CCR+ weighs approximately 5 lbs.

Frequency 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.

Power
The 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."

Clock 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 the week.

Weather Alert
The 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.

AM Performance
(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.

FM 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.

TV 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.

Weather 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!

Front
Most of the center/left is dominated by the grill covering the 5" speaker.

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.

Underneath the 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.

Right 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.

 

Left side
No controls or jacks.

Rear
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 the radio.

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, Power/Sleep button.

Bottom
Reset

Misc. 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.

Ergonomics/General 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.

What 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.

What 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.

What 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 locals.

Value
Okay, 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.

Bottom Line
Who 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.

Best DX
Russ K3PI
January 20, 2004

 

Update August 5, 2004

Selectivity
In 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.

Display (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.

 

 

doteasy.com - free web hosting. Free hosting with no banners.

 

 

   

| Disclaimer | Feedback | About | This page was last updated: August 5, 2004 |
Copyright ©2002-2006 Radio Intelligencer. All rights reserved